In a recent study done by Symantec, the company mostly known for the anti-virus software Norton, has found that one in six of the over 15000 global respondents has watched pornography on a public network, amongst other interesting things.
Public Wi-Fi is a dime a dozen these days, with restaurants and coffee shops offering free internet to patrons. The study found that 42% of respondents would join any open network within seconds, and 55% didn't know if the connection was secure. These consumers had no issue sharing private information, and some would even watch a three-minute ad to gain access. Another 8% of respondents have hacked the password of a network, or in some cases guessed it which is surprising, and alarming at the same time.
Nick Shaw, general manager at Symantec noted:
"There is a deep divide between what people think is safe or private when using public WiFi versus the reality, what someone thinks is private on their personal device can easily be accessed by hackers through [insecure] WiFi networks or even apps with privacy vulnerabilities."
Consumers surveyed noted that free Wi-Fi was a key factor in their decision-making process. Out of the total folks surveyed, 71% stated that they would give preference to a hotel, transport system and restaurant if it offered free access, with 60% of respondents believing that their personal information is safe when accessing any public network. Interestingly enough, only 48% of consumers said that they would feel 'horrified' if their banking information was posted online by hackers.
According to the study, public Wi-Fi is mainly used by consumers for Google Maps or similar services, and the odd adult movie in the public restrooms.
Some of the preventative measures suggested by Symantec is that consumers check and make sure that the 'https' prefix appeared in the address bar. On top of that, the company encouraged the use of VPN to secure your browsing experience and to think twice before sharing any information online unless you can be relatively sure that it won't be used for nefarious purposes.