Coffee shop Wi-FI presents severe security risks

iStock credit: SamuelBrownNG

Businesses are becoming more wary of the security dangers of using Wi-Fi in coffee shops and other public spaces, according to a new report. 

Research from mobile security firm iPass found that these public networks are vulnerable to cyber attacks due to their popularity and convenience, with 42 per cent of business decision makers deeming them to be the number one risk.

When it comes to public WI-Fi, man-in-the-middle attacks – where hackers covertly relay and change communications without a mobile user’s knowledge – were the biggest concern for 69 per cent of respondents.

As well as this, a lack of encryption (63 per cent), unpatched operating systems (55 per cent) and hotspot spoofing (58 per cent) were key worries for organisations. 
 
Raghu Konka, vice president of engineering at iPass, said: “Cafés and coffee shops are everywhere and offer both convenience and comfort for mobile workers, who flock to these venues for the free high-speed internet as much as for the coffee. 
 
“However, cafés invariably have lax security standards, meaning that anyone using these networks will be potentially vulnerable.”

It appears that some companies are becoming increasingly concerned about the dangers of using public Wi-Fi, with 68 per cent banning the use of the technology to some extent, marking a rise from the 62 per cent in 2016. 

Some 33 per cent of organisations now prohibit the use of public hotspots at all times, which is a jump from the 22 per cent in 2016. 
 
Globally, the US is most worried about mobile security challenges, with 98 per cent concerned about the issue, while this figure drops to 92 per cent for the UK and 88 and 89 for France and Germany respectively.

UK organisations are the least likely to ban public Wi-Fi use, with 44 per cent saying they have no intentions to stop allowing use of the services. Eight per cent also said they have no security worries regarding the technology.