With more than 40 percent of cyberattacks directed specifically at small to medium businesses, it is clear that being a smaller target does not mean you’re safe from criminal hackers1.

Too many organizations assume that their size, or their type of business, makes them less likely to become a hacking victim. But the truth is, hacking is very much a crime of opportunity, so it’s up to each company to make sure those opportunities are limited.

Which brings us to Wi-Fi. As convenient as public Wi-Fi is for workers on the go who need internet access, it is also a hacker’s dream come true. When your employees’ mobile devices are connected to a Wi-Fi network, they are at their most vulnerable.

Studies show that more than 70 percent of users connect to an unsecure public Wi-Fi network every week, with the typical smartphone user accessing such a network many times during the course of a week2.

Even if your company’s employees know enough to work safely when they’re outside the office, hackers have a variety of sophisticated Wi-Fi traps that can ensnare even the cautious, careful mobile user.

A connection that a user might think is safe – for example, a reputable coffee shop chain or fast casual restaurant – could in truth be a fake, connecting instead to a rogue access point that a hacker established. If that happens, every move the user makes on their smartphone or tablet or laptop is exposed. Even a moderately sophisticated hacker could channel the user to a bogus website where malware can be downloaded onto the device allowing a permanent “spying” connection.

Today, hackers are less interested in the individual user’s bank account or personal information than they are in leveraging that user’s information to get to the real prize: the network of the business that user works for. That’s where the real opportunity lies for the hacker, gaining access to the company network as the first step in mining for valuable corporate and customer data.

This is a problem that can plague companies of any size. Small businesses may not think they have much that is of value to attract a hacker, but they’re wrong. Even if the company doesn’t keep customers’ credit and debit card information, it still may have their email addresses, phone numbers, and billing addresses, all of which are catnip to a hacker. Or maybe hackers are looking for corporate financial data or employees’ personal information, or setting the stage for a ransomware attack, where they can hold your company’s network and data hostage until you pay them a ransom with Bitcoin.

So how do you keep your company, and your employees’ mobile devices, from becoming pawns in a Wi-Fi hacker’s game?

A smart VPN for mobile devices

The best approach is a “smart” virtual private network designed specifically for mobile devices. A traditional VPN establishes an encrypted connection between the user and the internet that ensures security, whether the user is checking travel directions or is logged into the corporate network. However, logging in can be cumbersome for mobile users.

For mobile users, Sprint Secure Wi-Fi is a unique Smart VPN app for smartphone and tablets that provides the security of a VPN with the smarts to turn itself on and off when needed. It protects mobile users when they are using any Wi-Fi network, public or private, and is automatically enabled every time a user’s mobile device connects to an unsecure Wi-Fi network. And it automatically turns itself off when the device is disconnected from Wi-Fi.

And it’s extra smart because if the user is already using their company VPN over the Wi-Fi, Sprint Secure Wi-Fi won’t turn on. And if the user forgets to use the company VPN, it serves as an automatic safety net knowing when to turn on or off depending on whether the user it using a secured or unsecured Wi-Fi network.

When you consider that six out of 10 smaller companies go out of business within six months of a major cyberattack, it’s clear that you need to be doing everything you can to make sure that doesn’t happen to your organization1.

1Sprint/Mobolize Research