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Risky Brits saving money by ‘borrowing’ Wi-Fi

A fresh piece of research has found that one in seven people in the UK have ‘borrowed’ someone else’s Wi-Fi because they can’t afford their own internet connection.

‘Borrowing’, as defined by the research – which was carried out by Santander – means sneaking onto a neighbour’s Wi-Fi connection (without permission) in 5% of cases (and 14% of cases when considering 18 to 34-year-olds).

A further 5% of those surveyed had gone into a cafe or shop with free Wi-Fi just to use the internet, without purchasing anything (11% for 18 to 34-year-olds). And 3% said they’d simply jumped onto an unknown (and obviously insecure) Wi-Fi connection that they’d stumbled on when out and about.

People do have concerns about the security of public Wi-Fi – indeed data security was a worry for 52% of respondents – but the need to get online overrides any fears in a good number of cases.

Santander found that 17% of those who had security concerns were still willing to use a public Wi-Fi hotspot if they had to do something important, like checking Facebook (ahem) – or downloading shop or restaurant discount codes. Furthermore, 19% of folks would happily use an unsecured Wi-Fi network for work purposes.

Major risks

Matt Hall, Head of Banking and Unsecured Credit at Santander, commented: “Mobile phones are such an important part of life these days, but many people appear to struggle with the associated costs. While ‘piggy-backing’ someone else’s Wi-Fi might seem like a good way to save a few pounds, consumers are risking their online security by doing so.

“Whether it’s a private or a public connection, we urge internet users not to make financial transactions using unsecured networks.”

Hall added: “And a final word of caution – consumers should be aware that borrowing Wi-Fi without permission is potentially a criminal offence.”