Roaming Data analysis of business travellers abroad

Application analysis of mobile roaming traffic by business travellers finds that 73% is work related but that 99% of mobile data is not secured.

Johannesburg, South Africa – May 2017

execMobile (www.execmobile.co.za) announced today an analysis of the roaming traffic of businesspeople traveling abroad and found that three quarters of all wireless data is used on business related activities, but that less than 1% of the data is securely encrypted.

Businesses have long complained about the very high international roaming fees incurred by travellers. execMobile’s analysis shows that only 24% of the data is used on leisure activities such as checking social media sites, watching movies and listening to music. So, whilst their might be room for cost reductions, these services might be considered part of travel costs for executives away from home.

Nearly 33% of the traffic, whilst classified as “Web browsing”, is use of websites and portals such as Google Maps, Uber, Salesforce and other travel related websites. Again, these services are now essential tools of a mobile workforce, dependent on accessing services and data whilst mobile.

What should be of concern to enterprises, is that whilst travellers may have access to corporate VPN’s that encrypted their communications on their laptops, 99% of mobile business data is not secure, leaving the businesses vulnerable to hacking. This is because most mobile traffic is generated from phones and tablets, which have no corporate VPN protection. Only 1% of mobile data was tunnelled despite widespread security concerns about hotel and public Wi-Fi.

The analysis draws on execMobile’s data from 150+ businesses ranging in size from small businesses to large global corporations. Tens of terabytes of data was analysed to understand the business travellers’ data usage habits.

Additional insights include:

  • A third (32%) of the traffic was generated by a combination of Network Storage and Bulk Transfers (includes automated backups, updates and data transfers to or from cloud storage).
  • The average daily usage per PocketWifi devices was 168MB.
  • There was an average of 2.8 devices connected per PocketWifi (either multiple devices or users)

The data generated by execMobile’s PocketWifi devices indicated that average daily usage was surprisingly low at around 50MB per connected device.

Data Usage classification

Data Type Typical Activities Percentage of total data
VPN (tunnelling), including encrypted company email Used for most business applications such as web portals, business software and secure email 0.9%
Web browsing Web protocols and specific websites

e.g. HTTP, Google Maps, Salesforce, Uber, Travel websites

33.6%
Real-time entertainment Includes streamed or buffered audio and video 16.2%
Bulk transfers Data transfer using file transfer, file hosting, updates, etc.

e.g. Windows Update, FTP; iTunes, antivirus updates or s/w downloads

20.0%
Network storage Services that let users upload and download network storage content from the internet.

e.g. iCloud, Google Drive, Dropbox.

11.6%
Real-time communications Applications and protocols that allow interactive chat, voice, and video communication

e.g. WhatsApp, Skype, SIP, Jabber

5.6%
Social networking Social networking applications.

e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram

7.1%
Private Email Service-provider & webmail services

e.g. SMTP, POP3, webmail (Gmail)

1.4%

About execMobile

Awarded as an innovator, execMobile continues to lead in mobile data roaming solutions. The roaming management platform provides enterprise control and security, with real-time visibility into travellers’ usage via a cloud based management platform. Network managers can analyse usage patterns and data requirements of business travellers carrying our PocketWifi. Traffic can be routed through a VPN or ISP for added security and efficiency. Non-work related traffic can be blocked, and customized alerts can warn employees when data limits have been reached.

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The (mighty) Roaming SIM

Roaming specialist execMobile sees demand for an old fashioned SIM, but it needs to provide multi network coverage.

Johannesburg, South Africa (Feb, 2017)

execMobile, the leading provider of connectivity solutions for business travellers today announced enhanced low-cost solutions for leisure travellers. The company’s PocketWifi is used by many corporate travellers to remain connected and mobile, but leisure travellers need solutions that suit different travel patterns and user behaviour.

“Poor quality hotel or coffee shop Wi-Fi simply cannot meet the needs of travellers who use Google Maps or Uber when abroad”, says founder and MD of execMobile, Craig Lowe. “Leisure travellers need data with mobility, lengthy validity, and even enhanced features, such as multi-network coverage as offered by our Smart SIM.”

