Better Business Bureau 

Free Wi-Fi connections can lead to sidejacking

BBB warns of growing online attacks targeting Wi-Fi Users


Sidejacking is a common term for man-in-the-middle “eavesdropping” attacks that occur through unsecured Wi-Fi connections. Coffee shops, college campuses, airports and hotels are breeding grounds for hackers who try to compromise personal information and place computers at risk for viruses.

Better Business Bureau serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington warns users to be cautious when connecting to public hotspots and surfing on a non-secure Internet connection.

Using public Wi-Fi is inherently risky; laptops, smartphones and tablets are all susceptible to security breaches. Exercising best practices takes only a few extra seconds and can eliminate many dangers.

BBB recommends the following steps to protect from hackers:

• Update protection. Make sure virus protection and anti-malware programs are up-to-date and active.

• Never assume connections are legitimate. Many fake networks deliberately utilize similar names, such as “coffee_shop1” or “official airport wifi.”

• Look for connection authenticity. Look for signs posted at the location providing the connection, or ask an employee for information about the legitimate Wi-Fi access point.

• Use a Virtual Private Network. VPNs encrypt data that passes through the connection and prevent interception.

• Avoid specific websites. Social networking channels, online banking services and certain shopping sites contain significant amounts of personal/financial data that, if hijacked, could seriously compromise identities.

BBB reminds online users to frequently change passwords and to not stay permanently logged in to wireless networks. For more information about online safety, check out; visit the BBB News & Events page at for the latest scam alerts and marketplace updates.


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