Awareness vs Action: Users Know More about Public WiFi risks, but Fail to get VPN

Internet users, especially the British public, are relatively becoming more aware of the security risks posed by using public WiFi, as shown in a new report by Xirrus.

This increasing awareness was demonstrated by the nine per cent rise in the last year, with a total of 39 percent concerned public users, this according to ITProPortal featuring the F-Secure hack experiment.

Surely, this is a good thing as WiFi has surged in popularity and consumer use over the last few years, with 8.5 million WiFi hot spots currently available in the UK. Simply, it’s one hot spot for every 11 people.

Around the globe, internet users are connecting to public WiFi networks despite knowing them to be insecure connections. In the North American and European surveys only, it was reported that more than three quarters of users in the said locations said they regularly connect to WiFi outside of their homes. Moreover, two thirds would even go as far as changing their hotels just to get a better WiFi experience.

“We are now more than ever a mobile, wireless-reliant society,” said Shane Buckley, Xirrus CEO. “The proliferation of Wi-Fi connected devices combined with the expectation of steadfast connectivity has put increased demand on Wi-Fi networks everywhere.”

The problem with publicly available WiFi, though, is that it is a big open network that anyone on or near the area of the network can easily “snoop” on.

In fact, public WiFi was not designed for 21st century usage, due to the inherent insecurity of the system, meaning that it is relatively simple to identify potential targets through their internet traffic, capturing usernames and passwords of individual’s social media, email accounts and bank details for exploitation purposes. Anyone could be hacked through the use of very simple hacking tools that are readily available for download on the internet.

Also in the survery, 79 percent of respondents said that they did not trust security measures on public WiFi, yet 62 percent said they still connect to the networks. Among those, 56 percent said that internet security was important to them when logging on to public networks, but only 40 percent of the British public said that they had internet security software installed on mobile devices.

Most people admitted they did not feel confident when it came to knowing how to protect themselves from online risk that public networks carry. Only 24 percent of respondents said they thought they knew enough about internet security to ensure that their private information remains safe when connected to public WiFi.

But there is a big difference between increasing knowledge and practical action. The experiment also showed that 58 percent of the survey participants admitted to have used public WiFi, but only seven percent had actually installed VPN on their devices. A VPN service provider gives a secure tunnel which transmits encrypted information between devices.

“The results paint a clear picture of the insecurities of public WiFi usage,” said Allen Scott, managing director at F-Secure UK & Ireland. “People are becoming more aware of the security risks, but this doesn’t necessarily translate into them actively protecting themselves. Others simply don’t know how they are opening themselves to attack.”

There are simple tips that WiFi users are encouraged to practice. Aside from the best advice of connecting to a best VPN service when using public WiFi, it is also important to always assume that anything you do while connecting to the network is part of public conversation. Protect your devices by switching off your connection and deleting existing public WiFi access points after use. Also, always generate unique passwords for your important accounts so to ward off hackers.

Likewise, for the best VPN software with ultimate security, use FrootVPN. It is a high speed, ultra secure, and encrypted VPN service which helps you be at ease in searching the web, be it in your public WiFi hot spots or not. It hides your identity online so that no traces can lead to you and your information, allowing you secure and worry-free access.

News Sources: business-reporter.co.uk, xirrus.com, itproportal.com