Survey: 12 percent of consumers 'borrow' free Wi-Fi

12 percent of U.S. and U.K. consumers have piggybacked on unsecured Wi-Fi connections, a new study finds.

Although it is illegal in some parts of the world, 12 percent of U.S. and U.K. respondents to an Accenture survey have logged on to someone else's unsecured Wi-Fi connection.

Data that is sent via unsecured wireless routers is unencrypted and could theoretically be read by anyone who had the right network sniffing tools, but many people have tried logging on to unsecure Wi-Fi.

Logging on to open Wi-Fi signals is most popular with 18- to 34-year-olds, Accenture said. Nearly a third of them said they had done this at some point.

The practice is apparently more common in the U.S., where one in seven have piggybacked on free Wi-Fi networks, than in the U.K., where Accenture found that it was attempted by one in 11.

In some parts of the world, Wi-Fi piggybacking is considered to be a form of criminal hacking. In August, police arrested a 39-year-old man for using his laptop to connect to an unsecured Wi-Fi connection as he sat on a garden wall in the London suburb of Chiswick. And in a case that was widely publicized in the U.S., Sam Peterson of Sparta, Michigan, was charged after using a cafe's wireless connection to check his e-mail.

The Accenture study found that computer users are still engaging in some unsafe computing practices. Nearly half of all respondents said that they used the same password for all of their online accounts, and only a quarter of them have ever encrypted files on their computers.

Most computer users are sensitive to reports of identity theft, the study found, with about 25 percent of respondents saying that they would stop shopping at a retailer that had suffered a security breach. One-third said that they would continue to shop at the store, but would pay in cash rather than using credit or debit cards.

One other finding: People in the U.S. are more likely to keep their security software up-to-date than their U.K. counterparts. One in seven U.K. households never update security software. In the U.S., that ratio is 1-in-20.

Accenture's survey was based on telephone interviews with 800 U.S. and U.K. residents.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Wi-Fiaccenture

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Robert McMillan

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?