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Business travellers fail to secure mobile data

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Not only is 19% of mobile roaming by business travellers not work related, but that more than 75% of mobile data is not secured while people are travelling overseas.
This is one of the findings from an execMobile analysis of the roaming habits of business travellers abroad, which found that more than a 80% of wireless data is used for work and business-related travel, but less than a quarter of the data is securely encrypted.
Craig Lowe, founder and MD of execMobile, comments: “We have the ability to analyse the internet traffic generated by our travellers even though we cannot see their actual data or web sites visited.”
Businesses have long complained about the very high international roaming fees charged by carriers, and hence companies are interested in how this data is being consumed when abroad. In 2015, US, businesses spent $7,3-billion on cellular data charges for employees roaming abroad. This amount is estimated at R9-billion for outbound South African travellers.
Although the travellers had access to corporate VPN’s that encrypted their communications, the vast majority (75%) of mobile business data is not secure, leaving the businesses vulnerable to hacking.
Lowe adds: “This is not surprising as employees’ laptops are well protected, but many travellers actually use their phones or tablets when abroad, and these devices typically have no protection, even though they may carry just as much corporate data.”
Only 25% of mobile data moved over VPNs in spite of widespread security concerns about hotel and public WiFi.
South African travellers in particular are exposing themselves to the risk of free WiFi. Research by Kaspersky Lab has underlined how common-place cybercrime has become, with 17% of South African travellers having been a victim of cybercrime while abroad.
“However, as ever more essential travel information; from maps and hotel confirmations to check-in details and boarding passes, is stored online, international travellers often have no choice but to connect upon arrival. Many will be keen to use Wi-Fi rather than risk incurring roaming charges, despite the fact that doing so will expose them to risk,” Lowe explains. This might explain why Web Browsing constitutes nearly 18% of traffic.
Additional insights include:
* Nearly 20% of the traffic was generated by a combination of automated backups, updates and data transfers to or from cloud services such as Dropbox.
* About 11% is a combination of application and automated software updates (antivirus and system software updates).
* Only 19% of roaming costs are deemed to be used on leisure activities such as checking social media sites, watching movies and listening to music.
The data generated by execMobile’s PocketWifi devices indicated that average daily usage was surprisingly low, at only 146Mb daily, with an average of 2,8 devices connected. This would indicate that per connected device, average daily usage was less than 50Mb.