People are risking a lot when they connect to a free Wi-Fi, which is particularly important knowing how many people use mobile devices for work. According to a new report by NordVPN, a company selling VPN services, Wi-Fi networks can be hacked into very easily, and hackers could steal valuable data, including corporate information, credit card information or identities.
"Hackers often position themselves as Wi-Fi hotspots and easily steal personal information of each individual that logs in,” the company said in a press release.
“In addition, identity thieves have lately been using wireless sniffers, a software designed to intercept and decode data when it is transmitted over a network.”
Most popular Wi-Fi hotspot locations are the ones with most traffic – coffee shops, hotel lobbies, airports, libraries or schools.
NordVPN says there are a couple of steps people should use to protect themselves when browsing the web, especially if they’re accessing corporate networks, work files, or are shopping online.
They should use VPNs (Virtual Private Networks), HTTPS access, firewalls and anti-virus software.
The majority of Wi-Fi users are well aware of the risks posed by these networks, but rarely act on it. Figures from ITRC (Identity Theft Resource Center) say that 78.5 per cent of people who connect to the internet via Wi-Fi are aware this can lead to identity theft, yet just a quarter (26.7 per cent) use a VPN to protect themselves.
“It¹s good news that majority of public Wi-Fi users surveyed are concerned about their online safety and fear identity theft,” the company concludes.
“However, in order to ensure complete peace of mind, security tools should be used more often, especially because VPNs are easily accessible, simple to use and affordable.”