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How hackers can take control over your devices through free Public Wifi

Updated: Feb 9, 2021

Recently, we came across a video by Channel News Asia on the dangers of using free Public Wifi.Let us bring you through a summarized version of what was shown in the video. Before we begin, let us first briefly introduce you to the two main characters in the video – Dan Tan, a cyber-security expert who will act as a hacker in this video and Joshua Lim, the host of CNA ‘Why It Matters’, who will have his phone hacked by Dan.The video first starts off with Joshua, who has connected his smart phone to a simulated Changi Wifi – a free Public Wifi. Dan too, connects his laptop to the same network. While doing so, he runs a hacking program on his laptop that is capable to access the devices of those who are connected to the same network. In this video, he connects to Joshua’s device.

Full visibility of what you are doing on your phone

Dan is now able to gain full visibility of what Joshua is surfing and doing on his device. One instance was when Joshua went into a browser and was looking at the news of Stan Lee’s death. Dan was able to point out exactly what Joshua was surfing as it was shown on his hacking program screen. Even Joshua himself seemed amused at the hacker’s capability and asked, “So you can see what I am doing on my phone?”, to which Dan replies, “Yes, I do.”

‘Man in the middle’ attack

Dan then got Joshua to open a file on his Cloud Storage. As soon as he opened up the Word Doc file on his smart phone, it was instantly flashed on Dan’s laptop. Dan could fully view the file and its content. He was also able to save a copy of the file without Joshua knowing at all.Dan shared that, “It’s not just that we can see, we can basically access and save a copy of it. This is a demonstration of a ‘man in the middle’ attack.” This is how vulnerable you’re risking yourself when you connect to a public wifi because when you connect to a hacker’s rogue wifi, they can see every password you enter, every email that you send and every document that you access.

Hackers can activate your phone features remotely

Downloading free WiFi applications created by hackers could give the more access. Dan said that, “With the app itself, the hacker could trigger a lot of stuff.” While Dan and Joshua came to an end of this topic, Dan received a file sent from Joshua’s phone. Dan have triggered the voice recording feature in Joshua’s phone and sent the recording from Joshua’s phone to his laptop. There were zero signs on the phone showing that the phone was in recording mode. Dan then shared that it was not limited to just voice recording, but he could also access the cameras and other phone features as well. Basically, the hacker has full control over your devices!

“What is the worst thing that can happen to me if I get hacked like that?”

Joshua asked Dan on what are the worst scenarios that may happen if he gets hacked like this. Dan replied that with the information stolen from the devices, the hacker can easily impersonate the victim, and then obtain confidential information such as their loved ones, their family, their friends and even know who they’re dealing with especially for businessmen.

How do I prevent this and protect myself?

  1. Never, never enter sensitive information such as your password when you are connected to a free public network.

  2. Install security solutions to your device. Asiacloud highly recommends Panda Dome Series for Personal Use or Adaptive Defence 360 for Corporate Use.

  3. Invest in a Portable Wifi Device that you can conveniently use it wherever you go. You may read up more about WeRocket here

  4. If you are keen to find out how Panda Security and WeRocket (Portable Wifi Device) is able to help you, please feel free to CONTACT US.

Post written by Debra on 23rd January 2019.


CNA Insider, 15 Jan 2019. The free Wi-Fi trap: How hackers use it to steal your info. Retrieved from Channel News Asia Online:

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