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Why do people use unsecure public Wi-Fi? An investigation of behaviour and factors driving decisions

Sombatruang, N; Sasse, MA; Baddeley, M; (2016) Why do people use unsecure public Wi-Fi? An investigation of behaviour and factors driving decisions. In: (Proceedings) STAST '16 Proceedings of the 6th Workshop on Socio-Technical Aspects in Security and Trust. (pp. pp. 61-72). Association for Computing Machinery Green open access

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Abstract

© 2016 Copyright is held by the owner/author(s). Public Wi-Fi networks are now widely available in many countries. Though undoubtedly convenient, such networks have potential security and privacy risks. The aim of this study was to understand if people are aware of those risks, and - if so - why they decide to take them. We set up an experimental free Wi-Fi network at 14 locations in central London, UK, for a period of 150 hours, and people connected most often to use instant messaging, search engines, and social networks, and sensitive data (such as name, date of birth, and sexual orientation) were transmitted. We subsequently investigated people's risk awareness and risk behaviour through semi-structured interviews with 14 participants, and an online scenario-based survey with 102 participants. The majority of participants said they would use public Wi-Fi under circumstances where the risks taken are not consistent with maximising utility. Female participants rated the risks associated with public Wi-Fi use, more highly - and yet more females than males said they would use them to save their data plans. These findings align with insights from behavioural economics, specifically the insight that people can misjudge risky situations and do not make decisions consistent with expected utility theory.

Type: Proceedings paper
Title: Why do people use unsecure public Wi-Fi? An investigation of behaviour and factors driving decisions
Event: STAST '16 Proceedings of the 6th Workshop on Socio-Technical Aspects in Security and Trust
ISBN-13: 9781450348263
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1145/3046055.3046058
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/3046055.3046058
Language: English
Additional information: This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Licence, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science > Dept of Computer Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science > Dept of Security and Crime Science
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10040049
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