Employees putting data at risk on WiFi

Employees expect to uses their mobile devices at work, and employers often don’t mind because of the cost savings. However, being able to use personal smartphones and other mobile devices at the office creates problems for IT managers. A small business with 100 employees might have an additional 300 “bring your own device” users to contend with, all using phones, tablets and laptops. There are a lot of potential leaks there.

While a company’s IT department may have a solid grasp on company-issued laptops, desktops and mobile phones, it is almost impossible to control the various types of personal devices on the company’s network. When you get that new, shiny device and install various apps, and then plug it into your work desktop to update or sync necessary settings, files and folders, you’re putting all the data in the company at risk. Further, the IT guy has to worry about whether that last app you downloaded might infect the entire network.

A recent survey showed just how much employees who use public WiFi while commuting back and forth to work shows they are putting their companies’ data at risk. A survey conducted by GFI Software doesn’t paint a pretty picture. “The research findings reveal a stark and concerning trend among commuters—one of using their personal devices to catch up on work during their commuting downtime, but doing so over highly insecure internet connections that can be easily intercepted by other users or the operator of the access point. Mobile internet access is now firmly entrenched as a day-to-day norm, but with that has come an increasingly relaxed user attitude to data security, compliance and data governance policy. Companies need to address mobile device management to ensure that use in insecure environments doesn’t create vulnerabilities that could be exploited by criminals—both cyber and conventional.”

In the least, these companies should have policies that explicitly spell out what employees can and can’t do on their devices and if they are allowed at all on the network. But in reality, policies are only as effective as the consequences of not following them. If employers want to prevent data leakage, then enterprise-level software must be installed on each device that allows IT to lock, locate and wipe data, along with to restrict the device’s access to certain activities.

Having each device equipped with a VPN (virtual private network) like Hotspot Shield VPN is an effective way to encrypt the devices’ WiFi communications when on unencrypted public WiFi.

Robert Siciliano is an Identity Theft Expert to Hotspot Shield VPN. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen See him discussing internet and wireless security on Good Morning America. Disclosures. For Roberts FREE ebook text- SECURE Your@emailaddress -to 411247.