7-year-old girl takes just 10 minutes to hack into public WiFi network and access stranger's laptop

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Some public WiFi hotspots are so unsecure they can be hacked into by primary school children - as seven-year-old Betsy Davies proved as part of a new experiment.

The primary school student took 10 minutes to hack a public WiFi hotspot and gain access to a stranger's laptop, as part of a new public awareness campaign.

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Though this hack was what's known as 'ethical' - done in an controlled environment with the aim of demonstrating how easy it is to access information on other devices by hacking their public internet connection - experts say it should serve as a warning to open hotspot users.

Credit: PA/HideMyAss.com

There are more than 270,000 of these in the UK, covering restaurants, hotels and other locations.

Ethical hacker Marcus Dempsey, who oversaw the exercise, said:

Credit: PA/HideMyAss.com

The danger of some public WiFi spots is that they do not require a username and password, and as a result are open to anyone within range.

Betsy was able to gain the knowledge to carry out the hack just by searching online using basic search terms - those behind the experiment noted that more than 11 million results where returned on Google, with almost 14,000 video tutorials showing up on YouTube.

Research alongside the experiment found that nearly two-thirds of Britons use open WiFi hotspots, with 20% doing so weekly.

The survey found that sensitive data was often transferred when users logged on, with online banking and responding to emails two of the most popular habits to carry out when connected.