By Dennis Jones
Nearly all organizations view free Wi-Fi as a threat to mobile security
By now the appeal of workforce mobility is pretty clear to modern professionals and their employers alike. Enabling employees to work outside the office has been found to increase recruiting acceptance rates, staff retention and employee productivity. The ability to work on the go also encourages innovative ways of interacting with both customers and business partners. But to recoup all of those advantages, companies need to keep their mobile teams connected. Easy enough, right? Not so much. Companies are just now beginning to understand a major challenge associated with employing a mobile workforce: enforcing mobile security standards.
iPass set out to learn just how challenging this can be. We commissioned an independent survey of 500 organizations across the U.S., U.K., France and Germany. The resulting iPass Mobile Security Report 2016 compiles the responses of CIOs and IT decision-makers, who discussed how their companies were balancing the modern trade-off between ensuring mobile security and enabling workforce mobility.
What we learned might surprise you. Nearly two-thirds of organizations ban their mobile employees from using free Wi-Fi hotspots — with 22% enforcing bans without exception and a further 20% of organizations planning to put bans in place in the near future. And understandably, a resounding 92% of organizations were concerned about the mobile security challenges posed by their mobile teams. Indeed, over a third of businesses even described themselves as “very concerned.”
Given the growing prevalence of security breaches around the world and across industries, that level of concern is more than understandable. And firms are becoming increasingly proactive in policing their ever-expanding security perimeter, with the average total cost of data breaches at $3.79 million, according to an IBM-sponsored study.
This policy of direct IT intervention is testament to the fact, if any more is needed, that employees can do as much harm to a company’s mobile security as an enterprising hacker. In fact, an estimated 59% of all data breaches are the result of employee error. It’s no surprise then that businesses are finding their safe mobile usage policies difficult to enforce. This is, in part, because modern professionals seem unable and/or unwilling to use corporate VPNs. For instance, just 26% of organizations are confident that their employees are using the company VPN all of the time.
Our report shows businesses around the world at an impasse. For speed, reliability and cost-effectiveness, modern professionals are flocking to Wi-Fi in droves — despite the mobile security threats posed by unsecured, free Wi-Fi. To combat these risks, businesses must engage in constant awareness and education campaigns with their employees, in addition to providing their mobile workers with a simple and secure way to connect.