Wi-Fi Snooping Becoming a Big Problem

When you pick up your iPhone and access an application you’ve downloaded, you probably don’t spend much time thinking about identity theft or anything of the sort. However, there’s some evidence to suggest that Wi-Fi snooping is a larger problem than most people think. Here’s what you need to know before you download or access an app on your iOS-driven device.

What Is Wi-Fi Snooping?

In most cases, Wi-Fi snooping occurs when a home or business allows guests to connect to the network, or when a home or business leaves its Wi-Fi network open. Anyone can simply click the SSID and enter a simple code to gain access. This is particularly troublesome when the home or business network is linked and other devices on that network are “discoverable”. Snoopers can then gain access to not only your network, but the files on the connected devices within that network.

What About Encryption?

Most of the connections you’ll come across – even the public ones – are encrypted in some way. This means that it’s very difficult for a snooper to gain access to your device through an open network. However, per CEO of Sudo Security Group Will Strafach, iOS vulnerabilities may allow snoopers to completely bypass that encryption. In fact, Strafach says there are 76 iOS apps on the App Store that are vulnerable to Wi-Fi snooping. They’ve all been placed in low, moderate, and high risk categories.

The Severity of the Risk

The three risk classifications help consumers and iOS device users better understand exactly what’s at risk. A “low-risk” application is one that doesn’t give a snooper access to personally identifiable information. A “moderate-risk” application may allow snoopers to gain access to login information (usernames and passwords). Finally, a “high-risk” application is one that may allow a snooper to discover your bank account information or access your medical records. These are rare, but they do exist.

Mitigating Your Risk

Fortunately, many of the app developers in question are working hard to rework their applications to make them “snoop-proof”. In the meantime, there is one major thing you can change about the way you use your device to protect yourself – don’t use public Wi-Fi networks. Although it may be tempting to connect your phone or tablet to a public Wi-Fi network to save yourself some money or to stretch your mobile data allotment, it’s best to avoid this. When there’s no Wi-Fi available, there’s no way for a snooper to access your information.

Should Apple Be Involved?

If there’s one thing that Strafach says is missing in the fight against Wi-Fi snooping, it’s Apple’s involvement. Strafach says that it should be simple for the multi-billion-dollar tech giant to test for app integrity. Apple should want to become involved in order to provide their audience with an App Store that is trustworthy, as well. Strafach also says that the app developers themselves could likely fix the issues within an hour, though many simply don’t put in the effort.

Should you be concerned about your identity and personal information every time you download an app from the App Store? As long as you use a cellular data connection to perform sensitive tasks, no. After all, the so-called “snoopers” can only access your data when they’re connected to the same Wi-Fi network, so by using cellular data to conduct personal business, you’ve removed that opportunity.