What You Should Know About Auto-Connecting to WiFi With Your Mobile Device


By Dave Pagenkopf

Personal security and privacy are often areas of our lives we would like to be more diligent about. Now is a great time to refresh our goals and tune up those areas!  Don’t be overwhelmed… From August 1 – 10, I am sharing 10 ideas to tune up your personal online privacy and computer security.

Tip # Eight: Turn off the auto-connect feature in your mobile device

One of the biggest risks for mobile users is wifi networks that spoof real networks.  Millions of people around the world connect to public Wi-Fi networks on their mobile devices as they travel and seek their regularly scheduled Internet.  The problem is, not all networks are official. Spoofing is another hacker’s tool that tricks the victim into giving over information or performing an action that the attacker intends. Given the way our data plans work in today’s world, most people are on a constant hunt for a Wi-Fi connection that will relieve them of their data usage.

For example, suppose you routinely use the free wifi in the local coffee shop. That network, called for instance “freejava” is now saved in your phone and your phone — depending on your settings — will automatically connect to the “freejava” network the next time it sees it. Simple and convenient. However, a hacker outside your office could setup a wifi network with a name of “freejava” and then your phone will automatically connect to it. At this point, your phone is now vulnerable to hacking by the owner of the imposter network.

Here is a spoof created by Lookout for a demonstration on 60 Minutes.

Therefore, on my mobile devices I have turned off auto-connection except for wifi networks that require authentication.