When you are low on mobile data, a free or open Wi-Fi network can be tempting. While many dangers are associated with connecting to random wireless networks, it can help you out when you are in a pinch.
Need to send one last work email before hopping on an airplane? Quickly connect to the airport’s free Wi-Fi to get the work done. But before you connect to any public Wi-Fi, it’s critical that you stay protected by using a VPN. Tap or click here to find out how to set up a VPN on all your devices.
Hackers wait for people to connect to an open network before pilfering their data. But sometimes, the danger isn’t when you are on the network but when you try to connect to it. Keep reading for details on a dangerous network that could break your Wi-Fi.
Here’s the backstory
This is, unfortunately, what a mobile user recently found out when he connected to a network with the strange SSID of “%p%s%s%s%s%n.” In a tweet, reverse engineer Carl Schou explained that his iPhone became damaged after connecting.
“After joining, my iPhone permanently disabled its WiFi functionality. Neither rebooting nor changing SSID fixes it,” he said. For clarity, Schou joined his own personal Wi-Fi connection but will similarly damage other phones if a public Wi-Fi is set up with the same name.
After joining my personal WiFi with the SSID “%p%s%s%s%s%n”, my iPhone permanently disabled it’s WiFi functionality. Neither rebooting nor changing SSID fixes it :~) pic.twitter.com/2eue90JFu3— Carl Schou (@vm_call) June 18, 2021
It is unclear as to why this specific network name would disable the Wi-Fi functionality, but a user replied, suggesting Schou reset his iPhone’s network settings. That seemed to correct the issue.
Another software engineer confirmed Schou’s original findings, adding that connecting to a Wi-Fi network with the strange SSID also disables the iPhone’s AirDrop functionality.
“Can confirm this works with an open/unsecured Wi-Fi network with that SSID, and that using the ‘reset network settings’ feature fixes it. Neat find! It also completely breaks AirDrop!” the user tweeted.
Why is this important to you?
With cybercriminals waiting around every virtual corner, you must be incredibly vigilant to which Wi-Fi networks you connect to. Here are some precautions to take to stay secure.
- Avoid connecting to public networks with strange SSID names.
- Never connect to public Wi-Fi to complete online banking or sensitive tasks.
- Always make use of a VPN if you absolutely must connect to an open or public Wi-Fi.
- Never sign into social media, email or banking apps when connected to an open network.
- Make sure that you use antivirus software and keep it updated to the latest version. Tap or click here for 3 reasons to upgrade to Kim’s choice of antivirus protection.