Protected Voices: Wi-Fi

The FBI’s Protected Voices initiative provides cybersecurity recommendations to political campaigns on multiple topics, including Wi-Fi, to help mitigate the risk of cyber influence operations targeting U.S. elections.


Video Transcript

Hi, I’m Raushaunah, a special agent with the FBI. I’m here to talk about some of the dangers associated with using public Wi-Fi.

Campaigns today need to connect in real time to potential voters, campaign workers, and volunteers. However, you’ve got to take precautions to secure your communications and online activity. This is especially true when using public, or open, Wi-Fi.

Cyber attackers can and do take advantage of public Wi-Fi in a variety of ways. Before getting into those, however, let’s clarify what public, or open, Wi-Fi means.

It can mean anything from a simple unlocked Wi-Fi connection where anyone can connect their device, like at a coffee shop or a mall, to a hotel Wi-Fi connection, which may only require a simple password like your room number.

Which means any Wi-Fi connection where you do not maintain administrator control of the wireless router has the potential to be easily used against you.

There are multiple methods attackers can use to target you and your data. For example:

There’s the man in the middle attacks, where attackers intercept your data as it transits to and from your system.

Intercepts of unencrypted traffic: If the router is not set to use encryption, your data can be intercepted, or it can be used to deliver malware directly to your device.

And then there are rogue access points, or fake Wi-Fi connections, typically using names similar to legitimate access point in hope that users will log on and allow attackers to intercept all of your Internet traffic. In other words, you may think you’re on a trusted network because it has the right name, but anyone can name their Wi-Fi network whatever they want, and criminals exploit this vulnerability.

These are just a few of the methods by which attackers can steal your data or compromise your device when you use public Wi-Fi.

Now, there are several steps you can take to help protect your information.

Use a virtual private network, or VPN, to encrypt your data. Watch our VPN video to learn more about this tool.

Be sure the sites you use or visit are HTTPS enabled, which confirms the website is using encryption. Websites that use only HTTP are not secure.

Do not enable file sharing on your device.

Don’t set your device to autoconnect to available networks.

Disable your device’s Wi-Fi connections when they are not in use.

And finally, avoid sensitive transactions like shopping, banking, and sensitive work that requires passwords or credit card information.

Securing your information on both your campaign device and your personal device should be everyone’s priority. While the steps I’ve outlined won’t thwart every attack, they’re a good starting point for using Wi-Fi safely. 

Remember, your voice matters, so protect it.

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