Making The Right Connections: The Risks Of Using Public Wi-Fi For Business


Mobile devices are changing how business is done. Tablets, in particular, are rapidly becoming the business productivity tool of choice for many workers who want constant connectivity and ultimate portability.

However, most tablets and notebooks are only Wi-Fi enabled, and most mobile workers don’t think twice about the security risks when logging onto a public network that is easy to access. Security on these networks is often unknown, and the networks are often shared, creating a potential risk to the user, device and data.

To protect their data and reputation, businesses need an alternative to public Wi-Fi—one that allows them to control the security of wireless connectivity while helping employees stay productive on the go.


Security: Unknown and Untrusted

With the number of Wi-Fi hotspots increasing exponentially, there is a higher likelihood that employees will use networks that aren’t trustworthy. Public Wi-Fi provides varying degrees of connection security. That means potential hackers could be hanging out in the same network bubble, waiting to tap into online activity and sniff out confidential information.

Many employees think they’re protected using Wi-Fi on their tablets and notebooks, but don’t realize the risks, such as:

  • Connecting to unencrypted hotspots. Notebook firewalls and passwords are often not enough to keep you protected.
  • Accidently logging into ad hoc networks posing as legitimate Wi-Fi. This makes it easy for hackers to steal information.
  • Downloading app data that can be easily intercepted. Locking down fi le sharing and only using HTTPS and SSL Web sites helps, but these options are not always available or practical.
  • Using a VPN application protocol or other connection method that is not supported by the host network.

Coverage: Sporadic and Constrained

With Wi-Fi, employees are chained to the specific location they’re working in. Moving from one hotspot to another can mean lost connections and downloads, and requires users to log in repeatedly. And Wi-Fi isn’t “always on,” making it inconvenient and limiting tablet functionality.

Users are also limited by restrictions placed on networks, such as protocol or content filtering. This can make it challenging to connect to remote resources, and since the network is not in the user’s control, there is little that can be done about it.

Speed: Slower and Less Reliable

The mobile user experience is strongly tied to the speed and bandwidth of the network connection. Public Wi-Fi is a shared Internet connection, which can drastically inhibit speed as the wireless network becomes congested— slowing down productivity and increasing frustration.

To read more of this selection from The Connected Workplace Series on Mobility, click here.