Free Public Wi Fi is a huge danger; what you must know

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Published: July 27, 2017 4:15:33 AM

Close to 54% of Indians don’t use a Virtual Private Network to secure their Wi-Fi connections, even though it is the best way for protecting personal information.

Free Public Wi Fi, danger of Free Public Wi Fi, Free Public Wi Fi danger, Public Wi Fi, cybercriminals, cybercrime, cybercriminals in india, cybercrime in india, Wi-Fi network, VPNConsumers’ dependency on a free public Wi-Fi could place their personal information at risk.

It’s a consumer behaviour that is fast gaining traction. A growing number of visitors at airports, shopping malls, hotels or coffee shops are simply unable to resist a strong, free Wi-Fi network connection. Sadly, they do not realise that their online behaviour may be placing their personal information at risk, points out Norton’s Wi-Fi Risk Report. “There is a deep divide between what people think is safe when it comes to using public Wi-Fi and the reality,” said Ritesh Chopra, country manager, Consumer Business Unit, Symantec. “What someone thinks is private on his personal device can easily be accessed by cybercriminals through insecure Wi-Fi networks or even apps with privacy vulnerabilities.”

The Norton Wi-Fi Risk Report surveyed more than 15,000 consumers in 15 countries to learn about their public Wi-Fi practices. Let’s take a look at some of the India-specific findings. Clearly, Indians are unable to resist access to a strong, free Wi-Fi network despite the risks. This is especially true while travelling, as Indians say access to a strong Wi-Fi network is a deciding factor when choosing a hotel (82%), transport hub (67%), airline (64%) or place to eat (62%). Around 73% of Indians will do something for a strong Wi-Fi signal, including watching a three-minute advertisement (35%) to something as critical as allowing access to emails (19%), personal photographs (22%), online dating profiles (16%), contact lists (19%) and giving permission to access and even edit personal social media profiles (19%).

Close to 54% of Indians don’t use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to secure their Wi-Fi connections, even though it is considered the best way for protecting personal information. A worrying 8% are unaware of the term, VPN. Their behaviour on Wi-Fi are questionable too: 31% Indians admit to viewing explicit or suggestive content on public Wi-Fi.

Of those people, 44% admit to doing so at work and 49% have done so in a hotel, hostel or Airbnb. The report highlights that 96% of Indians have potentially put personal information at risk while using public Wi-Fi, including checking their bank accounts, and sharing personal photos and videos. Yet 41% reported they would feel horrified if their financial details were stolen and published online by hackers.

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