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Despite Knowing Risks, People Are Banking and Filing Taxes Over Public Wi-Fi Networks

Hackers can watch your every move over unsecured networks.

Despite Knowing Risks, People Are Banking and Filing Taxes Over Public Wi-Fi Networks
[Image: Flickr user Sébastien Bertrand]

Accessing public Wi-Fi networks comes with its risks–hackers snoop on network traffic–but a new study finds 39% of U.S. adults have sent sensitive information, including banking information and social security numbers, over such unsecured networks.

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Polling 2,037 adults, a study conducted by Nielsen’s Harris Poll for virtual private network company Private WiFi found most people understood such risks, with 88% of respondents mentioning identity theft as a possible threat when using unprotected Wi-Fi networks.

That said, 26% of respondents said they have checked their bank accounts and 19% have paid bills while using public Wi-Fi. In addition, 8% admitted to sending emails containing sensitive information, such as social security numbers or account numbers, over these unprotected networks.

With tax season underway, 6% of respondents said they have also filed their taxes, which contain their social security number, income, and other sensitive information, over public Wi-Fi.

About the author

Based in San Francisco, Alice Truong is Fast Company's West Coast correspondent. She previously reported in Chicago, Washington D.C., New York and most recently Hong Kong, where she (left her heart and) worked as a reporter for the Wall Street Journal.

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