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Your mobile devices – including smartphones, laptops and tablets – are always within reach everywhere you go, whether for work, travel or entertainment. These devices make it easy to connect to the world around you, but they can also pack a lot of information about you, your business, friends and family. When considering whether to connect to the public WiFi network at your local coffee shop, the airport, etc., we have two simple words of advice—don’t and DON’T.
However, if you find yourself in a situation where you absolutely must connect to public WiFi (first ask if you REALLY need to connect). Take a look at our top tips below to stay secure on your devices:
Public Wi-Fi spots can be found in popular places such as airports, coffee shops, restaurants, hotels and more. With these hotspots becoming more frequent and common, remote workers are connecting to these Wi-Fi connections without second thought. However, there are a large number or risks that are associated with public Wi-Fi. These include cyberattacks such as:
This is one of the most common threats on Wi-Fi networks. A MitM attack is a form of eavesdropping. When a device connects to the Internet, data is sent from point A (mobile) to point B (website) and can allow an attacker to access data between these and uncover all of your files on the device.
Encrypted networks mean that messages sent between a mobile device and the Wi-Fi are in a “secret code” – meaning they can’t be read by anyone who doesn’t have the key to decipher the code. When a network is unencrypted, this puts your data at risk.
Hackers can find a weakness or security hole in an operating system or software programme. They can exploit this weakness by writing code or targeting a specific vulnerability, and then force this malware onto your mobile device.
Cybercriminals create “access points” to trick victims into thinking they are connecting to a legitimate network so that they can have access to all of your sensitive data.
To avoid becoming victim to any of these attacks, it’s important to ensure you follow the below:
1. Don’t allow Wi-Fi to auto-connect to networks – ensure this is disabled on your mobile devices.
2. Don’t log into any account via an app that contains sensitive information. Instead, go to the website and verify they are using HTTPS.
3. Never log into a network that isn’t password protected.
4. Switch Wi-Fi or Bluetooth off when not in use.
Taking simple precautions can keep your vital business data safe from cybercriminals. Ensure you and your employees adhere to the below:
In today’s world of sophisticated technology, mobile device identification features have developed, meaning that an employee can unlock a device using facial recognition or using fingerprints, as well as the traditional passcode. However, it’s important that these are set up when using a mobile device on-the-go, so that should the device get lost or stolen, the contents remain safe.
If you use information over a public WiFi network, you are not treating it like it is valuable. Therefore, if you must use a public WiFi network, avoid touching any PII including banking information, social security numbers and home addresses at all costs. Remember, some accounts require you to enter things like phone numbers when you sign up, so even though you may not remember entering it, you may inadvertently be allowing access to personal information.
A VPN allows you to create a secure connection to another network over the Internet. VPNs can be used to access region-restricted websites, shield your browsing activity from prying eyes on public WiFi and more. They are an excellent alternative to public WiFi networks. While they do cost some money, the peace of mind and additional security is well worth it.
Additionally, most employers will equip themselves with a way to connect to a VPN network on the go. And, they should. While employees are on the go and need to access WiFi networks to do their jobs, the company’s data is at a high-risk if they use a public network.
Most of the time, individuals find themselves hastily connecting to public WiFi networks to save themselves from overage charges on their phone bills. But your mobile is just as likely to be attacked as your laptop, if not more. In fact, with the WPA2 flaw, Android mobile devices were found to be the most vulnerable. Investing in an unlimited data plan will not only eliminate your need for accessing insecure WiFi networks, it will also often allow you to use your mobile device to create a personal internet “hotspot,” meaning a VPN connection wouldn’t even be necessary.
If you don’t have access to a VPN. you’re not completely out of luck. You can still add a layer of encryption to your connection. When browsing the internet, be sure to enable the "Always Use HTTPS" option on websites that you visit frequently, including any and all sites that require you to enter any type of credentials (most websites that require an account or credentials have the "HTTPS" option somewhere in their settings).
When travelling with business sensitive data on a mobile device, it’s worthwhile to remove any unnecessary data. The more data that is stored on a mobile device, the more there is a risk should a cyber breach occur. Remind your employees to only store what they need for a particular business trip, and always backup on another device.
As well as taking all the precautions above, investing in a security suite for mobile management is another great way to ensure you and your employees’ mobile data is always protected. Enterprise Mobility and Security is designed as the ultimate security package for you. Including Intune, Azure Active Directory and Azure Rights Management, EM+S helps protect company data as well as your employee identity and enables you to securely manage applications on your employees’ mobile devices without compromising their productivity.
For more information on Enterprise Mobility and Security, contact Ctelecoms team today.