How Public WiFi Can Leak Your Intellectual Property

A recent report has revealed that 96% of UK companies have fallen victim to hackers, who often leak or sell their intellectual property online*. It is common for poor security practices by employees to expose businesses to potential threats and security risks, particularly on public WiFi.

The use of public WiFi is now endemic because we are desperate to be online, not just for business, but for pleasure as well. As a result, we live our lives on the internet through mobile devices. Businesses and employees now seek WiFi access to communicate wherever they are. More often than not, people have the tendency to overlook the fact that public WiFi is exactly that – public. It offers no real privacy at all.

Employees can now easily leak company data through the use of insecure public Wi-Fi (circumventing the strong network security they may have in place). If employees do not use VPNs (virtual private networks) to encrypt their data, they run the risk of exposing their traffic to cybercriminals. This means that passwords and usernames can be seen and intercepted by others on the network.

Although public WiFi hotspots are an invaluable services, there is a strong need for businesses to stay on top of the potential threats and security risks. Part of this process is to educate employees about how to use their devices safely. Unless they work in the IT sector, it is unlikely that they will know these practices and so must be informed of the company’s security policy. Without such measures, they cannot be expected to protect company data, which means it will remain at risk.

Here are some useful tips that could keep your employees safe and minimise the risk of the company’s data leaking.

1. Use a VPN when using public WiFi.
2. Don’t let your device connect to public WiFi hotspots automatically and delete existing WiFi access point when you get home.
3. When using a business’s WiFi network, check with the establishment you’re at to make sure the network you log onto is really theirs and not one a hacker has set up to trick you.
4. If you don’t have a VPN running, assume anything you do over public WiFi is part of a public conversation.
5. Use unique and complex passwords for all of your most important accounts.
6. Be careful clicking on web-links. Better to browse the web address by typing into the search engine of your browser. Check to make sure it’s a safe connection (you’re looking for a padlock and ‘https’ in the browser address bar), which means secured and that you’re on the domain you are meant to be on.
7. Check your apps permission to see what information you are sharing on WiFi.
8. Keep your system, browsers, applications and security software patched and updated.


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