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.
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!
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
Roaming specialists expand high speed, low cost solutions to make it easier to remain connected when abroad.
Johannesburg, South Africa – June, 2016
execMobile, the leading provider of connectivity solutions for business travellers today announced new low-cost solutions for leisure travellers. The company, which prides itself on crafting secure, low-cost alternatives to keep corporate travellers connected and mobile, will offer leisure travellers solutions that suit different travel patterns and user behaviour.
“We are thrilled to offer solutions based on our customers’ feedback”, says founder and MD of execMobile, Craig Lowe. “Poor quality static hotel or coffee shop Wi-Fi simply does not meet the needs of travellers who demand services like Google Maps or Uber when abroad. Global travellers require secure mobility; protected Internet access anywhere, anytime. I believe our low-cost options offer simpler ways to remain connected.”
execMobile has been providing roaming alternatives for outbound South African travellers since 2010. The company revealed it has been working with its partners abroad to reduce the cost of mobile data connectivity and also offer new innovative “activate on arrival” solutions that remove complexity and offer peace of mind to ensure travellers can arrive connected.
Lowe continues, “We have based our offers to the market on extensive customer feedback and research. For example, we analysed our corporate customers’ data usage and surprisingly found the average around 50MB per device per day in 2015, so we now offer connectivity from R59/day. Leisure travellers needed more data, valid for longer periods; our 1-12GB Value offers are valid for up to 90 days, activate on arrival and cost as little as 8c/MB.”
In an effort to meet customers’ need for geographic expansion, execMobile now offers coverage in 149 countries.
execMobile is all about staying connected abroad without costly surprises.
Our worldwide mobile broadband solutions eliminate data roaming charges while keeping you online wherever you go.
execMobile’s mobile Wi-Fi is developed in association with various partners. Our long standing relationship with various operators allow us to innovate and continually adapt our solutions to meet the market’s needs. The company is headquartered in Johannesburg, South Africa. Since the launch of execMobile in the spring of 2010, we have rapidly expanded the service to offer global coverage and made execMobile THE global solution for combating excessive data costs and lack of internet access.
With the Rugby World Cup now underway, thousands of South Africans are preparing to travel to the U.K. and get in on the action. Many will be juggling work and play, with only a few that can afford to simply disconnect from work for even a few days at a time. As a result, mobile connectivity is a major priority for travellers. In today’s always-on business environment, being out of the office – or even out of country – is no longer an excuse for being out of touch. Most South Africans however, are still using outdated and overly expensive means to stay connected on the move.
Rethinking the SIM card strategy
Arguably, this can be most plainly seen in the continued reliance on prepaid SIM cards for smart phones when traveling abroad. Despite the fact that there are now other, more cost effective and secure options, most people still believe prepaid SIM cards are a smart strategy.
In our view, using prepaid SIMs in smartphones when abroad puts the user at greater security risk.
Fraud and cyber threats are a reality in South Africa, and if people don’t have access to their normal mobile numbers when abroad, it leaves them vulnerable to identity theft and banking disasters – amongst other things. On the other hand, using prepaid SIM cards for use in tablets is a smart option, enables travellers to use data for email and voice services such as Skype and FaceTime – while still being safely connected to home with their regular SIM cards in their phones.
We believe that SMS roaming is still a very useful and affordable service for travellers when abroad especially for Internet banking and emergencies.
Bursting the Wi-Fi bubble…
Beyond the use of prepaid SIM cards for data, many travellers are also being caught out by hotel Wi-Fi that is unexpectedly poor and unreliable.
According to the iPass Mobile Workforce Report, more than 80% of respondents reported having had a ‘bad experience with hotel Wi-Fi, even though most hotel guests now consider it a basic need and expect hotels to provide adequate service’.
For travellers who need to remain connected for work (and don’t have reliable mobile connectivity of their own) this can be a disastrous scenario. As the same report underscored, ‘vacation time is connected time’. Indeed, the iPass report confirmed that workers aren’t unplugging when they go on vacation. The majority (91%) stay connected wherever they go just so they won’t fall behind while they’re away – and more than half ‘continue regular daily project work while they’re on vacation, and login several times a day to work’.
For South Africans traveling to the U.K in the coming month, the same will most likely apply.
Best of both worlds
Naturally, the other massive issue with Wi-Fi is that it’s not mobile. And for travellers who increasingly want to access voice services, social networks, email and work-related platforms on the move – mobile connectivity is critical.
Fortunately, there are an increasing number of smart and affordable options for travellers beyond the usual SIM card swops and spotty Wi-Fi connections. PocketWifi, for example, enables travellers to combine the benefits of mobile and Wi-Fi – without the security risks associated with prepaid SIMs and public Wi-Fi. Given the soaring costs of international roaming, it is also a cost effective way of staying connected when out of the office (and out of country).
Whether you are traveling for business or for pleasure, mobile connectivity is now a must-have. Ensuring that you will have reliable Internet access on your travels – anytime, anywhere – is arguably now as important as getting your visa and passport ready. Yet for any traveller today, relying on static Wi-Fi at a hotel, coffee shop or branch office simply doesn’t cut it. Given our increasing reliance on mobile apps such as Google Maps, Uber and WhatsApp, connectivity when mobile has become essential.