“Some travellers are now even more savvy, and simply want a SIM”, Lowe notes. “We agree; if it is used in a tablet or wireless router that can tether multiple devices, but it makes no sense putting it in a phone that then needs to be reconfigured. WhatsApp and other OTT apps on phones provide the calling and messaging services traveller’s demand, provided mobile data is available”.

execMobile has been providing roaming alternatives for outbound South African travellers since 2010. The company continues to work with partners abroad to reduce the cost of mobile data. Its innovative “activate on arrival” Value SIM (from 8c/MB) removes complexity in all 43 countries, ensuring travellers arrive connected, albeit dependent on one operator’s coverage. The new Smart SIM offers savvy travellers better multi-network coverage and reduced pricing, with an online account to monitor and manage connectivity from only 25c/MB.

Lowe continues, “Our 2016 corporate customers’ data usage analysis again indicated that the average usage was only 47MB per device per day. Our PocketWifi delivers this connectivity from only R59/day. Leisure travellers need more data valid for their entire holiday period, something our SIM Only or PocketWifi options now offer.”

execMobile will shortly have a presence at all major international airports in South Africa to enable travellers access to the solutions prior to travel. Alternatively, to learn more or purchase their Value, Smart and Pro solutions, contact execMobile on 011 706 5961 email sales@execmobile.co.za, or visit the website at http://www.execmobile.co.za

About execMobile

We enable enterprise mobility and UC for the business traveller, and connectivity for the leisure traveller, by providing a dependable internet connection across multiple devices, well below the market price, in 149 countries via 300 mobile carriers; thereby, eliminating data roaming charges.

For corporates, we offer exceptional management reporting and an End-user App (iOS and Android) to monitor usage, check coverage and offer support. Leisure travellers can remain in control via pre-paid options or live web accounts.

PocketWifi is your ultimate travel companion, simply the smartest way to travel. PocketWifi is a handheld device which provides you with wireless internet access wherever you go. It works just like any other Wi-Fi hotspot – but it’s personal and fits in your pocket.


R930k WiFi Hotspot Fraud

Wi-Fi hacking and associated fraud is often spoken about, but real customer experiences should alert users that losses may be severe.

Johannesburg, South Africa

execMobile (www.execmobile.co.za) has previously published roaming “bill shock” horror stories of customers who have spent R760k and R610k respectively when using mobile data abroad for a couple of days. However, the Wi-Fi first culture which this has bred amongst mobile users, may result in even higher losses, or even jail time, if steps aren’t taken to manage security.

“We have first-hand knowledge of a property company’s employee, who was on holiday in Kenton”, says founder and MD of execMobile, Craig Lowe, “and used a public hotspot to send a building rental invoice to a customer. The email was intercepted and the banking details on the R930k invoice changed, before the criminals forwarded this on to the customer.”

execMobile research indicates only 24% of mobile data originates over VPNs despite widespread security concerns about hotel and public Wi‐Fi. Lowe continues, “This is not surprising as employees’ laptops are well protected, but many travellers actually use their phones or tablets, and these devices typically have no protection, even though they may carry just as much corporate data.”

Only the customers’ alert accounting clerk prevented the fraud by requesting proof of the new banking details from the property group.

A close shave indeed, but more concerning, is that the penalty could soon be even higher. If the communication had contained customer’s private data or personal information, the pending POPI legislation may have led to a fine of up to R10m or the directors being sent to jail.

“Do not leave your digital security at home when you connect away from home” concludes Lowe, “our customers’ experiences have shown it can be very costly.”

Kaspersky Lab’s 2016 Travel report, indicates more than half of travellers bank (61%) and shop (55%) online via Wi-Fi, so it is no wonder then, that a South African loses their identity online every 29s.

