A quarter of public Wi-Fis a disaster waiting to happen

Data transmitted through these networks can easily be intercepted and decrypted.

A quarter of the world's Wi-Fi networks are so insecure that the only thing stopping hackers from abusing them is their own lack of will. This is according to a new, extensive research by security experts Kaspersky Lab, which have analysed more than 31 million public Wi-Fi hotspots all over the world. Basically, 25 per cent aren’t using any type of encryption or password protection, meaning the information going through these networks is wide open for everyone to see. 

Another three per cent are using WEP, which is a protocol that can be cracked ‘within minutes, using tools that are freely available on the internet’. Even though the other three quarters use a more reliable security protocol, the WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access), the problem is that a lot of these hotspots give away their passwords easily. 

For example, a café might have it on display. In that case, the transferred data can still be decrypted. The top countries, in terms of insecure Wi-Fi hotspots, are the world’s top tourist destination, making the problem that much bigger. Kaspersky Lab advises everyone to stay vigilant and not do sensitive things on these networks, like banking transactions, shopping or logging into different sites. 

“We advise all users to remain vigilant when connecting to Wi-Fi. Don’t use hotspots without passwords and don’t use public hotspots to perform high-risk activities such as online banking or shopping, logging on to sites or for transferring confidential information. If that sort of traffic is intercepted by a third party, it could result in serious losses, including financial ones. And of course, we strongly recommend using additional measures to protect traffic, such as VPN (Virtual Private Network) technology,” explains Denis Legezo, Antivirus Expert at Kaspersky Lab.

Image Credit: Chris Oakley / Flickr