Take the business traveller, for example. On arrival, he will immediately want to check his emails. Indeed, he will need to be responsive to emails throughout his trip. When leaving the airport, chances are he will turn to Uber to get to his hotel or first meeting. If he is a trader or financial services professional, he will likely be linking into Bloomberg or Reuters feeds and possibly logging onto trading portals. Without mobile connectivity, none of the above would be possible. Our business traveller would have to wait until he gets to his hotel (via a conventional cab) before he can check in with colleagues and resume working or trading. And as most business travellers know by now, hotel Wi-Fi is not only outrageously expensive, but connections are usually substandard and pose serious questions around security.
Let’s not forget about the leisure traveller. When he travels, apps such as WhatsApp, Instagram, Trip Case and Google Maps are indispensable. No one wants to lose out on an opportunity to post travel pictures, in real time, to Instagram and Facebook. Posting pictures after the fact – back in your hotel room – simply isn’t rewarding anymore. And having the ability to FaceTime, Skype or Viber chat with your friends from the Rugby World Cup, for example, is part of the whole experience. In short, mobile connectivity is now a key part of any trip.
Avoiding Bill Shock
One of the unfortunate consequences of travellers’ growing reliance on mobile connectivity, however, has been bill shock. Unless they took the trouble to buy a local, prepaid SIM card (which comes with a host of security risks), most travellers (business and leisure) are still relying on data roaming services for the all-important mobile connectivity. Yet as has been well documented, this often results in travellers receiving nasty bill shocks from their mobile network providers on their return.
Having recognised this trend, we are striving to provide travellers with another option. This option is what we have termed ‘Pocket Wi-Fi’ – essentially carrying a secure, affordable and reliable Wi-Fi connection around with you, wherever you go. This solution comes in the form of a credit card size, lightweight device and both pre-paid or post-paid data bundle packages.
With Pocket Wi-Fi, mobile connectivity is a critical box that can be ticked before travellers board the plane. Instead of having to stress about data charges or look around for prepaid SIM cards in a foreign country, the savvy traveller can simply land, call up an Uber, and continue with his day – enjoying the same quality of mobile connectivity that he is accustomed to back home.
In today’s digitally driven, information saturated world, data privacy is a massive issue. One only needs to look at recent high profile cases of corporate cybercrime (Sony, AshleyMadison.com) to grasp the scope of the challenge.
On the local front, the imminent implementation of the Protection of Personal Information Bill (‘POPI’) is placing data privacy under a particularly glaring spotlight. As local companies prepare for POPI, they are being forced to take a hard look at their systems and processes, and to ask critical questions around various internal policies.
As this process unfolds, I believe that many organisations are failing to ask a key question: Is our corporate Wi-Fi policy POPI compliant?
In my view, most companies would have to answer this question with a resounding ‘no’. As a reaction to the high costs associated with data roaming, and countless reports of bill shock when executives and employees return from business trips abroad, companies have been actively encouraging their traveling employees and executives to use the public or hotel Wi-Fi for connectivity.
Yet in most instances, employees only travel with their personal smartphones and tablets (not their laptops), and so use these personal devices to access potentially sensitive company data and IP.
As a result, these devices are being used to connect to public or hotel Wi-Fi, which is notoriously vulnerable to cyber criminals. Indeed, late last year, Russian security firm Kaspersky Lab discovered that devices belonging to executives visiting luxury hotels in Asia were being infected with malware delivered over public Wi-Fi networks.
Despite this threat, most companies do not compel their employees to install strong end-point security on their personal devices. Worryingly, the result is that companies are in danger of non-compliance with POPI, which stipulates that ‘companies must ensure the integrity and safekeeping of personal information in their possession or under their control, and must take steps to prevent the information being lost or damaged, or unlawfully accessed.’
By encouraging employees to use public or hotel Wi-Fi on their personal devices (without strong end-point security), particularly for work purposes, I believe companies are exposing information to the risks of being both lost and unlawfully accessed. It must be noted that non-compliance with POPI carries stiff penalties – Directors can land themselves in jail, and companies can face huge and potentially crippling fines.
So how can organisations address the issue of connectivity for employees traveling abroad, at minimal expense, while remaining POPI compliant?
The more expensive option is to ensure that there is strong end-point security on personal devices being used abroad. Another option is to force employees to use local SIM cards, but this presents a host of new security concerns with bank driven SMS’s not being deliverable.
The third potential option is to use a secure, mobile Wi-Fi solution. Our PocketWifi makes it both safe and affordable to use mobile data in over 140 countries. Simply turn it on upon arrival and enjoy secure, mobile Internet for up to 10 people or devices.
As local companies become simultaneously more global and more dependent on secure access to data at anytime, and from anywhere, it is critical for them to find the right solution. And when the full force of POPI is unleashed, those companies caught flat-footed and unprepared will undoubtedly face severe repercussions.