How to protect your network and data, despite your public Wi-Fi-using remote workforce

Probably everyday coming across your LinkedIn and other social media newsfeeds are multiple articles touting the many benefits of working remotely — less stress, lower costs, more engagement, a happier workforce and so on.

Due to this, and recent advances in networking and mobile technology, people are working from everywhere — from client locations, hotels, their homes, coffee shops, restaurants, airport lobbies and anywhere there is wireless Internet access.

But with the ever-growing popularity of “telecommuting,” protecting mobile devices, computers, networks and business and personal data has become more challenging, largely due to the free Wi-Fi often available in public places.

Wi-Fi hot spots: Sacrificing security for convenience
While very convenient, these “hot spots” offer little to no protection for confidential Internet activity and could in fact land associates, clients and businesses themselves in a hot seat. Equipped with the right software and connection, anyone connected to one of these hotspots has the ability to capture information contained in all that network traffic. Much like an old time telephone party-line, a hacker can listen in on everything being said. That means personnel information, business communications, client data and so on is all fair game.

So how do you protect yourself or your business from becoming a victim the next time you want to use free-Wi-Fi? You can make yourself much more secure by utilizing a virtual private network connection (VPN).

Below is a diagram of how VPN works.

Diagrams of Wi-Fi networks and how VPNs work to add security and protect your business

How VPN creates a safe connection on an insecure network
If your business is set up with a VPN access, basically you still connect to public Wi-Fi to connect to your workplace, but then immediately initiate the VPN, often by clicking a desktop icon on your device. This action then launches an encryption scheme that directs your Internet requests through your company’s connection instead of Luke’s Diner’s, the Dragonfly Inn’s or whatever public Wi-Fi service you are using. Mr. Hacker can still capture information off the public Wi-Fi system but yours is encrypted and is a nothing but a meaningless jumble of characters. So if you’ve got VPN, that’s why it’s there and why you should definitely use it. Does your company not have VPN? Check with your local managed IT support or network services people to see if they can set you up.

Of course, if you’re in the Oklahoma City area, there is always us and our team of superhero lovin’, ComicCon going, Minecraft playing, Raspberry Pi building, Reddit reading tech geeks who will be glad to help you out.

To learn how R.K. Black, Inc.’s IT team can help you set up VPN for your business's network, ensuring your data is safe, click the button below.