Is it safe to use public wifi?

A report recently released by online security company Symantec has revealed that most people don’t realise the danger they face when using public wifi.

The 2017 Norton Wi-Fi Risk Report showed that 60 per cent of people think their details and information are safe when they use public wifi, when in fact, the opposite is true.

The Symantec survey investigated the internet habits of over 15000 adults across 15 countries. It found that public internet users are constantly, and unwittingly, putting their personal data, including financial details at risk.

“There is a deep divide between what people think is safe when it comes to using public wifi versus the reality. What someone thinks is private on their personal device can easily be accessed by cybercriminals through unsecure Wi-Fi networks …” said the Executive Vice President of Symantec’s Consumer Business Unit, Fran Rosch.

People use public wifi to monitor personal and work email, access social media, share photos and videos, and check banking and other financial information.

The survey also found that, within a few minutes of being near a wifi signal, 46 per cent of respondents will access it or ask for the password.

Symantec strongly advises that public wifi users limit the amount of sensitive information they share over public connections. This includes passwords, financial details, and pretty much everything listed above.

“Even if you’re not actively sharing the information, your device may be doing so for you. Many devices are programmed to automatically seek connections to other devices on the same network, which could cause your files to be vulnerable. Be sure to disable sharing on your devices to ensure what’s yours stays yours,” said Ms Rosch.

Do you use public wifi? Do you care that your information could be discovered?

Related articles:
Using your smartphone for wifi
Finding free wifi overseas
How to increase your wifi signal

Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.
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