Happiness is free Wi-Fi! But would you risk personal data?
What else could give us internet addicts more happiness than free Wi-Fi?
Being so impatient to get connected on free internet networks, we hardly think twice before accessing them.
But security firm Symantec's Norton says one should!
It says free Wi-Fi hotspots are increasing in India, but not many know what an open connection means or if it's worth risking security and personal data.
Norton Wi-Fi Risk Report 2017
People take significant risks to hook on to free Wi-Fi
'Norton Wi-Fi Risk Report-2017' surveyed 15,532 mobile device users across 15 global markets, including India.
It studied the behavior and attitudes of users while accessing public Wi-Fi.
It revealed 87% of them had put their personal information, including photos and bank details, at risk for using free Wi-Fi.
Norton disclosed the extent to which such networks are used and how they can compromise security.
96% Indians potentially put personal information at risk
Users think data is private on their devices, but cybercriminals could easily access it through compromised apps or Wi-Fi networks.
96% of the surveyed Indians checked bank accounts, social media profiles, and shared personal photos/videos on public Wi-Fi.
This makes it easy for hackers to gain access to login IDs and passwords typed across sites; they can easily intercept data transmitted on public networks.
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73% Indians ready to exchange personal details for Wi-Fi
The report found 73% of Indians agreed to swap personal information for strong Wi-Fi connection.
35% accepted to watch three-minute advertisements, 22% allowed access to photographs, and 19% gave permission to access and edit their social media profiles.
19% of Indians also allowed something as critical as permission to access personal emails; another 19% gave access to contacts and 16% to online dating profiles.
India's porn problem
Norton observed that 31% Indians viewed explicit content on public Wi-Fi. Among these people, 49% accessed such content on hotel, hostel, or lodging networks while 44% admitted to doing so on office networks.
55% don't think twice before accessing public Wi-Fi
The report showed that about 55% of the users in the 15 global markets didn't think twice before accessing public Wi-Fi.
It also highlighted the users' urgency to remain connected; 46% of them couldn't wait even for a few minutes before logging onto Wi-Fi networks at public places.
71% of them said strong Wi-Fi signal is a deciding factor when choosing hostels/hotels while traveling.
How to ensure safety on public networks?
Despite involving several risks, public Wi-Fi and networks can be accessed safely.
Consumers can use VPN (Virtual Private Network) to encrypt the data being exchanged on the internet.
Secure websites/webpages have HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) in the address bar and a green padlock.
Sharing sensitive data (email IDs, phone numbers, bank details) over public networks makes them vulnerable to cyber-risks.