Half of UK companies ban workers from using free Wi-Fi

Security concerns have made nearly half of UK companies to ban their workers from using free Wi-Fi hotspots, according to an iPass research. This figure is expected to raise to 62% across the UK, France, Germany and US, reports TechWeekEurope. The security risk is identified, as the number of hotspots is expected to rise in UK to 14 million, by the year 2018, as ISPs continue to roll out hotspots, with more local authorities, retailers and other businesses joining in to offer free connectivity.

Many of the public Wi-Fi access points have built-in safeguards. Yet many others are not secured or lack protection. This vulnerability or susceptibility can help hackers to steal corporate or personal information, or gain unauthorised access to devices. Consumers and employees may enjoy the benefit of free Wi-Fi, but this is regarded as a security risk by a majority of respondents (94% of them) from UK, France, Germany and US. A fifth of the companies (20%) are yet to put a ban on free Wi-Fi, but have said they intend to implement it.

The biggest threat seen by 37% of respondents, is the free Wi-Fi access availability, which is getting more common, to a growing mobile workforce. Other big threats seen are the devices used (27%) and the employees (36%) themselves. 9 in 10 respondents cited security concerns of a mobile workforce and in struggling to enforce internal safe use policy regularly. Many respondents saw that a way to improve security is by use of VPN. But only a quarter of them believed their employees, when accessing sensitive data, would use it all the time.

Although the internet has changed people’s way of working, VP of engineering at iPass, Keith Waldorf, said it has introduced serious mobile security concerns. However, he believed banning free Wi-Fi as heavy handed and not really a solution to the increasingly connected world. The VP advised firms to educate mobile workers on dangers of a free but insecure WiFi and provide them with required tools to secure a connection and be productive while accessing.

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