Channel NewsAsia

Beware of hackers, malicious users when using WiFi network sharing apps

Developers of one app hope it will help users save on their 3G or 4G usage, but some cyber security experts say some free networks could have been set up by hackers to steal information from users.

SINGAPORE: At least two apps which allow people to share their WiFi connections have emerged in Singapore. Some even allow users to make public their passwords, so that others can tap their networks.

The WiFi-Map app can list WiFi hotspots in the vicinity which are not password-protected. It even has passwords shared by netizens using commercial and residential WiFi connections.

According to estimates by the developer, the app lists 1.2 million WiFi hotspots globally. Of these, at least 700 hotspots are provided by netizens in Singapore.

Developers hope the app will help users save on their 3G or 4G usage, but some cyber security experts say some free networks could have been set up by hackers to steal information from users. Even for those with good intentions, malicious users may use the networks to download illegal content such as pornography or unlicensed software.

Shirley Wong, co-chairman of the Cyber Security Awareness Alliance, said: "If there is a prevalent use, there is certainly a concern. However, it may be difficult for regulators to prosecute. First, it is a service that is offered for free, and it may appear to be with no ill-intent unless the offenders are being caught. But a lot of times, the responsibility lies with the users ... if they were to download illegal content, they will be the ones to be prosecuted."