The Majority Of UK Wi-Fi Hotspots Allow Access To Adult Sites

Tom Brewster is TechWeek Europe's Security Correspondent. He has also been named BT Information Security Journalist of the Year in 2012 and 2013.

Porn sites and online weapon stores accessible to anyone across public Wi-Fi

Over half of free Wi-Fi hotspots in the UK allow access to adult websites, from porn to sites selling weapons, according to research released today.

Almost a third (30 percent) of UK cafes and restaurants have no filtering to stop children accessing pornography, according to research from the University of Plymouth and AdaptiveMovile. One in five allowed customers to access online sex dating sites like AdultFriendFinder.com.

Internet Pornography © jwblinn - FotoliaLove cocaine?

Eight in ten allowed access to drug sites such as ILoveCocaine.com, whilst 53 percent let people on to sites selling knives and swords.

AdaptiveMobile looked at filtering protocols across cafes, restaurants, hotels, retailers and public spaces. Hotels were the most liberal, or risky, with 75 percent failing to block pornography. Only one in ten blocked online weapons shops.

“The fact that this protection isn’t available in a significant proportion of publically accessible sites will undoubtedly cause concern. However, we should also reflect on the  effectiveness of some of those in place – simply having a filter doesn’t necessarily mean everything is protected,” said Andy Phippen, professor of social responsibility in IT at Plymouth Business School.

Wi-Fi worries

“These results should encourage public outlets across the UK to review the Wi-Fi services that they have in place and ensure that they are fit for purpose and appropriate for their.”

The results will also concern the UK government, which is adamant pornography and other adult sites need to be filtered by default across the UK. Filters have often proved ineffective at blocking out all adult sites, as they are largely based on blacklists.

Adult sites are often riddled with malware too, making them a risk not just to people’s mental well-being.

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