Security Tip: The importance of removing known wireless networks

September 5, 2016

The problem

For anyone that travels frequently, the list of networks you may have connected your PC or phone to may be expansive. It is common for users to have networks saved for hotel chains, coffee shops, airports, restaurants, and anything in between. Unfortunately, this “convenience” is also a goldmine for hackers. Keep reading to understand the importance of removing known wireless networks.

Creating a network called “Marriott Guest” and dropping it in the middle of an airport is like shooting fish in a barrel for hackers. Anyone reading an eBook on their iPad, or modifying a Word document on their laptop will immediately start sending traffic to the hacker’s wireless network. Most importantly, applications will connect in the background and start downloading emails and other files all without any user interaction.

What to do about it

If you have been careless about where your devices connected in the past, see the links below to get specific instructions on how to remove any known wireless networks from your device. Remove any network you will not use again in the foreseeable future, and anything popular. The more common the network is (Starbucks, Panera, every hotel chain), the bigger the payout for hackers. Keep this list clean on any device you carry with you to public spaces.

Note: These are references to third-party sites, but each reference was a well-documented walkthrough of the steps it takes. Each device only takes a few minutes.

If you have questions, reach out to your nearest IT person and ask for advice. They’ll be happy you asked.