Business man on mobile phone

Oh, the Risks of Public Wi-Fi

As technology goes more and more mobile, working remotely from public Wi-Fi locations is going to be a bigger and bigger part of doing business. Whether it’s your sales team using airport Wi-Fi while waiting for a flight, or your creative employees knocking out some work at a Starbucks over lunch, the risks of public Wi-Fi are going to have to become a consideration for companies. Unfortunately, most employees (and many employers) don’t know just how dangerous using public Wi-Fi networks can actually be.

Whenever you connect to a public Wi-Fi network, any information you send or receive can be easily snatched from the air and inspected. In fact, this very issue was highlighted just a short while ago when a plugin called Firesheep made it trivial for anyone on a public Wi-Fi network to hijack the social network and other accounts of people sharing that network. While the major social networks quickly fixed the vulnerabilities that allowed this behavior, not all sites did. This is not to mention any capabilities the Federal Government (read: NSA) has to do this.

To Allow or Not to Allow?

Protecting your business data from being exposed on public networks is critical, and should not be taken lightly. The simplest and most secure way to prevent proprietary data from leaking into public access is to simply not use public Wi-Fi spots for any kind of official business. In fact, for the most security, it might be a good idea to not connect any company mobile devices to any public Wi-Fi networks at all.


Another solution is to use a 4G internet dongle. These devices plug in to your laptop and function as cellular modems to connect you to the internet the same way that your cell phone connects. This not only lets you bypass the dangers of public Wi-Fi, but also allows your employees to work online from anywhere where they can get a cell signal. The downside is that if there is no cell reception, there is no internet, and poor cell reception could lead to the connection being agonizingly slow. It’s also fairly pricey, with many providers charging large fees for very limited data. One alternative here is to tether an existing 4G phone that already has a data plan.

The last solution is to use a VPN, or virtual private network, to tunnel through the public Wi-Fi access and do all business-related work under full encryption. A VPN, in this case, involves creating a secure connection within the unsecured public connection, and connecting directly to a work server which you then use to access the broader internet. This keeps the data you send secure between your laptop and the final destination. VPNs are relatively easy and inexpensive to install and deploy.

Hybrid solutions are out there as well. We have deployed software for organizations that enables employee computers to access public WiFi but only in conjunction with a VPN, so users can enjoy the convenience but reduce their risk.

iPhone 5

How to Extend the Life of Your iPhone

Your iPhone is your connection to the world, your organization tool, and your technological toy. It’s also expensive. The only thing worse than the cost of constantly upgrading your iPhone to the latest version, is the cost of having to replace your current one due to damage.

To keep this wondrous gadget in top form, and to give it the longest life possible, follow these simple tips.

Wrap your iPhone in armor to protect it physically.

In the consumer tech world, iPhone armor equals a high-quality case and a protective film. A durable plastic shell, like those made by OttorBox, will save your phone from an unfortunate drop, or even the constant abuse it receives at the bottom of your briefcase, handbag, or even the bottom of your pocket. Tons of options exist in a number of styles, but no matter what you choose, make sure it’s designed to withstand accidents and not just look pretty.

A screen protector, like Zagg’s Invisible Shield, will save your screen from keys, loose pens, and any other objects that threaten to harm your iPhone screen.

Give your battery a break every now and then.

Preserve your battery by reducing the strain some of your iPhone’s conveniences cause. Features like push email, maximum screen brightness, and Bluetooth connectivity shorten the life of your phone’s battery, and you can probably live without them. Turn these features off, at least some of the time.

If your screen is broken, why not fix it?

Whether you crack your screen, or smash it into little bits, the appearance of a damaged iPhone screen can be jarring. You might have the urge to run to the Apple store and replace the entire thing.

However bad it looks, a broken screen can be replaced for as low as $70 – much, much cheaper than replacing your entire phone. If your iPhone gets cracks or scratches, simply give it a facelift with a new screen. Just don’t expect Apple to do this for you; the company will only swap out entire phones. You’ll have to do some searches in your area to find a reliable vendor who can do this for you.

Help your iPhone beat the heat.

If your iPhone feels hot to the touch, treat it like it has a fever, and put it to bed. In other words, turn it off to give it some time to “rest” and to cool down. Overheating spells trouble for the phone and your battery.

Protect your iPhone in case it is lost or stolen.

A lost iPhone is just as detrimental as a broken one. Apple’s app, Find My iPhone, can help you recover your investment. The app is free and pinpoints the location of your device with GPS if it’s lost – or stolen.

And, if someone steals your iPhone, using the pass code lock will ensure only you have access to your information.

Keep it synced.

If your phone does meet with an untimely demise, be sure your data doesn’t die with it. Sync your phone with iTunes often to save you tons of time when you replace your phone and don’t want to miss a beat.