The Risk of Pokemon taking over your Network

Author: Chris Laney

“Good Morning and thank you for calling XYZ Inc. How can I help you?” Customer response, “Hi! I’m looking for a…” and before he could finish his sentence, the customer representative cuts him off and says, “Please hold for one minute.” The customer service representative was distracted by the opportunity to catch “Zapdos.” If you’re not familiar with Zapdos and have been living under a rock for the past week, it’s part of the augmented reality mobile game that’s taken the United States and other countries by storm. While the example of a customer service representative actually putting a customer on hold may be far-fetched (or is it?), the reality of employees playing Pokemon at work is real and it could affect the performance of your network.   

Less than two weeks ago when the game launched, no one anticipated the success it’s had. Not even the game-makers themselves could have anticipated such a buzz related to the game. Already the highest grossing mobile game on the market and is close to topping Twitter for daily-active users. But the real question isn’t that your employees are distracted from their daily duties but is there a risk for allowing them to play at work? Here are two things to consider if you have a multitude of employees playing Pokemon Go on your network.

Employees playing off the WIFI network

If you have a WIFI network for employees to connect to then they are probably using it to find the next mystic creature they’re going to catch in the office. Pokemon Go eats data like you wouldn’t believe. It’s using Google Maps and is set to continually pull down maps as you’re walking around looking for Pokemon. Depending on the quality of your network and how robust it handles large amounts of data being transferred at once, you could see your network slowdown during work. In fact, there were multiple reports over the weekend of cellular networks feeling that activity was higher than normal of data being transferred. Many believe in reference to users playing Pokemon Go. So if your employees are playing and connected to your network, this could have an affect on the reliability of your network.

Is there a security risk to Pokemon Go at work?

With any great digital phenomenon, there are people that will take advantage of people. In the first release (a week ago), there were already reports of security risks for users that logged in via their Google account. You better believe there are people out there looking for opportunities to collect data from the application. Can it affect security in the workplace? Maybe. If they get access to the user’s account and the device is connected to your network via WIFI, then it could play a role in security. This isn’t any different then a hacker getting access to your network through WIFI if the user was using another application like Facebook or Twitter. That’s why it’s important to have a secured network that doesn’t provide WIFI to employees and a secondary access point that provides employees and customers the opportunity to connect to WIFI.

Pokemon Go has become the largest mobile game in our history. Bigger than “Words with Friends” and “Candy Crush.” Employers have already been looking to make sure their employees are not distracted at work. It’s important for IT teams to analyze data traffic on their network and make sure catching fake animals isn’t the reason your network isn’t optimally performing.