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In this “always connected” society being without Wi-Fi and Internet access makes a lot of people uncomfortable. Many people have heard about the dangers of free Wi-Fi but still that doesn’t stop a majority of people from connecting when it is available.

According to an article over at ZDNet, the security company Avast setup open free Wi-Fi hotspots at Barcelona Airport.

The company, which has a commercial interest in the security space, set up a series of open Wi-Fi network at Barcelona Airport, as hundreds were arriving to attend Mobile World Congress.

The goal? See who would be gullible enough to join an unsecured network for a quick jolt of internet, while forsaking their security and risking being targeted by hackers.

Turns out, more than you’d think.

They gave the Wi-Fi hotspots names to clearly identify that they were free and a lot of people used them!

The researchers created networks with names like were “Airport_Free_Wifi_AENA”, “MWC Free WiFi”, and even “Starbucks.” In just a few hours, more than 2,000 users connected to the honeypot network.

So here are the findings:

  • 50.1 percent had an Apple device, 43.4 percent had an Android device
  • 61.7 percent searched information on Google or checked their emails on Gmail
  • 14.9 percent visited Yahoo
  • 2 percent visited Spotify
  • 52.3 percent have the Facebook app installed, 2.4 percent have the Twitter app installed
  • 1 percent used dating apps (Tinder or Badoo)

Take-aways

Obviously more work needs to happen in terms of making people aware of the dangers of free open Wi-Fi hotspots. Credentials to banking accounts can be stolen. Passwords to social media sites as well as company email accounts can be stolen. This will lead to more and more phishing and spear phishing attacks.

Educating the public and especially employees about the dangers of free Wi-Fi is critical.

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