Londoners risk safety to access free public wi-fi

New study shows 

Consumers are unable to resist a strong, free Wi-Fi network, but their online behaviours may be placing their personal information and privacy at risk, according to Norton by Symantec’s 2017 Norton Wi-Fi Risk Report, released today. But the siren song of free data means many throw caution to the wind when it comes to their digital secrets. Whether it’s the password to their bank account or their internet browsing habits, people will share - and do - almost anything on public Wi-Fi.

“There is a deep divide between what people think is safe or private when using public Wi-Fi versus the reality,” said Nick Shaw, vice president and general manager at Norton by Symantec. “What someone thinks is private on their personal device can easily be accessed by hackers through unsecure 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 and perceptions. Many of the UK findings show that people are aware of the risks of public Wi-Fi, but are not necessarily changing their behaviours. In fact, nearly everyone (84 per cent) is acting in a way which could put risk their personal and private information at risk. UK market highlights include:

Consumers yearn for quick, free data connections

Nearly half (42 per cent) of consumers can’t wait more than a few minutes before logging onto a Wi-Fi network or asking for the password after arriving at a friend’s place, café, hotel or other location. Two in five (19 per cent) have accessed Wi-Fi without the Wi-Fi network owner’s permission, and one in twenty (5 per cent) guessed or hacked the password to get in.

Even when travelling, access to public Wi-Fi is a must

Despite the recent E.U. legislation abolishing data roaming charges, more than half of Britons (58 per cent) indicate they intend to continue using public Wi-Fi, notably to avoid using up their monthly mobile data allowance (36 per cent). This is especially true while traveling, as Britons say access to a strong Wi-Fi network is a deciding factor when choosing:

  • a holiday rental or hotel (55 per cent)
  • a place to grab a bite to eat or drink (29 per cent)
  • a transportation hub (27 per cent)
  • or which airline to fly (20 per cent)  

Further, nearly half (45 per cent) of people surveyed said the most important reason to stay connected is to use a GPS or map app to get around, and 35 per cent of Generation Z’ers want to ensure they can share their updates and photos on social media.

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