RMIT researchers will study public WiFi data security and legal risks for consumers in Australia following a recent grant success.
The research will be conducted by the Public WiFi in Australia Research Program, which is hosted within RMIT’s Centre for Urban Research (CUR).
The winning project, Practicing safe public Wi-Fi: assessing and managing data security and legal risks, will involve a national survey, legal analysis, and a network security best-practice analysis on public WiFi use to identify consumers’ greatest risk areas.
The grant was for $25,000, part of a total pool of $324,000 provided to 14 Internet-related research projects by the auDA Foundation, a charitable trust aiming to enhance the Internet’s utility for the benefit of the Australian community.
Dr Ian McShane, the program’s research leader and Senior Research Fellow within the CUR, said public WiFi was becoming a key component of Australia’s communication environment, but little was known about how consumers use the networks.
“An issue requiring urgent attention is how consumers and providers are managing the data security and legal risks of public WiFi,” he said.
“Recent studies suggest Australians are concerned about online privacy and identity theft risks but don’t examine whether consumers appreciate the type and level of threat posed by different network types, and whether they alter their online activity accordingly.”
The research will address these issues, generating public data that will inform awareness campaigns and serve as a baseline for future studies around public WiFi.
auDA Foundation Director Chris Disspain said he was impressed with the high quality of this year's grant applicants.
"The Foundation Directors are particularly encouraged to see an increase in applications from tertiary and research institutions and a wide range of project target areas covering sustainability, cyber-safety and digital literacy."
The project’s research team also consists of Dr Mark Gregory, RMIT School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and CUR Research Associate Chris Wilson.