GFI Software has announced findings from their study, which reveals that commuters regularly connect to free, unsecure Wi-Fi services during their journey to and from work, which could be putting personal and company data at risk.
The study surveyed 1,001 UK office workers with a tablet or smartphone who travel to and from work using public transport. 100% of respondents acknowledged that they had used public Wi-Fi services at least once a week to carry out work-related tasks on the go. This includes sending and receiving email, reviewing and editing documents, and logging into other company servers. The findings show that on average the respondents connected to public Wi-Fi for work purposes 15 times a week.
The study found that 46% use Wi-Fi as their primary source for an internet connection on their mobile device and 31% of respondents admitted to using public Wi-Fi services to access confidential work data at least once a week. However, 52% claim to be aware of the risks of data being intercepted when using public Wi-Fi connections, but continue to use the services anyway. 20% of commuters' mobile devices have no security enabled such as passwords, which poses a great risk for not only data interception but also theft of the device.
Theft of smartphones and tablets has also been highlighted in the study, as 84% of Londoners surveyed claim to use mobile devices when commuting using public transport, with 37% using free public Wi-Fi at stations. So although protecting data has become a concern, having mobile devices on show in public areas is also a safety risk.
Walter Scott, CEO of GFI Software commented on the survey's results: "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."