Today business runs on flexibility and many workers are using laptops or other mobile devices to accomplish their tasks in or out of the office. Data security is always an important consideration, but when a third-party network is added to the equation even more care is required to ensure that all confidential and sensitive information stays safe. Here are some steps to keep in mind next time you’re working away from work.
Any time you are using your business laptop to do anything on a public network (think coffee shops, hotels, conference centers) you should be using a VPN (Virtual Private Network). If you are accessing financial data, typing in passwords, or viewing other sensitive information without employing a VPN, other individuals with access to the network may be able to intercept and view your traffic. Many offices in a domain or server environment will already have a VPN set up to allow users to access the server from outside the office. There are also subscription VPN services which allow users to route their traffic through a company’s servers, before reaching out to the greater internet—these services may be a good solution for smaller businesses that don’t have their own on-premise or cloud-based server.
Secure Remote Desktop Solutions
Many workers maintain a desktop at the office and a laptop that they can use from home or on the road. Using a secure remote desktop application to remote into your work computer is another way to avoid the perils of doing business on public networks. A remote desktop connection funnels your internet traffic through an encrypted connection to the target computer. So, if you are out and about and need to say, check a balance in a bank account, it’s generally safe to do so from the browser of the computer you are remoting into. However, if you minimize the remote session, open the browser on your laptop and check the account from there, your traffic might still be visible to bad actors.
Mobile Hotspots and Cellular Data
If you don’t have a VPN or a remote desktop solution with encryption, mobile hotspots and cellular data can keep you off public networks as well. Most modern smart phones have the capability to become mobile hotspots (although you may need to select the feature through your cell carrier and pay a small fee). Mobile hotspots effectively turn your cell phone into a small wireless router which broadcasts a secured network you can connect a computer to and access the internet using the cellular network, bypassing public Wi-Fi. This method can be a little cumbersome, but it has an added advantage—it can be used anywhere where there’s a cell signal. This means in a pinch you can work from a coffee shop, the back of a taxi cab, or at the lake, sitting at the end of the dock.
The safest way to work is not to access sensitive data while connected to public wireless networks, but when that is the only option, using a VPN or a Secure Remote Desktop solution is the best way to keep your business moving and keep your and your clients’ information safe. If you have questions about what remote solutions you should be using to stay secure, talk to the experts at Mankato Computer Technology.