A significant proportion of wireless broadband users do not understand how to change the security settings on their Wi-Fi networks, it has been reported.
The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) found that just 60 per cent of users are aware of the correct processes, raising concerns over many households' network security.
Some 16 per cent of survey respondents were unknowingly using unsecured wireless broadband networks, the study revealed.
As a result, the ICO is calling for internet service providers (ISPs), retailers and manufacturers to ensure clear guidance is supplied with all Wi-Fi equipment.
Steve Wood, Head of Policy at the ICO, said people would not go out leaving their front door unlocked, but many still surf the internet without adequate protection for their personal information.
"Leaving your Wi-Fi connection unsecured allows people easy access to your network," he explained.
Mr Wood noted that the increase in traffic could reduce the speed of a subscriber's connection or cause them to exceed a data cap imposed by their ISP.
"However even more worryingly, it also leaves you open to the actions of rogue individuals who may be using your Wi-Fi to carry out potentially criminal actions without your knowledge," he added.
Last month, the Cabinet Office reported that cybercrime costs UK businesses a total of £27 billion per year.