Is asking for the Wi-Fi password the first thing you do when you walk into a restaurant or cafe? For many the answer is yes, for others it may be the second thing they do. In any case, in an era of logging in wherever we go, many people use sensitive information on the invisible Net, posing a risk to their finances and personal safety.
Here, three students share their experience of being tricked or having their personal information stolen. Whether it’s chatting on QQ, shopping on Taobao or connecting to a “free” Wi-Fi network, not being careful can have serious consequences.
Following safety tips are provided by Xu Xingxing, 28, a senior engineer in the Internet payment department of ePro (Beijing) Information Technology Company.
Hackers plant viruses on public computers and websites to steal the passwords for your accounts when you log on.
Yang Lina, 22, a senior majoring in Chinese literature at Shandong Normal University, chatted to her niece online during the summer vacation. “My niece was studying in Germany at the time. When I asked when she would come back, she said she wanted to fly back next week but that her bank account had been blocked and that she couldn’t get any cash,” said Yang.
“She asked me to transfer 10,000 yuan to her classmate’s account, and not to tell her parents as they would worry about her. She launched a video chat and I could see her. What’s more, her behavior was the same as usual. For instance, she always called Bonn ‘a small village’,” said Yang.
Yang transferred 10,000 yuan to the account. But later, when her niece appeared again, she realizeed she had been tricked.
How to avoid being tricked
Always set up a complicated password for your accounts. It’s best to include special characters in the password, as this makes it harder for hackers to decipher.
Most viruses come from illegal websites, USB sticks and mobile hard drives, so you should run a virus scan before you use them. When a virus accesses your computer, the hacker can control the camera to record your image, or even to record you typing in passwords on your keyboard. So pay attention that you don’t point the camera at your keyboard.
Friends and relatives should also be cautious about strange requests, especially from someone who is abroad. People abroad are usually harder to reach when verification is needed, and relatives and family members are often extra protective when they hear about an emergency. Students should leave multiple contact numbers with their family and keep family and friends updated on their news.
Liu Wenjiang, 18, a sophomore majoring in automotive engineering at Wuhan Technical College of Communications, found a new laptop selling for only 1,600 yuan on Taobao.
“It was only half the market price,” Liu said. “I talked to the seller online and he or she sent me a link asking me to do a favor by paying one yuan for an item and leaving a good rating for the store. When I had done this I could take advantage of the offer, the seller said.”
The link opened a website that was so similar to the Taobao website that Liu didn’t suspect a thing. He typed in his bank account and password according to the prompts.
When the website told Liu there was an error, he asked the seller what the problem was, but the seller didn’t reply.
A few minutes later, he discovered that 2,000 yuan had been taken from his bank account.
How to avoid phishing
It’s best to use a U aegis, or a dynamic verification code for every bank transaction. With these precautions, fraudsters can’t take your money even if they know your password.
The passwords for your social media accounts, bank account, e-mail and forums should all be different. This is because the password for a forum can be easily cracked, and if the passwords for your other accounts are all the same, hackers can access your e-mail inbox, find personal information and figure out other passwords.
Ren Zhijiong, 24, a fresh graduate who works as a marketing executive in Shenzhen, used his cell phone to access the Wi-Fi at a Starbucks cafe.
“I found two Wi-Fi networks, one called Starbucks and the other Starbucks2. The first one required me to register on a website, but the second one didn’t require a password. So I connected to the second one, and paid for an air ticket through my mobile banking app. But when I tried to buy a movie ticket through another app, I found I couldn’t log on to my bank account,” said Ren.
“I called my bank and they told me that my password had been changed. When I asked the staff at Starbucks, they told me that they didn’t provide a Wi-Fi network called Starbucks2.”
How to stay safe on the go
Usually, you need to ask the staff in the store to give you the Wi-Fi password. If there are several Wi-Fi networks, ask the staff to confirm which one is provided by the store.
Some people like to connect to Wi-Fi networks automatically on their smartphone or laptop, but this means they’re at risk of falling into a trap without even noticing. It’s safer to choose “connect manually”.