Free Wi-Fi, simple passwords attract cybercriminals warns OPP

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October is International Cyber Security Awareness Month

ORILLIA, ON – There are many ways to ensure your safety and prevent becoming an unwitting victim of cybercrime that could cost you thousands of dollars, according to security experts and the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP).

Using a weak password while on a free Wi-Fi network can make your device more susceptible to cyber theft.  You can strengthen your password by including a variety of symbols, letters and numbers. Try a minimum length of eight characters and use a combination of upper and lower case letters and at least one number. You should also commit your passwords to memory and don’t store them on your computer or mobile devices.

Deputy Commissioner Rick BARNUM, OPP Investigations and Organized Crime, said: “The next generation of criminals have a well-established home in cyberspace. It is incumbent upon all of us to do whatever we can to protect our identities and information from those who will exploit that information for criminal gain without hesitation — regardless of where they or you are located.”

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Wi-Fi connections present risks at home and on the road. Wi-Fi hotspots are common targets for identity thieves as they are often unsecure and accessible to anyone. Unless you are using a secure web page, you should never send or receive private information when using public Wi-Fi. Avoid conducting financial or corporate transactions on these networks and use a hard-wired connection when available.

Be aware that free Internet access points are sometimes established for malicious or deceitful purposes. These Internet access points are purposely named to imitate trusted access points. This access point may even indicate a higher signal strength than the legitimate one.

Insp. Lisa TAYLOR, OPP Behavioural, Forensic and Electronic Services, said: “We can’t stress enough how important it is to create, use and regularly change strong passwords and to take all steps necessary to safeguard your information when you are connected through any Wi-Fi hub. At the very minimum, make sure that any site you interact with uses HTTPS rather than unencrypted HTTP connections.”

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During Cyber Safety Awareness Month, the OPP, other police services and international partners are promoting public awareness to help prevent all Canadians from becoming victims of online crime. If you or someone you know suspects they’ve been a victim of cyber crime, contact your local police service, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, report it to the OPP online at or through Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS) at


Cyber Security Awareness Month – an internationally recognized campaign held each October to inform the public of the importance of cyber security.

Get Cyber Safe is a national, multi-jurisdiction, public awareness campaign created to educate Canadians about Internet security and the simple steps they can take to protect themselves online. Visit

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Wi-Fi Network Safety (courtesy of Public Safety Canada)

Protect Your Passwords (courtesy of Public Safety Canada) –  CNW

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