This summer, lots of us will be chilling out by the pool at hotels around the world, surfing the Internet and checking email. Along with a burger and fries, 11,500 McDonalds are now serving up free WiFi so customers can access the Internet using their laptops, smartphones, or tablets at no charge. You can sip a refreshing iced mocha at Starbucks and access free WiFi with no subscription required, no password, and no time limit.
This trend is expanding to more restaurants, cafes and hotels globally, and people are using it. AVAST conducted a survey of our global users and more than 340,000 people responded. Half of PC users in the US (50%) connect via public WiFi, and worldwide, 46% use unsecured open WiFi.
People are doing more than updating their Facebook status. Thirty-two percent in the US perform security-sensitive transactions such as shopping or online banking despite the risk of hackers accessing their credentials; worldwide it’s even more at 36%.
WiFi usage exposes users to increasing security risks
The ease of connecting via a free HotSpot lulls users into a false sense of security, but WiFi networks are particularly vulnerable to exploitation. Man-in-the-Middle (MTM) attacks are all too common. In a MTM attack, a cybercrook intercepts data sent between two parties. That means the bad guy captures your data, like email addresses, passwords, and credit card numbers, before it reaches its destination. Once he’s got it, it can be decrypted and read, and then passed on to the highest bidder.
AVAST has solved this problem with avast! SecureLine, which uses secure-socket layer (SSL) encryption and security keys/certificates to safeguard Internet communications on otherwise unsecured WiFi networks.
“We’ve built SecureLine into avast! antivirus, both free and paid-for versions, so it’s basically a one-click activation to start using it,” said AVAST Chief Technology Officer Ondrej Vlcek. “Our security researchers are constantly on the lookout for emerging threat vectors and we found that the number of threats coming from those unsecured public hotspots is now bigger than ever. So we went ahead and built a solution that is effectively able to shield our users from these dangers, with fully automated operation and minimal impact on their comfort.”
How avast! SecureLine works
avast! SecureLine is seamlessly integrated in all of AVAST’s free and premium products. When AVAST customers connect to unsecured WiFi, they receive a message that provides them with insight into the risks of using public and unsecured WiFi as well as the choice of a secure VPN connection via avast! SecureLine. Customers are then directed to the user interface where they can start the service, which can also be proactively activated by the customer at any time. Once activated, avast! SecureLine will be automatically enabled whenever the customer connects to a public WiFi hotspot to secure and anonymize all of the customer’s online activities. Read more about in our previous blog post and press release.
avast! SecureLine VPN is available either standalone or directly from within avast! antivirus software, in the latter option with nothing to download or install. It supports Windows PCs and starts at $7.99 USD per month.
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