IT Talk – Keeping your information Secure on Public Wi-Fi

The Internet radically changed the way a whole host of businesses operated, booksellers, airlines, and especially coffee shops. A coffee shop used to be a place primarily for the drinking of coffee and socializing; now many people use it as a second office. While this may be convenient, it's also unsafe for your company's information. Most of these networks are unsecured, allowing anyone to snoop on your private data. And while some coffee shops use encryption, this isn't much better if everyone is sharing the key. We have compiled several methods to help you keep your sensitive information private, whether at a coffee shop, airport, or hotel.

If your company has a VPN, that is the most secure way to connect with a public hot spot. With a VPN your data is encrypted, with a secure path back to your company's web servers. This will keep secure your company's email and other data. In addition, if you are travelling in a country that restricts access to parts of the internet, such as China, you'll have unfettered access to the internet, since the pages are served to your company's servers, not local ones. If your company doesn't have a VPN, Hotspot Shield offers an excellent alternative. Although not as secure as a private VPN, since your data travels unencrypted from Hotspot Shield's data center to the web site you are accessing, it is still better than surfing with no protection at all.

If you don't want to use a VPN, then you should at least consider a secure connection for email. Most email services use HTTPS, an encrypted connection to a website, for their log in page. However for many web mail services this is where the protection stops. Gmail and enterprise email systems (Lotus Notes or Microsoft Exchange) use encryption throughout and are probably the only services you would want to be using at a public hot spot.