Years of corporate investment in cyber security is being put at risk by a Wi-Fi hotspot designed to capture information as your employees interact with the Internet.

The Wi-Fi Pineapple, in use by would-be and professional hackers alike, looks to take advantage of employee hand held devices or laptops that are pre-configured to automatically connect to hotspots that have been previously accessed. At a cost of just £60, employees who choose to access the Internet via Pineapple W-Fi hotspots are inadvertently allowing unscrupulous operators, in real-time, to source their usernames, passwords, bank details and e-mail communications.

So how does this happen?

Periodically, laptops or mobile devices will send out a probe (this is how electronic devices automatically connect to Wi-Fi hotspots, i.e. your home network) in order to identify known Wireless Networks.

This cigarette-packet sized Wi-Fi Pineapple device is designed to exploit this convenient feature by responding with YES. That’s me. Let’s get you connected to the Internet!

The Wi-Fi Pineapple device is already connected to the Internet, possibly via a 3G dongle, so as to remain discretely hidden away in a restaurant clock-room, for example. This means that unsuspecting laptops and mobile devices which have inadvertently connected to the Wi-Fi Pineapple still have full access to the Internet.

The attacker can now choose to do a number of things, from simply watching and logging your browsing activities, to manipulating the websites you visit in an attempt to gain access to your device and your information.

This method of gaining unauthorised access to information is just one present day example that demonstrates the importance of cyber security and the need for businesses to invest in awareness training for employees.

While Wi-Fi provides enormous convenience in our day-to-day lives, it doesn’t come without risk. Accessible from almost anywhere, whether it be the local coffee house, hotel or restaurant, the risk posed by Wi-Fi hotspots needs to be understood if you’re going to protect your business from potential cyber-crime.

No amount of technology can put a stop to these malicious tactics. The Flickering Firewall requires employees to play their part when it comes to minimising risk and those who have been put through their paces when it comes to Information Security add incredible value to any organisation’s defence strategy. Conversely, those who haven’t been trained could unknowingly expose the “keys to the kingdom” and undo years of corporate investment in data protection, all in the time it takes to drink a Café Latte.

So although Wi-Fi makes life a lot easier for internet users; what is lurking behind it can have detrimental consequences to both you and your business.