The report can be found at https://blog.kaspersky.com/kaspersky-lab-international-travel-report/12429/

About execMobile’s PocketWifi

PocketWifi is your ultimate travel companion, simply the smartest way to travel. PocketWifi is a handheld device which provides you with wireless internet access wherever you go. It works just like any other Wi-Fi hotspot – but it’s personal and fits in your pocket.


Roaming: don’t break the bank

Travellers need access to on-line services, whenever they travel. It should therefore not be surprising that 61% choose to avoid exorbitant mobile roaming all together1 and opt for public Wi-Fi services to stay connected. In a mobile world however, there there is a need for global mobile data (think Google Maps or Uber, not hotel of coffee shop), it may come as some relief that whilst execMobile’s 2016 Annual Outbound Report shows 98% savings against operators standard rates, it also indicates 51% saving over their best rates.

The 2016 Annual Outbound Report analyses terabytes of data consumed by execMobile’s corporate customers in more than 65 countries. It shares significant insight into the most frequented business destinations, the average usage per device per day and that execMobile eliminated more than R121m in roaming costs for these corporates.

Roaming is a complex ecosystem. International roaming is ensured with bilateral roaming agreements between operators. An operator typically has between 250 and 500 data roaming partners and it’s not uncommon to have up to 700 partners globally. The sheer expense and time that operators need to commit to keep the agreements updated explains one part of roaming being so costly.

The other key part is that operators can only affect rates on their own networks, which also limits geographical and in-country coverage. execMobile’s PocketWifi uses disruptive multi SIM technology to eliminate complexity and cost, offering corporates near local rates in 149 countries.

The operators best roaming rates remain expensive, albeit that they have improved since 20152. These costs remain high either because there are hidden subscriptions costs or T&Cs which limit the rates to certain networks. The execMobile report shows that 2.87 devices on average were connected to their PocketWifi device per day – expensive when operators’ daily subscription fees of R30 or R60 per device apply. Even worse when R1/MB rates are advertised, but unless the user manually selects the correct partner network to roam on, the rate could be as high asR350/MB!

With rates as low as 8c/MB for pre-paid leisure bundles or from only R59/day for post-paid corporate average daily usage2, execMobile’s expanded solution portfolio offers every traveller an option to remain abroad connected, mobile and secure, without breaking the bank.

Access to the 2016 Annual Outbound Report can be obtained from execMobile by sending your details to 2016aor@execmobile.co.za

About execMobile

We offer international travellers Internet access anytime, anywhere and from any mobile device at a fraction of the cost of your current mobile operators’ rates.

Our PocketWifi is a handheld device which provides you with wireless internet access wherever you go. It works just like any other Wi-Fi hotspot – but it’s personal, secure and fits in your pocket. It really is the ultimate travel companion. We can also service those that still prefer a simple travel SIM.

Voice and Video are supported via any of the standard Over-The-Top (OTT) apps such as Skype, WhatsApp or MS Lync. Imagine the freedom of traveling abroad with internet access, just like at home.


Nirvana: No Public Wi-Fi!

Travellers have a Wi-Fi first culture when it comes to connecting abroad, even though cybercrime is commonplace.

“Sensitive information should not be sent over public wi-fi hotspots, to avoid hackers stealing it”, Troels Oerting, head of Europol’s cybercrime centre and Europe’s top cybercrime police officer has warned. “People should send data only across networks they trust”.

He said the warning was motivated by the growing number of attacks being carried out via public Wi-Fi. The cyber-criminal hijacks the connection between a Wi-Fi user and the hotspot, an easy task, as public Wi-Fi service is freely accessible and often unencrypted.

The intruder, without the user noticing, can then read all the data transmitted between the user and the hotspot, such as websites, messages and passwords. Worse, Botnet infections remain dormant until carried back into the companies’ infrastructure, where they further infect multiple hosts.

“Travellers need to stay connected wherever they are, and using public Wi-Fi is, for some, a quick-fix” according to Craig Lowe, MD at execMobile. “What is worrying, is that they typically do so from phones or tablets, which carry no protection at all”, he added further.

