News: 64 percent of people assume that their information is safe on public wi-fi networks, such as those in airports, hotels and cafes.
Public wi-fi networks are posing an increasingly significant security threat, but consumers are largely unaware of the dangers.
Research from Norton by Symantec found that 83 percent of consumers are worried about connecting to public wi-fi networks that may allow others to steal the information they enter.
However, 64 percent believe that their information is safe on public wi-fi networks, such as those in airports, hotels and cafes, making the incorrect assumption that security is built in.
The research found that 78 percent of consumers shared sensitive information over unsecure public wi-fi, with one in five having accessed financial or banking information through it.
When made aware of the risk, some of consumers’ top priorities were unauthorised access to financial information, noted by 84 percent, and to their personal photos and videos, noted by 73 percent. Being infected by malware was noted by 80 percent.
Seventy-eight per cent of consumers would dread a criminal selling the login/passwords to sensitive accounts more than an intimate photo leak.
Due to data costs, especially when abroad, mobile device owners often seek out the nearest wi-fi network to connect to as a matter of priority.
This mentality ignores the extensive dangers presented by fake and unsecured wi-fi hotspots, which can be deployed by hackers in public spaces to try and capture information from unsuspecting mobile device users.
A fake wi-fi hotspot might masquerade as the local network in a public space. An unlocked wi-fi hotspot might simply be a home or work wi-fi that doesn’t require a password. Hackers can access these to get at the information.
A solution is to check the authenticity of the network that you are connecting to and ensure that information is protected. Norton launched an Android and iOS subscription app which provides protection against hackers on these networks
"We know many consumers believe that using a password to access public Wi-Fi means their information is safe, but that’s not necessarily the case," said Nick Shaw, Vice President and General Manager at Norton EMEA. "Norton WiFi Privacy helps protect information, such as passwords and credit card numbers, and denies access to hackers who may be eavesdropping on the same network." .
The Norton Wi-Fi Risk Report 2016 surveyed over 9000 people across nine markets.