Free Wi-Fi hotspots are a major security threat for businesses

Public wi-fi

Free Wi-Fi hotspots are the biggest security threat for mobile workers, according to new reports.

The recently released iPass Mobile Security Report says that 62 per cent of organizations are banning their mobile workers from using free Wi-Fi hotspots, with another 20 percent planning on doing the same in the future.

For 94 percent of surveyed companies, free and open Wi-Fi hotspots are a "significant mobile security threat".

"Wi-Fi is a disruptive technology that has changed the way people work, but in recent times it has also introduced formidable mobile security concerns", said Keith Waldorf, VP Engineering at iPass. "Being connected is the basic requirement of every mobile worker. However, with increasing numbers of businesses falling afoul to security breaches, the number of organizations expressing a concern about mobile security is high. The use of free and insecure Wi-Fi hotspots in particular is a growing concern, as organizations balance the need for low-cost and convenient connectivity against the potential threat posed by hackers".

Out of the 500 companies from the US, UK, Germany and France that participated in the survey, 37 percent said free Wi-Fi hotspots were the biggest security threat, followed by employee lack of security attention (36 percent), and the devices in use (27 percent).

The report also says keeping mobile workers in check is becoming increasingly difficult because they use multiple devices, and employ various ways of getting online.

Even though many companies use a VPN (Virtual Private Network) to encrypt connections, only 26 percent are confident their users use VPN all of the time.

"The fact is, mobile workers will seek out free Wi-Fi connectivity for its convenience, despite its security flaws", continued Waldorf. "Simply banning access to free Wi-Fi hotspots is a heavy-handed approach and is not the solution. In today’s 'Wi-Fi-first' world, it is imperative that organizations educate their mobile workers about the dangers of insecure free Wi-Fi, and equip them with the requisite tools to access a secure internet connection and remain productive".

Published under license from ITProPortal.com, a Net Communities Ltd Publication. All rights reserved.

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