Home Page ContentPress Releases Public WiFi research: Over half of public potentially putting themselves at risk of ID theft, UK2 survey finds

Public WiFi research: Over half of public potentially putting themselves at risk of ID theft, UK2 survey finds

by david.nunes

Over half of public potentially putting themselves at risk of ID theft, UK2 survey finds

56% of public WiFi users do not check if WiFi is encrypted before joining


London, UK, 24th January 2012 – New research from web hosting experts UK2 and YouGov has revealed that more than half of the UK’s public WiFi users are potentially putting confidential data at risk by connecting mobile devices to unsecured networks.


According to the survey, over half of all UK adults who ever use public WiFi (56%) do not check or only “rarely” check whether a public WiFi network is encrypted before use. Public WiFi networks in places such as coffee shops, pubs, airports or hotels, are often unsecured connections which can expose personal data and leave devices open to online threats such as malware, spyware and cyber-snooping.


The findings have been announced by UK2 as it launches VPNHQ, a new brand enabling users to set up a VPN (Virtual Private Network) quickly and easily. VPNHQ employs native features of mobile devices to encrypt wireless communications, which makes using public WiFi networks far more secure and greatly reduces the chance of private information such as passwords or bank details being stolen or compromised.


When questioned, 67% of online UK adults did not know what is meant by the term VPN, and 68% of smartphone users did not know whether or not their device had VPN functionality. An interesting discrepancy to emerge from the research is that, despite the apparent lack of precautions taken in public, 86% of online adults who ever access WiFi at home take measures to ensure that their WiFi is secure.


“The results of our research on public WiFi usage suggest that users prioritise convenience over taking sensible security precautions,” says Russell Foster, managing director of VPNHQ. “The amount of personal data transmitted from mobile devices is growing, making them increasingly attractive targets for cyber criminals. Using a VPN is a simple, cost-effective and unobtrusive solution which exploits technology already native on almost every internet-enabled device on earth to provide security and peace of mind when using any wireless network.”


The research also shows that many consumers are in fact aware of the risks presented by public WiFi networks. According to the research 46% of all online UK adults are concerned about viruses, 41% admitted to worries about phishing or pharming, and 40% are anxious about the threat of cyber-snooping or hacking while using mobile devices.


Yet despite these concerns 22% of UK WiFi users have entered their email password when using public WiFi, 21% have logged into their Facebook account and 8% have sent their online banking password. 15% of those questioned had entered credit or debit card details to make purchases over public WiFi. Without a secure VPN tunnel, this information is freely available to any hackers who might be snooping on a public WiFi network.


Some selected statistics from the research read as follows:


·         45% of UK WiFi users could be putting their passwords and data at risk by using public WiFi to log-in to email, 37% access Facebook and 14% even log-in to online banking

·         15% of the UK’s public WiFi users have entered credit or debit card details over a public WiFi network

·         40% of all online UK adults worry about cyber-snooping

·         But 42% of all online UK adults who ever use public WiFi never or only “rarely” check whether or not a WiFi network is secure before use

·         Whereas 86% of all online UK adults who ever access Wi-Fi at home take measures to ensure that their WiFi at home is secure

·         42% of all online UK adults would use public WiFi more often if they could guarantee the security of their data

·         67% do not know what a VPN is, and are therefore unaware of how a Virtual Private Network could make their data usage more secure

·         And 68% of smartphone owners do not even know whether or not their smartphone has a VPN function


VPNHQ is available in the UK, the US, Germany, the Netherlands, Japan and Australia for a monthly subscription. For a limited time VPNHQ will be available for free, after which it will revert to its standard price of £4/$7USD per month. Once activated it can be used worldwide, enabling users to securely tunnel into their home country wherever they are in the world. For further details of international pricing please visit the VPNHQ website at www.vpnhq.com.



About UK2

UK2 Group has been a significant player in the British and European hosting markets since 1998, and is the founder brand of the UK2 Group. UK2 Group provides domain name registration and web hosting services to many global customers through its family of hosting brands – UK2.netmidPhase, WestHost100TB.com, VPS.net. The group operates its services out of several state of the art, multi-million dollar data centres in the UK and US, and is committed to providing reliable, secure and great value products and services underpinned with excellent support. UK2 Group hosts over 1,000,000 domains for customers across 75+ countries.

UK2 Group’s products include Linux and Windows shared, dedicated, bespoke and cloud hosting services; as well as a range of web design and ecommerce solutions and the associated domain registration and management services. With more than 200 staff located on both sides of the Atlantic, UK2 Group specialises in providing leading edge hosting products to small and large enterprise customers that need a reliable, secure and great value service underpinned with excellent support.


About the research

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 2124 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 16th – 19th December 2011. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).



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