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Jonathan Erickson

Dr. Dobb's Bloggers

Security Reminder, or Who's That Looking Over Your Shoulder?

February 25, 2009

It doesn't matter which coffee shop -- Henry's, Z's, or the Bourgeois Pig -- I end up at, it's always the same ever since free WiFi came on the scene. There are more laptops than coffee mugs, and never enough places to sit. But I'm as bad as the rest. What with free wireless Internet access and a cell phone, well, I haven't been in the office for year or so now, and even the concept of a home-office is becoming more remote.

 

That said, I'm still careful about whose looking over my shoulder (especially at the Pig) and what kind of data I'm exchanging with whom. There's always a risk inherent in remote access, which is why the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has updated its guides for maintaining security while teleworking.

The updated draft version of  Guide to Enterprise Telework and Remote Access Security is primarily intended for large organizations (like government agencies), while the Guide to Securing External Devices for Telework and Remote Access  targets individual users on securing their own mobile devices. Both guides are prudent reading and good reminders for anyone telecommuting from public locations.

Most of the recommendations are common-sense suggestions, such as turning off or disabling not in use built-in wireless access points, changing the default SSID, or using strong encryption. But above all, says Karen Scarfone, a co-author of the guide and a member of NIST's Computer Security Division, you should be to expect trouble and plan for it.

"You should assume external environments contain hostile threats," explains Scarfone. Right. And know who is looking over your shoulder at the coffee shop.

 

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