Great advancements have been made on the IT security scene yet public networks remain tricky places to tread, especially for those looking to use them for business purposes. For remote workers in particular, public Wi-Fi access unlocks many opportunities for working on the go. Thanks to the use of public networks workers can escape the confines of their home offices to complete work in the local community, perhaps at a favourite coffee shop or in the lobby of a plush hotel. Unfortunately, the public Wi-Fi networks that we’ve come to accept as the norm aren’t as safe and secure as many think. Even networks that are password protected can put your data at risk without the right precautions.

When working on the go we understand that the use of public Wi-Fi networks can be unavoidable. Whilst we’d never recommend using public Wi-Fi to access and manage highly sensitive business data, with the following steps utilising such networks to complete business centric tasks is made as secure as it can be.

Adapt your device settings

The devices you use to browse the web and access files via public Wi-Fi can provide an essential form of protection for the data at its centre. Your device’s sharing capabilities may come in handy at home, allowing you to share files, access other devices and remote login from other computers, but in public, keeping these capabilities on the down low is important.

Turn off sharing, and switch off network discovery too if you’re using Windows. You can actually automate your device settings by specifying your current location. Windows users can select a home, work or public network, whilst OS X users can customise and automate via apps like ControlPlane. You should also enable your firewall to prevent unwanted local visitors from accessing your devices and the data within through public Wi-Fi.

Beef up your security

Your device’s firewall won’t safeguard you against every threat you may encounter when using a public network. Your anti-virus software will help you limit security risks, and keep personal and professional data safe when browsing. Remember, don’t access sensitive data via public Wi-Fi, even if you’re using a secured public network.

Be smarter when browsing

Using HTTPS and SSL certified sites where possible is essential. Google Chrome is now issuing warnings to browsers using non-secure HTTP websites so heed these notices and browse smarter. Accessing bank accounts and other sensitive data via public networks is of course a huge no-no. Users should also avoid shopping online, even if the public network is deemed ‘secure’.

Use a VPN to protect your privacy

Enabling every defence is vital when utilising public Wi-Fi, and the use of virtual private networks (VPN) is becoming increasingly common as a result. VPN services protect your identity and privacy to keep prying eyes at bay. Using a VPN, all your activity is completed through a separate private network giving you all the security and privacy you need even when using a public network.

For more guidance on improving device security for browsing on the go, check out our recent blog post.

A specialist IT Company based in Corby, Northamptonshire, Syntec Systems provide expert IT Solutions and IT Support services to businesses in the local area. Syntec Systems specialise in IT Management, IT Consultancy and IT Procurement, and their experienced technicians also offer a 24/7 helpdesk service to help resolve untimely IT Issues for all businesses with no prior contract.