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By Ishbel Macleod, PR and social media consultant

September 30, 2014 | 2 min read

The public’s need for the internet is so high that six people even agreed to give up their firstborn child and beloved pets in order to access Wi-Fi, in an experiment carried out by F-Secure.

In 30 minutes, 250 devices connected to the ‘poisoned’ hotspot which was set up by the UK’s Cyber Security Research Institute and SySS, a German penetration testing company, on behalf of F-Secure.

According to the Tainted Love: How Wi-Fi Betrays Us report, the Wi-Fi hotspot was set up in prominent business districts of London, with those who agreed to connect exposing their internet traffic and personal data such as the contents of the emails.

The researchers then added a terms and conditions page, with one of these being that users would give up their child in order to access the internet - something that six of the users agreed to.

“We all love to use free Wi-Fi to save on data or roaming charges, but as our exercise shows, it’s far too easy for anyone to set up a hotspot, give it a credible-looking name, and spy on users’ internet activity,” said Sean Sullivan, security advisor at F-Secure.

"When it comes to hotspots provided by a legitimate source, even those aren’t safe. Even if they aren’t in charge of the hotspot, criminals can still use ‘sniffer’ tools to snoop on what others are doing.”

The 32MB of traffic collected through the experiment has been deleted.

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