Beware the Evil Twin

‘Evil Twin’ hotspots are the latest security threat to web users, according to wireless internet and cyber crime experts at Cranfield University in the UK.


“So-called ‘Evil Twin’ hotspots present a hidden danger for web users,” explained Dr. Phil Nobles, wireless internet and cyber-crime expert at the university.


“In essence, users think they’ve logged on to a wireless hotspot connection when, in fact, they’ve been tricked to connect to an attacker’s unauthorised base station. The latter jams the connection to a legitimate base station by sending a stronger signal within close proximity to the wireless client – thereby turning itself into an ‘Evil Twin’. “


Once the user is connected to the ‘Evil Twin’, the cyber criminal can intercept data being transmitted, such as bank details or personal information.


This type of cyber crime goes largely undetected because users are unaware that this is taking place until well after the incident has occurred.


“Given the spread and popularity of wireless internet networks – which, according to data research company IDC, is predicted to increase from 7,800 to nearly 22,000 by 2008 – users need to be wary of using their wi-fi enabled laptops or other portable devices to conduct financial transactions or anything of a sensitive or personal nature, for fear of disclosing this information to an unauthorised third party,” said Professor Brian Collins, Head of Information Systems Department at Cranfield University,


Lisa Jamieson, Head of Programmes at the Dana Centre, added that “Half of all business wireless networks in this country have inadequate security controls in place, making their information vulnerable to attack.”