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WiFi networks: 89% of US internet users do not use passwords

WiFi networks US internet users do not use passwords

In the USA, only 3% of internet users use a password to protect their WiFi network, 7% are not sure whether they have one, and 89% do not use any to guard their connection. These data, presented by AtlasVPN, are some of the findings of a survey conducted by PC Matic, which operates in the cybersecurity sector, with approximately 2,500 individuals across the United States, featured in the 2022 Password Hygiene And Habits Report.

Using a WiFi password is one of the most basic and easiest methods to secure a wireless network. Without it, anyone can access a person’s internet connection and use up their data or compromise their personal information. Good password hygiene is also crucial: default passwords provided by the internet service provider at the time of WiFi setup are easy to guess, and therefore are strongly recommended to be updated.

The report

Among the most interesting findings there are:

  • 89% of internet users do not password-protect their WiFi connection, and 7% are not sure wether they have a password.
  • 9% of internet users that do use WiFi passwords have never changed theirs. Additionally, 9% are unaware of how to.
  • 37% of those who changed their WiFi passwords have not done so since its set up, but the number of such people has dropped by 4% since 2021.
  • 23% change their WiFi passwords annually, and the remaining 22% take their network security very seriously by updating their passwords every month (a 4% increase from a year before).
WiFi networks 89% US internet users do not use passwords frequency

Risks of not protecting WiFi networks with passwords

Leaving one’s WiFi unprotected can have many severe consequences for the network owner. For one, virtually anyone nearby can access their WiFi network and use up their internet data and bandwidth, which may lead to extra internet data charges and slower speed.

Malicious actors can use someone’s unsecured WiFi to access illegal content and do some other illicit activities. But it is the network owner that can be held accountable for all the misdemeanors of the perpetrators, since any investigation would lead to the owner.

Moreover, the perpetrators can monitor the unencrypted traffic sent across the network, including personal information such as addresses, passwords, financial details, and more, which they can then use to commit fraud.

4 tips to keep WiFi networks secure

While hackers can do significant damage by hijacking WiFi networks, several steps can be taken to secure them and prevent the misfortune from happening:

  • changing routers’ admin credentials. Hackers can look up the default network name (SSID) and password that came with it. Therefore, changing them is one of the most crucial steps to ensure a network’s security. Since short passwords consisting of common words and basic number sequences can be broken in seconds, a long password (at least eight characters) should be used, with uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special symbols. Additionally, whenever a password is created, it should be a unique one. This way, even if one of the passwords is leaked in a data breach, no other account should be affected as a result.
  • Keeping the firmware up to date. Like any other software, the router’s firmware can contain vulnerabilities. That is why it is important to always install the latest software patches available to minimize the chances of hackers exploiting the vulnerabilities to hijack the network.
  • Using a VPN. A virtual private network adds an extra layer of security between individuals and the internet by encrypting their traffic: even if the connection gets intercepted, the attacker could not see the data, as it would appear in an unreadable (encrypted) form.
  • Setting up a guest network. Most routers allow to set up a separate guest network with different login and password. This way, it is possible to use the primary network for trusted devices, and the guest network for untrusted devices belonging to guests. Devices on the guest network cannot see or communicate with the devices on the primary network.
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