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Whether your employees are taking some personal vacation time or work-related business keeps them on the road, now is a perfect time to think about your company’s Wi-Fi knowledge.
While you may think there’s nothing to be concerned about, the fact of the matter is that 54 percent of people are connecting mobile devices to free Wi-Fi hotspots, and 35 percent are doing so on a regular basis (several times a month or more), but people aren’t taking the proper measures to protect their personal and / or company data along the way.
Not surprisingly, some of the all-time worst behaviors people engage in when it comes to mobile security happens when they are on the road. From airport and in-flight Wi-Fi, to hotel Wi-Fi networks and juggling multiple devices at once, a lot of mobile security best practices can go out the window.
Whether it’s at the airport, hotel, or just a coffee shop, below we’ve shared some Wi-Fi tips for best ways travelers can stay productive and safe while traveling or in transit.
1. Travel light & smart
The key here is not to juggle too many devices. The most common threat to SMBs is when employees forget their device behind and leave sensitive company information physically vulnerable. Especially if you are a particularly successful businessperson, lock up your devices when you leave the hotel room — “evil maid” attacks are ones we anticipate to hear more about.
2. Use official apps for Facebook and Twitter
Instead of using your Web browser to access social media pages, utilize the respective applications for these sites. The reason being that the apps have encryption technology built in to protect the session. Furthermore, using the official app is less likely to cause security challenges. Case in point, Facebook in particular will challenge users with security questions when they log in from new IP ranges. This makes for a very useful way to prevent an account from being hacked, but it can also be quite inconvenient to deal with while traveling. Apps can greatly simplify things, but just remember to keep your mobile device locked and to close out of apps you aren’t using that are still running in the background. For added protection, you can also adjust your screen-lock times to shorter durations while traveling.
3. Use a secure session
It’s simple to hack devices using free WiFi hotspots. In fact, more than half of all open Wi-Fi networks are susceptible to abuse, but 45 percent of respondents to a recent F-Secure survey weren’t aware of this fact, or thought public Wi-Fi hotspots were more secure than they actually are.
Make sure all the sites you visit start with “https,” otherwise it could be accessible to a hacker. If you use Firefox, you can use HTTPS Everywhere by The Tor Project and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which will force encryption communications on several major websites.
4. Turn off Wi-Fi to secure data and save battery life
Even when you think your phone isn’t connected to WiFi, it is often configured to constantly search for open networks to join. This not only announces your presence to the hacking world, but it also wastes battery use – two things you don’t want when traveling. To avoid this, it all comes down to being mindful of when your phone’s Wi-Fi is on. When you don’t need to connect to WiFi, you should manually turn it off in your phone’s settings – it only takes a few seconds and could save your data, your battery and perhaps your sanity.
5. Use VPN software to encrypt all your traffic
Did you know that the average user interacts with 89 domains in a month, although most have no idea that they’ve even accessed most of them. Further to that point, a recent F-Secure Labs study found that of the top 100 URLs visited around the world, only 15 percent of them were accessed directly. That’s why using VPN software is so vital to ensuring public WiFi networks are safe to use.
6. Don’t jailbreak or root phones to enable free tethering
Businesses are much better off paying for their employees to have a tethering plan instead of allowing employees to jailbreak their phones. If employees travel frequently, this is a wise investment. While we haven’t seen many cross-platform examples of malware (i.e. malware going from a PC to mobile device or vice versa) a few have been identified and it is theoretically possible.
Purchase additional SIM cards for different countries if you plan to travel frequently or go to multiple countries. This prevents you from having to change your phone number each time you travel to a different country and you don’t need to root/jailbreak your phone.
7. Consider investing in MiFi (aka 3G) routers
For your avid business travelers, consider purchasing them a few MiFi devices that you can loan out as necessary. A MiFi router allows employees to use a local SIM card, or just a separate SIM card that may offer better data rates, that they can “tether” safely to the MiFi device.
Want more tips for keeping information safe while on the move? Ask me your questions here on the blog or via Twitter at 5ean5ullivan.
Click HERE to see a video about the latest threats targeting consumers and businesses.
*Online F-Secure survey of 1,000+ adults in the US (49 percent male, 51 percent female), aged 18-65, conducted in March 2014.