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Wireless Attack Types: What is Evil Twin attack (Wi-Fi Phishing)?

written by: Ashwin Satyanarayana•edited by: Ronda Bowen•updated: 7/4/2011

Did you know how vulnerable you could have been each time you opened your laptop or connected your mobile device using Wi-Fi at one of these hot spots in town? You could have been attacked virtually with an attack known an Evil Twin Attack? Yet another attack? what does it mean? Read on

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    Can you take a guess as to which cities have most number of Wi-Fi spots in the world? Well, then answer, according to CMP, is Chicago, Houston, Dallas, Singapore, San Francisco, Munich, San Jose, and Los Angeles. So, why are we playing this little quiz?

    We are doing that in acknowledgement of the fact that the wireless phenomenon is hot, happening and increasingly ubiquitous. It is everywhere now. Wi-Fi hotspot giants like ipass and Boingo wireless have never sent this kind of growth earlier and now they will laugh all the way to the bank.

    All of that is nice, except that we have a few problems that come with anything worth being good. We have Internet security problems, especially when trying to access data through these public hot spots. Most of these Wi-Fi hotspots aren’t secure and are wide open for the hackers to encroach into. As most of the individual and corporate users do tend to gather at these hot-spots, the more this call for a sound awareness is justified.

    One of the most important types of attack these users have to know about is called as an Evil Twin Attack (also called as Wi-Fi Phishing). This kind of attack typically happens when a hacker constructs a mock (but still functional) Wi-Fi access point (AP) right at the place where there ought to be an original and legitimate Access Point. The reason this works so well is that for a well orchestrated attack, the illegitimate AP has stronger signals than the legitimate one and hence the unsuspecting users might log on to this mock-up connection and then use the internet while sharing all their precious data -- all the way from their user IDs, passwords to credit/debit card information.

    Hopping around Wi-Fi spots is a likely reason why this is such a prevalent cause for the Evil Twin Attack. It is recommended that the Wi-Fi network interface cards must be disabled when not in use and the Windows XP should be preset such that it accepts only preferred and trusted networks and only in infrastructure mode on user’s acceptance only.