Procurement · 20 April 2016

Data security concerns undermine hipster coffee shop economy

WiFi security
Almost two-thirds of users of WiFi hotspots connect to them in cafes and bars

New research has revealed that 62 per cent of corporate IT executives now ban their mobile workers from using WiFi hotspots – a trend which could pose a challenge to freelancers and remote workers accustomed to working from coffee shops.

The survey – carried out by WiFi network provider iPass – questioned corporate leaders in the US, UK, Germany and France and found them increasingly worried about the security threat posed by public networks.

Almost 40 per cent of those surveyed cited WiFi hotspots as the single biggest security risk to their business. An additional 20 per cent were considering implementing bans on mobile employees using such networks in the future.

British remote workers currently face the lowest restrictions on their use of WiFi hotspots, with just over half banned from utilising them. Yet the vast majority of IT staff cited enforcing mobile security policies as significant struggle.

“The fact is, mobile workers will seek out free WiFi connectivity for its convenience, despite its security flaws,” said Keith Waldorf, vice president of engineering at iPass.

“Simply banning access to hotspots is a heavy-handed approach and is not the solution. In today’s ‘WiFi first’ world, it is imperative that organisations educate their mobile workers about the dangers of insecure free WiFi, and equip them with the requisite tools to access a secure internet connection and remain productive,” he added.

Additional research carried out by Action Fraud – the UK’s cyber crime prevention agency  – in January 2016 found that more than three-quarters of British people did not realise that public WiFi was any less safe than home or office connections. The survey also found that 64 per cent of users of WiFi hotspots connect to them in cafes and bars.

Deputy head of Action Fraud, Steve Proffitt, said: “There is no doubt that people face risk when they connect to a public WiFi network. It is important that people consider what they use public WiFi for and are aware that there are cyber criminals that will use every opportunity to infiltrate networks in order to gather personal and financial details.”

If you’re thinking of ditching the coffee shop as a working space, why not check out these alternative co-working spaces in exotic destinations?

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Hannah Wilkinson is a reporter for Business Advice. She studied economics and management at Oxford University and prior to joining Business Advice wrote for Kensington and Chelsea Today about business and economics – as well as running a tutoring company.

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