“Fast Internet, stay connected in a jet. Wi-fi, podcast, blasting out an SMS. Text me and I text you back. Check me on the iChat. I’m all about that http, you’re a PC, I’m a Mac” – The Black Eyed Peas
I sent the following email last week to all staff where I work. Response from those who have read it has been very promising.
Subject: Important: Please read, about wi-fi & computer security
Recently, I have had a few people question why I have made it a “policy” that all company-owned laptop computers are issued with a mobile broadband device. After all, we’re in the budget process, we’re a nonprofit agency, and with the prevalence of (often free!) wireless networks (wi-fi), why should we pay an additional cost of up to $60 per month, per computer, for mobile broadband service? This is an excellent question, and I welcome the discussion!
The quick answer is this. Wireless networking (wi-fi) is very dangerous. It’s dangerous on several levels. It’s dangerous to your private information such as private email, banking information, identity theft, etc. It’s also dangerous to our company’s information such as client data. This is very important! As an organization that serves clients, there are times when a client’s medical information or history is discussed in email or on web-based databases. Because of this, we are required to operate to HIPAA standards (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) and ensure that client data is kept secure and private. It’s also dangerous to your computer. Hackers can exploit improperly setup shared files or operating system (or web browser) vulnerabilities and install malicious programs on your computer without your knowledge. These programs can spread to your home computers or our company’s computer networks and could be very costly to eradicate.
Please note that the danger is not restricted to free hotspots at cafes or fast-food restaurants, but includes ALL wi-fi. This includes your home, your friend’s home, and other businesses too. The ONLY secure wi-fi uses WPA or WPA2 encryption and a very strong wi-fi password (not one or more dictionary words, because these can be “guessed” by computer software attacks). If you connect to wi-fi hotspots or access points that do not require a password, they are not encrypted, and they are not secure. If they use WEP encryption (the most popular, even today), they can easily be hacked and your information intercepted and decoded.
Please make the time to watch these two informative YouTube videos. All together, they run less than 15 minutes long, but they clearly show some of the dangers I mention above.
Mobile broadband, on the other hand, relies on digital encryption to connect computers to the internet through the cellular telephone network. There is no worry of what encryption levels to use, as it is all hard-coded into the devices and managed by the provider. We can use mobile broadband and be assured that our computers, our private information, and especially our client information, is secure and private.
If you’re not using the mobile broadband device that we provided with your computer, please start using it. If you have any questions or wish to discuss this further, please contact me. Thanks,