Sochi: A Five-Ring Circus of Web Security Nightmares, or Just Another Day on the Wi-Fi

Posted: February 12th, 2014
Filed under: IIS & HTTP


A lot of people are talking about the web security concerns in Sochi. Have you heard the story about that guy immediately being hacked when booting up a laptop, or how everyone at Sochi will definitely be hacked because of the unsafe the Wi-Fi networks there?

These incidents are not exclusive to Sochi: they are concerns for all open Wi-Fi networks. In fact, you may not be much safer on your local cafe’s public Wi-Fi. That guy sitting in the back corner sipping his latte isn’t working, he’s running WireShark (or another sniffer tool) to steal information about your online banking session. You don’t even need much technical capability to do what he’s doing, just the willingness to perform an illegal activity.

Big media outlets running stories on the vulnerabilities and security concerns of Wi-Fi are nothing new either. Even the Early Show reported on it back in 2010. While this isn’t a recent development to be concerned about, our fears might be intensified by perceptions of Russia’s hacking community. Plus, it seems like half of the narrative of this year’s Olympic games has been aimed at placing all things “Russia” in a negative light. Regardless of whether this negativity toward Russia is warranted, the importance of using secure Wi-Fi practices everywhere is what matters.

To help users– whether they are in Sochi or at Starbucks– stay secure while browsing over Wi-Fi, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite resources on wireless security and threats. (Note: Paul Proctor wrote a good piece touching on this on the Gartner blog.)

Wi-Fi Security Threats

What are the potential consequences of insecure wifi usage? Anything from someone spying on your conversations on Facebook messenger, to serious data theft.

Top 10 Wi-Fi Security Threats – eSecurity Planet outlines a number of threats wifi users should be aware of, like data interception and rogue access points.

Convenience or Security: You can’t have both when it comes to Wi-Fi – Michael P. Kassner talks to Jacob Williams about the popularity of Wi-Fi for data interception.

The Risks of Public Wi-Fi Infographic – ZoneAlarm created an infographic detailing some of the most popular Wi-Fi exploits.

Wi-Fi Security Tips

There are clearly plenty of threats out there, so how do you protect yourself? Some of the common points are:

  • Don’t use open Wi-Fi for performing sensitive tasks like online banking
  • When not using Wi-Fi, make sure you have Wi-Fi disabled from your devices, otherwise they may automatically connect to a malicious fake access point
  • Browse over HTTPS whenever possible
  • Use a virtual private network (VPN) when browsing on an open network

What an eavesdropper can see over Wi-Fi and how to secure yourself – See what an eavesdropper can see when they snoop on you over Wi-Fi and get some good tips on how to use Wi-Fi securely toward the bottom.

Google Promotes Secure Network Usage – Google promotes secure network in its “Google Safety Center.”

How to Stay Secure on Public Wi-Fi – Gizmag offers some quick, simple tips for keeping your devices secure while you’re out and about on Wi-Fi.

How scared should you be to use your phone on public Wi-Fi? – This piece points out some concerns but also provides some mobile specific tips. For Android users, there is also an instructional video for encrypting your data.


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