If you are visiting Russia for the World Cup matches starting from Thursday, think twice before using open Wi-Fi networks.
A new research from Russia-based cybersecurity company Kaspersky Lab on Tuesday warned that more than 20 per cent of Wi-Fi hot-spots in the host cities do not use traffic encryption, making them potentially unsafe for use by football fans visiting the cities.
The results suggest that football fans should take care of their personal data, especially while using open Wi-Fi connections around the FIFA World Cup games.
“The lack of traffic encryption, coupled with large-scale events — like the FIFA World Cup — make wireless Wi-Fi networks a target for criminals who want easy access to user data,” Denis Legezo, Senior Security Researcher at Kaspersky Lab, said in a statement.
Global events always result in a concentration of people connecting to networks to upload posts, stay in touch with loved ones, and share the fun with others.
However, at the same time, these networks can be used to transfer financial and other valuable information across the internet.
And it is this information that third parties — not necessarily criminals — can intercept and use for their own purposes.
Kaspersky Lab said its findings are based on an analysis of public Wi-Fi spots in 11 FIFA World Cup 2018 host cities, including Saransk, Samara, Nizhny Novgorod, Kazan, Volgograd, Moscow, Ekaterinburg, Sochi, Rostov, Kaliningrad, and St Petersburg.
The results showed that so far not all wireless access points have encryption and authentication algorithms – aspects that are essential for Wi-Fi networks to remain secure.
This means that hackers only need to be located near an access point to intercept network traffic and get confidential information from unwitting or unprepared users, Kaspersky Lab said in the statement.
The three cities with the highest percentage of unreliable Wi-Fi networks are St Petersburg (37 per cent), Kaliningrad (35 per cent), and Rostov (32 per cent), the report said.
In contrast, the safest places were relatively small towns – including Saransk where only 10 per cent of Wi-Fi spots are open, and Samara where 17 per cent of Wi-Fi spots are open.
Almost two-thirds of all public Wi-Fi networks in these locations use the Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA/WPA2) protocol family for traffic encryption, a protocol which is considered to be one of the most secure for Wi-Fi use, the statement added.
“Our research shows, once again, that cybersecurity involves addressing not just certain aspects, but the entire infrastructure. FIFA World Cup 2018 has confirmed that the event itself is secure — but users should be aware that clearly its host cities’ public Wi-Fi hot-spots are often not,” Legezo added.