4th April 2012
Switch2IT's Top Tips to avoid IT security risks associated with free WIFI

Holiday time is just around the corner and this got the Switch2IT team thinking about how we might help business owners and other professionals avert the potential IT security risks presented by free WIFI, which tempts us while away from the office. Free WIFI might seem like a bonus and we are sure that many business owners will use it when away to keep in touch with their office, colleagues and clients. However, there are many risks involved when using WIFI hotspots and our technical support experts have got a few tips to keep you and your business safe from hackers... Top Ten Tips to maintain IT security in WIFI Hotspots 1. Always use a secure network - Refrain from using an open network. Remember, if you do not have to log in with a username and password neither do others so they will be able to see any unencrypted data about you and your business that you may use. 2. Make use of your device's built-in security - Always make sure that you know the security options that your computer, mobile or tablet comes with. If you are not sure ask your IT service provider for advice. 3. Make sure your firewall is set up - This acts as a gatekeeper for any data travelling to or from your device. Some operating systems, such as Windows, will have integrated firewall software. Again, ask your IT service provider for advice 4. Use a VPN where possible - Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) in order to secure your internet access by routing your connection through a server in a different location. This adds an extra layer of protection and is like a tunnel between your personal computer and your Internet service provider, making it harder for hackers to see what you are doing. 5. Use a 3G connection where possible - Using a 3G Internet connection to perform sensitive tasks is more secure than WIFI. Those with data plans for their smartphones might even be able to tether the connection. 6. Don't log in to online banking - Your financial information has to be some of the most sensitive you possess so online banking over a public network is putting you at great risk of data fraud. Even though the banking website may be secure, your personal data has to go through a wireless hotspot and will be vulnerable before reaching the bank. 7. Avoid logging in to social networks - The same rules apply as above, hackers will have easy access to your username and password and could gain access to your accounts. As well as leaving you open to viruses and malware, this could be detrimental to your business' online reputation. 8. Always use HTTPS where possible- When you have no option but to use a public network for performing more sensitive tasks requiring the use of personal information make sure that the website you are using has HTTPS rather than HTTP in the URL as this is more secure. 9. Don't use your primary email account - When asked to sign up for a free account in order to use a wireless hotspot make sure that you set up a second email account or a one-time email account that expires after a few hours. This is preferable to providing your primary email address as it will help you to avoid spam and phishing scams. 10. Carry out regular security updates - Not only is it essential to update your software and apps regularly to patch up IT security holes that could leave you vulnerable, but it is also important that you run regular security checks testing your device for viruses and malware. These tips are not just limited to using WIFI abroad; they apply anywhere that you might need to use free WIFI over a public network, especially where your business' data is concerned. Should you have any concerns about business IT support or if you would like any more advice on how to avoid data fraud from our Digital Forensics and investigation team, please get in touch. Remember, that we can also provide secure Remote IT Support if you are ever in need of our services while you are away from the office. Just give us a call on 0800 0833416 today.

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