Is it dangerous to run my business using a coffee shop WIFI? - Boffix

Is it dangerous to run my business using a coffee shop WIFI?

August 17, 2017  /  Lizzie Sullivan

You can run your business using a WIFI connection from a coffee shop. That’s the good news, now for the not so good news. Not all internet connections are genuine and the price of a coffee might turn out to be more expensive then you think.

When I was handcuffed to my corporate office desk, I used to gaze out of the window (I was lucky to sit near one) dreaming of being free in the outside world to work from anywhere come rain or shine. And with approximately 23,000 coffee shops in the UK there’s plenty of choice but also danger. I don’t mean just worrying about someone stealing your bag, purse or phone, I’m talking about your information and your identity.

Whether your taste is a latte, double espresso or you prefer a double choco mocha with a shot of something fancy you are sure to find a place near you to get one. You might even find a good vibe, a friendly smile and a calming place to work. You may choose to sit in the corner with your back against the wall away from prying eyes but the moment you log onto the WIFI your information might be being intercepted by hackers.

In a recent article published by The Independent, “Coffee shop WIFI ‘Most Dangerous Of All”. The article goes on to suggest that coffee shop WIFI is deemed as high risk because of its popularity and convenience.

Secure or Unsecure, I’m not sure which

Seems obvious that the best network to choose would be a secure one. But when you are desperate to send that email to a client or check something urgently on the internet we forget about the dangers, we go against our instincts and just do it anyway. Small business owners don’t always get the option when time is against them.

Instead of just connecting to a network without a password, make a purchase and use the password given to you on the receipt.

We give you WIFI, you give us information

Be sure to check what you are signing up for. Companies set up networks in coffee shops offering you free internet for return of your email address and phone number. Read through the terms and conditions to see how your data will be used.

If you don’t want to give away your email address, set up an alternative address before you head out and use this instead.

Free WIFI here, come on in

We know that nothing in life is free, so don’t assume that you can just hop on and off someone’s WIFI connection. The moment you log on and open a session you are immediately vulnerable. Someone can easily grab your password or your information. A hacker could be monitoring your connection whilst you sit there.

Instead think about the value of the work you need to do that minute and whether it is worth taking the risk.

What should you look out for to be safe?

The best line of defence is to ensure you are running good firewall and antivirus software. Here’s what else to look out for:

• Don’t be eager to click through the welcome pages, read and understand what you are signing up for
• If unsure which network you need, ask a member of staff
• Only use advertised secure WIFI networks
• Disable file sharing
• Don’t access bank accounts or any other sites that requires you to enter sensitive information
• Avoid downloading or installing anything
• Don’t share folders with others
• Use web browsers instead of apps
• Log out when you’ve finished
• Ensure that your systems software is up to date

Still nervous, take your own WIFI with you

There are other options available to you instead of using a dodgy WIFI connection. Try using a VPN which creates an encrypted tunnel for your data between your phone, computer and the sites you are accessing.

VPN’s can be easily installed at home via a web browser or through an app. Or you can tether to your smartphone or carry your own WIFI device.

Don’t be afraid just be vigilant

Don’t be afraid to get connected just make sure you are aware of the risks. As a small business owner, I know this needs to happen to keep on top of your work, but I’d rather you be safe than sorry.

Think, think, think before connecting. You can still have the benefits of working for yourself and enjoy working from anywhere. And perhaps consider that rather than entering a coffee shop to surf or browse, perhaps take time out instead.

You can read another great article on this subject here brought to us by Bill, founder of Pixel Privacy.

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