How to Protect Yourself on a Public Network?

Posted by Marc Malette, DMIB 27-09-2023 01:52 PM

As its name suggests, the public network is open to everyone and even to cybercriminals. It is important to keep your employees up to date on the proper use of public networks. What are the cyber threats to which your data is exposed? How to protect yourself from it? Let’s see how to find it below.

Differences between public and private network
Consider the network as a gateway to the Internet. Often, if this access is free, we speak of a public network. This is the case of networks found in libraries, shopping malls, restaurants, etc. If, on the contrary, we need a key, or a password, then we speak of a private network.

The IT security issues on a public and private network are similar:

On a public network:

  • Your data is not protected;
  • Anyone can connect without authenticating;
  • The network generally bears the same name as the place where it is offered (for example, “WiFi mall”).

On a private network:

  • Your data is not always protected;
  • Everyone can connect with authentication;
  • You need a password, or a security key, to connect to it.

The main dangers of public and private networks
Did you know that since teleworking has become popular, the number of hacking attempts has exploded? To secure your data, inform your employees of the points that require their attention during a public and private connection:

  • Data confidentiality: public networks do not encrypt your data optimally. A hacker can easily manage to find the key that will allow him to access your information.
  • Malware and viruses: if a public network is infiltrated by hackers, hackers can force the installation of malware on users’ devices. This allows them to spy on your activity and access your sensitive information continuously.
  • Network spoofing: double-check the name of the public network you are connecting to. It is possible for a hacker to create a fake public network, whose name is modelled on the original. By connecting to the wrong WiFi, you provide prime access to cyber threats.
Worse: the risk of falling victim to these threats is increased when using a personal device, rather than a company-configured computer. It is increasingly common for employers to allow the use of a personal computer for remote work, for practical and economic reasons. Fortunately, there are techniques to protect yourself from all these dangers.
Tips for protecting yourself on a public and private network
As you may have understood, the watchword is to protect yourself. To save you headaches, we recommend that you use a virtual private network (often referred to by its acronym, VPN): these networks allow your data to be scrambled to hide it from the eyes of intruders.
Most companies that allow telework use it. This method provides controlled access to company software while protecting sensitive information. In case that you do not have a paid VPN, we recommend that you share your cellular connection.
Finally, you can limit the risk of data theft by advising your team to avoid visiting sensitive sites (such as a bank account for example). Finally, it is a good idea to turn off the WiFi when you are not using it. By doing so, you put the odds on your side so that everyone enjoys hassle-free browsing!

How to secure a public network?
Some companies have a public network in addition to their private network. We think for example of the guest network, which gives WiFi access to visitors without interfering with the network of employees.

To secure a public corporate network:
  • Give it a distinct name: reserve its use strictly for visitors. Its title must not lead to confusion with your main network;
  • Assign it a different password to be regularly renewed;
  • Limit its distribution, so that it is not visible outside your offices;
  • Make sure your firewalls, antivirus and router are up to date.

This is an essential aspect, which should not be neglected.
Prevention of malicious intrusions, protection against data theft; strengthening the computer security of your networks, it is your reputation and your identity that you are protecting.

Conclusion – Delegate the management of your cybersecurity
Data protection is a major issue for companies. It may even be a problem you are facing right now. Our cybersecurity experts can advise you on the right network security strategies. If you want to go further, contact your Millenium Micro affiliated reseller to protect your IT fleet.

Marc Malette, DMIB.