Coworking spaces are so commonplace nowadays that even long-established corporates are getting on board. They’re healthier, happier, more cost-effective – and if they haven’t already, they’ll be coming to a town near you soon.
The fact that coworking spaces are shared environments means it’s important to know the potential data security risks involved and understand how to overcome them.
What are the risks?
One of the things coworking spaces pride themselves on is their connectivity: most locations boast superfast broadband and great WiFi connections throughout their buildings. Be sure to find out what – if any – network security measures exist when you sign up. Many coworking spaces allocate private networks to each office suite, and have another ‘member’ connection for hot-desks. Some even have their own web security teams who will audit and strengthen the network for their members. Some, however, rely on guest networks with no password protection. Cyber attacks are becoming increasingly prevalent, so it’s important to keep up-to-date with any changes.
How does it happen?
Hackers have numerous ways of exploiting coworking vulnerabilities to infiltrate your devices and steal valuable data. Without realising, you can leave an open doormat to your laptop if by leaving file sharing on when connected to the public network, allowing others to gain access easily. Hackers can also set up a fake network in order to intercept the traffic meant for the office network.
WiFi sniffing is another tactic used by hackers. ‘Sniffing’ is used by the hacker to steal data transferred over public networks. Everything from usernames and passwords to browser history can be accessed using this method. The information gathered can be used to install malware and applications onto your system.
Staying savvy and safe
After speaking to your coworking provider to find out what security measures they’ve already put in place, go through this checklist:
1. Update the operating system, web browsers and other apps
2. Disable automatic connections to WiFi networks
3. Use the public network configuration when connecting to the coworking network – this setting disables file and folder sharing
4. Use firewalls, network activity monitors and anti-virus software
5. Create strong passwords and change them regularly – enable two-step authentication on business-critical accounts
6. Don’t leave your devices unattended – you never know who might be snooping around!
Another more sophisticated way to add encryption to your browsing and throw hackers off the scent comes from virtual private networks (VPN). VPNs make it impossible for cyber attackers to see what you’re doing, as you run your network connection through the service provider.
Got a question regarding internet security in shared office spaces? Ask us in the comments below.