Why you should think twice before connecting to a WiFi network when working remotely…
Here at Neo PR we’re often out on the road, whether it’s travelling to meet journalists, client meetings or attending industry events. Therefore, we rely heavily on the availability of WiFi hotspots, as well as our own 4G data connections, to stay connected to the office. However, whilst the increased availability of WiFi networks may be an advantage when it comes to mobile working, don’t be fooled into connecting to just any WiFi network available, as the pitfalls of rogue networks are easier to fall into than you think.
Rapid advancements in connected technology have led to an exponential increase of remote working. The modern workplace no longer shackles employees to their desks from 9 to 5. Instead, staff have the capabilities to position their desk wherever they like – e.g. at home, on a train or at the airport – fuelled by an abundance of smartphones and other mobile devices. Coupled with an increase of public WiFi hotspots and widespread 4G availability, employees are empowered to adopt a flexible working strategy, moving away from the traditional workday, becoming happier and more productive in the process.
Naturally, this has led to an increase of staff using their own mobile devices to connect to the corporate network via a public WiFi hotspot. However, flawed WiFi practice can leave individuals and businesses exposed to potential threats. According to Malwarebytes’ annual State of Malware report, ransomware around the World has increased by 90% against businesses and 93% against consumers over the last 12 months. Together with the growing trend of mobile working, it’s therefore imperative that users are aware of the means and the signs of ransomware attacks, in order to combat the threat.
Our constant need for connectivity means that many won’t think twice when joining a public WiFi network, but this has lead to a rise in Man in the Middle (MITM) attacks that thrive on WiFi connections. Hackers can use the connection for eavesdropping; intercepting personal information that is sent over the network, not just data stored on the device. It only requires relatively cheap technology to set up rogue access points where fake networks impersonate legitimate networks, so you think that you’re connecting to a familiar connection. But once you connect, all activity is open and available to hackers, with login information being the most valuable. With stealth-like precision, hackers can intercept information such as credit card details, corporate details or other logins and hold on to it, allowing them access at any time in the future. There is also a common misconception that this type of attack is limited to public WiFi, but with the right technology, cybercriminals have the ability to hack into any network, both public and corporate.
Users need not worry too much though; by exercising caution when joining any WiFi network, recognising the ‘padlock’ that appears in the URL bar for legitimate sites, and becoming familiar with your usual networks, the threat of cyber attack can be minimised. For example, if you’re out at a coffee shop and your home network becomes available to join – this should raise major red flags! Similarly, by recognising unusual behaviour, such as being directed to an irregular login page when connecting to the office WiFi, you can disconnect before it’s too late. Vigilance and awareness is key to keeping your, and your business’ data secure.
What do you think? Do you consider your security when connecting to public WiFi?
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