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Warning for Australians using free Wi-Fi in public placesUnsuspecting users are at serious risk.

Warning for Australians using free Wi-Fi in public places
Unsuspecting users are at serious risk.

Australians are being warned about free Wi-Fi at airports, hotels and restaurants after a passenger on a flight to Perth allegedly mimicked the inflight Wi-Fi to harvest data from those on board.

Michael Clapsis, 42, is accused of faking the Wi-Fi on a recent flight to Perth, with confused passengers finding two inflight networks available on their devices.

WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE: Hidden risk of using free Wi-Fi at airports, hotels and restaurants.

One was real, while the other was a copy — allegedly created by Clapsis to capture personal data.

He allegedly used a portable wireless access device in his luggage to create the “evil twin” Wi-Fi network to lure unsuspecting users.

Police allege when people tried to connect to the fake free Wi-Fi network, they were taken to a fake webpage requiring them to sign in using their personal details.

Those details were then allegedly saved and could be used to access more personal information, including a victim’s bank details or online communications.

Police allege Clapsis, from Western Australia, used the device on multiple flights and at multiple airports.

He has been charged with nine cybercrime offences and faced court in late June, when his case was adjourned to August.

Technology analyst Leigh Stark told 7NEWS: “If you know what you’re doing, it doesn’t take a lot of effort — you create a Wi-Fi network and let other people log on and you start taking their details from it.

“To an extent, a free Wi-Fi network is mostly safe, it depends on who’s providing it.”

Stark said it was “next to impossible” to tell whether a Wi-Fi network was good or bad at first glance.

“You have to make sure you’re doing the right thing,” he said.

People using a company phone on public Wi-Fi can open doors for hackers to access entire corporate networks.

The advice is to avoid free Wi-Fi where possible and, if you must use it, use a virtual private network (VPN).

“A VPN will help you encrypt that data so the person operating that network isn’t really getting the best of you,” Stark said.
 

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