Everyone loves free Wi-Fi and, now that we’re coming out of a year of isolation, it won’t be long before we all see business professionals, college students, and freelancers soaking up free Wi-Fi everywhere we go. Restaurants, bars, coffee shops, hotels, airport lounges, and pretty much everywhere else – here we come!
The only problem with this is that if you’re in charge of securing data at your organization, you may want to take steps now to limit free Wi-Fi access for your employees. This is because – sorry to break it to you – public internet security is terrible.
Let’s help fix that.
Although ¾ of employees rely on free Wi-Fi regularly, 55% of folks can’t tell a secure network from an unsecure one. To keep your business data safe from cybercriminals, it’s up to you to train your employees on safe public internet security practices like using trusted hotspots, using VPN, avoiding entering personal data and passwords when on public Wi-Fi, and keeping security settings and patches updated. Interplay can help you manage all this with ease. Learn more.
According to Wandera Threat Research data from November 2018 to October 2019, employees connect to an average of 24 Wi-Fi hotspots per week. NetMotion, the company behind a popular security platform, found that the average device connects to 2 or 3 unsecured Wi-Fi hotspots per day. (Statistics sourced from Verizon’s Mobile Security Index 2020.) That’s a lot of Wi-Fi connections, but how many people are using them?
Well, the Verizon report goes on to clarify that 72% of all surveyed employees say they use public Wi-Fi, including 55% of employees who work at companies that prohibit the use of public Wi-Fi.
Sadly, it’s a toss-up as to whether these nearly ¾ of employees are using secure Wi-Fi because, according to Symantec’s most recent Wi-Fi Risk Report, 53% of people can’t tell secure Wi-Fi from insecure Wi-Fi.
The following tips should help mitigate some of this risky behavior.
Most people like the idea of safe browsing as long as it’s convenient and easy for them. Therefore, today’s business leaders not only need to teach their employees the basics of good public internet security, they also need to offer effective, easy-to-use tools that make it easier for employees to browse safely.
1. Use a trusted hotspot or network
The best Wi-Fi network to use is one that your company can control the security on. A Wi-Fi hotspot can be a great choice for portable, reliable internet access, but a phone hotspot works in pinch – as long as the phone is secure. If you must use public Wi-Fi, choose the option that requires a password instead of an open network.
2. Use a VPN
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) hides data from potential snoops hanging out on a public Wi-Fi network. VPNs slow down the internet significantly and aren’t the most modern solution, but they keep data private in many cases, which is a good layer of public internet security.
3. Avoid entering personal data or passwords
If your employees must use public Wi-Fi for whatever reason, coach them not to access or expose sensitive information on their devices. Tell them that public Wi-Fi is like having a stranger staring over their shoulder and reading their screen. That image will make them think twice before accessing bank accounts, company secrets, or tax data.
4. Check firewall and sharing settings
By default, most mobile devices are set up to share information with other devices on their network, such as printers, Alexas, or TVs. Teach employees to turn off their device sharing options while on public Wi-Fi, so they don’t leave a door wide open for cyber thieves to walk right in.
5. Keep devices up to date
Here’s a great piece of advice: most cyberattacks are opportunistic crimes that take advantage of unsecured or out-of-date systems. Phone and tablet software manufacturers release frequent operating system updates and patches that address recently discovered security flaws (app makers do the same), so it’s important to maintain fully up-to-date software and apps before connecting to a public internet security hazard like free Wi-Fi.
If you found this article helpful and you love our irreverent writing style, we welcome you to learn more about how you can secure your organization’s networks and systems with ease.
Check out the Interplay blog to learn other great cybersecurity tips, like:
For 20 years, the friendly and knowledgeable IT team at Interplay has helped business leaders across a range of industries get more out of their tech, stress free. Not only are we always (and we mean always) happy to offer the best managed IT services, support, and advice, we’re also the team you can trust for the best cocktail recommendations here in Seattle or in Disney World – we’re versatile! All humor aside though, we’d love to help you get your IT running smoothly and securely, around the clock.