It's official - public Wi-Fi is our most concerning security risk

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New research has claimed over half of Brits (52%) believe they are most at risk of a cyber attack when down the local pub, café or restaurant.

The possibility of getting hacked while connected to unsecured public Wi-Fi offered in hospitality, airports and public transport is a common fear among the British public.

However, 41% of Brits use unsecured Wi-Fi if given the opportunity, a report by NordVPN found.

Keep calm and use a VPN

The research added Brits are often blasé about their public Wi-Fi usage and often don’t go far enough to protect themselves from cybersecurity threats while connected.

Less than half (47%) of those surveyed said that they would not enter or access sensitive information while connected to an unsecured public Wi-Fi network, potentially putting personal data such as banking information at risk of being stolen.

Free Wi-Fi has become an expected provision when out and about, often offered by buses and trains to those onboard. 51% of Brits believe that they could be hacked while using the internet on public transport, and 50% believe that shopping centres are the third most dangerous place to hop on a public Wi-Fi. 

Marijus Briedis, Chief Technology Officer at NordVPN, said, “Convenience coupled with our love of using devices on the go means public Wi-Fi connections have flourished, yet Brits are right to be cautious about using them.

“Hackers are opportunists at heart, so it’s understandable that some of the busiest venues like pubs and restaurants are those where people feel most nervous of logging on.

“The scope of threats varies from place to place but modern methods of hacking mean that even at work or in the security of our own home, we can still be at risk.

“Cyber awareness is important, and it’s good to see people erring on the side of safety when using public connections, whether it’s avoiding accessing sensitive information or clicking on pop-up ads. However, criminals still thrive on human errors, so technological solutions are a key backup that help to minimise risks”

Along with the research, NordVPN also offered guidance on how best to stay safe when connected to public Wi-Fi, such as using a reliable antivirus, enabling the firewall on your devices and downloading a VPN to make the Wi-Fi connection more secure and protect your data from hackers.

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Benedict Collins
Staff Writer (Security)

Benedict has been writing about security issues for close to 5 years, at first covering geopolitics and international relations while at the University of Buckingham. During this time he studied BA Politics with Journalism, for which he received a second-class honours (upper division). Benedict then continued his studies at a postgraduate level and achieved a distinction in MA Security, Intelligence and Diplomacy. Benedict transitioned his security interests towards cybersecurity upon joining TechRadar Pro as a Staff Writer, focussing on state-sponsored threat actors, malware, social engineering, and national security. Benedict is also an expert on B2B security products, including firewalls, antivirus, endpoint security, and password management.