Beware free WiFi lovers! Your bank details, personal data, photos might be at risk

 BT Online   New Delhi     Last Updated: July 19, 2017  | 15:11 IST
Beware free WiFi lovers! Here's why your bank details, personal data, photos might be at risk

Many would relate happiness to finding a free WiFi signal. Why shouldn't you use free data? But, here's something that might make you think twice before accessing another free WiFi. 

A new study reveals that 87 percent of consumers have potentially put their information at risk while using public Wi-Fi.

Information or any kind of data received or sent over an open wireless network (no WPA or WPA2 security code) is susceptible to data leak with little or no effort at all. The data will be available to any user on the same network.

A new report by Norton by Symantec claims that it surveyed 15,532 mobile device users all over the world. These users had, at some instance, connected to Wi-Fi. The survey was conducted to discover their attitudes and behaviors while using public Wi-Fi.

The study was conducted on 15 global markets including India. In India, public WiFi hotspots are soon becoming a norm but what does connecting to an open internet connection mean and is it really worth the risk?

The 'Norton Wi-Fi Risk Report 2017' claims to have performed a reliable test on people around the world to disclose the extent to which a public WiFi hotspot is used and how it can compromise security.

According to the report more than half of the consumers (55 per cent) did not think twice before connecting to a public WiFi signal. 46 percent 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, cafe, hotel or other location.

In fact, 71 per cent people claimed that access to a strong Wi-Fi signal is a deciding factor when choosing a hotel/holiday/hostel rental while travelling. One in six people also admitted to browsing adult content on public WiFi.

According to the report, "consumers' dependency on public Wi-Fi is putting their personal information at risk. What someone thinks are private on his or her personal device could easily be accessed by cybercriminals via compromised apps or Wi-Fi networks."

Despite the risks, there are certain ways to ensure safety while using public WiFi or even hotspots.

Use Virtual Private Network (VPN): This method encrypts data being sent and received during any interaction on the internet.

Look for HTTPS: Any secure site or webpage will have HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) at the start of the url, followed by a tiny lock symbol.

Avoid sharing sensitive data: Given the high risk, sharing or even typing sensitive information like bank details, e-mails or even phone numbers over a public WiFi can leave you vulnerable.

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