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One in three mobile workers worldwide routinely hijack wireless connections, according to a survey commissioned by the US National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) and Cisco.

The Cisco-NCSA study paints a picture of lax attitudes for mobile security and disregard for the law - at a time when police on both sides of the Atlantic are coming down hard on "broadbandits" they catch jumping onto Wi-Fi connections (examples here and here).

Respondents confessed to jumping on wireless links without permission gave a variety of feeble excuses ranging from "I can't tell whose connection I'm using", to "mine isn't working", through "I don't want to pay for my own connection" and the disingenuous "they don't know so it's OK". Wi-Fi banditry was most commonplace in China, where 54 per cent admitted to either hijacking a neighbour's wireless connection or jumping onto unauthorised connections in public places. The behaviour was also prevalent in Germany (46 per cent) and South Korea (44 per cent).

The survey provided evidence of a lax attitude to mobile security more generally. Almost three of every four (73 per cent) of those quizzed claimed that they are not always aware of security threats and best practices when working on the go. Although many said they are aware "sometimes", 28 per cent said they "hardly ever" consider security risks and proper behavior. Their reasons include being "too busy" and considering it the job of the IT department to make sure workers are protected.

In addition, the survey found that small screens on mobile devices such as PDAs and smartphones encouraged people to open email attachments from unknown sources, often because they couldn't otherwise easily find out who a message was from. Some 44 per cent of mobile users surveyed said they open emails or attachments from unknown or suspicious sources. In China, India, and the UK, more than half of mobile end users do this.

The survey, conducted by market research outfit InsightExpress, questioned 700 workers who used mobile technologies in seven countries (the US, UK, Germany, China, India, South Korea and Singapore). The NCSA and Cisco stressed the need to build a "culture of security" through education. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

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