‘Take my data, give me Wi-Fi’


About 96% Indians have potentially put their personal information at risk by using public Wi-Fi for checking bank accounts or sharing personal photos, according to a report by technology security firm Norton by Symantec.

Stating that consumers are unable to resist a strong, free Wi-Fi network, the report said consumers are willing to sacrifice security for free Wi-Fi. A majority, 73%, the ‘Wi-Fi Risk Report’ said, will do or swap something for a strong Wi-Fi signal. This includes watching a three-minute advertisement (35%), to something as critical as allowing access to personal emails (19%), personal photographs (22%), online dating profiles (16%), contact lists (19%) and giving permission to access and even edit personal social media profiles (19%).

“There is a deep divide between what people think is safe when it comes to using public Wi-Fi versus the reality,” Ritesh Chopra, country manager, consumer business unit, Symantec said.

‘Not so private’


“What someone thinks [is] private on their personal device can easily be accessed by cybercriminals through unsecure Wi-Fi networks or even apps with privacy vulnerabilities.” The report pointed out that 74% Indians believed that their personal information was safe when using public Wi-Fi. “51% of consumers can’t wait more than a few minutes before logging onto a Wi-Fi network once they arrive somewhere new, showing the need to always be connected.” the report said.Over 50% of Indians don’t use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to secure their Wi-Fi connections, even though it is considered a best way for protecting personal information, it said, adding that 8% are unaware of the term, VPN.The report further pointed out 31% Indians admit to viewing nude, explicit or suggestive content on public Wi-Fi.

“Indians are unable to resist access to a strong, free Wi-Fi network despite the risks. This is especially true while traveling, as Indians say access to a strong Wi-Fi network is a deciding factor when choosing a hotel (82%), transport hub (67%), which airline to fly (64 %) or place to eat (62 %),” it said.

The report surveyed more than 15,000 consumers in 15 countries. The Indian sample, however, reflects input from 1,000 Indian adults who use Wi-Fi. Data was collected between May 18 and June 5 by Research Now.

Global findings showed people were aware of the risks of public Wi-Fi, but were not necessarily changing their behaviour.

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