Public hotspots offer no encryption or security for users according to one expert.
As more public Wi-Fi hotspots are opened in places such as McDonalds, David Hobson, MD of Global Secure Systems (GSS) claimed that there is an element of risk for users.
He claimed that the ‘free bandwidth does come with an element of risk. Once you are associated to an access point, you are on the same network as others connected to the same access point, in the same way as plugging into the same network segment.'
"A simple network discovery will show who else is connected....and from there an unscrupulous user could try and access your machine. This may not be deliberate - a Trojan may automatically be scanning in the background for, and trying to infect other machines. In addition to the possibility of direct attack, your data is probably going to be ‘clear text' – not encrypted,” said Hobson.
Hobson claimed that by its nature, a hotspot does not have any encryption or security on it and to offer a pre-shared security key is impractical, as the more people that have a key, the less valuable it is.
He also advised to turn off ad-hoc networking and to be aware of hot spot highjacking, and to always try and make sure you connect to genuine access points.
He further advised users to use a Virtual Private Network between their computer and the business mail server when using business email as it will encrypt data and ensure no eavesdroppers read it, and to use a personal firewall.