By Patrick Oliver Graf, General Manager, Americas of NCP engineering
When people travel, securing their data is often the last thing on their minds. However, the fact is that mobile devices, and the data contained within them, are extremely vulnerable to security breaches. By connecting to Wi-Fi hotspots in-between flights at airports and working on potentially unsecure wireless connections in places such as coffee shops, travelers leave themselves and their sensitive data open to attacks. Fortunately, there are several effective methods that Interop attendees can use to keep their devices and data secure as they travel to the Big Apple.
1. Employ Strong Passwords
A 2012 study by Joseph Bonneau of Cambridge University showed that password-cracking software is so efficient that using a cracking dictionary based on the 1,000 most common passwords would crack 8 percent of users’ passwords. Because modern hackers use cracking dictionaries that are based on a specific language and common password combinations, having a long password by itself isn’t enough. To ensure that your password isn’t compromised, choose one that is at least eight characters long, with upper- and lower-case letters, numeric and special characters. Choose uncommon words that are unlikely to be included in cracking dictionaries.
2. Avoid Unencrypted Connections
Yes, connecting to that free coffee shop Wi-Fi is tempting. It costs nothing, it’s in a comfortable location, and as you look around, you see that other conference-goers are connected to it and working away. However, it’s important to remember that public connections often require no authentication or password to log into, meaning that they’re completely open for anyone to access them, including hackers. An encrypted connection, on the other hand, requires an ID and password for access. Although there can be security concerns associated with even encrypted networks in public places, it is certainly a more preferable option than a network that is completely unsecured.
3. Paying For a Wireless Connection Does Not Mean it is Secure
Even though a wireless connection has an access fee, that does not mean it is secure. Although typically, a connection that you pay for will be more secure than one that is free and open, that isn’t always the case. It can often be difficult to tell what security and encryption, if any, a connection employs. When in doubt, assume that you’re paying for a connection, but not necessarily a secure one.
4. Use a VPN
Regardless of the type of access point you’re using, consider using a VPN to remotely connect to your corporate network and the Internet. VPNs secure remote access by encrypting all network communication in a secure tunnel, which is extremely difficult to hack. NCP, for example, offers a minimum of 128-bit encryption, which is nearly impossible to crack via brute force methods. A hacker snooping on a public Wi-Fi network, for example, would only see gibberish if they attempted to access your data. It’s important to look for a VPN that supports seamless roaming, which ensures that a network connection smoothly transitions between communication mediums, such as Wi-Fi, LAN and mobile hotspots, while a user is on the go.
5. Locate Your Device with MDM Software
In case your device is lost or stolen, it is helpful to have mobile device management (MDM) software installed. With MDM, you have the ability, via your enterprise’s IT department, to easily locate and remotely wipe your device. If your organization hasn’t implemented an MDM solution yet, most mobile phone manufacturers offer software with remote wipe functionality, such as Apple’s Find My iPhone feature, for example. This can be a lifesaver if you forget your device in a café when you’re in a hurry to attend your next session.
This post originally appeared on Interop’s blog.