Protecting Yourself Online

Whether you’re out and about, or in the safety of your own office or home, are you really sure that your data is protected over wifi?

As the holiday season approaches, and travel becomes more frequent, here are some ways that business professionals can watch their (cyber) step.

Technology entrepreneur Nicolas Chaillan and patent attorney Gene Quinn have several tips at to secure the office wifi.

1. Have a guest network: Chaillan and Quinn advise that business associates are kept separate from employees via a separate network. “It is quite common for business associates to expect the ability to access the Internet via a Wi-Fi connection while attending a meeting, event or conference. As the host, you may want to provide that access, but you don’t want your generosity to wind up being a gaping hole in your data security,” they write.

2. Change your password often and ensure that it is a strong one: Changing the password every 90 days for the employee network and six months for the guest network should be common office procedure, according to Chaillan and Quinn.

3. Use the Right Security Protocol: “Using the WPA2 encryption protocol is the recommended standard by the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the United States government,” write Chaillan and Quinn, as WEP and WPA are too easily broken.

4. Lock up your routers: Keep your device in a separate and locked room, and monitor visitors. A hacker posing as a potential client “could have done any number of things, ranging from plugging a device into an open port on the back of a computer (or even printer) to tampering with your router. It is as easy as pressing the WPS button on the router, which allows users to connect to a secure network without having to know the network password,” write Chaillan and Quinn.

5. Change the default password of your router: The administration password should be changed every six months, say the authors.

6. Don’t forget these precautions at home. “Hackers know that home networks are less protected than work networks, and security really is only as good as the weakest link,” write Chaillan and Quinn.

7. Use a virtual private network (VPN) when you travel to encrypt your data.

After leaving the office to start a little holiday shopping, cyber vigilance doesn’t end. The Hutchison Times and Better Business Bureau have several tips on protecting information while shopping. Here are some of them:

1. Keep up to date on security software for all devices to avoid online threats.

2. Shred credit card and loan applications, statements, insurance forms and utility bills — anything with your name and address on it.

3. Don’t follow links from random emails, texts or posts on social media that you don’t recognize.

4. When using public wifi, make sure the site has the “https” prefix in its address.

5. Check your credit report annually, using sites such as