The High Price of Using Free Wi-Fi Connections

Photo by vchal / Shutterstock.com

A lot of people are putting sensitive personal information — including financial details — at risk every time they use a public Wi-Fi connection to access the internet. Most don’t even realize the danger they face.

Other people can intercept information such as passwords that you enter into a phone, tablet or computer while using an unsecured internet connection. Yet according to the 2017 Norton Wi-Fi Risk Report, 60 percent of people believe their personal information is safe when using public Wi-Fi networks.

The report, recently released by security company Symantec, is based on a survey of more than 15,500 adults who use Wi-Fi across 15 countries, including the U.S. and Canada.

Fran Rosch, executive vice president of Symantec’s Consumer Business Unit, notes:

“There is a deep divide between what people 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 …”

The most common reasons that survey respondents use public Wi-Fi connections are to:

  1. Log into personal email accounts
  2. Log into social media accounts
  3. Share photos or videos
  4. Log into work email accounts
  5. Check bank accounts or otherwise access financial information

How to protect personal information on public networks

Perhaps part of the issue is that it seems we can’t live without an internet connection. Consider these findings:

  • 46 percent of survey respondents say they 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.
  • 71 percent say that access to a strong Wi-Fi signal is a deciding factor when choosing travel lodging.

That makes it tough for some of us to follow Symantec’s advice for safeguarding sensitive information, which involves sharing less personal information over public connections. Such personal information includes passwords and financial details, as well as photos. Symantec explains:

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.”

For more tips, check out “Protect Your Data — Critical Things to Know About Public and Hotel Wi-Fi.”

How do you feel about unsecured internet connections? Sound off below or on Facebook.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
16 Products That Solve Everyday Annoyances
16 Products That Solve Everyday Annoyances

These items put an end to the daily irritations that bug you the most.

8 Common and Costly Homebuying Myths
8 Common and Costly Homebuying Myths

Think you’re ready to buy a house? Don’t fall victim to these rookie mistakes.

7 Secret Perks of Individual Retirement Accounts
7 Secret Perks of Individual Retirement Accounts

IRAs come with bells and whistles that many other accounts lack — including some perks you may not know exist.

It’s Worth Spending More on These 14 Purchases
It’s Worth Spending More on These 14 Purchases

Here’s where to find the sweet spot at the intersection of price and quality.

8 Key Steps to Planning for Retirement as a Couple
8 Key Steps to Planning for Retirement as a Couple

Ready for retirement? Not so fast. You might be surprised at some of the issues that come up for couples when they plan.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It
If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It

This iconic dinnerware is prized for everyday use as well as reselling for profit.

This Health Issue Can Hint at Dementia Years in Advance
This Health Issue Can Hint at Dementia Years in Advance

One type of pain is especially associated with cognitive decline.

How to Buy Gas At Costco Without a Membership
How to Buy Gas At Costco Without a Membership

The warehouse club often has some of the cheapest gas in town. Here’s how you can get it as a nonmember.

20 Things That Are Actually Worth Stockpiling
20 Things That Are Actually Worth Stockpiling

You don’t need a year’s supply of toilet paper to survive an outbreak, but consider stocking up on these items.

9 of the Best Things to Do When You Retire
9 of the Best Things to Do When You Retire

You’ve waited all your life for this moment. Make the most of your retirement.

Medicare Will Not Cover These 6 Medical Costs
Medicare Will Not Cover These 6 Medical Costs

Don’t let these health care expenses catch you off guard in retirement.

7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco

Even if it seems you save a bundle buying Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand products, they may not be the bargain they appear to be.

Beware This Hidden Ingredient in Rotisserie Chicken
Beware This Hidden Ingredient in Rotisserie Chicken

Something foul may lurk in those delicious, ready-to-eat birds.

5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free
5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free

Hesitant to drop $119 a year on an Amazon Prime membership? Here’s how to get it for free.

Never Buy These 10 Things on Amazon
Never Buy These 10 Things on Amazon

Just because you can purchase something on Amazon doesn’t mean that you should.

7 Big Purchases You Should Never Make
7 Big Purchases You Should Never Make

Sometimes a big-ticket purchase is nothing more than a big waste of money.

8 of the Worst Things to Buy at Target
8 of the Worst Things to Buy at Target

No store can specialize in everything. For some purchases, it’s smart to shop elsewhere.

8 Things You Should Be Buying at Thrift Stores
8 Things You Should Be Buying at Thrift Stores

For one expert, these secondhand bargains stand out from the rest.

5 States With the Worst Health Care for Retirees
5 States With the Worst Health Care for Retirees

All of these states are located in the same region of the nation.

20 Great Part-Time Jobs for Retirees
20 Great Part-Time Jobs for Retirees

Retirees can dial back the intensity of work while continuing to bring in a paycheck.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

8 Types of Companies That Check Your Credit Report
8 Types of Companies That Check Your Credit Report

Federal law lets these entities peek at your credit — regardless of whether you’re borrowing money.

11 Foods That Can Keep for Years
11 Foods That Can Keep for Years

These are some of the longest-lasting groceries you can buy.

Selling Your Stuff? Don’t Fall for These 5 Negotiating Tricks
Selling Your Stuff? Don’t Fall for These 5 Negotiating Tricks

Don’t let buyers fleece you — whether you’re selling via a yard sale or Facebook Marketplace.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.