A new report has revealed that almost half mobile workers are still using free public Wi-Fi connections despite widespread concerns about their safety, and almost a third have never used a VPN to protect their data and communications.
The figures have emerged in the Mobile Professional Report 2016 which is published by global Wi-Fi provider iPass. They surveyed more than 1,700 business people from across Europe and North America who travel on a regular basis for professional reasons and have unveiled some worrying trends in user habits.
Still using Wi-Fi Hotspots
According to their survey, 42% of mobile workers still use free Wi-Fi hotspots to access corporate networks. And when they are in airports, the number connecting shoots up to 72% – almost three-quarters.
It is well-known that such public Wi-Fi networks are notoriously insecure, and two-thirds of those responding to this survey also said that they were aware of this.
This is clearly a glaring security vulnerability for both the individual workers and the companies whose networks they are connecting to, putting both at a very real risk of being compromised.
One-third never use a VPN
And there were more shocking revelations to follow. According to iPass, a third of all those surveyed claimed they had never used a VPN, either corporate or personal, to protect their data and online communications.
Many remote workers will have downloaded a personal VPN to ensure that all of their online traffic is encrypted no matter where in the world they are.
But at a corporate level, many IT departments also require the use of corporate VPNs to access their online network. Yet according to this survey, plenty of users make an effort to find other ways to get online. iPass puts this down to a lack of technical know-how on behalf of mobile workers.
Using Personal Devices
The other telling insight into the lax online security practices of many mobile workers was that half of those questioned admitted to accessing corporate networks using a personal device. Again many businesses require only those devices which are security approved to access their network, and using potentially compromised personal devices is another glaring risk to corporate online security.
So why are mobile workers committing so many online security faux-pas’? Well, iPass suggests the problem stems from a lack of education about how to connect securely while on the road.
Patricia Hume, chief commercial officer at iPass, told Infosecurity Magazine that ““Businesses need to ensure they are making the effort to develop and implement a robust safe mobile usage policy and educating mobile workers on the importance of security while on the go.”
She went on to stress the importance of mobile workers using VPNs at all times and again stressed the role that employers should be playing in providing both the technical know-how and software to make this possible.
It may come as a surprise to some that professionals are still making such school-boy errors when it comes to online safety. But it is easy to forget that for many who are not plugged into the IT sector, information security is something they read about occasionally in the newspapers.
It is for the industry and, of course, their employers to make them aware that it is actually something that can impact the day-to-day activities of everyone who accesses the internet, and that tools such as VPNs are essential to protect their online activity and data from the plethora of threats there are out there.