Employees that use public WiFi for work purposes could be putting your sensitive corporate data in serious jeopardy, and the carefree attitude that younger workers have towards WiFi use suggests that this is a trend that you’d be well advised to monitor.
These are the concerns that have been raised by Unisys on the back of findings in the latest Unisys Security Index.
“Young Australians are embracing the rapid proliferation of free WiFi in high-traffic public places, and the explosive growth of WiFi-enabled mobile devices such as smartphones, laptops and tablets,” said John Kendall, Unisys Asia Pacific’s security program director.
“However, younger Australians’ low level of concern about unauthorised access to or misuse of their data suggests that they may not be aware of potential risks to the privacy of their data – or the implications of a data breach – and so may not be taking suitable steps to protect the data they are accessing via the public WiFi network.”
Worryingly, the survey found that around one in five (21 per cent) of 18-34 year olds have performed work-related activities on free WiFi networks in the last year (compared to 11 per cent of 35-49 year olds, and six per cent of 50-plus year olds).
With the proliferation of WiFi use amongst younger employees on the rise, Kendall warned Australian businesses that data security precautions now extend beyond the office walls and network firewall.
“It’s important to have a holistic approach to security in place – incorporating technologies, education and policies – that covers every access point to the corporate network,” he said.
“This has led to the development of sophisticated new ways to manage data access. One example is ‘attribute-based access control’ which uses a combination of information about the person seeking access – such as their location, what device they are using, whether the request is within their normal pattern of working hours, and how they have verified their identity – in order to determine what data is allowed to be accessed at that time. Or it may ask for additional proof of identity such as a fingerprint, before access is granted. This takes a very personalised approach to data access for mobile workers.”
Other measures that employees should use to better protecting sensitive data when using public WiFi include:
a. Lock access to your mobile device with a hard to guess password or PIN so no one else can use it.
b. Change your passwords regularly.
c. Be aware of who can see and read data on your screen.
d. When accessing your work network, use a secured Virtual Private Network.
If you or your employees need to access sensitive corporate data from a public or shared-use device, use a Secure Virtual Terminal solution for added protection.
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