Here’s some news that’s probably of interest to followers of the enterprise mobility industry: according to enterprise WiFi connectivity provider iPass, almost two-thirds of organizations ban their mobile workforce from accessing free WiFi hotspots.
In their latest Mobile Security Report, iPass surveyed 500 organizations from the US, UK, Germany, and France, and found, perhaps unsurprisingly, that 92% of respondents were concerned about security issues arising from a growing mobile workforce. 37% of those polled argued the biggest security threat was free WiFi, followed by employees’ lack of attention to security (36%) and managing the various devices employees use (27%).
There’s no denying that keeping company data secure is important. What’s less certain to us is if banning public WiFi is the solution to the mobile security problem, or if it’s simply a band-aid on something more systemic.
There are arguments to be made on both sides. Certainly, company VPNs go a long way towards helping keep company data secure. At the same time, with rates of mobile work increasing and unlimited data plans disappearing left and right, it’s no wonder than employees are on the lookout for new and convenient ways to connect to the internet.
Perhaps more important in this argument is employees’ level of education on sound security practices. Sure, logging in through a VPN 100% of the time may boost security, but shouldn’t employees also know why they’re asked to use VPNs and what they should be on the lookout for in keeping data secure? Though employees probably shouldn’t be left completely to their own devices to handle security, we can’t help but think that more education about sound security practices for employees would be a good thing.
Ultimately, the best security policies are in our opinion those that are comprehensive and multi-layered. Company data used in apps should be secured using MAM software, just as two-factor authentication should be used in most situations—just to name a few common enterprise security measures. Still, with employees continuing to be a weak link in enterprise security, we can’t help but wonder if blanket policies like bans on public WiFi access are truly fixing the problem, or rather just helping cover it up.