The Risks of Public WiFi

1 month ago

With working on-site currently on hold across Sydney due to the lockdown, workplaces are looking very different in the last few months. Makeshift workspaces can be anything from a home office, a kitchen, converted study and much more. Working across new kinds of workspaces means that you may not have access to the security and comfortability being onsite affords. One of the biggest risks of working remotely is public WiFi and home networks. This includes working from home during the lockdown or at a café or airport in normal times. 

Public WiFi 

Public or guest WiFi is WiFi that is generally free. It is also usually not protected by a password and can be connected to by anyone. Free public WiFi is usually offered in high traffic areas such as: 

  • Shopping centres 
  • Hotels and other accommodation 
  • Cafes, restaurants and coffee shops 
  • Airports, train stations and other transport venues 
  • Libraries 

For people working on-the-go, public WiFi seems like an attractive alternative to using your phone hotspot or paying for a USB 4G/5G service. However, because public WiFi is often unsecured it can be accessed by anyone. This means the network can be lurking with hackers and cyber attacks waiting to happen. 

Home network  

Like public wifi, working from home on your home network may also be problematic. Home networks are no where near as secure as an office network, particularly one that is backed by Managed IT Services. Here are some common threats to home networks that can create vulnerabilities: 

Weak passwords – having a memorable password may be handy when having to recall it yourself, but if a password is memorable, there’s a chance its also easy to guess. Passwords are recommended to be over 14 characters, a mix of upper and lower cases letters and including numbers and special characters. 

Unknown activity from WiFi users – Even if you practice safe browsing and cyber security habits, you cannot be sure that the other users on your home network do too. Viruses can be picked up from dodgy emails or websites by anyone on your home network and soon infect your device. 

HP put out a video earlier this year which outlines how home networks can become compromised.

Risks of compromised WiFi connections 

Free or unprotected WiFi can easily be hijacked and could lead to your device, accounts and data being compromised. Here are some common risks that occur from public or compromised WiFi: 

  • Theft of personal information and data – If you are on public WiFi or an infected home network, anyone could be lurking around your internet activity. Banking credentials, passwords and other sensitive data can easily be scraped without your knowledge when working on unsecured WiFi. 
  • Compromised business data and breaches – Working from home means you’re no longer working on one centralised and secure network. Instead, team members are working across numerous different and perhaps unsecured networks. If one device becomes infected, spoofing emails, data breaches or other types of attacks may be orchestrated. 
  • Malicious hotspots – Also often referred to as “rogue access points” a malicious hot spot will spoof a legitimate network that is otherwise reputable. Hackers will set up spoofing pages or entire networks and trick users into connecting. From there, whatever you browse or disclose through your device can be accessed by hackers hosting the spoofed network. 
  • Cyber attacks – Compromised WiFi is another low key way for hackers to plant viruses and orchestrate cyber attacks on your device without your knowledge. For example, a hacker may install key stroke logging software through a compromised network. They will then watch what you type including passwords and other sensitive information. 
  • Packet sniffing – Although this is less common now that most websites are expected to be HTTPS, packet sniffing can still occur on unprotected networks. Packet sniffing is a tool that allows hackers to ‘eavesdrop’ on your internet activity whilst on an infected or compromised network. This allows hackers to intercept your internet connection and from there steal your sensitive data and information. 

Dos and Don’ts for public WiFi 

Don’t 

  • Allow devices to automatically connect to public WiFi
  • Browse or log in to any sensitive accounts (banking, MyGov etc.) when using public WiFi
  • Use any website that isn’t HTTPS as these are not protected and can be intercepted by hackers 

Do 

  • Use a VPN to protect your connection 
  • Switch to a personal hotspot from your phone or a USB 4G/5G service
  • Log out of sensitive accounts if you must use public WiFi 
  • Establish complex passwords for your home network 

Managed WiFi 

Milnsbridge’s comprehensive Managed WiFi solutions focuses on optimal performance, reliability, security and scalability to give your business a competitive edge. Whether you’re working in an office, from home or on-the-go, Milnsbridge’s Managed WiFi solutions will keep your network reliable and secure. Additionally, if your business chooses to run an additional guest WiFi network, Milnsbridge will fully optimise it in light with our Secure Operating Environment standards (SOE) so that users of the guest network need not worry about potential breaches. You can read more about Managed WiFi here.

Working from home 

Working from home on potentially unsafe home networks could be risky for your business and its data. Milnsbridge have comprehensive work from home solutions including solutions tailored to establish VPN’s. It also includes remote access software for team members. This reduces the risk of infected or compromised home networks to threaten security for businesses.  

Woman working from home
Working from home can have many obstacles such as home network vulnerabilities.

Secure Operating Environment and 2FA 

Partnering with a Managed IT Services provider such as Milnsbridge ensures that your network and devices are all secure. Our Managed Security services and Secure Operating Environment practices include best in business anti-virus, email spam protection, EDR software and much more to proactively detect and shut down attacks should they arise. Similarly, two factor authentication in conjunction with good password practices can reduce the risk of your accounts being compromised should that occur on public wi-fi. You can read more about Managed Security here. 

Milnsbridge specialised in cloud wi-fi, security and work from home solutions. If you are interested in discussing Managed IT Services, call Milnsbridge today on 1300 300 293. 

Let’s get started

Get in touch today and speak with one of our friendly staff. We will take the time to assess your business requirements and provide an obligation-free quote. 

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