According to a new study from cybersecurity firm Kaspersky, 25% of public Wi-Fi hotspots across the world have no security whatsoever - meaning they’re ripe for the taking as far as hackers are concerned.
The company looked at hotspots all across the world for its study, finding that a quarter didn't require passwords or have any encryption, and 3% only had the most basic security. WEP encryption, or 'wired equivalent privacy', is very easily hacked - within minutes, according to some experts.
The worst offenders are tourist-heavy locations like France, Thailand, and the USA.
On the plus side, that means that 72% of hotspots worldwide have decent security of 'WPA' (Wi-Fi protected access) protocol or better.
Of course, there's still a risk there, as Kaspersky points out. Anyone could be connected to the network, especially if it doesn't have a strong enough password or is in a busy area - so it's always best to be careful when you use public Wi-Fi.
"We advise all users to remain vigilant when connecting to Wi-Fi," said Denis Legezo, Kaspersky Lab's antivirus expert. "Don't use hotspots without passwords and don't use public hotspots to perform high-risk activities such as online banking or shopping, logging on to sites or for transferring confidential information. If that sort of traffic is intercepted by a third party, it could result in serious losses, including financial ones."
He also recommends taking extra measures - like installing your own security software (such as, well, Kaspersky) or setting up a VPN.
Source: Infosecurity Magazine