The Drum Awards Festival - Official Deadline

-d -h -min -sec

Avast Rnc Wifi

Avast researchers spoof Wi-Fi and hack RNC attendees to prove a point about cyber security


By John McCarthy, Opinion Editor

July 20, 2016 | 3 min read

Researchers at Avast cyber security company have exposed the dangers of connecting to public Wi-Fi locations, by perpetrating a stunt at the Republican National Convention.

Trump bans the Guardian

GOP candidate Donald Trump

Offering free internet access at the convention using fake Wi-Fi networks such as “Google Starbucks”, “Xfinitywifi”, “Attwifi”, “I vote Trump! free Internet” and “I vote Hillary! free Internet”, the company gained access to, it says, the personal details of more than a thousand attendees.

A statement from the company claims that it gained the ability to spy on attendees while they “checked their emails, banked online, used chat and dating apps, and even while they accessed Pokemon Go”.

Of those users who connected to Wi-Fi networks named after a presidential candidate, 70 per cent connected to the Trump-related Wi-Fi, 30 per cent to the Clinton-related Wi-Fi.

Avast saw more than 1.6Gbs transferred from more than 1,200 users. Moreover, 68.3 per cent of users‘ identities were exposed when they connected, and 44.5 per cent of Wi-Fi users checked their emails or chatted via messenger app.

Interestingly, the company shared the information it garnered to further make its point:

55.9 per cent had an Apple device, 28.4 per cent had an Android device, 1.5 per cent had a Windows Phone device, 3.4 per cent had a MacBook laptop and 10.9 per cent had a different device.

10.8 per cent used Google Chrome, 0.2 per cent Mozilla Firefox and 4.2 per cent Safari. 39.7 per cent have the Facebook or Facebook messenger app installed, 10.7 per cent have the Twitter app installed, 8.0 per cent have Instagram installed. 13.1 per cent accessed Yahoo Mail, 17.6 per cent checked their Gmail inbox, and 13.8 per cent used chat apps like WhatsApp, WeChat and Skype.

A further 6.5 per cent shopped on Amazon, and 1.2 per cent accessed a banking app or banking websites like,, or 5.1 per cent played Pokemon Go. 4.2 per cent visited government domains or websites, 0.7 per cent used dating apps like Tinder, Grindr, OKCupid, Match and Meetup, and 0.24 per cent visited pornography sites.

“With Washington heatedly discussing cybersecurity issues virtually every week, we thought it would be interesting to test how many people actually practice secure habits,” said Gagan Singh, president of mobile at Avast.

“Understanding the talking points behind these privacy issues is very different from implementing secure habits on a daily basis. Though it is not surprising to see how many people connect to free Wi-Fi, especially in a location with large crowds such as this, it is important to know how to stay safe when connecting. When joining public Wi-Fi, consumers should utilize a VPN service that anonymizes their data while connecting to public hotspots to ensure that their connection is secure.”

Avast Rnc Wifi

More from Avast

View all


Industry insights

View all
Add your own content +