Public Wi-Fi is great, right? You can connect without using your data, you can shop online while you are out to lunch, or you can hold a meeting with clients or employees when you are on the road. Is the convenience of public Wi-Fi actually a threat to your company? Yes. Before you allow your employees to work on the road, you need to address Wi-Fi security concerns.
Anything with the title, ‘public,’ is inherently not safe. When you are in public, everyone sees you. The same is true for a public Wi-Fi connection. A third party can see you, and the intentions are not good. A public hot spot can instantly become a hot bed for cybercrime, and criminals are just waiting to worm into your company via an employee phone, laptop or other mobile device.
What is the Danger?
As soon as you, or an employee, log into a public hotspot, your company’s, as well as the user’s, personal and financial information is accessible to whoever is lurking, not to mention the recipient on the other end is at-risk as well. With more than 37% of employees working remotely during the week, it is important for businesses to have security and connectivity policies in place, as employees will be tempted to work on the road and tap into a free Wi-Fi along the way. This can happen at the local coffee shop, at a hotel, and even a small café where they are meeting with clients.
Hotspots are often the place where users get hacked without even knowing it. This type of attack is a silent attack because once an attacker accesses a device, the criminal can watch everything going on within the device, as well as worm his/her way into the larger system: your company’s network. This is possible because free hotspots are often not encrypted. What does that mean? Well, anything sent over that connection is accessible to the public, and it doesn’t take a criminal mastermind to access it most of the time.
Free Wi-Fi poses a problem because the connections are often easy to duplicate and clone. Simply by naming the connection something closer to the real connection, criminals can trick users into thinking they are accessing the real hotspot. Once the user logs in, with or without personal information or an email address, anything created and transmitted on the connection can make it to the criminal first before the intended recipient.
What Can You Do?
Companies can implement a strict access policy with regards to public Wi-Fi. It is critical that companies educate employees about the dangers of public Wi-Fi and the company’s security protocols regarding access when away from the office. Users can turn off the sharing capability on their devices, opt out of network discovery, disable the auto-connect feature on a device, and ensure the correspondence sent out, such as an email, is SSL encrypted. It is important, as well, for users to turn off Wi-Fi when the device is not in use.