WiFi Security Issues Make Businesses Nervous

A global report from iPass revealed 20 percent of organizations plan to enforce bans on using public WiFi in the future.

wifi and mobile security

Nearly two-thirds of organizations are banning their mobile workers from using free WiFi hotspots amid security concerns, according to an iPass survey of 500 CIO and IT decision-makers worldwide.

The report revealed a further 20 percent of organizations stated they are planning to enforce bans in the future. Overall, 94 percent of those surveyed see free WiFi hotspots as a significant mobile security threat.

In the United States (53 percent) and France (36 percent), insecure WiFi hotspots were seen as the biggest mobile security threat, and a whopping 94 percent of French organizations said they struggle to consistently enforce a safe mobile usage policy.

Overall, the report revealed that a large number of organizations (88 percent) are struggling to consistently enforce a safe mobile usage policy, and the vast majority (92 percent) said they were concerned about the security challenges posed by a growing mobile workforce.

U.K. organizations were the most lenient when it comes to banning the use of free WiFi hotspots—nearly half (47 percent) stated they don’t actively prohibit their employees from using them.

Although many organizations provide their mobile workers with virtual private network (VPN) technology, the report found that only 26 percent of respondents are fully confident that mobile workers access enterprise systems via a VPN at all times.

Only 21 percent of American organizations said they were fully confident their mobile workers always use its corporate VPN.

When asked to identify their biggest mobile security threat, 37 percent of the respondents chose free WiFi hotspots, followed closely by their own employees’ lack of attention to security (36 percent) and the devices employees use (27 percent).

In the U.K. (64 percent) and Germany (38 percent), employees were seen as the biggest mobile security threat.

A similar Crowd Research Partners study of 800 global cyber-security professionals found security (39 percent) and employee privacy (12 percent) are the biggest inhibitors of bring-your-own-device (BYOD) adoption, while management opposition (3 percent) and user experience concerns (4 percent) rank far lower.

Despite increasing mobile security threats, data breaches and new regulations, only 30 percent of organizations are increasing security budgets for BYOD in the next 12 months, according to the Crowd Research Partners study.

Meanwhile, 37 percent have no plans to change their security budgets. One in five organizations suffered a mobile security breach, primarily driven by malware and malicious WiFi, while security threats to BYOD impose heavy burdens on organizations’ IT resources (35 percent) and help desk workloads (27 percent), the Crowd Research Partners study noted.