The latest mobile security report from iPass has revealed more than half of organisations believe workers have been hacked or had a security issue in the last 12 months.
The mobile connectivity specialist commissioned a study from independent market research company Vanson Bourne for its Mobile Security Report 2018.
In February and March 2018 it surveyed 500 chief information officers and IT decision makers from the US, UK, Germany and France.
More than half (57%) suspected their mobile workers have either been hacked or caused a mobile security issue in the last 12 months.
Overall, 81% of respondents said they had seen Wi-Fi related security incidents in the last 12 months, with cafes and coffee shops (62%) ranked as the venues where such incidents had occurred most.
That was closely followed by airports (60%) and hotels (52%) and then train stations (30%), exhibition centres (26%), and in-flight (20%).
Raghu Konka, vice president of engineering at iPass, said: “There is no escaping the fact that mobile security threats are rising.
“So while it is great that mobile workers are increasingly able to work from locations such as cafes, hotels and airports, there is no guarantee the Wi-Fi hotspot they are using is fully secure.
“Given the amount of high-profile security breaches in recent years, it’s not surprising this issue is on the radar of CIOs.
“The conundrum remains: how can they keep their mobile workers secure while providing them with the flexibility to get connected anywhere using their device of choice?”
The iPass Mobile Security Report offers an overview of how companies are dealing with security and the need to have a mobile workforce.
The firm says many organisations have a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy to empower mobile workers.
However, 94% of enterprises said BYOD has increased security risks and 92% were concerned their growing mobile workforce presents an increasing security challenge.
The research found a majority of organisations are still addressing mobile security problems by banning employee usage of free Wi-Fi hotspots.
More than a quarter (27%) take a hard line approach of banning their use at all times, while 40% ban their use sometimes.
A further 16% plan to introduce a ban on public Wi-Fi hotspots in the future.
Many organisations use virtual private networks (VPN) for secure remote access to their data and systems, and the research shows employee use of VPNs is slowly increasing.
In 2016, the iPass Mobile Security Report revealed that 26% of organisations were fully confident their mobile workers were using a VPN every time they went online, but that figure has jumped to 46% in 2018.
However, that still leaves more than half (54%) of respondents reporting they still are not fully confident their mobile workers use a VPN every time they go online.
Konka added: “While putting a blanket ban on accessing public Wi-Fi hotspots could initially appear to stop the security problem at the source, the fact of the matter is that mobile workers will stop at nothing to get themselves online.
“There’s no point in putting roadblocks in their way without also providing a solution. Organizations must focus on taking positive action to resolve the security problems mobile workers are bringing to the table.
“With a secure connection through a VPN, enterprises can have confidence that Wi-Fi hotspot usage will have a positive rather than negative impact on their business.
“The key for organizations is to educate mobile workers about today’s security threats, and to provide them with the tools to remain productive and secure.”