remote workers wifi security

According to a 2015 survey, commissioned by AfterCollege, 68% of job seekers prefer working with employers who allow remote working.

Another study commissioned by FlexJobs in 2017 reports that the trend in remote working has increased by 115% since the last decade.

However, it is not all good news when it comes to remote working as the ever-growing trend has brought a plethora of challenging security threats for corporates.

98% of Corporates Say They are “Very” or “Somewhat Concerned” by Mobile Security

According to the iPass Mobile Security Report 2017, nearly 98% of organizations that took part in the survey agree to be “very” or “somewhat” concerned by mobile security challenges which have increased due to mobile workforce.

How to Stay Safe Using Public Wi-Fi

Image Credit: iPass.com

There is valid reasoning behind the online security concerns of organizations across the globe. The following are some security threats that they could face due to remote working:

  • The BYOD trend that remote workers strictly follow is a delight for hackers. After all, the workforce is usually on the go which means they are outside the IT security protection that is maintained within office premises.
  • Remote workers willingly connect to public Wi-Fis when they see a free, strong Wi-Fi signal. Little do they know, public Wi-Fi poses great threats to online security!
  • Since majority of the remote workforce’s devices lack adequate security protection, they are prone to malicious applications that are built to steal data.
  • Once connected, a compromised device of a remote worker could easily infect the entire network of a corporate.
  • Apart from identity theft, online fraud or data breach, a remote worker’s device could even be used for a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack to damage a corporate’s IT infrastructure.

Wireless Security Threats and Vulnerabilities

There are a great number security vulnerabilities associated with remote access technologies including wireless devices like Wi-Fis. Let’s take a quick look at some of the top wireless vulnerabilities and exploits:

  • Man in the Middle Attack: It is one of the common attacks used by hackers and data snoopers. There are many ways through which this attack can be conducted such as breaking the session and creating a fake one so that the attacker can intercept the transmission or even modify the data.
  • KRACK Wi-Fi Vulnerability: KRACK is one of the latest wireless vulnerabilities of 2017. It is a vulnerability in the WPA2 protocol of Wi-Fis, enabling hackers to gain access and steal unencrypted data.
  • Replay Attack: This type of attack is aimed at authentication sessions. The attacker replays the authentication sessions to compromise a network or gain access to sensitive information.
  • MAC Address Spoofing: In this type of attack, the attacker spoofs the MAC address to show himself as a valid user. The attacker then hijacks the sessions so that he can spy in on the traffic.
  • Rogue Access Points: As the name suggests, these are malicious access points set up by attackers in mostly public areas so they can attack devices that connect to such points assuming it’s genuine.

Shocked with all the online security chaos that remote working brings? Well, it is not all that bad….really!

Here’s How Remote Workers Use Wi-Fi Securely

Fortunately, there are some smart remote workers in the world that take Wi-Fi security seriously. In fact, they take the necessary security measures when connecting to Wi-Fis.

So, without further ado, let’s meet those 27 remote workers who use Wi-Fi securely:

  1. Laurence Norah has been working as a professional travel blogger since 2010 and runs the travel blog, FindingtheUniverse. He says:

We try to only connect to networks with WPA authentication, and then use a VPN to keep our data secure. If a secure network isn't available, we will use either a mobile hotspot device or tether to my phone hotspot rather than using unsecure public networks – something we will usually only do as a last resort, and always through a VPN

  1. Max Robinson from FishTankBank says:

I frequently work from public places on my laptop (like cafes etc.), and wherever possible I'll opt to connect to a 'semi open' Wi-Fi network rather than a completely open network

  1. Jon Wadsworth, a computer consultant in Dixon, says:

Make sure I recognize the network name Prefer security-enabled networks. Make sure I see certificates in splash-joined networks. Use VPN whenever possible

  1. Alexis Wilke, CEO of Made to Order Software Corporation, says:

Instead of Wi-Fi, I use a Hotspot in public. That's my own small LAN system and still uses waves to communicate between my phone and my computer. I often run out of high data bandwidth on my cell phone, but that's a price I'm willing to pay to keep my computers secure

  1. Ryan Biddulph, a digital nomad who runs the travel blog BloggingFromParadise, says:

I use a VPN to use Wi-Fi securely in a public setting when accessing most sites. I never access sensitive financial websites through public Wi-Fi

  1. Simon Ponder, SEO Outreach Manager at ImageFreedom, says:

I avoid accessing as much sensitive information as possible while on public Wi-Fi. This means not accessing my bank or logging into client websites. If it cannot be avoided, I log into a VPN to create a secure connection that allows me to get the job done

  1. Mike Mood, from Lamood LLC, says:

Whenever I am away at conferences or meeting with vendors I always connect to my VPN (virtual private network) first before connecting to Wi-Fi

  1. Cindy Richards, the owner of TravelingMom LLC, says:

I never log onto to free public Wi-Fi. I pay for unlimited data on my cell phone and use my cell phone hotspot whenever I am not at home on my secure network

  1. Ben Worthington, the founder of IELTSPodcast.com and a frequent traveler, says:

I bring my ever reliable BYOW – that's Bring Your Own Wi-Fi. Sometimes, I just tether to my smartphone and use my wireless carrier’s data

