Cafés see highest number of Wi-Fi related incidents , followed by airports and hotels
iPass, a provider of global mobile connectivity, has published the iPass Mobile Security Report 2018, revealing that more than half (57%) of organisations suspect their mobile workers have been hacked or caused a mobile security issue in the last 12 months.
Overall, 81% of respondents said they had seen Wi-Fi related security incidents in the last 12 months, with cafés and coffee shops (62%) ranked as the venues where such incidents had occurred most. That was closely followed by airports (60%) and hotels (52%), with other locations on the list including train stations (30%), exhibition centres (26%), and in-flight (20%).
Compiling the responses of 500 organisations from the US, UK, Germany and France, the annual iPass Mobile Security Report provides an overview of how companies are dealing with the trade-off between security and the need to enable a mobile workforce. Many organisations have now implemented bring your own device (BYOD) policies to empower their mobile workers. However, for all the positives this can bring, 94% of enterprises said BYOD has increased mobile security risks. Overall, 92% of organisations said they were concerned their growing mobile workforce presents an increasing number of mobile security challenges.
“There is no escaping the fact that mobile security threats are rising. So, while it is great that mobile workers are increasingly able to work from locations such as cafés, hotels and airports, there is no guarantee the Wi-Fi hotspot they are using is fully secure,” said Raghu Konka, vice president of engineering at iPass. “Given the amount of high profile security breaches in recent years, it’s not surprising this issue is on the radar of CIOs. The conundrum remains; how can they keep their mobile workers secure while providing them with the flexibility to get connected anywhere using their device of choice?”
The research also shows the majority of organisations are still addressing mobile security problems by banning employee usage of free Wi-Fi hotspots. More than a quarter (27%) take the hardline approach of banning their use at all times, while 40% ban their use sometimes. A further 16% plan to introduce a ban on public Wi-Fi hotspots in the future.
Many organisations use virtual private networks (VPN) to provide secure remote access to their data and systems, and the research shows that employee usage of VPNs is slowly increasing. In 2016, the iPass Mobile Security Report revealed that 26% of organisations were fully confident their mobile workers were using a VPN every time they went online, but that figure has jumped to 46% in 2018. However, that still leaves more than half (54%) of respondents reporting they aren’t fully confident their mobile workers use a VPN every time they go online. CIOs from Germany (71%) are the most suspicious that their mobile workers have been hacked or caused a security issue.
UK enterprises are likely to be the most wary of employees working from cafés and coffee shops, as (81%) have seen Wi-Fi related security incidents occur in such a location. Meanwhile, alarm bells could ring for enterprises from the US when their employees come online in airports, as 68% have seen an incident occur there.
Yet in the UK, almost half (42%) of enterprises have no plans to ban the use of free Wi-Fi hotspots. This is significantly higher compared to the US (9%), Germany (10%), and France (12%). UK organisations (38%) were least confident that their mobile workers are using a VPN every time they go online. The figure is higher in Germany (53%), US (49%) and France (41%).
“While putting a blanket ban on accessing public Wi-Fi hotspots could initially appear to stop the security problem at the source, the fact of the matter is that mobile workers will stop at nothing to get themselves online. There’s no point in putting roadblocks in their way without also providing a solution,” added Konka. “Organisations must focus on taking positive action to resolve the security problems mobile workers are bringing to the table. With a secure connection through a VPN, enterprises can have confidence that Wi-Fi hotspot usage will have a positive rather than negative impact on their business. The key for organisations is to educate mobile workers about today’s security threats, and to provide them with the tools to remain productive and secure.”
The research was carried out by independent market research company Vanson Bourne during February and March 2018. The sample comprised 500 CIO and IT decision makers from the US (200), UK (100), Germany (100) and France (100).