1) Public Wifi
If you’ve been online in the past few years, you’ve likely seen this warning already from VPN ads and security experts: don’t connect straight to public WiFi if you can help it, and if you do, don’t do your online banking on it. If the hacker gains special access to the WiFi network without the actual owners knowing, they can see the data that travels to and from the systems attached to it.
2) Juice Jacking
There was a period of time between the phone security we see today and teeny-tiny tech found in things like micro-cameras where hackers could connect chips to public USB plug-ins and steal data. This happened either directly through the port or by downloading malware designed to send that info after a certain amount of time. Things like pictures, app passwords, saved files and audio recordings , anything you wouldn’t want to share over USB. Luckily, a security conference revealed a lot of these issues before they became an epidemic, and between Android updating with a white-list system and Apple updating with security patches, juice jacking is less and less common. If you’re still worried, there are a number of ways that don’t rely on programming, like using the cable/adaptor that came with your device or using a cable with no data cord.
3) Illegitimately Named HotSpots
In this case, the hacker renames a WiFi source (which could be a phone hotspot or something similar) to something that you’re looking for. Maybe it’s the free WiFi for the hotel, and you don’t notice that there’s two of them before you go through the effort of logging in with your room’s key and the password they gave you – which the hacker doesn’t need, but it gives an air of legitimacy to the fake network. Now the hacker can see your online traffic, whether it be to apps on your phone or to websites on your laptop. Private information is no longer private.
This is different than the previously mentioned public WiFi: in this method, the hacker owns the fake network, where on public WiFi, they don’t. The legitimate admin on a WiFi channel that the hacker doesn’t own might eventually notice and kick them from it, but the WiFi source the hacker owns would need to be shut down to keep people off of it since the hacker is the source.
Renaming networks to get phones to auto-connect can also be a problem, but if it’s not done right unseen data alerts the phone that HomeNetwork1 isn’t really the network it is supposed to auto-connect to. This means that this hack is more complicated than the method listed above; most people would probably pause for a second if their phone was asking for permission to connect to their home network from miles away, without a password. Social engineering a connection to a network the device is unfamiliar with anyway is an easier, more efficient way to steal data.
Be sure to turn off WiFi seeking features until you’re ready to connect to a specific network of your choosing, which removes this possibility altogether.
4) Over the Shoulder
The simplest method of gaining illegitimate access to your accounts is via Social Engineering. Now, it’s not easy – if you’ve ever tried before out of curiosity, you’ll know that most people type too fast for your eyes to actually follow, and that’s not including hitting the shift key and adding in numbers or punctuation, etc. so it’s simple – not easy. But difficult is not impossible, and if your password is especially simple, or they watch you glance at a sticky note you’ve stuck somewhere to remember the password, the chance that they’ll successfully remember or find your password goes up. Remember, the best passwords are long and decently complicated!