Internet cafes, hotel rooms and airports can all be convenient places to catch up with work tasks. But how safe is your data when you access your office systems, email or financial accounts from a public place? Well, in the age of tablets, laptops, and smart phones, the answer is complex—however, knowing these few facts can help keep your data safe.
Just like home burglary, Internet theft is most often conducted by opportunists. Online thieves are on the prowl for passwords and other information that can give them direct access to your confidential information, as well as your money!
Be your own security guard by following these three steps when you connect publicly with your laptop, tablet or phone:
1.) Check that the network requires a password and shows a lock icon next to its name, indicating it utilizes encryption. Without this, others can easily steal what you send and receive. Alternately, if you do connect to an unencrypted network, make sure the accounts you access have encrypted login (authentication), and encrypt any sensitive data that you might exchange (the web address will start with https).
2.) Confirm that you have the latest security updates installed for your computer’s operating system, as well as for any applications. Cyber-criminals are clever, and OS and app updates help counter their latest tricks.
3.) Always utilize a system firewall or similar application, PLUS a full-featured Internet security software suite that includes traffic filtering, intrusion prevention, and anti-virus capabilities. This will not only protect you in public places, but at home or in the office as well.
Besides policing your own devices, it’s also wise to be very wary of computers that are offered as a customer service in hotels, lounges, libraries and Internet cafes. You put yourself at risk whenever you use these machines to access sensitive accounts or information, including email, because the browser cache could be configured to store your login credentials. You can’t know that an open-access machine doesn’t have malicious software installed to burgle passwords and information, so sit down at any public computer with extreme caution!
Finally, a special word of advice to business owners since employees now commonly work out of the office on a variety of personal use devices … Take the time to get assurance that remote access to your systems and data is properly configured to provide optimal security. Workplace servers that are left open to the Internet are easily compromised, with potentially disastrous results. Consult with professionals to minimize your system vulnerabilities and invest in mounting your best defense to protect your valuable information and financial assets.
Network Management Solutions is a proven service provider that enhances the security, manageability of IT systems for small businesses, while reducing costs.
For more information about our range of services, and helpful tools for evaluating your IT security, visit us at www.nmscorp.com