Connecting to a public Wi-Fi hotspot poses a handful of security problems for smartphones and tablet users. Is someone intercepting your data? Eric Geier provides Wi-Fi safety tips.
Unfortunately, there’s more to mobile security than the data you store. If your mobile device has Wi-Fi capability and you connect to unsecured Wi-Fi hotspots for Internet access without knowing it, there are more security concerns. Even worse, mobile devices don’t incorporate security features to directly combat Wi-Fi threats.
The first thing to know is most public Wi-Fi hotspots are NOT encrypted. This means anyone within range (many hundreds of feet in all directions) can eavesdrop on what you send and receive. The same applies when using a laptop on a hotspot, or your computers at home on your own wireless router if it isn’t encrypted with WEP, WPA, or WPA2 security (which most are these days).
Eavesdropping on Wi-Fi connections isn’t rocket science. It just takes a curious individual with few free software tools (the modern-day burglar’s crowbar) and some spare time. And there is a lot of software out there that can capture in flight and display it. Some programs show just the raw data packets but others make it much quicker and easier to get to the real prize – your personal information. For example, programs such as Firesheep and SniffPass simply listen for and show login credentials to unsecured sites or services, like social networking sites and Web-based or POP3/IMAP email accounts. Scaryier programs like EffeTechHTTPSniffer can even capture and reassemble the webpages you are viewing and files you transfer.
Read the rest about Smartphone and tablet Wi-Fi security at eSecurity Planet.