Imagine you are sitting in Starbucks having a latte while you pan through your email on your laptop. Or maybe, you are in a hotel lobby or airport using their free WiFi services. Regardless of where you imagine yourself reading your email using someone else’s WiFi, are you comfortable with the security on your laptop, and sure no one can get in?
This is a question I have asked over the years, and I have to admit, I was just as guilty and among the many who answered no, I am not sure. When I ask about enabling the built-in firewall capabilities, many respond they didn’t know they could do that and “why should it be a concern if the laptop is a company issued device? They worry about the security so I don’t have to”. Really? Unless you use a company VPN, there may not be security or a firewall to prevent someone from accessing your device when you use free public WiFi.
I have even heard of folks buying USB Network adapters thinking this will automatically add protection when in fact, they typically do not. (I use the NET-DYN AC 1200M to increase range, but it did nothing for security in these environments.)
In My View
Security should be a concern for all, regardless of the laptop being company issued or your personal device. With the number of data breaches on the rise, and ready access to unsecured laptops becoming a common occurrence, security should be a number one priority and it doesn’t have to be complex. Every laptop has the capability of turning on a firewall and turning it off again when not needed.
Steps you can take to assess the need to teach and encourage laptop firewall use in public area includes:
- identify how you can securely access your corporate information from remote and public places.
- work with your IT division to determine best practices and automate this process when/if possible.
- enable VPN if available as this is one of the most secure methods available.
- allow regular OS and applications updates to take place, as these will often include security updates and enhancements.
- learn how to enable/disable laptop firewalls on the device you use and any special settings this may require.
- delete the public network connection you are using immediately when you finish as this will eliminate the possibility of automated connection next time around.
Bob Larrivee is President and Founder of Bob Larrivee Consultancy, a recognized expert in the application of advanced technologies and process improvement, and Journalist on Information Technology for Document Strategy. In his career, Bob has led many projects and authored hundreds of eBooks, Industry Reports, Blogs, Articles, and Infographics. In addition, he has served as host and guest Subject Matter Expert on a wide variety of Webinars, Podcasts, Virtual Events, and lectured at in-person seminars and conferences around the globe.