The issues caused by using public Wi-Fi are widely known and should be more widely recognized and the global shifts towards remote working. Since the beginning of the COVID19 pandemic. a large number of companies have had little choice but to permit the staff members to work from a remote location.

While a lot of companies have witnessed the benefits to remote working and having staff members work from home, many other businesses are beginning to operate with a hybrid working model that allows staff to work remotely for a portion of the week as a minimum. 

There are a range of dangers to be addressed when using the Internet on public Wi-Fi networks, one of the most serious being the Wi-Fi access point that people log on to is not really the Wi-Fi network of the company that the employees work for. In many cases hackers create WiFi networks that appear to be genuine Wi-Fi access points. Using these – often referred to as evil twins – connections are reviewed, and no communicated data is safe.

Cybercriminals often create malicious proxies, monitor network activity traffic, and deploy user redirects to bring Wi-Fi users to malware laded web portals. If Bluetooth and NFC are turned on, a hacker could search for nearby devices and steal information that could allow them to identify and target a specific person.

There are many different measures that should be put in place to see to it that remote workers are not tricked into sharing their details in a phishing attack, or otherwise compromise their device, and in turn, the network of their company. The simplest of these measures is to stop the use of public Wi-Fi networks, although that is not always possible for travelling workers.

If there is no other option available then a connection should only be made to a Wi-Fi hotspot with encryption and strong authentication, as security will be strongest. Make sure that there is a password required to access the WiFi hotspot and there is less chance of any transmitted data being intercepted. 

Companies need to put a range of precautions in place. These can include creating a company policy that forbids the use of public Wi-Fi networks or sharing any sensitive data on websites that do not begin  with HTTPS. Providing a Virtual Private Network (VPN) for staff with adequate capacity to allow all workers to connect is a smart move as it extends the range of web filters to remote workers’ devices. This will prevent access to recognized dangerous web pages and prevent malware installations.

Solutions such as WebTitan are easy to set up in order to secure remote workers’ devices, and filtering controls will then be placed as though the user is situated in the corporate headquarters.

Standard cybersecurity best practices should also be adhered to, such as seeing to it that patches and software updates are applied quickly. Multi Factor authentication should be turned on and anti-malware software configured. Anti-spam services – like SpamTitan  – should also be used to prevent email attacks, and firewalls should be turned on to prevent unauthorized inbound and outbound connections.

It is also advisable to turn off Link-Local Multicast Name Resolution (LLMNR) and Netbios Name Service (NBT-NS) on Windows laptops and to set up Web-Proxy Autodiscovery Protocol (WPAD) to allow only corporate proxy servers and to disable device file and printer sharing on public networks.