  1. Jason Decker, a digital nomad and the owner of NomadTravelHacker, says:

Not just remote workers, every single person should be using a VPN to protect their privacy and data

  1. James Hunt, a location independent entrepreneur, says:

I have been using a VPN on all networks to ensure my safety, even at home

  1. Bryan Sarlitt, a digital nomad since 2014 and owner of Nomader, says:

The fastest and most secure way to connect at cafe’s, airports, and other public places is no longer through a shared Wi-Fi, but by using a local SIM card with a high speed 3G/4G plan

  1. Dary Merckens, CTO at Gunner Technology, says:

I always use HTTPS Everywhere whether it's on a public network or not. But the surest way to use remote internet securely (and what I do for anything needing a higher level of security) is to simply tether to my phone

  1. Monica Mizzi, Content Director at Compose.ly, says:

My number one tip to keep your data secure is to wait until you get back to your hotel room to deal with any financial services or matters.

Unlike cafes which operate on an open network, and have their password available for anyone, most hotels will require you to enter your room number and a passcode unique to your room or stay

  1. Elias Arosemena, the head of digital marketing at CEOWorld, says:

I turn off file sharing and enable the system’s built-in firewalls, and keep internet-connected apps and services to a minimum. Also I use privacy-protecting browser extensions and a VPN

  1. James C, owner of Portugalist, says:

It's better to do all of your transactions on a Wi-Fi network you trust or a 3G network that only you have access to

If you haven't already, set up a VPN on your phone today

  1. Chris Backe, a blogger at OneWeirdGlobe, says:

First rule of thumb: avoid doing anything 'secure' on insecure Wi-Fi. At the airport, I'll use the Wi-Fi to check the weather or play a game — not check Gmail

Second rule of thumb: VPN. Everywhere, every time

  1. 21stcenturyexpat, a Reddit user, says:

Use a VPN. Use a browser extension to force using https. Use Two Factor Authentication

  1. Mike Desjardins, owner of RemotelyAwesomeJobs, says:

A few years ago I compared different VPN providers and settled on a private VPN service that I always use whenever I go on public WiFi at coffee shops or co-working spaces

  1. Praval Singh, a senior product marketing leader at Zoho, says:

I've worked out of cafes, airports, malls, and from other people's offices. One thing that I've learnt to value a lot over the years is TFA (Two factor Authentication). That makes sure no one apart from me logs into any of the key services I use!

  1. Flyingdingo, a Reddit user, says:

PureVPN with static IP add-on

  1. Kevin Graham, owner of FreshFeedback, says,

I make sure that I do the following things: 
1. All of our internal company systems are secured with HTTPS/SSL to 
encrypt data between my browser and the server.
2. I also use a VPN on my MacBook and my iPhone to ensure that all other data is secured

  1. ChrisVan Patten, partner and creative director at Tomodomo, says:

Whenever possible I join only password-protected secure Wi-Fi networks, but it's of course not always an option. So I also run a VPN any time I'm out of my home (even if it's on a password protected network, I like having the extra level of security)

  1. Taylor Coil, a full-time remote employee at Tortuga, says:

When I am on less secure networks, I use a VPN

  1. Rikki Ayers, a remote employee and blogger at OwnUpGrownUp, says:

I have a multi-step authentication system setup on my laptop, I use multiple passwords (not the same password for everything) as well as an encrypted password storage solution

  1. Lola Mendez, owner of Miss Filatelista, says:

I usually work from cafes recommended by other nomads, or my accommodation. I travel mostly in remote places so more often than not stable WiFi isn't available so I often use my phone data as a hot spot, which I believe is a more secure option

  1. Mark Larsen, CTO of Verifire, says:

Before connecting to network in hotel or restaurant, it’s better to verify its name with staff to protect your laptop or smartphone from a MITM attack.

Use 2-factor authentication everywhere it possible

4 Reasons That Make VPN a Must for Remote Working Securely

As we have seen above, majority of these remote workers use VPN for online security. Let’s learn what makes a VPN perfect for secure remote working:

  • Since a VPN (Virtual Private Network) allows you to send and receive traffic through an encrypted tunnel, you are able to establish a secure connection with your office’s network.
  • A VPN allows you to join public Wi-Fis in a secure manner that it makes you completely hidden from the prying eyes of hackers.
  • By using a VPN like PureVPN, you can too evade malicious traffic through technologies like IDS/IPS and Antivirus.
  • A VPN allows you to access a dedicated office network even when you are working from a different region.

So, the next time you join a Wi-Fi while working remotely, make sure to protect your data with the security measures listed by your fellow remote workers above.

You can work remotely and remain secure at the same time – all it takes is a little caution!

If you are a remote worker and want to recommend safety measures when connecting to a Wi-Fi, feel free to share your valuable comments below. We will add your recommendations in the tips listed above.

An information security analyst in the making, a father of an adorable kid and a technology writer. He can be found lurking around top network security blogs, looking for scoops on information security and privacy trends.

Have Your Say!!

2 Comments

  1. Ryan Biddulph says:

    Thanks so much for sharing my thoughts among these pros Mohsin!

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