Friday, October 7, 2011

New Study Exposes Wi-Fi Security Trends

With convenient Wi-Fi hotspots popping up everywhere from Sears to Starbucks, there are very few places lacking in internet access these days. But according to a new study commissioned by the Wi-Fi Alliance, many users are not respecting the seriousness of Wi-Fi security and the lack of identity protection available. The Wi-Fi Alliance has sponsored numerous awareness campaigns to correct this laissez faire attitude toward private browsing. But according to their research, it has come to little avail.

Entitled "The Wi-Fi Security Barometer Survey," the study findings are based on 1,000 interviews fielded among nationally representative people, aged 18 or older. Wakefield Research conducted all interviews between August 12th and August 29th, 2011, using random-digit telephone dialing. The study found that, while many people knew of the inherent security risks involved with using unsecured Wi-Fi networks, only a fraction of them took the necessary steps—turning off automatic sharing on mobile devices, using a VPN service to shield their data—to protect themselves from intruders.

While close to 85 percent of the respondents knew that they should turn off automatic sharing on their Wi-Fi devices, only 62 percent of them had actually done so. And while most respondents knew that Wi-Fi networks left data open to snoops and spies online, only 18 percent of Wi-Fi hotspot users employed a VPN account to protect themselves.

Even when users are not in public, many are lax about web security. 86 percent said they had locked their Wi-Fi with some kind of password. But only 59 percent of the respondents had created passwords that met the basic requirements for length and strength. Through over 11,000 product certifications, the Wi-Fi Alliance has been working to get users to change their passwords, as they know how easy it can be to break into an unprotected network.

The Wi-Fi alliance encourages folks interested in further securing their networks to visit for more information, quizzes, setup directions, animations and studies to help users protect themselves and their internet activity.