With the common occurrence of headline-grabbing, mobile related data breach incidents throughout 2016, it is not surprising that the concern has increased for those that are tasked with ensuring enterprise mobile security, CIO’s and other senior IT decision-makers going forward throughout 2017 and 2018.
Harvard Business Review recently reported that three quarters of people admitted to connecting to their personal email through public Wi-Fi, this alone is a clear indication that convenience seems to outweigh consequence with mobile device users.
The prevalent use of public Wi-Fi hotspots is only one example of a compromised security landscape that enterprise IT must continuously work on.
500 top CEO’s and other senior IT decision makers were surveyed in the U.S, U.K, Germany and France by a service Mobile Security Reporter in 2017 and examined the challenges organisations face when negotiating the trade-off between enforcing security policies and enabling a mobile workforce.
The major findings were as follows:
- C-suite occupants, including CEO’s, are at the greatest risk of being hacked
- Coffee shops are seen as the most dangerous public Wi-Fi venues
- Man-in-the-middle attacks are seen as the greatest mobile security threat
A Vansen Bourne study outlined that in 2017 almost half (47%) of respondents said that they were “very” concerned about mobile security threats up from 36% in 2016. In total 93% of organisations said they were “very” or “somewhat” concerned by the mobile security challenges associated with a growing mobile workforce.
With internet connectivity being essential for many business tasks, WiFi is incredibly popular with mobile workers. However, the security risks of using public WiFi hotspots are well known but commonly overlooked, this can potentially result in comprising both personal information as well as critical corporate data.
Cybercriminals are driven by money, as they benefitted greatly from the e-commerce boom, they were remarkably quick to realise the return on investment of targeting mobile professionals. The attackers are becoming increasingly varied and sophisticated with their attacks. These attacks are where a hacker secretly attacks the data flowing to and from one location to the mobile device, gaining access to information being sent between the two parties.
CEOs are the greatest threat to the enterprise
In the event of a data breach, we ultimately see the responsibilities relating to security sitting with C –suite employees such as the CEO and CIO, similarly these are the employees that are the primary targets of mobile security attacks due to the highly sensitive or vulnerable information they are privileged of accessing. They also regularly travel for business, and tend to be more active across multiple mobile devices.
Businesses choose to ban public Wi-Fi
As previously mentioned businesses are increasingly concerned about mobile security threats, this has lead to a decision by 68% of global organisations having chosen to ban public Wi-Fi hotspots with a further 14% of organisations looking to ban public Wi-Fi hotspots in the future.
Although this may seem like a logical security decision due to the growing amount of concerns, it may end up being detrimental to business goals. Most businesses are aware that employees need to remain connected and productive at all times. With the blocking of Wi-Fi connectivity at hotspots such as coffee shops, hotels, airports and inflight this could result in a drastic reduction in productivity. To combine security and Wi-Fi accessibility, businesses need to be looking into the use of Virtual Private Networks to ensure security, regardless of the connectivity option users make.
Today’s businesses are more aware of the mobile security threat in terms of highest risk locations, job roles and security threats. However the challenge of finding the balance between productivity and security still remains.