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

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