Nearly half of all federal government employees use wireless internet that allows them to work outside the office, according to a survey commissioned by Telework Exchange, a public-private organization.
In addition, 83 percent of government IT executives found that wireless internet access can be used securely, and government agencies are backing that up by providing wireless security tools.
The "Federal Mobility 2.0" study, underwritten by Sprint, surveyed 150 federal IT professionals and 160 federal workers/teleworkers.
The ability to work remotely, especially with gas prices and the cost of commuting skyrocketing, is a tremendous recruitment and retention incentive, said Cindy Auten, general manager of Telework Exchange.
“But to work remotely, good security is essential,” she told SCMagazineUS.com on Tuesday. "The key critical components are education and encryption. It's a layered approach. Employees need to understand the policy on how to work outside of the office, as well as make sure the information they use is well encrypted."
In fact, IT executives polled said that failure to encrypt laptops was the No. 1 security risk.
Not all federal employees have the opportunity to work outside the office. Those who work with classified information are required to be in a mandated location.
To ensure that the wireless internet is secure, Sprint's network uses CDMA technology, which spreads data over the entire bandwidth, forming unique code channels for individual users, Mike Ligas, director of federal sales, told SCMagazineUS.com.
Government agencies and private sector businesses should be cautious about transmitting confidential and proprietary information over a wireless connection, such as information related to employees and customers, unless a virtual private network (VPN) is used, he added.
“This additional level of security provides peace of mind that the best approach has been taken to protect such data," he said.