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CERT Issues Warning Against Public WiFi Even As Govt. Plans 7.5 Lakh Rural WiFi Hotspots!

Against the backdrop of recent WiFi vulnerabilities, India is on the verge of a digital revolution with availability of cheap or free data!

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Free WiFi

WiFi wave is picking up steam in India, as Govt. of India is setting up the necessary infrastructure for allowing more and more people join the Digital India vision.

However, at the same time, the threat of using WiFi is also looming large, and Govt. of India has issued a fresh warning against using free WiFi networks, especially at airports and railway stations.

The threat has been described as ‘high’.

For the general public, these two news are contradictory ones – Should they go for high speed Internet using WiFi or should they avoid it?

And most importantly, how to check which Internet connection is truth worthy, and which are malicious in nature?

We try to investigate..

7.5 Lakh Rural WiFi Hotspots To Be Established

Telecom Secretary Aruna Sundararajan has informed the nation that Govt. will establish around 7.5 lakh WiFi hotspots all across rural India, for greater push for Internet usage and for ease in access of Internet.

She said,

“The idea is to enable e-governance and digital-development initiatives through provision of high-speed, and affordable internet infrastructure..”

In a new push for rural Internet, Govt. is collaborating with Gram Panchayats, and establishing high speed broadband which can be accessed via centralized WiFi hotspot.

She said, “We have reached 75,000 GPs (Gram Panchayats) by now, and the network is up there. Our target is to reach 1 lakh GPs by this December.”

A private-public model is being worked out, wherein leading telecom players such as Airtel, Jio, Idea, Vodafone along with state carrier BSNL would be roped in to expand WiFi in rural and semi-rural locations.

By the end of 2018, the plan is to roll out 7.5 lakh WiFi hotspots, all over rural India.

This is seen as a major push towards Digital India mission.

CERT Warning: Don’t Use Public Wifi At Railway Stations, Airports

Meanwhile, amidst global cyber attack on public WiFi systems, Govt of India has issued a strict warning against usage of public WiFi platforms, especially at airports and railway stations.

The nodal Govt. agency which is responsible for highlighting, alerting and stopping security risks, Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-in), has issued a warning which is categorized as ‘high’.

In a statement, CERT said,

“Successful exploitation of these vulnerabilities allows an attacker to obtain sensitive information such as credit card numbers, passwords, chat messages, emails etc,”

This warning was issued within 48 hours of the KRACK attack on public WiFi systems all over the world. Discovered by a security specialist named Mathy Vanhoef, this attack has left all WiFi routers vulnerable to malware and virus attacks, as the security protocol WPA2 network security has been breached.

As per CERT’s advisory, public at large are requested to access only secured VPN based WiFi, if they are trying to access any public WiFi service.

We will keep you updated as receive more updates.

  1. Raj Nambiar says

    Please read the paper that the article links to. Let me quote

    ” For an attacker this is easy to accomplish, because our key reinstallation attack is exceptionally devastating against Linux and Android 6.0 or higher. This is because Android and Linux can be tricked into (re)installing an all-zero encryption key”

    The vulnerability is also connected to the behavior of android os, mainly, and can be patched easily. Network hacking is nothing new and ready made tools are available to crack wifi network access, and the holes are plugged as and when new threats are detected. This will be an ongoing scenario, as long as technology exists. Nothing scary, as such.

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