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A dangerous option

Read: 737 Comments: 7 Rating: 8


When connecting to a known Wi-Fi network, we’re asked whether we want to connect automatically in the future. Many people choose to enable this option. And why not?

A few simple steps are required to set up a public Wi-Fi network and assign it the SSID of another popular open network.

An SSID (Service Set Identifier) is a 32-bit alphanumeric character identifier of a wireless local network. To communicate with each other, wireless devices must be configured to use the same SSID. In effect, an SSID is a Wi-Fi network name. It is supposed to be unique because it has been designed to prevent accidental or deliberate connections from being established using other wireless equipment. But nothing can prevent an attacker from assigning someone else's SSID to a network of their own. And they can do it away from that network to prevent conflicts.

My experiment lasted from 7 a.m. until midday sharp. I conducted it in a large town near Moscow.

As many as 95 devices managed to connect to my hotspot in a relatively short period of time. The connected devices included:

  • 24 iPhones (it is worth mentioning that their hostnames are usually based on the names of their owners)
  • 31 Android-powered devices
  • 1 Windows phone
  • 1 BlackBerry device
  • 10 Redmi phones from Xiaomi
  • 7 laptops
  • There were also a number of other devices with Wi-Fi modules.


79% connected to the hotspot automatically, i.e., without human intervention. Only 20 users tapped “Connect to the Internet" (21 of the total number of connected devices).

According to the experiment's author, he managed to write this nasty piece of code in a few minutes while commuting on a bouncing bus. And that means an attacker can do this just as easily.

#Internet #security #terminology #mobile

Dr.Web recommends

  • Once you have finished reading this issue, disable automatic Wi-Fi connections and clear the list of known Wi-Fi networks.
  • Do not set your device to connect to a certain network automatically unless absolutely necessary.
  • If a connection is somewhat unstable, reconnecting to a network manually can be somewhat inconvenient. So use an anti-virus. Because you never know for sure what network your device is really connected to.
  • As a rule, home routers also have default SSIDs. We recommend that you change yours—you don't really want owners of other similar routers to try connecting to it too, right?

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