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ASU’s community increasingly global and mobile. From homes to offices to conference centers and hotel rooms around the globe, being online anytime from anywhere increases convenience, flexibility, and productivity. Here’s some guidance to protect your electronic devices and data.
ASU personnel handle many kinds of sensitive information, much of it subject to privacy laws and other regulations. This information may reside on ASU-managed network servers, on third-party "cloud" systems, or even sometimes on local disks, portable devices, or removable media. Wherever it resides, and wherever we are at the time, it's everyone's responsibility to keep this information secure and confidential.
ASU's Sensitive Data Handling standard outlines roles, responsibilities, and appropriate methods for securing sensitive information. The standard includes an appendix with detailed examples of information considered sensitive; the list is exemplary, not exhaustive, but will give you a basis for evaluating the sensitivity of other data. Below are some things that everyone who works at ASU should do to protect information.
Smart phones, tablets, laptops, flash drives, and mp3 players are all mobile devices that can store large amounts of data and are highly portable. They are easy to steal or lose, and unless precautions are taken, an unauthorized person can gain access to the information stored on them or accessed through them. Even if not stolen or lost, intruders can sometimes gain all the access they need if the device is left alone and unprotected, if data is transmitting information via a wireless network, or if malware is installed. The results can include crippled devices, personal data loss, and access to information you may not have thought you had access to.
While public Wi-Fi and hotel internet can be very useful to ASU employees while traveling, there are also security risks both due to their open nature as well as the tendency to have few security measures. If you are traveling and require internet, below are some actions you can take to protect yourself if you must use public Wi-Fi or hotel internet.
Update/patch your computer with the latest patches available prior to traveling. A significant amount of the attacks perpetrated by hackers are successful because people fail to patch their systems. Many security vulnerabilities are fixed by the operating system creators when vulnerabilities are found. However, all too often people do not patch the vulnerabilities and that leaves an open door for an attacker to walk through and access your data.
If you do connect to a public Wi-Fi or hotel Internet, follow effective security practices. Remember a public Wi-Fi or hotel Internet has many users with varying degrees of device security. It is a good idea to postpone accessing ASU systems or other systems that may involve sensitive information such as your personal banking.
Remember to review settings on your device. Macs and PCs have some file sharing options that assume you are on a trusted network, with other trusted computers. If you are connecting to that isn’t your work or your home, turn off file sharing in Windows and macOS, enable your system’s built-in firewalls, and keep Internet-connected apps and services open to a minimum.
Confirmation is key. Anyone can setup a Wi-Fi network ID and broadcast it. Instead of assuming the name of the free Internet you are trying to access, contact someone working in the hotel, coffee shop, etc. to confirm the name of the Wi-Fi network they are offering.
Ensure your anti-virus and anti-malware is up to date.
Use a two-factor authentication (2FA) VPN when connecting to any ASU or other sensitive resources. VPN's create an encrypted connection from your device to a private network over a public network. Even if someone was able to intercept your traffic, they would be unable to do anything with it because it is all encrypted. ASU provides our two-factor VPN service for secure connectivity to ASU resources: https://sslvpn.asu.edu/2fa
Bring your own Internet. Many mobile cell services offer mobile hotspot functionality. Mobile hotspot means you use your phone or a mobile carrier's device to access the Internet. This method bypasses both the public Wi-Fi and hotel Internet all together.