PNP, GCash warn public vs. free Wi-Fi

PNP, GCash warn public vs. free Wi-Fi
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THE Philippine National Police Anti-Cybercrime Group (PNP-ACG), in close coordination with GCash, has issued an advisory cautioning against the use of free Wi-Fi networks, which are often unsecured and can lead to mobile phone hacking, remote access and account takeovers.

GCash, a mobile finance app, has expressed concern about the potential risks of connecting to free and unsecured Wi-Fi hotspots, which may render millions of user accounts vulnerable to cyber threats.

The PNP-ACG cautioned that these malicious free Wi-Fi hotspots are commonly found in hotel rooms, coffee shops, airports and other public areas.

“While open Wi-Fi networks may offer the allure of free and easily accessible internet, it’s important to recognize that their open and unsecured nature also exposes users to vulnerabilities and cyber threats,” said PNP-ACG Director Brig. Gen. Ronnie Francis Cariaga.

One of the primary concerns highlighted by Cariaga is the susceptibility of electronic devices to Man-In-The-Middle attacks when connected to open Wi-Fi networks.

The PNP-ACG and GCash strongly advise the public to exercise caution and refrain from using public Wi-Fi networks. Instead, individuals are encouraged to rely on secure mobile networks for their internet connectivity needs, particularly when traveling.

“Public and open Wi-Fi networks are risky because they often lack strong encryption, allowing cybercriminals to intercept data or distribute malware, and they may feature fake hotspots set up to steal information,” said GCash chief information security officer Miguel Geronilla.

GCash said its users are encouraged to report incidents of scams, fraud and cybercrime to the PNP-ACG through its hotlines at (02) 8414-1560 or 0998-598-8116, or via email at acg@pnp.gov.ph.

Its GCash Help Center can be accessed at help.gcash.com or message Gigi on the website and type “I want to report a scam.”

It said customers can also reach out to the official GCash hotline at 2882 for inquiries and other concerns.

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