According to a survey conducted by NordVPN almost 22% of Canadian internet users avoid going online in public places and 60% of Canadians prefer their mobile internet for online activities in public. Canadians use public Wi-Fi more frequently and less mobile internet than any other country that participated in the survey. Cybersecurity experts say that these measures help to mitigate cyberthreats, but issues raised by using public Wi-Fi can also be managed by other means.

Cyberthreat of shopping malls

In the new survey, most Canadian internet users mentioned shopping malls (57%), public event venues (51%), and cafeterias, bars, or restaurants (49%) among the places where devices are exposed to cybersecurity threats the most. Home (18%) and workplace (16%) are mentioned as the safest places from cybersecurity threats. 

“Internet users should evaluate cybersecurity risks in every location because the scope of threats varies depending on a place. While universities or offices tend to put more effort into cybersecurity, it might not be the case with cafeterias and shopping malls,” says Marijus Briedis, CTO at NordVPN.

Canadians trust in themselves more than in technology

The survey reveals that Canadians tend to rely more on their behavior online to protect themselves from cybersecurity threats in public places rather than technology. 46% of respondents claim that they avoid entering or accessing sensitive information when they are connected to public Wi-Fi. At the same time, 40% of respondents go only to safe websites, and 37% verify if the public Wi-Fi is legitimate before joining.

Regarding the usage of cybersecurity and privacy tools, the numbers are more modest. Only 19% of Canadians use a VPN service, and 36% choose antivirus software. While a VPN is a more popular solution among younger generations, older generations tend to trust antivirus software. 

“Cybersecurity literacy is important, and it is great that internet users avoid entering or accessing sensitive information, like banking accounts, clicking on pop-ups, or going to suspicious websites. But a human mistake is an important factor in cybersecurity and even experts do them, so technological solutions should complement human efforts to minimize risks,” says Briedis. 

Americans are more eager to use internet in public

In comparison, only around 16% of Americans do not use the internet in public at all. Americans use mobile internet more frequently and less public Wi-Fi than Canadians. Up to 39% of internet users in the United States use public Wi-Fi, and 70% use mobile internet. 

In addition, Americans demonstrate slightly better use of cybersecurity and privacy software to protect their devices from cybersecurity threats: 27% of respondents said they use a VPN, and 33% use antivirus software.

How to stay secure on public Wi-Fi?

There are several simple precautions to stay secure on public Wi-Fi. Marijus Briedis, cybersecurity expert and CTO at NordVPN, advises taking these actions:

  • Use a reliable antivirus. Users should choose an antivirus with advanced protection against malware, spyware, and viruses. An antivirus program will detect and neutralize malicious threats before they do any harm. For example, NordVPN’s Threat Protection feature neutralizes cyber threats, like malware-ridden files or malicious websites, before they can damage your device.
  • Enable a firewall. A firewall protects the system by monitoring the network traffic and blocking suspicious connections. Users should have security settings and ensure the computer’s inbuilt firewall is running.
  • Stay secure on public Wi-Fi using a VPN. Public Wi-Fi networks are highly vulnerable to hacking. Cybercriminals often target people at free hotspots and try to slip malware into their devices. Users should always use a VPN to secure their Wi-Fi connection and protect themselves from unwanted snoopers.

Source: NordVPN