Australian technology news, reviews, and guides to help you
Australian technology news, reviews, and guides to help you

Symantec secures free WiFi with a not-so-free app

We’ve all done something we shouldn’t be doing, but some of us do it on a daily basis. We’re talking about connecting to unsecured free WiFi networks, and if you were ever concerned about your security on these, an app is now available to help.

Provided you’re an Android or iPhone owner — sorry Windows Phone people — you can now rest a little easier when you connect to a free WiFi network, thanks to an app that has been released courtesy of Symantec, makers of the Norton 360 security solution.

Called “Norton Wi-Fi Privacy”, it’s an app designed to at least deal with the dangers of unsecured wireless connections buy taking all of the data you happen to be transmitting and encrypting in on a virtual private network (VPN), and one that has been designed not to log anything sent through.


That means your data is not only passing through a secondary server, but the information your mobile sends — which can include names, dates, passwords, and anything else used on your device — is encrypted, providing you with a fair amount of security when you’re connected to a network you might not trust.

Frustratingly, this sort of app exists because WiFi networks that are provided for free to customers of restaurants, shopping centres, airports, hotels, hairdressers, and so on and so on aren’t necessarily secure, but are rather just free.

Simply needing a password to log on doesn’t necessarily mean your information is secure, but rather that the network has password security, and if anyone happens to be peeking into the network or information is logged by the WiFi provider, your information could be at risk.

“We know many consumers believe that using a password to access public Wi-Fi means their information is safe, but that’s not necessarily the case,” said Fran Rosch, Executive Vice President of the Norton Business Unit for Symantec.

“Norton Wi-Fi Privacy helps protect information, such as passwords and credit card numbers, and denies access to hackers who may be eavesdropping on the same network.”


It’s worth noting that Symantec’s WiFi Privacy app isn’t a free solution, only “free” on the Android and Apple app stores because of a 7 day trial, with a yearly cost of $29.99 USD, and only for one device.

If that’s too much — and we think Norton could work on its pricing a bit (or at the very least, open the annual subscription to more devices) — the easier option is to only connect to WiFi networks you trust, such as at home, with mobile internet over 3G or 4G handling the rest of your mobile activity.

That’s quite literally the easiest way around WiFi issues, because if you never connect to a free WiFi at all, your risk automatically goes down a little.

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