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December 7, 2012

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Beware fake public Wi-Fi service

POLICE are warning residents to be cautious when using free public Wi-Fi service i-Shanghai as fake ones such as "l-Shanghai" are being used by hackers to steal users' private information.

Shanghai cyber police said yesterday that hackers can easily build Wi-Fi hot spots in public venues and give them names such as "l-Shanghai" or "1-Shanghai," similar to the official hot spot to confuse and entrap users.

Once victims connect with the bogus networks, hackers may monitor their online activities and steal their information, police said.

"The hackers may see and copy the profile names and passwords when the victims attempt to log onto common websites via their wireless networks," police said in a post on their Weibo microblog.

"By collecting private information, the hackers may log onto those websites or use chat software with the victims' profiles, which may lead to scams," the police said.

Residents who use cell phones with small screens to log onto the free Wi-Fi should pay close attention when checking the network's name, as it can be difficult to tell the difference between the letters "i" or "l, or the number "1" in small type, police warned.

An easy way to identify the fake Wi-Fi hot spots is noticing whether those networks require a password to log in.

Although i-Shanghai is a free service, it still requires users to obtain a password before getting online. To obtain the password, users should provide their cell phone numbers and the password would then be sent to their phones.

The fake Wi-Fi services, however, would not require any password, police said.

As part of a program to turn Shanghai into an "intelligent city," i-Shanghai began providing free wireless hot spots in July covering 30 public venues including the railway stations, ports, hospitals, exhibition centers and a number of popular scenic spots such as Xintiandi and Yuyuan Garden.

Shanghai residents can log onto i-Shanghai for free wireless service and two hours of free Internet access every day.

By the end of this year, the city is expected to have service at 300 major public places.


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