Are we ignoring security risks just for WiFi connectivity?


  • TECH
  • Wednesday, 19 Jul 2017

Customers use their smartphones as they wait inside a Xiaomi corp. service center in Bengaluru, India, on Thursday, March 30, 2017. Once compared with Apple Inc. for its sleek smartphones and charismatic leadership, Chinese startup Xiaomi is seeking an image makeover as it tries to recover from a sales-growth slide. Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg

NEW DELHI: India has a WiFi addiction problem. The Norton WiFi Risk Report by security firm Symantec Corporation suggests that not only do Indians take significant risks to hook on to a free WiFi connection at public places, but are also generally very careless about what data and content they are accessing on their smartphones, tablets and laptops when connected with these networks. 

The numbers do not make for pretty reading. The Norton WiFi Risk Report suggests that Indians are impatient to latch on and get connected on a free WiFi hotspot in a public place. 

As many as 73% of the polled Indians agreed that they may swap something in exchange for a strong WiFi signal. 

This would include watching a three-minute advertisement (35% said yes to this), to something as critical as allowing access to personal emails (19% were okay with this), personal photographs (22% thought this was safe to do), online dating profiles (16% agreed with this condition), contact lists (19% were ready to give access) and giving permission to access and even edit personal social media profiles (19% found this safe enough). 

There is also an alarming sense of urgency to get connected to the Internet. The report suggests that as many as 51% of consumers can't wait more than a few minutes before logging onto a WiFi network once they arrive at a public place, and have the urge to remain connected always. 

And it is not just about getting connected. The browsing habits are quite alarming too. As many as 74% of respondents in the Norton WiFi Risk Report believe their personal information is safe when using public WiFi. 

That is not all – about 96% of Indians have potentially put personal information at risk by checking their bank accounts, and sharing personal photos and videos while connected to public WiFi networks. It is very easy for hackers to intercept data being transmitted on public WiFi networks, and that'll give them easy access to any login IDs and passwords you may type in across different websites during that time. 

And then there is a porn problem too. The report suggests that 31% of Indians admitted to viewing nude, explicit or suggestive content on public WiFi network. 

Within this demographic of users, 44% admitted to doing so on the office network, while 49% accessed similar content on networks in a hotel, hostel or Airbnb lodging. — The Mint/Tribune News Service


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