Staying connected and being up to date has a direct impact on productivity. Media these days sing of the omnipresence of Wi-Fi. But the convenience of public Wi-Fi is accompanied by real threats. “You wouldn’t want to expose yourself to the vulnerabilities of public Wi-Fi and put your or the company’s data at risk”, Lowe notes.

“We are seeing more and more corporates outlaw the use of such mobile data access abroad, so to assist our clients, execMobile now offers a full R5000 guarantee on our PocketWifi service. The policy makers are now able to eliminate these threats by banning access to Public Wi-Fi, whilst keeping connectivity costs at near local rates, safe in the knowledge we have their back”, Lowe concludes.

Affordable, secure, mobile internet on the go is indeed Nirvana. Defined as “a transcendent state in which there is neither suffering, desire, nor sense of self, and the subject is released from the effects of karma and the cycle of death and rebirth”, the latter may be a harsh way to define the effects of cybercrime, but sooner or later, public Wi-Fi will result in serious harm.


About PocketWifi

execMobile provides a secure, mobile Wifi device to provide connectivity when and where it is needed. When abroad simply switch on the device and it will connect to a primary local carrier, at near local cost. Our savings are 99% compared to standard roaming rates, or at least 58% better3 than operators’ best rates. Any Wi-Fi capable device can connect to the PocketWifi, providing travellers with their own personal, secure connection to the internet. This POPI compliant connection is available on arrival and when mobile. Voice and Video are supported via any of the standard Over The Top (OTT) apps such as Skype, WhatsApp or MS Lync.

The Pocket Wifi is not restricted to a single user, so can be pooled for availability to whoever is making the next trip. Additionally, up to 10 devices or users can be connected concurrently; this means a group travelling together could use the same PocketWifi. Importantly, we offer local pre-paid data for South Africa from 7c/MB, enabling the device to be used at home.

The execMobile PocketWifi solution meets all the needs of today’s Business Traveller, with high security and low cost. We eliminated R138m in potential roaming costs for our customers in 2015!


Public Wi-Fi: The Holy Grail for the damned

Travellers need secure, low cost access to on-line services, whenever they travel, wherever they are. It should therefore not be surprising that 44% connect before they leave the airport1, many via public Wi-Fi, to check in with family and the office. This urge to connect however is putting their data at risk and for corporate travellers, this may lead to company directors being jailed or a fine of up to R10m.

This Wi-Fi first culture exists due to the mobile operators extortionate roaming rates, even though cybercrime is commonplace abroad. Of 11, 850 traveller surveyed, almost one in five (18%) have been victims of cybercrime while traveling1.

This is not surprising when only 24% of mobile data is secured2, mostly via VPN services from laptops. Laptops are too cumbersome for travelling, and tablets and mobile phones have become the devices of choice for travel convenience; many have no VPN protection, albeit they carry as much corporate data as a laptop.

With less than 19% of mobile roaming traffic unrelated to work2, most of this unsecured traffic is business related, and presents a major threat to corporates.

Corporates must maintain security and manage costs, however travellers need to arrive connected and remain so. There is an immediate need to hail an Uber, check in with work, navigate using Google Maps or simply use online travel services. This provides the IT manager with a massive dilemma as busy travellers simply cannot wait 2-24 hours for a local SIM card to activate.

Even new roaming offers from the operators remain expensive relative to local costs, and using local SIM cards is limited to tech savvy travellers or those with time. The balance, are driven to public Wi-Fi via tablets or phones, meaning the corporate is operating at security levels they would never deem acceptable. Security levels in breach of their own corporate network standards and the upcoming requirements of POPI here in South Africa.

Secure, international mobile data, at near local costs is the need. According to legend, the Holy Grail has special powers designed to provide happiness, eternal youth and infinite abundance; a bit like free public Wi-Fi, but only fraught with more danger.

(1) Kaspersky Lab International Travel Report 2016 (2) execMobile 2015 Usage Analysis