More than 103 million Americans use Wi-Fi networks that are vulnerable to theft

Research by dfndr lab shows that 33% of respondents say they “don’t use any method of protecting their Wi-Fi connection

 dfndr lab, a digital security laboratory managed by PSafe, conducted a survey to discover the habits of broadband Internet users in the United States: including the methods users employ to protect their connections, and the main concerns they have related to network security. The research projects that, of the 313 million Americans with access to the Internet,* 103 million don’t protect their WiFi connections, and more than 56 million already suspect that their Wi-Fi may well be used by unauthorized people.

* Statista data released in 2019.

Usage habits obscure the risks

Asked about the places where they usually access the Wi-Fi Internet, 86% of respondents said they connect from home, 21% in public places, 14% also use a work network, and 13% say they frequently connect from friends’ homes. For the 18% of respondents who suspect that their connection is being stolen, the main reasons given for this suspicion are: a slow connection (62%), suspicious browsing (41%) and shared passwords (19%).

According to Emilio Simoni, director of the dfndr lab, theft of Wi-Fi is a real possibility with an unprotected connection. Simoni’s recommendation is to always have a security solution on your devices to prevent virtual threats from reaching your connection: “Among the most common dangers are the theft of personal data, theft of confidential information, leaks of credentials and passwords, and phishing scams. With the WiFi compromised, you can also get alterations of the router, infection of the connected devices, and even hijacking of your broadband,” Simoni warns. 

The risks are even greater for those who use the home network to do work: Simoni explains: “Aware that several companies adopted the model of remote work during the pandemic, cybercriminals have created scams focusing on home-office workers. This is because the successful attacks on employees have more lucrative potential for cybercriminals, since the leakage of corporate data can cause millions in losses to companies, in addition to the exposure of personal data of the attacked person.”

Most want to know: “Who’s connected to my Wi-Fi?”

87% of respondents said they would like to be able to identify devices connected to their Wi-Fi network. The desire is already a reality for users of the dfndr security application, through the “Wi-Fi Theft Protector” function, launched this week for Android users of the app. On iOS, the function is found within “Network Tools> Devices.” The new function identifies devices connected to a network, and can provide alerts about new connected devices. “If the user identifies a device that does not know the source using his network, it is recommended that he change his password immediately, to avoid the leakage of private information”, advises Simoni.

Despite the concern of the interviewees, 33% of the respondents said they did not use any protection method for the wireless connection, the number corresponds to approximately 103 million Americans. Of the 34% who said they used some security measure for Wi-Fi, 69% chose to trust their security with a secure password, and only 36% said they never share their passwords with third parties. These measures, however, are not enough to guarantee the security of the connection. The ideal is to always have security software installed on your devices — a solution capable of protecting against data leaks.

How to protect against Wi-Fi theft?

1 – Use a security solution on your cell phone capable of identifying the devices connected to your Wi-Fi network. The dfndr security app, for example. Download it for free here.

2 – It’s essential for companies to have a solid security solution against data leaks. The dfndr enterprise is designed to identify vulnerabilities in corporate systems. It does so in real time, and helps companies tackle issues before they become a problem.

3 – Avoid using the same password for different services; always use a secure password that mixes numbers, letters and special characters; and never share your password with third parties. 

4 – Finally, don’t click on links received through social networks and messaging applications without knowing the source and the link-destination — and never enter personal or bank details on websites you are not 100% sure of.

See the research in full: click here.