Free Wi-Fi is being blamed for a bump in e-mail fraud that has cost Hong Kong companies nearly HK$900 million (US$116 million) this year.
Scammers have been targeting office employees who work on their mobile devices in public places where internet connectivity is free.
Data sent on free Wi-Fi is not encrypted, making it vulnerable to hackers, Apple Daily reports, citing Sean Lin, chief inspector of the Cyber Security and Technology Crime Bureau.
Hackers can steal users’ account names, passwords and other sensitive corporate data with a specially designed malware.
The information is then sold to criminals, he said.
Lin warned office workers to refrain from using free Wi-Fi hotspots to process sensitive corporate data or send e-mails.
Scammers stole HK$877 million (US$113.14 million) between January and September, up 12 percent year on year, despite a 13 percent drop to 738 in the number of related cases.
They normally hack corporate data through phishing e-mails or e-mails sent by employees on free Wi-Fi.
Lin said scammers collect detailed information on the victims’ business partners, their actual targets.
They then pretend to be high-level executives and ask the partners to send money to fake accounts in Hong Kong.
In one such case, a Middle East branch of a global insurance company lost HK$82 million in August.
The culprits immediately transferred the money to another location. The police have been trying to track it down.
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