internetPublic WiFi is great if your mobile internet is either too slow or if you’re reaching your data cap, or if you want to download a big file without eating into your data plan. However we guess it does not come as a surprise that public WiFi isn’t exactly the most secure WiFi that you can connect to, right?

While that might seem like common sense, it seems that data theft over public WiFi has been on the rise, leading to cybercrime police officers at Europol issuing a warning to the public, informing them that if they wanted to use public WiFi, perhaps sending sensitive information might not be the best idea.

According to Troels Oerting, the head of the cybercrime center at Europol, “We have seen an increase in the misuse of Wi-Fi, in order to steal information, identity or passwords and money from the users who use public or insecure Wi-Fi connections.” As it stands, Europol will be assisting several European countries in which attacks have been carried out on.

One of the reasons why this is being brought to light again is because of the growth in mobile traffic which grew by 81% in 2013 according to Cisco Systems. That and the fact that cable companies such as Comcast and Time Warner, with the support of Microsoft and Google to expand the growth of WiFi has created a situation in which users need to be more aware.

According to Martyn Thomas, an independent consultant software engineer at the UK Institution of Engineering and Technology, “No one has managed to find a way to certify security of systems or to charge for better security. The result is free software and free Wi-Fi that potentially puts everyone at risk.” So the next time you decide to hop onto a free public WiFi, perhaps try to keep the sending of sensitive information to a minimum.

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