Research: no matter its source, people will connect to any Wi-Fi
Research: no matter its source, people will connect to any Wi-Fi

New research from security firm Symantec claims that consumers will connect to any Wi-Fi network available as long as it's strong, free and fast.

The availability of such Wi-Fi, according to Symantec, means people will use pretty much anything on it, from corporate credentials, online banking codes and even watch adult content.

These behaviours are putting consumers and corporates at risk of credential leaking.

Symantec's 2017 Norton Wi-Fi Risk Report, released today and announced in a release, surveyed more than 15,000 consumers in 15 countries to learn about their public Wi-Fi practices and perceptions.

Symantec says that many of the UK findings show that people are aware of the risks of public Wi-Fi, but are not necessarily adapting their behaviour.

Eighty-four percent are acting in a way which could put risk their personal and private information at risk.

“There is a deep divide between what people think is safe or private when using public Wi-Fi versus the reality,” said Nick Shaw, vice president and general manager at Norton by Symantec in a press release. “What someone thinks is private on their personal device can easily be accessed by hackers through unsecure Wi-Fi networks or even apps with privacy vulnerabilities.”

Symantec says nearly half (42 percent) of consumers can't wait more than a few minutes before logging onto a Wi-Fi network or asking for the password after arriving at a friend's place, café, hotel or other location.

Two in five (19 percent) have accessed Wi-Fi without the Wi-Fi network owner's permission, and one in twenty (5 percent) guessed or hacked the password to get in.

Further, nearly half (45 percent) of people surveyed said the most important reason to stay connected is to use a GPS or map app to get around, and 35 percent of Generation Z'ers want to ensure they can share their updates and photos on social media.

And in the case of using public Wi-Fi for more private matters, joining an unsecure network could reveal more about a person's personal information (or habits) than they bargained for.

One in twelve admit to using public Wi-Fi to watch adult content, for example.

While nearly everyone (84 percent) potentially put personal information at risk when using public Wi-Fi, including checking their bank accounts or logging into their personal email accounts, four in five (81 percent) of UK consumers don't use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to secure their Wi-Fi connections, even though it is considered one of the best ways to protect your personal information.