With over 50 percent of professionals using a tablet or smartphone as their primary computing device in 2012, it’s important to recognize the vulnerabilities in using a public Wi-Fi network. Sure, the local coffee shop is incredibly convenient, but just how secure is the network and the information you’re transmitting? Business on Main offered three excellent tips to stay safe when using public Wi-Fi, it’s certainly not an exhaustive list of precautions. Here are three more things small business owners and professionals can do to remain safe and secure when on the go with their mobile computing devices:
- Avoid Sensitive Activities – It may be tempting to use your banking app, or to check your balance, or even to make a few purchases on Amazon, but don’t do them unless its absolutely necessary. Especially in public Wi-fi networks, cybercriminals could be plugged in and watching your every move, taking your password or your credit card number right from under your nose. Keep activities that utilize personal information off the public networks, or take the time to check your balance at an ATM.
- Double Check the Network – At the coffee shop closest to my office, it’s a bit tricky to jump on the right network. Several pop up that could be the right one, since the names are so similar. The first time I tried to use their network, I had to ask someone who worked there. If confused about the correct public network, double check with the establishment. This sort of trickiness is just a ripe opportunity for a cybercriminal to set up a rogue network. By double checking, you might figure out that the correct network requires a password, or a purchase, or both.
- Install Security Software – Just because you’re on a secure public network, doesn’t mean you’re now invincible to security issues. There’s still the possibility of coming across a phishing site, or malicious code that could do damage to your laptop or mobile device. Take the time to invest in malware and anti-virus protection, and many mobile devices have at least a free version available that will scan sites or the apps that you download. It’s better than nothing, and it’s much better than getting a Trojan that slows down your device.
Overall, mobile security is something that consumers need to be proactive about, instead of reactive or relying on others to be mindful of. Since mobile technology is still a growing and emerging trend, the security infrastructure that’s out there is still changing, and the best way to protect oneself is to be proactive and to commit to a few best practices when using these public networks.
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