Are you paying attention to where your employees are working from when they’re outside of the office? Employees may think it’s harmless to use public WiFi connections, such as those at coffee shops, to check their email or do their work. However, 81% of organizations say they have seen WiFi related security incidents in the last 12 months due to use of a public hotspot. Remote workers are on the rise, with companies expecting 38% of their full time employees to be working remotely in the next decade. Organizations need to make sure they’re educating their staff on how to use public WiFi safely.

public wifi

Source: iPass

Why Public WiFi Isn’t Safe

When you connect to WiFi at your office or at home, you most likely have to enter a password to access the internet. This password isn’t just to limit internet use to specific users; it serves a security purpose as well. These passwords enable WPA or WPA2 security protocols for your networks to help keep them protected and ensure your data is encrypted.

Since public WiFi is meant for anyone to use and access, it doesn’t have these security protections. This puts anyone who connects to them at risk to having their data and personal information stolen, as well as being infected by malware. For example, a hacker used Starbucks WiFi to infect devices that connected to the hotspot with cryptomining malware. And it’s easy to hack public WiFi hotspots. Dozens of tutorials and hacking kits are available online and can turn anyone into a hacker, including a 7 year old girl.

How to Protect Yourself While Using Public WiFi

61% of organizations say their employees connect their company owned devices to public WiFi hotspots when working outside of the office. In order to circumvent the risks of having infected devices and stolen data, it’s important to make sure your employees are using public WiFi safely. Consider taking these precautions before connecting to public WiFi:

Securing your Endpoints: Your endpoints are the devices you use to connect to the internet, which makes it important to protect them. The best way to secure your endpoints is to have antivirus installed and to always update your software and operating systems. Using a secure endpoint service like our Secure IT – Endpoint solution will add extra protection to your endpoints. Our fully managed endpoint protection suite protects your devices even when they’re not connected to the internet. It also includes antivirus and malware protection, as well as endpoint monitoring and SIEM integration.

Securing your Email: You must protect the applications you use, such as your email, in addition to protecting your device. Your email is susceptible to malicious infections through the spread of ransomware and spam via phishing emails. Base level protection of your email includes having your spam filters on and blocking suspicious emails. In addition, using a secure mail solution like our Secure IT – Mail adds extra protection that you won’t get with your default email tenant. Our secure mail solution uses AI and other tools to scan your mail for phishing and malware links.

Using two factor authentication: In addition to protecting your email tenant, you should protect all your accounts with two factor authentication. This will help keep bad actors away from your accounts because in order to login, you must enter an extra code that’s sent to your phone. So even if they do have access to your credentials, they won’t be able to log in.

Using a Virtual Private Network (VPN): VPNs help protect your privacy and add an extra layer of protection by creating a secure and encrypted tunnel for internet traffic. This will help protect your data and credentials from prying eyes. With a VPN, you can connect to any WiFi network without worrying about becoming a hacking victim.