Latest posts by Alvin Bryan (see all)
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A lot of people in the UK go after free WiFi because it’s free. But they don’t realize how much it can cost them in the long run. Using free WiFi means using public WiFi in most cases. And public WiFi always means huge security risks that lead to big financial losses.
Public WiFi Stats
Ofcom, a British regulator, just came out with their 2014 Communications Market Report. The report reveals that most people who use public WiFi are not concerned about security. 77% of public WiFi users don’t give security any consideration. 75% of the users surveyed don’t even put any thought into what they access online while connected to public hotspots. People download content, watch videos, and do banking over free WiFi with equal detachment.
These results are very surprising to see today after so many reports of WiFi hacking and stolen credentials. It is especially surprising after the reaction that we have seen from the UK regarding online privacy and government spying. Mobile users have 3G and 4G connections that are much safer to use than free WiFi. But they prefer the faster service they get on public WiFi networks. The speed boost that free WiFi gives them is more important than security.
Public WiFi is notoriously dangerous because it is unsecured. But 72% of surveyed users said that they don’t see free WiFi as being any less secure than the WiFi they have at home. This brings us to the next part of the Ofcom survey. The report says that other than public networks, users like WiFi in their homes. This would be tons better than using public WiFi. But 67% of people with WiFi at home don’t protect it with passwords. This makes it vulnerable to many of the security risks that public WiFi poses.
There has been a ton of information relating to using unprotected WiFi. This covers both mobile surfing safety and home WiFi security. But wardriving is rarely featured on these basic WiFi safety articles. Wardriving is the practice of driving around in search of unsecured home WiFi connections. It started off innocently enough when most houses didn’t have Internet connections. But it became dangerous when people started using these unsecured connections for malicious purposes.
Hacked WiFi connections are a doorway into home systems. Hackers can end up installing keylogger software to record bank credential and credit card numbers. One group used networks in other people’s homes to steal 3 million US dollars from companies. In other cases, law enforcement has raided innocent people’s homes because their WiFi was being used for criminal acts. Many high profile figures have also found their Facebook and other social media accounts hacked after logging on to them from unsecure WiFi connections.
WiFi VPN Security
WiFi VPNs are now standard security apps for all mobile users. They are great tools for protecting Internet use on free and vulnerable connections. They provide the additional shield that users need over and above the security that they get from phone and browser settings. This allows people to be safe even when they do financial transactions or visit unsecured websites on free WiFi. For those who are changing their minds about WiFi security, home WiFi is relatively easy to secure with encryption and passwords. But additional security from a WiFi VPN can also help a lot.