New research from Norton by Symantec (NASDAQ: SYMC) has revealed people in the UK are giving hackers access to their sensitive information like banking details and account passwords when connecting to public Wi-Fi networks.
According to the Norton Wi-Fi Risk Report 2016, which surveyed over 9,000 people across nine markets, confusion about the security of public Wi-Fi networks can make people easy targets for hackers. Two in three are unable to recognise the difference between a secure and unsecure Wi-Fi network, putting the convenience of connectivity before the security of their personal information.
To help people safely connect to public Wi-Fi hotspots, Norton by Symantec has introduced Norton WiFi Privacy, an easy-to-use mobile app for Android and iOS devices that helps shield consumers’ information from hackers snooping on wireless (Wi-Fi) 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.”
What’s At Stake?
While 83 per cent of consumers are worried about connecting to public Wi-Fi networks that may allow others to steal the information they enter, nearly two thirds of adults (64 per cent) believe their information is safe when using Wi-Fi networks available in public places like airports, hotels and cafes and assume they have security built-in. That’s not the case. Even popular apps found on Android devices lack security – in the U.K. alone, 25 per cent of the most popular Android apps transmit sensitive information without encryption to keep it protected.
When logged into public Wi-Fi, hackers are able to steal information as it travels across the web, which they can sell on the dark web for profit, or even use the information to drain bank accounts. The study also found three out of four dread having their personal account logins and passwords sold, more than having intimate photos of them posted online without their consent.
However, while it appears consumers dread hackers getting hold of personal information and sensitive data, activities exposing personal information are common with 78 per cent of consumers having shared sensitive information over unsecure public Wi-Fi.
To combat these security risks, Norton WiFi Privacy uses sophisticated and military-grade encryption technology to scramble information that is sent and received over a Wi-Fi network to help protect their information and identity online.
Consumers Unaware of the Risk
- More than half of consumers have logged into personal and social media accounts while using unsecure Wi-Fi networks, potentially compromising the credentials to their personal and professional emails.
- One in five consumers have accessed financial/banking information over public Wi-Fi.
- Younger generations are more likely to think public Wi-Fi is safe: 76 per cent Millennials and 62 per cent Gen X, vs. 56 per cent for 55+. Surprisingly, parents (71 per cent) are more likely to think public Wi-Fi is safe than non-parents (60 per cent).
Once aware of the risk, the survey found consumers’ top concerns:
83 per cent of consumers are concerned about their information being stolen over public Wi-Fi networks, but don’t know how to protect themselves.
- While using public Wi-Fi, consumers worry about unauthorized access to their financial information (84 per cent) and personal photos/videos (73 per cent), getting infected with malware (80 per cent), and having someone read their e-mails (72%);
- Seventy-eight per cent of consumers would dread a criminal selling the login/passwords to sensitive accounts more than an intimate photo leak;
- Sixty-two per cent of consumers would dread having their social media accounts hacked when using coffee shop Wi-Fi more than not having internet access at all;