One of the mots convenient aspects of the modern internet is its ability to be wireless. We can take our phones and computers anywhere, and still have a connection. All we have to do is tell our computers or devices which network to connect to, and they will hop right on. However, this system is often abused, and can be used to steal your data or even spread malware.
WiFi spoofing is a technique whereby a hacker or passerby can trick your phone into believing that their signal is your normal wifi. If they copy the details of your trusted wifi, they can trick your computer into switching over to their “WiFi. To your computer, it will look the same as a trusted connection, and so it will begin sending data. However, all of your data is being sent to the intruder, before being routed to the internet. You will be able to access as much of the internet as they let you, but they will have full control of what you see and where your information goes.
Using this “man in the middle” approach, they can examine all of the data you are sending out, and simultaneously, control all data going in. So, if you login to your bank account, email, or social media, they can intercept your username, password, and security questions. They could also steal things like your social security number or credit card information. Think of it like they are your mailman. If they wanted to, they could open all outgoing mail, change any incoming mail.
This could be used to control the information that you have access to. For example, they could send a message saying that you need to enter your password, and then steal if if you fall for it. They could change news articles, or even messages sent to you.
This commonly happens in public locations. For example, coffee shops or local stores often offer free wifi to their customers. If you are connecting your computer to these networks, you are exposing yourself to a potential security breach. This is obviously more important if you have sensitive or valuable data on your computer, but even a computer which is not used for work or shopping could contain valuable data which could be used to identify you. Therefore, it is generally a good idea to avoid connecting your computers to public networks.
However, these techniques can be used to hijack your private network as well. While this will take more effort, as they will have to be in close proximity to you, it is completely doable. Thankfully, this means that you will have to have been specifically targeted. Unless you are a high profile person, it is unlikely that someone would specifically target you. Most hackers prefer to catch a broad group of people by staying in public and high traffic areas.