There was a time when the only people with laptops in coffee shops were freelancers, students, and writers working on their screenplays. But now, with so many of us working remotely, lots of employees are also discovering the joys of the home-from-home office.
It can’t be denied that coffee-shop working has serious advantages. You can’t get distracted by housework. You won’t be interrupted by neighbours, parcel deliveries, or well-meaning family members. Being away from home focuses the mind – and the coffee and cakes aren’t bad, either. However, there is one major flaw. Most coffee shops have public Wi-Fi networks, and public Wi-Fi presents a serious security risk.
If your favourite coffee place requires a Wi-Fi password, you might feel safe using their network to do your work, just like you would on your own network at home. This is a false sense of security. Coffee shops tend to keep the same password for a long time, and it’s usually a simple one. The staff and management want their customers to be able to access the internet with minimal effort, so they make it as easy as possible, even posting the password somewhere prominent so anyone can see it.
But it’s even more likely that there’s no password at all, and that’s an open invitation to data thieves. Any data you send over a public Wi-Fi network can be stolen or manipulated by anyone else who accesses that network. All this is why iPass’s 2017 security report identified coffee shops as the riskiest place to go online.
When you go ahead and connect to that public network, you don’t just have to worry about other users hijacking your data – the classic “man in the middle” attack – or lax security standards. Since the network name is visible to everyone, cybercriminals can easily set up a fake hotspot with an almost identical name. This is called spoofing, and it’s a powerful way for hackers to trick you into giving up your sensitive information. It’s similar to phishing, where scammers set up fake websites to harvest your login details… and the consequences can be severe.
If your team regularly uses public Wi-Fi – in coffee shops, airports, hotels or elsewhere – it’s crucial to make sure they can’t fall victim to cybercriminals. One reliable and easy way to protect your business’s data is to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN). A VPN acts like a private tunnel for your information, disguising your identity and encrypting your data so it can’t be viewed by other network users.
If you have a generous data allowance, another good method is to use your phone’s hotspot function. By effectively creating your own network, you can avoid connecting to public Wi-Fi altogether.
Whether your people are working remotely, switching between home and office, or travelling on the job, One Technology can help you find the perfect cybersecurity solutions. Just get in touch for a chat about your needs. Our expertise is at your disposal!