Practicing safe public Wi-Fi

Assessing and managing data security and legal risks

Support: auDA Foundation

Chief Investigators: Dr Ian McShane (RMIT), Dr Mark Gregory (RMIT), Dr Chris K Wilson (RMIT)

Timeframe: 2015

A recent surge of investment by Australian state and municipal governments has seen public Wi-Fi emerge as a civic as well as commercial concern. While Public Wi-Fi is becoming a key component of Australia’s communication ecology, we know little about how consumers use these networks, their understanding of the technology, and expectations of service providers. We also know little about how providers determine their obligations to consumers, particularly since Wi-Fi operates outside regulated spectrum. An issue requiring urgent attention is how consumers and providers are managing the data security and legal risks of public Wi-Fi. Recent studies, such as that by the Attorney General, suggest Australians are concerned about online privacy and identity theft risks, but do not examine whether consumers appreciate the type and level of threat posed by different network access technologies and whether they alter their online activity accordingly.

This research will address this issue, generating public data that will inform awareness campaigns and provide a baseline for future studies.