Over half of public potentially putting themselves at risk of ID theft, UK2 survey finds
By James Ashworth
NEW research from web hosting experts UK2 and YouGov has revealed that more than half of the UK’s public Wi-Fi users are potentially putting confidential data at risk by connecting mobile devices to unsecured networks.
According to the survey, over half of all UK adults who ever use public Wi-Fi (56 per cent) do not check or only “rarely” check whether a public Wi-Fi network is encrypted before use. Public Wi-Fi networks in places such as coffee shops, pubs, airports or hotels, are often unsecured connections which can expose personal data and leave devices open to online threats such as malware, spyware and cyber-snooping.
The findings have been announced by UK2 as it launches VPNHQ, a brand enabling users to set up a VPN (Virtual Private Network) quickly and easily. VPNHQ employs native features of mobile devices to encrypt wireless communications, which makes using public Wi-Fi networks more secure and reduces the chance of private information such as passwords or bank details being stolen or compromised.
The research shows that 45 per cent of UK WiFi users could be putting their passwords and data at risk by using public WiFi to log-in to email, 37 per cent to access Facebook and 14 per cent to log-in to online banking, while 15 per cent have entered credit or debit card details over a public WiFi network. 40 per cent of all online UK adults worry about cyber-snooping, but 42 per cent of all online UK adults who ever use public WiFi never or only “rarely” check whether or not a WiFi network is secure before use, whereas 86 per cent of all online UK adults who ever access Wi-Fi at home take measures to ensure that their WiFi at home is secure.
It has also been found that that 42 per cent of all online UK adults would use public WiFi more often if they could guarantee the security of their data. 67 per cent do not know what a VPN is, and are therefore unaware of how a Virtual Private Network could make their data usage more secure and 68 per cent of smartphone owners do not even know whether or not their smartphone has a VPN function.
The research also shows that many consumers are in fact aware of the risks presented by public WiFi networks. According to the research 46 per cent of all online UK adults are concerned about viruses, 41 per cent admitted to worries about phishing or pharming, and 40 per cent are anxious about the threat of cyber-snooping or hacking while using mobile devices.
“The results of our research on public WiFi usage suggest that users prioritise convenience over taking sensible security precautions,” said Russell Foster, Managing Director of VPNHQ.
“The amount of personal data transmitted from mobile devices is growing, making them increasingly attractive targets for cyber criminals. Using a VPN is a solution which exploits technology already native on almost every internet-enabled device on earth to provide security and peace of mind when using any wireless network.”
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