Introduction and 4G security
Working on the move is now commonplace thanks to advanced mobile digital technology. Being able to connect to the internet anywhere and at any time has become an essential business service.
The plethora of Wi-Fi hotspots offer fast and cheap access. However, for business users, security must at all times be of paramount importance, which is why many mobile business users are moving away from using Wi-Fi to the range of 4G access services that are now available.
F-Secure states: "Public Wi-Fi simply wasn't built with 21st century security demands in mind. When you use public Wi-Fi without any added security measures, you leak data about yourself from your device."
So if public Wi-Fi is simply too insecure for business users, what's the solution?
As the mobile phone networks have improved, speeds have moved past what can be expected with an average Wi-Fi connection, making 4G the new connection channel of choice for fast and secure internet access on the move.
Advances in mobile connectivity offer speeds of up to 60 megabits per second in some places, which is far greater than can be expected with the average Wi-Fi connection, especially if you are trying to use a particularly busy Wi-Fi hotspot.
The speed and convenience that 4G connections have delivered to business users in particular has meant their popularity has rocketed – so using 4G securely is now a priority. There are a number of simple steps you can take to ensure your 4G connection is always safe and secure:
1. Install mobile security applications
When using mobile devices with 4G always ensure you have adequate protection installed. McAfee Mobile Security is a good example and is available for Android and iOS devices.
2. Take care with automatic updates
If you are in the habit of simply downloading each new update you are offered for your 4G devices, start to assess where these updates are actually coming from. Ensure each update is legitimate and from your 4G service provider, and isn't malware disguised as an update. Android 4.3 removed automatic updates, so take a look at the version your devices are running.
3. Use a mobile VPN (Virtual Private Network)
To ensure that sensitive data is protected as it moves to and from your mobile devices, setting up a VPN is an ideal solution. Both Android and iOS support the use of VPNs. Windows and OS X also have a range of VPNs to choose from.
4. Use strong passwords
The password may still be the bane of many users' lives, but they are still the main way that Wi-Fi login is enabled. Develop a strong password regime and don't use the same password for all your logins. There are many password managers to choose from – we've rounded up the best of them in this article.
5. Forget the Wi-Fi network
Try and get into the habit of connecting to a public Wi-Fi hotspot for the shortest possible time. When you have finished ensure your device forgets the network. This prevents your device becoming vulnerable when you are not using it yourself.
It is now a commercial imperative to ensure that all the devices that you use over a 4G network are protected by the latest anti-malware applications, and that every live connection you make to the internet is done over a secure channel encrypted to combat any eaves dropping. When working on the move, security should be your top priority.
Securing public Wi-Fi
If there is no option but to use a public Wi-Fi hotspot, follow these steps to ensure your connection is secure:
1. Connect using a reputable Wi-Fi provider
Think about where the Wi-Fi hotspots you use are located. Are these connections legitimate? Check the credentials of the service provider before you connect and transmit or receive sensitive information.
2. Use a VPN
As we've already mentioned, one of the easiest ways to ensure your data is safe and secure is to always use a VPN. Today these are efficient and straightforward to use. Some good examples are Avast SecureLine, proXPN or Hotspot Shield.
3. Only connect with secure websites
When you are working try and resist the temptation to check your Facebook profile, or do some online banking. These are the websites cybercriminals target to gain personal information they can exploit. If you need to connect to these sites, use a service such as HTTPS Everywhere to encrypt your connection.
4. Install antivirus and malware applications
The connection you choose is only half of the security issue you face. Often, malware will infiltrate your notebook or phone and begin to crack your passwords. Keep your security applications up-to-date at all times.
5. Turn off all sharing options
At home you probably share your computer with a printer or maybe even an external hard drive. When you're using a Wi-Fi hotspot turn off the sharing options, as these can give cybercriminals an open door to penetrate your computer.
6. Monitor the apps you use
As apps have become so popular on mobile devices, cybercriminals use installed apps as a doorway into your phone or tablet. If one of your apps begins to behave strangely, delete the app immediately, as it may have been hacked.
7. Never jailbreak your phone
This activity may offer new apps to try and use, but jailbreaking a device will instantly disable the built-in security. Only use apps that have come from a legitimate source on a phone or tablet that has not been modified in any way.
8. Turn off Bluetooth
Switching off Bluetooth when you are not using it is a sensible option as it closes one channel that could be used to hack your device. It also saves battery life.
9. Encrypt your sensitive data
All the data that moves over a VPN will be encrypted, but if you don't have a VPN available, encrypting your emails, for example if they will contain attachments with sensitive information, is a sensible precaution to take.
The Sophos Security Threat Report from last year concluded: "We have continued to diversify the devices in our environments, and those devices hold sensitive business data. The security ecosystem simply is not as well developed around such devices as the traditional PC environment."
There is no doubt that 4G now delivers fast data connection speeds that are highly attractive to business users. It is, though, essential to become more security conscious, as 4G connections will increasingly become the focus of cybercriminals.
- For further wireless security advice, check out: How to keep your Wi-Fi network secure