Wi-Fi freak Kiwis indifferent to cyber hazards

Venkat Raman

Auckland, July 28, 2017

New Zealanders take their laid-back attitude even to the use of Wi-Fi facility throwing into the winds safety concerns, a just-released report has said.

According to Symantec Norton Wi-Fi Risk Report 2017 revealed at a press conference in Auckland yesterday (July 27, 2017), 66% of New Zealanders believe that their personal information is safe when using public Wi-Fi.

However, nearly 71% of us act unsafely when online, the Report added.

“Over half of New Zealanders (54%) ask for the Wi-Fi password when they head to locations such as a friend’s place, café, hotel or other location, and nearly a third ask for a password within a few minutes of arriving (29%),” Symantec’s Territory Manager (Consumer Business Unit) Mark Gorrie said, talking to journalists.

Wi-Fi too tempting

The Report found that New Zealanders are unable to resist a strong, free Wi-Fi network and their online behaviours may be placing their personal information at risk.

“There is a deep divide between what New Zealanders think is safe when it comes to using public Wi-Fi versus the reality. What someone thinks is private on their personal device can easily be accessed by cybercriminals through unsecure Wi-Fi Networks or even apps with privacy vulnerabilities,” Mr Gorrie said.

The purpose of the Survey was to educate people to be mindful of the risks they are exposed while accessing Wi-Fi in public places and in countries where cyber security could be under threat.

The Norton Wi-Fi Risk Report surveyed more than 15,000 consumers in 15 countries to learn about their public Wi-Fi practices and perceptions.

New Zealanders were aware of the risks of public Wi-Fi, but were not necessarily changing their behaviours.

Personal information in jeopardy

The Report said that New Zealanders’ dependency on a quick, free connection via public Wi-Fi could be placing their personal information at risk.

“While 54% ask for the Wi-Fi password when are at a friend’s place, café, hotel or other locations, about 29% of New Zealanders will request the password within a few minutes. About 86% of New Zealanders are not using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to secure their Wi-Fi connections, even though it is considered a best way to protect personal information.”

Questionable Actions

Mr Gorrie said that 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 what they envisaged.

“During the Survey period, 84% of New Zealanders acted in a risky manner online while using public Wi-Fi, including checking their bank accounts; 51% reported that they would feel horrified if their financial details were stolen and published online by hackers; 8% of Kiwis admitted to viewing adult content on public Wi-Fi, better than the global average of 16%. Of those, 29% admit to viewing in a public library and 17% have viewed at their workplace; 22% have accessed or would access a public Wi-Fi network without permission and 3% guessed or hacked passwords,” he said.

Travellers’ need

New Zealanders say that access to a strong Wi-Fi network is a deciding factor when choosing accommodation (54%), transport hubs (25%), which airline to fly (22%) or place to eat (21%).

“Clearly, New Zealanders are unable to resist access to a strong, free Wi-Fi network despite the risks. This is especially true while travelling,” Mr Gorrie said.

Some safety tips

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 are 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 that what is yours stays yours.

Use reputable security software: One of the best ways to protect your information online is to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) from a trusted vendor such as Symantec’s Norton WiFi Privacy. VPNs provide a “secure tunnel” that encrypts data being sent and received between your device and the internet.

Look for HTTPS: Many companies use secure websites — HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) — to provide online security. You can tell if a website is secure if it has HTTPS 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 is not secure.

About Norton Wi-Fi Risk Report

The Norton Wi-Fi Risk Report was an online survey of 15,532 adults ages 18+ who use Wi-Fi across 15 countries, commissioned by Norton by Symantec and produced by research firm Reputation Leaders through international online panel company Research Now. The margin of error for the total sample was 0.8% at 95% confidence level.

The New Zealand sample reflected input from 1001 New Zealand adults aged 18+ who use Wi-Fi. The margin of error was 3.1% for the total sample. Data was collected from May 18 to June 5, 2017 by ‘Research Now.’

About Symantec

Symantec Corporation (NASDAQ: SYMC), a world leader in cyber security, helps organisations, governments and people secure their most important data wherever it lives. Organisations across the world look to Symantec for strategic, integrated solutions to defend against sophisticated attacks across endpoints, cloud and infrastructure. Likewise, a global community of more than 50 million people and families rely on Symantec’s Norton and LifeLock product suites to protect their digital lives at home and across their devices. Symantec operates one of the world’s largest civilian cyber intelligence networks, allowing it to see and protect against the most advanced threats. For additional information, please visit www.symantec.com or connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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