Wireless Computing – Don’t Let It Leave You Exposed.
Small business owners – If you travel a lot or frequent wireless cafes to conduct work, read on.
For those times when you’re using a public wireless network, your data is exposed to anyone who wants to sniff it out of the air with the right technology. Of course, some web sites you visit encrypt the data between your browser and their server, but most web sites, such as Gmail, Facebook and many others do not. This means that most of the time you are operating insecurely.
Installing a VPN (Virtual Private Network) to securely communicate between your network and your computer is one solution to ensure your business data is secure. A VPN encrypts all the traffic leaving and entering your computer. So that although your communications are still being sent in the open air for hackers to capture, the information is encrypted, so it’s useless to them.
Your company can create its own VPN, which can be set up by an IT consultant or internal IT team (if you have one).
If that’s not an option for you, consider a company that will encrypt your data right from your web browser. Two companies that offer “personal VPN” services are Comodo’s TrustConnect and Private WiFi. For about $10 a month, it’s a decent price for good security. They work sort of like the anti-virus or firewall software you probably already use on your computer. Every time you connect to the Internet, the software automatically activates itself, and a task bar icon at the bottom of your computer’s screen shows you that it’s working.
Another related but slightly different security challenge is for network administrators managing the connectivity of remote workers to corporate networks. For those with laptops, how do IT managers ensure that the remote computer is updated with the latest patches, is virus free and is not a zombie computer stealing sensitive data–or worse?
Remote users could be at hotels or using the computers of clients, and they’re accessing your corporate networks. You have no clue if their information is secure or if the computer they’re on has been compromised by a hacker–therefore leaving your network open to attack as well.
A neat device, Check Point Abra, combines a SanDisk high-performance, encrypted USB Flash drive with Check Point virtualization, VPN and security technologies to create a device from which mobile workers can access files and applications anywhere and anytime. Abra users simply plug an Abra USB stick into a Windows-based PC and enter their credentials to initiate a virtual workspace. The Abra work session remains isolated from the host PC, ensuring sensitive data remains on Abra and preventing data loss. Hardware and software encryption also protects data while in use and when an Abra drive is not in operation.
Whether you use Private WiFi or some other security solution, it’s important to ensure that your public network communications are secure. You never know if that nice lady next to you is a hacker. The guy reading the Wall Street Journal and licking ketchup off his fingers could be reading your online communications and you’d never know it.