Mobile phone users should be wary of logging into wi-fi, even though it’s a more convenient way of accessing data. The warning has been issued by mobile security company Wandera who found a variety of security holes and has published a report that details some of the problems that users of mobile devices could encounter.
The report, which is based on a sample of 100,000 corporate mobile devices on Wandera’s network, reveals that 24% of them are using open, often insecure, Wi-Fi networks, and that 12% of the hotspots employees are connecting to overall are open. The vulnerabilities of open wi-fi networks are well known and, according to Wandera, the dangers are real: the company found that 4% of corporate mobile devices came into contact with a man-in-the-middle attack in November.
It’s not just the connection of laptops that’s a case for concern, there’s a propensity for employees to use wi-fi instead of cellular connectivity. While the cost of using mobile data abroad is so high, or while users are stuck with strict limits on data plans, there will always be a temptation to save costs by opting for wi-fi: it’s a risk that’s not worth taking, says Wandera.
Those who think that Germany, with its emphasis on data privacy, would be a safe place to be are in for a shock. The highest percentage (and most severe) of attacks happened there. But other countries – Mexico, the UK, France and Spain – were also areas of high risk.
Business travellers are particularly prone to risks. The most insecure hotspots are hotels, followed closely by airports. Homes also feature high on the list, suggesting that many users don’t set their own security properly.
Wandera offers five tips for travellers: first of all, rather obviously, stay away from open wi-fi when paying bills or buying online. Secondly, use a VPN, if possible. Thirdly, implement a security product that can detect insecure websites. Next, disable automatic connection to available hotspots and finally install a security tool that can detect insecure hotspots.