Computerworld today has a very interesting article "InfoSec: 'Evil twin' Wi-Fi access points proliferate". It documents the growing proliferation of twin WiFi networks run by crminals and hackers to steal your identity and authentication information.
The article describes the attacks:
The next time you splurge on a double latte and sip it while browsing the Internet via the local cafe's Wi-Fi, beware of the "evil twin."
That's the term for a Wi-Fi access point that appears to be a legitimate one offered on the premises, but actually has been set up by a hacker to eavesdrop on wireless communications among Internet surfers. Unfortunately, experts say there is little consumers can do to protect themselves, but enterprises may be in better shape.
With the growth in wireless networks, the evil twin type of attack is on the rise, said Phil Cracknell, president of the U.K. branch of the Information Systems Security Association. Such attacks are much easier than others seeking log-ins or passwords, such as phishing, which involves setting up a fraudulent Web site and luring people to it, Cracknell said.
A rogue Wi-Fi connection can be set up on a laptop with a bit of simple programming and a special Universal Serial Bus thumb drive that acts as an access point. The access points are hard to trace, since they can suddenly be shut off, and they are easy to build, Cracknell said.
The article goes on further to explain that enterprise users may not put themselves at risk of such attacks by using a VPN connection. Consumers however are wide open to the risk of such attack.
Best advice: Don't use hotspots in public places to use the internet or, you may risk identity and authentication theft.