Free Tube Wi-Fi services prompt data security concerns


Security vendor GFI Software is warning London commuters to be on their guard while using the public Wi-Fi services offered by Tube stations across the capital.

Free Wi-Fi services were rolled out across London Underground stations in the run up to last year's Olympics by broadband provider Virgin Media.

Since the start of 2013, the firm has scaled back the availability of its free services, meaning people that are not Virgin Media, EE or Vodafone customers have to pay to access them.

Your wireless data could be intercepted by anyone that may have inexpensive packet sniffing' software installed.

Users of 50 London Overground stations also have the option to connect to the public Wi-Fi services offered by The Cloud.

However, GFI Software claims using these services could compromise the security of commuters' devices and their data, and expose them to attacks by opportunistic hackers.

Phil Bousfield, general manager of IT operations at GFI Software, said the Tube network's Wi-Fi services have no encryption in place, meaning data can be intercepted with ease.

"Your wireless data could be intercepted by anyone that may have inexpensive packet sniffing' software installed," he warned.

"Wi-Fi on the Tube is potentially good for productivity, [but] its use should not be encouraged at the expense of information and personal security," said Bousfield.

He also claimed tablet and smartphone users often have a "false sense of security", as they often do not realise their devices are subject to the same threats as laptop users.

"Malware writers are increasingly turning their attention to mobile platforms, with all devices increasingly at risk of physical or wireless data theft," he added.

Caroline Donnelly is the news and analysis editor of IT Pro and its sister site Cloud Pro, and covers general news, as well as the storage, security, public sector, cloud and Microsoft beats. Caroline has been a member of the IT Pro/Cloud Pro team since March 2012, and has previously worked as a reporter at several B2B publications, including UK channel magazine CRN, and as features writer for local weekly newspaper, The Slough and Windsor Observer. She studied Medical Biochemistry at the University of Leicester and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism at PMA Training in 2006.