Public Wi-Fi Perils for Business Travellers (And How to Avoid Them)
Did you know that a CEO of a multibillion-dollar company recently resigned due to a cyberattack? We’re talking about Richard Smith of Equifax Inc. who, together with other senior managers, stepped down after a massive uproar over a data breach which affected the credit-reporting company. It goes without saying that data security should never be taken for granted. Protecting company data must be a top priority, especially for time-strapped business travelers who are often at risk of falling prey to the dangers of using public Wi-Fi hotspots.
However, to ensure that your data is protected while traveling, you need to learn and understand a few things first.
The Hazards of Public Hotspots
Wi-Fi hotspots are all around us; this data continuity makes it easier to attend to business while traveling. Unfortunately, these networks are also prime targets for cybercriminals because of risks that include (but are not limited to) the following:
- Weak or no authentication feature—this results in just about anyone being able to connect to the network, including hackers.
- Lack of encryption—this makes your data more easily seen and intercepted by others on the network.
- Malware distribution—since public networks are open to more people, there’s a bigger chance that there are compromised devices on it which can infect other connected devices.
- Fake hotspots—cybercriminals can set up a fake Wi-Fi network with a similar name to the one you expect to use. Connecting to it will leave you vulnerable to data theft.
However, the risks for those who travel frequently for work or business are even greater as they have a bigger and constant need to stay connected to be productive.
It Gets Worse for Work Travellers
A Kaspersky study analyzed 32 million Wi-Fi networks from all over the world and found out that almost a quarter of them do not use encryption. This is unfortunate for those who frequently travel overseas for work. Since you’ll be sending and receiving company data and communications—some of which are confidential—you’ll need more security, and encryption is one of the primary defenses against data breach.
A recent report also showed that four out of five business travelers use unsecured public Wi-Fi networks. This shows that many of them remain vulnerable to the risks of public networks. Since accessing company networks and files is a top priority for them, they can put company files in danger of a security breach.
Many public networks ask for information or action in return for connectivity. This can be your social media log-ins, liking or sharing a post, or your mobile number. If a hacker is in or behind the network, they can find ways to get the information you shared and use it for cybercrime purposes such as hacking into your or your company’s online accounts.
Airport Wi-Fi networks are also known for propagating identity theft. Since these networks employ minimal security measure, hackers can exploit them and steal files, credentials, and important data from business travellers—information they could use for identity theft.
A recent Norton study revealed that countries in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East have the highest numbers of malware bot infections. Bots can easily spread through unsecured devices which cybercriminals can use as part of a larger cyberattack. As such, it pays to be extra cautious and secure your devices when traveling to countries such as Turkey, Italy, and Germany, whether for business or for leisure.
Protections and Best Practices
Fortunately, there are a number of measures business travelers can take to not become a victim of the dangers of public hotspots, such as the ones below.
- Make sure your firewall is active—your device’s firewall acts as its first line of defense against unauthorized access.
- Visit the 'https' version of websites you view as it’s the more secure version of ‘http’.
- Use encryption to give an additional layer of protection to your data.
- Last but not the least, make sure a hotel network log-in portal is legit. We’ve published a blog that details how to do this.
- A Secure Innovation for Business Travellers
These security steps are only a few of the things you can do to protect yourself from the dangers of public Wi-Fi. There's a lot to remember, and if you’re careless, your security could be breached.
The good news is, for those who frequently travel for business or work purposes, there’s an innovative tool that ensures secure connectivity even when you’re on foreign ground. PowerData2Go lets you enjoy uninterrupted work productivity while simultaneously protecting your device from unwanted access.
Since you’re using your personal Wi-Fi network, you can be confident that no one will see the data you send and receive. And because you’re using your own SIM card for the device, the hassle of having to sync your contacts between your personal and work phones and the struggle of juggling multiple handsets are eliminated. It also acts as a power bank, making sure you have enough power to get work done wherever you are.
This article was first published by PowerData2Go