Millions of Indians who use free public Wi-Fi are putting their personal information at a risk of being stolen without realising, revealed a survey conducted by cybersecurity firm Symantec. According to a report from Norton by Symantec, 96 per cent of Indians have potentially put personal information, which includes email ID and contact numbers, at risk while using public Internet.
“India loves free Wi-Fi to an extent where they are ready to give away personal information to get access to free Wi-Fi networks,” said Symantec’s Country Manager of Consumer Business Unit, Ritesh Chopra.
Personal data is being given away while logging into social media websites (68 per cent), email accounts (66 per cent), accessing bank or financial information (24 per cent) and more. The figures reflect inputs from a thousand Indians, surveyed online in late May, who use Wi-Fi.
About 74 per cent of Indians believe that their personal information is safe while using public Wi-Fi, whereas only half act unsafely while online, according to the report. “There is a deep divide between what people think is safe when it comes to using public Wi-Fi versus the reality,” Mr. Chopra added.
Mr. Chopra said: “The biggest threat in India is identity theft—a large population with lack of awareness to protect itself from online threats. People don’t see it happening immediately, it’s over a period of time one would notice it.”
To protect oneself while using public Wi-Fi, the firm has suggested taking three precautionary measures:
- Use Security Software: One of the best ways to protect your information online is to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) from a trusted vendor. VPNs provide a ‘secure tunnel’ that encrypts data being sent and received between your device and the server.
- Look for HTTPS: Many companies use secure website protocols — HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) — to provide online security. You can tell if a website is secure by checking for the ‘https’ tag in its URL and has a small lock symbol next to it. However, even though the website itself might be safe, your personal information could be vulnerable if your network connection isn’t secure.
- Sharing Less is Best: Think twice before entering any type of personal information – from passwords, to financial details and photos – over public Wi-Fi networks. Even if you’re not actively sharing the information, your device may be doing so for you. Many devices are programmed to automatically seek connections to other devices on the same network, which could cause your files to be vulnerable. Be sure to disable sharing on your devices to ensure what’s yours stays yours.
Additionally, the firm has also announced a Norton Wi-Fi Privacy app – a VPN service that helps users build upon another protection footprint. The app is compatible with Windows, Mac, Android and iOS devices and can be purchased for Rs 2,999 for one device, at Rs 3,999 for five devices and Rs 4,999 for 10 devices.