When out and about it is tempting to use freely available public wifi networks to access the internet and email. Usually the use of these networks is reasonably risk free, however, there are some precautions that need to be taken to protect both your own and your company’s data.
1. Don’t save public wireless networks.
- When you use your home or company network, it’s useful to save the network as this means that you don’t have to put the password in every time that you use the wifi. The majority of public wireless systems don’t have a password for the network, they depend on a login page to either pay or authenticate after you connect. A common technique used by hackers is to create a “spoof” network with a laptop being used as a middle man collecting the information sent through it. (Essentially the hacker will connect their own device to the free wireless, and then create a new network with the same name from said device, any internet traffic that is sent through this combination will get to the internet, so the use won’t know anything’s amiss, however, all of the information is collected by the middleman and can be used for any purpose they require). If you save the network onto your laptop or smartphone, it will connect to it every time it becomes available, by not saving the network you will be prompted to connect.
2. Keep your security software and operating system up to date.
- Security software varies from antivirus packages, through VPN software to specialist packages that prevent data being captured. Each package has a role to play when protecting your information when using any kind of network, but especially so when using a public network. Antivirus packages are becoming more sophisticated with anti-intrusion technology becoming an integral part of the software. This technology flags any suspicious activity that may be affecting your computer, for example a key logging package being installed, and asks you as the user whether you wish to allow the software to be installed or not. VPN Software is usually used to allow a secure connection back to you company’s IT system, a VPN, or Virtual Private Network, creates a tunnel between your computer and the company network that encrypts all traffic to reduce the risk of information being stolen. If it’s not practical to use a VPN service, a package such as Sentry Bay is a useful precaution as it prevents key logging software from getting your information by supplementing the valid information with random characters.
- Keeping your operating system up to date is also important to protect your information on a public wireless network. Companies such as Microsoft and Apple are constantly working to patch (fill) any security holes within their software to protect their users’ data. These patches are usually released regularly and their installation is important to protect your data.
3. Create your own network
- In some cases the above software isn’t available or practical, and as such it’s possible that having your own portable network is the answer. Devices such as 3G dongles or portable hot spots allow you to carry your own network with you. Although this solution carries the same risks as using your internal network, you do protect yourself completely from spoof networks and from logging software that may be run on the public network.
4. Only use trusted networks
- The last suggestion to keeping your own data and your company data safe is to consider whether you really need to use a public network to do your work, or could it wait until you arrive at the office? Do you have to answer the email fully, or could you acknowledge its receipt on your smartphone and answer later?
How can Telemat help you use Public Wireless safely?
Telemat also employs fully certified security specialists that are able to install the hardware required at your company’s premises to allow for secure connection into the existing infrastructure, and with strategic partnerships with companies such as ESET for AntiVirus, SentryBay for software to prevent keyloggers we can help you protect your data. Through our Remote Monitoring system we can also provide a Mobile Device Management for any Android or Windows Mobile device, and we have certified Apple technicians who can aid you with the setup of your iDevice to ensure that it’s secure and that any required services are running. Finally, if you have a support contract in place with Telemat, feel free to phone the helpdesk on (01239) 712345 and we’ll be more than happy to advise and help you use public wireless securely.
What if you want to provide a Public Wireless System?
In the case of providing a wireless system there is an element of Duty of Care where the provider has a level of responsibility over the safety of the data of the user. Another element that is important to consider when providing a wireless system is that any suspicious activity will be registered against the IP address of the broadband line, which in turn is registered to the address of the owner of the system. In the case of illegal activity the police will initially visit the business premises and reserve the right to confiscate any IT equipment connected to that broadband line. To protect the business from this happening there are two simple solutions, the first is to install a dedicated line for the public wireless network, the second is to content filter the Public Wireless.
Telemat can provide various alternative systems to provide public Wireless, from simple wireless enabled firewalls for locally managed solutions, to large Cloud Managed Wireless Mesh systems that allow multiple sites to be part of one wireless network, which makes the management of the system easier.