Commuters Putting Company Data at Risk over Free Public Wi-Fi

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As wireless devices become increasingly engrained into the daily lives of Americans, they are enabling greater security risks. Not only are mobile devices becoming points of access for cyber criminals, but they are more easily breached than a personal computer because many consumers do not secure their smartphone with antivirus software or even use password protection. Statistics show less than one-third of mobile users have antivirus installed on their device compared to 91 percent on their computers. Fact is, most people do not view cybersecurity on their mobile devices as a threat.

GFI Software recently announced the findings of an extensive independent research project looking at end-user use of mobile devices at work and in their daily commute to and from the workplace, which revealed that commuters are using free, unsecured and unknown Wi-Fi services for accessing sensitive company data in greater numbers.

The survey of 1,000 U.S. office workers with a tablet or smartphone who travel to and from work on a train, bus or subway was conducted by Opinion Matters for GFI Software, and revealed that not only are employees using mobile devices and accessing data services during their daily commute, they are also increasing the risk of data security issues for their employers.

95.6 percent of survey respondents acknowledged that they used open, public Wi-Fi connections at least once a week to carry out work-related tasks such as sending and receiving email, reviewing and editing documents and accessing company servers. More than one-third (34.2 percent) of those respondents reported they accessed public Wi-Fi at least 20 times per week during their commutes, with some employees saying they connect more than 70 times per week. This activity puts company data and passwords at risk from packet sniffing and other forms of traffic interception.

“The research findings reveal a stark and concerning trend among commuters – one of using their personal devices to catch up on work during their commuting downtime, but doing so over highly insecure Internet connections that can be easily intercepted by other users or the operator of the access point,” said Walter Scott, CEO of GFI Software. “Mobile Internet access is now firmly entrenched as a day-to-day norm, but with that has come an increasingly relaxed user attitude to data security, compliance and data governance policy. Companies need to address mobile device management to ensure that use in insecure environments doesn’t create vulnerabilities that could be exploited by criminals – both cyber and conventional.”


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