Expert: Political event could be a playing field for cyber thieves

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Jacksonville hosting the celebration marking President Donald Trump’s acceptance of his party’s nomination for reelection could impact the city digitally.

The event will bring thousands of people using cellphones, computers and electronic devices to the city. Christopher Hamer, an internet security networking consultant, said that means cyber thieves will be on standby, waiting to snatch personal information.

“People will bring mobile hotspots and they won’t properly secure them, so some of these thieves will attach to it and try to either skim data off of it or mislead people into connecting to websites that are perhaps a little more dangerous than others," Hamer said.

To avoid cyber thieves, Hamer said people should practice good internet security by using strong passwords and connecting to secure networks.

“Do it intelligently. Don’t just don’t connect to a wireless access point that you see that says ‘free WiFi’ if you don’t know what you’re connecting to. You’re basically going to be having all of your internet traffic, email, passwords -- all of that -- to somebody who may have set up an access point with the intent of harvesting that information," Hamer said. “There will be foreign interests attempting to do things here. Hopefully, normal, local people don’t get caught in that web."

He added another thing that could benefit cyber thieves is that the broadband shouldn’t have any issues here in Jacksonville despite the large crowd. Hamer said the city is positioned as a major hub for most internet providers.

“It is a concentrator for international, as well as national, high-speed fiber connections,” he said.

Hamer did say cellphone services could be impacted, but providers will be ready.

“The only impact felt by some of the convention-goers might be the cellphone services, which the providers will bring in portable towers to help compensate for that overload,” he said.

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