Organizations should be doing more to educate their employees about using VPNs to keep corporate data safe while using public Wi-Fi, especially ahead of the busy holiday travel season, says insider threat management software firm ObserveIT.
Many people traveling for the holidays will use their work devices to connect to public Wi-Fi without using a virtual private network, putting corporate data at risk of exposure, according to a recent survey from ObserveIT. The insider threat management software firm surveyed 1,000 US employees in October who have traveled with corporate devices in the past year and found most have engaged in risky behaviors for the sake of convenience.
Seventy-seven percent of respondents said they connect to free or public Wi-Fi on a work phone or computer while traveling. Moreover, 63 percent said they use public Wi-Fi to access work emails and files. Some 21 percent have left a work device unattended in public while traveling or working remotely.
This holiday season, 55.3 percent of respondents plan to bring a work device along while traveling, ObserveIT found. The company says organizations should be doing more to educate their employees about how to keep corporate data safe when traveling, especially ahead of the busy holiday season. Case in point: Nearly half of respondents said their company doesn’t even have any travel-specific cybersecurity rules, or they aren’t aware of any.
ObserveIT found that 55 percent of employees use VPNs to access company email and files while working remotely. But just 17 percent of respondents said they “always” use a VPN while working outside the office.
“Not only does this research confirm that cybersecurity isn’t top of mind while employees are traveling, but it also highlights a major gap in security awareness training around mitigating the threats posed by remote work,” ObserveIT CEO Mike McKee said in a statement. “While technology has enabled people to be productive regardless of location, it’s also creating new ways for hackers to infiltrate otherwise secure systems. Organizations can’t just focus on what’s happening within their four walls. Rather, they need to take a holistic approach that puts security first, wherever work is getting done.”
To protect corporate data, users should always connect to a VPN when accessing work files remotely, ObserveIT advises. Employees should never connect to public Wi-Fi when doing work, leave their work devices unattended in public, or use personal devices to access sensitive corporate data.