A recent survey of 500 CIOs and IT decision makers in the U.S., U.K., Germany and France found that fully 94 percent of respondents see free Wi-Fi hotspots as a significant mobile security threat to their organizations.
The survey, conducted by Vanson Bourne for iPass, also found that 62 percent of respondents ban their mobile workers from using free Wi-Fi hotspots, and another 20 percent are planning to enforce such bans in the future.
Ninety-two percent of respondents said they're concerned about the security challenges posed by a growing mobile workforce.
"Wi-Fi is a disruptive technology that has changed the way people work, but in recent times it has also introduced formidable mobile security concerns," iPass vice president of engineering Keith Waldorf said in a statement. "Being connected is the basic requirement of every mobile worker. However, with increasing numbers of businesses falling afoul to security breaches, the number of organizations expressing a concern about mobile security is high."
"The use of free and insecure Wi-Fi hotspots in particular is a growing concern, as organizations balance the need for low-cost and convenient connectivity against the potential threat posed by hackers," Waldorf added.
When asked to name their organization's biggest mobile security threat, the leading responses were free Wi-Fi hotspots (37 percent), employees' lack of attention to security (36 percent), and the devices used by employees (27 percent).
Fully 88 percent of respondents said they're struggling to enforce a safe mobile usage policy.
Separately, a Crowd Research Partners survey of 800 cyber security professionals found that the leading inhibitors of BYOD adoption are security (39 percent) and employee privacy (12 percent).
The leading security concerns regarding BYOD are data leakage/loss (72 percent), unauthorized access to company data and systems (56 percent), users downloading unsafe apps or content (54 percent), malware (52 percent), and lost or stolen devices (50 percent).
One in five organizations acknowledged having suffered a mobile security breach, primarily driven by malware and malicious Wi-Fi.
When asked if any of their BYO or corporate-owned devices had downloaded malware in the past, 39 percent of respondents said yes, 26 percent said no, and 35 percent weren't sure. And when asked if any of their BYO or corporate-owned devices had connected to malicious Wi-Fi in the past, 24 percent of respondents said yes, 28 percent said no, and 48 percent weren't sure.
Still, only 30 percent of organizations plan to increase their security budgets for BYOD in the next 12 months.
"The threat of data leakage is more prevalent than ever as employees look to access sensitive corporate information on mobile devices outside the corporate network," Bitglass CEO Nat Kausik said in a statement. "Unfortunately, few organizations have adequate risk control measures in place."
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