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Are you afraid of putting a foot out the door of your business? Perhaps not, but you should be. No, Freddy Kruger isn’t going to stalk you, but in the 21st century, stalkers don’t have to literally follow you. They can gain access to your mobile device and you wouldn’t know any better until it’s too late.
Whether you’re traveling to the hardware shop to change some equipment or you’re going on a trip to China, you always need to exercise caution when using your mobile devices in strange territory. Every time you leave your office, you also leave the cozy confines of your protected internal network, which if configured correctly has kept nasty hackers at bay.
If you’re not concerned yet, how would it sound if I told you that anyone can sniff your device’s activity under an unencrypted Wi-Fi network? Applications like WireShark enable anyone to see everything that you transfer to and from your smartphone, tablet, laptop, or ultrabook. This practice is more popular than you think. There’s already a growing community of wanna-be hackers who spend their days sniffing out interesting data from phones and posting them on forums for everyone to see. You really don’t want something like that to happen to you!
So what steps can you take to protecting your mobile device and data while traveling? A couple of things, actually!
- Don’t join any unencrypted Wi-Fi networks. If you don’t have to type some sort of code to get into the network, avoid it. This is where most hackers lurk! They’ll be able to see you send your account details and credit card information across the network to its destination and you wouldn’t know any better. Granted, many transactions are now encrypted but there are still holes. If you must use an unencrypted Wi-Fi network, restrict your activity to websites that use the “https” prefix, as opposed to “http,” in their addresses.
- You’re really not safe even if you’re working on an encrypted network. Anyone else logged into that particular network can also sniff your activity. If you don’t trust people in your surroundings, you probably shouldn’t be logging in. Again, remember to use “https.”
- Use a virtual private network (VPN), onion routing, an SSH proxy, or any sort of network tunneling that involves a certain degree of encryption. With this, you can connect to your local network at your business and browse through emails, sites, and social networks without eyes peering through your data.
- Don’t forget to teach your employees all this advice! Especially if they carry sensitive business data on their mobile devices, it’s imperative that they learn to take care of that data. Otherwise, your business will leak at its seams, which can be potentially destructive. Your business is only as strong as its weakest employee. Train each one to follow these rules and you’ll be fine!
The world may seem peaceful and innocent from inside a glass screen, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Now that you know how to engage the enemy, it’s time to go out on the street and practice your Wi-Fi Kung Fu.
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