In recent times, cafes have become vibrant small business hubs, as freelancers and professionals alike are utilizing the benefits afforded by communal workspaces to save money on office rent, catch up with colleagues, and enjoy the buzz of working in a public space. If you visit a café or independent coffee shop in any major town or city in the US, you will undoubtedly find at least one person sitting in front of their laptop, getting through their work while hooked up to the public WIFI.
It has become an incredibly popular way for people to work and has so many benefits. But are there also things that people need to be wary of when they elect to work in public? This article takes a look at why cafes have become vibrant business hubs, as well as things you can do to ensure you protect yourself and your data when connecting to public WIFI.
Why are so many people choosing to work in cafes?
There’s no getting away from the fact that cafes are becoming extremely popular workspaces for professionals across different industries. But why is this the case? Well, an interesting study conducted by CTrip found that individuals who worked outside of the office were 13.5 percent more efficient and 9 percent more engaged than their colleagues who worked at the office. People seem more at ease working in public spaces, as they don’t have to worry about the many distractions they encounter when working in the office and can get more done when working independently.
What’s more, the way that people earn money is changing considerably. By 2020, more than 40% of the American workforce was involved in what is known as the ‘gig economy,’ which is an awful lot of people that need to find space to complete their work. As many of these people are independent freelancers, renting office space is pretty much out of the question, and many people get distracted working from home every day. With this in mind, it’s clear to see why bustling independent coffee shops and cafes provide the ideal work environment.
What are the downsides to working in public spaces like cafes?
Although some people might get distracted by what’s happening around them, it’s not likely to be any worse than what they face in the office. One of the biggest downsides to working in a café is something that is often not considered by remote workers: the threats associated with connecting to a public WIFI network. Regardless of where we work, one of the first questions we ask is ‘what’s the WIFI password?’ without giving any thought to what we’re signing up for. Some of the risks associated with joining public WIFI networks include:
Rogue WIFI networks: Someone can set up a ‘honeypot’ in the form of a hotspot in order to gain valuable data from people who connect.
Man in the middle attacks: This is where a hacker infiltrates a WIFI hotspot to insert himself into the communications between the victim and hotspot, and they intercept data that is exchanged between the two.
Packet sniffing: A cyber attacker monitors and intercepts unencrypted data as it travels across an unprotected network.
The most worrying thing about such cyber-attacks via public WIFI networks is that anyone can be an attacker. It doesn’t require a great deal of specialized information, and anyone with the know-how can extract valuable data that they can then sell on or use for fraudulent activities.
How to protect yourself from cyber-attacks on public WIFI networks
The best way is to stay safe with a public WIFI VPN. This is because your Virtual Private Network will use encryption to scramble your data and make it unreadable when sent over a public network. If you use a VPN, hackers won’t be able to see your browsing history, extract your personal data, or gain access to the passwords that you use to access particular sites. You should consider a VPN as a virtual security guard for all of the important data stored on your phone, tablet, or laptop, so if you find yourself regularly signing into public WIFI to save your data, you should do so via a VPN.
In recent times, cafes and other public spaces have become incredibly popular with freelancers and other professionals, as they’re an excellent place to get work done without having to fork out for expensive office costs. As more business people are electing to work at home as a result of COVID-19, when restrictions ease, we’re likely to see more people working from cafes, too, as they seek a change of scenery from life at home. If you follow suit and choose to work from a public space, make sure you download a VPN to protect your data. Without it, you run the risk of being hacked or having your personal data stole, something you undoubtedly want to avoid.