The newly released Norton “Wifi Risk Report” reveals that the online habits of consumers, particularly Millennials and their parents, gives hackers unimpeded access to sensitive data like banking information or social media passwords.
What turns people into easy targets is confusion about the security of public wifi networks. For example, Norton found that only 42 percent of consumers are able to distinguish between a secure and an unsecure wifi network. Most people assume that all wifi networks available in public places like airports, hotels and cafes have security built-in. That’s not the case. When consumers log onto an unsecure network, hackers are able to steal information as it travels across the web, sell it on the dark web for profit or even use the information to drain consumer bank accounts. Even popular apps found on Android devices lack security: in the U.S. alone, 22 percent of Android apps transmit sensitive information without encryption to keep it protected.
“We know many consumers believe that using a password to access public wifi means their information is safe, but that’s not necessarily the case,” said Fran Rosch, executive vice president, Norton Business Unit, Symantec.
More than one in two US consumers believe their personal information is safe when using public and one in five U.S. consumers have accessed financial/banking information over public wifi.
“While public wifi is convenient, it’s never safe,” warns Norton. “Accessing the Web on an unsecured wifi hotspot can expose your most sensitive information like passwords, photos and credit card numbers to hackers and identity thieves. ”
Eighty-nine per cent of Canadians use public wifi, and 69%—the highest in the world— believe their information is safe when using pubic wifi.