Be Careful Out There. Cellular Security in a Wireless World.
As we embark on a new decade in the 21st century amid major developments in technology, communication and connection like 5G, the world will move toward a larger, more prevalent remote workforce. A predicted 50% of the U.S. workforce alone will soon be remote. Both private enterprise and the public at large will increasingly depend on mobile devices for conducting business, mobile banking and an array of private, proprietary activity requiring a secure connection.
There are any number of ways to connect to the Internet, but have you considered whether your information and activity is secure? Even if you’re using a cellular connection, the answer might surprise you.
In reality, no internet connection is guaranteed to keep your transmissions secure but there are ways to protect your information as much as possible. Security Magazine identifies the risks encountered by “compromises that occur because of mobile device vulnerabilities” and how enterprises “willfully sacrifice mobile security to improve speed and profitability.” Protecting yourself against these risks and practices means learning about the best lines of defense.
You’ve most likely heard of terms like 4G, Private LTE and Wi-Fi hotspots. But what are they really and which one is the best for securing your private and company data?
Typically found at work or at home, private Wi-Fi connections use encryption and password protection to block any outside threats or hackers who try to spy on your internet activity. As long as the network is properly configured, your information is relatively safe but because data is relayed through a router there will always be small vulnerabilities in the network.
Consumer grade routers often contain vulnerable code that can be exploited. Manufacturers of these routers often fail to resolve these issues leaving it up to the consumer to update software or fix security flaws. Checking router settings and updating firmware can help protect your home Wi-Fi connection.
A reported 74% of wireless data is transmitted by a nearby Wi-Fi network in public places, but that free Wi-Fi in your favorite café could become your worst nightmare. Public Wi-Fi is the least secure way to connect to the Internet. These networks aren’t typically encrypted which makes your activity visible and vulnerable.
You’re probably okay with streaming movies and music but for proprietary data transmission like work email or banking transactions, a cellular connection is a much better bet.
4G/Private LTE cellular connection
4G enabled devices connect to the internet through a cellular connection allowing access anywhere a cellular signal is present. Data is encrypted and devices are password protected ensuring your data transmission is secure.
Here’s the rub.
The advent of 5G presents a different set of problems. The biggest problem? Data offloading from one network to another.
Cellular networks are more secure than public Wi-Fi due to the use of encryption, which is why when accessing private information, using your mobile device over a cellular connection is a better choice. However, because of limited 5G coverage outside and poor 4G coverage inside, your phone will intelligently “off-load” the connection to available Wi-Fi networks. The transition is seamless and suddenly you could be using a nearby public Wi-Fi network without even knowing it. Attackers now have full visibility of your data stream thought to be private and secure. So, what can you do about it? Add a VPN.
Virtual Private Networks encrypt your Wi-Fi connection on the go making your public connection private. Attackers eavesdrop and intercept public Wi-Fi traffic to steal valuable information but sometimes your only choice is a public Wi-Fi network. Using a VPN will help shield your activity so it cannot be monitored by outside sources.
What DAS/CBRS can do about it.
A DAS (Distributed Antenna System) makes indoor cellular connection possible by creating a network of antennas or access points throughout the interior of a building. This means cellular connection is much more reliable which considerably reduces the chance of offloading data to public hotspots. Stronger signal and greater bandwidth keep your sensitive information in the vault.
In addition, choosing a Private LTE network utilizing the 3.5GHz CBRS (Citizens Broadband Radio Service) band for your mobile connection in-building instead of Wi-Fi can also greatly increase safe and secure data transmission. Because a Private LTE network is managed by the enterprise and requires a SIM card to access the network, it is a much safer option than the shared spectrum of traditional Wi-Fi.
Security is important to everyone and as technology develops, so too do the inherent risks of using it. Having the tools in hand to protect your sensitive information is paramount to enjoying that new technology to the fullest.