Despite the fear of identity theft and threats from computer viruses, the use of public wireless Internet access has jumped 240 percent in the last 12 months, a new survey has found.
The top log-in sites were coffee shops and restaurants (75 percent), hotels (54 percent) and airports (38 percent), according to an online survey of 377 people by the nonprofit Identity Theft Resource Center in partnership with Private WiFi, a firm that develops online protection software.
Still, Internet users are aware of the risks of using public Wi-Fi. Nearly 80 percent of those surveyed said they feared they could be victims of identity theft. Nonetheless, 24 percent of those surveyed said they made an online purchase using a credit card and 57 percent accessed sensitive work-related material.
The survey’s authors suggest users of public Wi-Fi log on with a virtual private network, or VPN, to protect their data. But 44 percent of those surveyed said they didn’t know there was a way to protect themselves while using public Wi-Fi.
(c)2012 Los Angeles Times. Distributed by MCT Information Services.