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Free Wi-Fi at a cost!

We love a good B2B or B2C PR stunt here at Skout HQ, so hats off to the team behind a recent campaign which saw unwitting Londoners agree to hand over their eldest child as part of an experiment to highlight the security dangers of public Wi-Fi.

The stunt saw the Cyber Security Research Institute offer free Wi-Fi hotspots across the capital. As part of their terms and conditions to connect to the Internet, users were asked to assign their first born over to the organisation for ‘the duration of eternity’ and clearly not reading the Ts&Cs closely (I hope), six people willing signed the contract. Luckily F-Secure who sponsored the stunt, confirmed that it wouldn’t be claiming on their rights to the child.

The aim of the campaign was to highlight awareness of the security issues associated with the use of Wi-Fi. The ‘hotspot device’ was built by a German ethical-hacking company and was small enough to be hidden in a bag and was very quick and easy to deploy.

The experiment then continued with the unconventional Ts&Cs removed and a further 33 devices connected to the hotspot. The researchers discovered that passwords were revealed in plain text when used over the Wi-Fi, and had they wanted to, the company could have easily uncovered their user names and passwords and logged on to an individual’s personal accounts.

These findings show that more needs to be done to educate on the use of public Wi-Fi, especially around those hotspots whose origins are unknown. This was a great B2C PR stunt with a twist which brought to life a technology security issue that has been debated for years!

Fiona Whyatt has worked in B2B PR for many years. She loves blogging!

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