Visible to the public EAGER: Physical, Social and Situational Factors as Determents of Public WiFi Users Online BehaviorsConflict Detection Enabled

Project Details

Lead PI

Performance Period

Oct 01, 2014 - Sep 30, 2017


University of Maryland College Park

Award Number

Outcomes Report URL

The proliferation of public WiFi networks allows users to access the Internet from various public locations. Unfortunately, many public WiFi networks are unencrypted and insecure, posing risks to users' security and privacy, and allowing users to potentially initiate illegal online behaviors. In this interdisciplinary collaboration between social scientists and computer scientists, the PIs build upon sociological, psychological, and criminological models that leverage constructs of community, space, and time, and extend them to study users' perceptions of and behavior on public WiFi networks.

This study gathers data from public WiFi networks across the state of Maryland, and explores whether public WiFi users' online behaviors (both legitimate and illegitimate) and vulnerabilities to cybercrime victimization are shaped by (1) time of day; (2) the speed and level of security of the WiFi connection; (3) the socio-economic characteristics of the neighborhood within which the WiFi network is located; (4) the type of business operating the public WiFi; (5) the physical arrangement and number of individuals present in the location; and (6) the presence of cyber-security awareness cues in the physical environment. This project enables the development of strategies, policies, and best practices for encouraging safe use of public WiFi networks.