Unsafe public Wi-Fi points you’re connecting your laptop or phone to could be putting your personal information in the hands of criminals.
After analysing more than 31 million hotspots across the world, internet security firm Kaspersky found almost one in every four had no security (password or encryption), and put users at risk of cyber-attack.
Traffic at 28% of these could be easily intercepted by hackers and a further 2.7% only adopt the weakest form of Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) encryption – which can be cracked in minutes using tools that are freely available on the internet.
The rest – which accounts for nearly three quarters of all Wi-Fi hotspots – are encrypted with Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA), a much safer and more reliable form of security.
Popular tourist destinations such as Thailand, France, Israel and the US are all in the top 20 countries with the highest percentage of non-encrypted Wi-Fi hotspots.
Denis Legezo, antivirus expert at Kaspersky Lab, said: “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.”
To reduce the risk of attack when using public Wi-Fi, Kaspersky Lab recommends all users should:
• Use only trusted and secure Wi-Fi networks when doing anything confidential that involves typing a username and password, or transmitting confidential data
• Use a VPN whenever possible
• Make sure, before signing in to any web site, that it is secure by looking for ‘https’ in the URL and the unbroken padlock symbol, as well as checking the security certificate
• Secure the computer used to access public Wi-Fi with a reputable internet security product
• Protect all devices, including laptops, tablets and smartphones