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

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The survey also revealed that the increased commuter use of smartphones and tablets is pushing more companies to adopt Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies, often without the infrastructure in place to manage them. While 24.7 percent of those surveyed had corporate security policies pushed out to their mobile device, nearly 40 percent (39.8) admitted to using mobile devices to circumvent existing network security policies.

Use of personal mobile devices in the workplace is significant, with 86.9 percent of respondents using their mobile device at work. More than half (54.6 percent) reported using their smartphone at work, for a work-related purpose, for at least 30 minutes per week and more than a quarter (26.3) used their device for more than an hour. In contrast, 51 percent of workers also use their smartphone for personal reasons while connected to their company network for at least 30 minutes per week, and 23.1 percent do so for more than an hour.

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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