Author Archives: Austin Castle

A Cybersecurity Guide for Digital Nomads

Reading Time: ~3 min.

Technology has unlocked a new type of worker, unlike any we have seen before—the digital nomad. Digital nomads are people who use technologies like WiFi, smart devices, and cloud-based applications to work from wherever they please. For some digital nomads, this means their favorite coffee shop or co-working space. For others, it means an idyllic beach in Bali or countryside public house. One thing remains true wherever a digital nomad may choose to lay down their temporary roots: They are at a higher cybersecurity risk than a traditional worker. So what risks should they look out for? 

Public Wifi

Without a doubt, public WiFi is one of the main cybersecurity hazards many digital nomads face. The massive and unresolved flaw in the WPA2 encryption standard used by modern WiFi networks means that anyone connecting to a public network is putting themselves at risk. All public WiFi options—including WiFi provided by hotels, cafes, and airports—poses the risk of not being secure. How can a digital nomad be digital if their main source of internet connectivity is a cybersecurity minefield?  

When connecting to public WiFi as a digital nomad, it is crucial to keep your web traffic hidden behind a virtual private network (VPN). A quality VPN app is simple to set up on your mobile devices—including laptops and smart phones—and uses a strong encryption protocol to prevent hackers and other snoops from stealing important personal information such as account passwords, banking information, and private messages. VPNs will keep your data encrypted and secure from prying eyes, regardless of locale.

Device Theft

Physical device theft is a very real risk for digital nomads, but one that can largely be avoided. The first and most obvious step to doing so is to never leave your devices unattended, even if your seatmate at the coffee shop seems trustworthy. Always be mindful of your device visibility; keeping your unattended devices and laptop bags locked away or out of sight in your hotel room is often all it takes to prevent theft. Purchasing a carrying case with a secure access passcode or keyed entry can also act as an additional deterrent against thieves looking for an easy mark. 

If your device is stolen, how can you prevent the damage from spiraling? Taking a few defensive measures can save digital nomads major headaches. Keep a device tracker enabled on all of your devices—smartphones, tablets, and laptops. Both Apple and Android have default services that will help you locate your missing device.  

But this will only help you find your property; it won’t prevent anyone from accessing the valuable data within. That’s why all of your devices should have a lock screen enabled, secured with either a pin or a biometric ID, such as your fingerprint. If you believe these efforts have failed and your device is compromised, enabling multi-factor authentication on your most sensitive accounts should help reduce the effect of the breach.  

However, if you cannot recover your device, remotely wiping it will prevent any additional data from being accessed. If you have a device tracker enabled, you will be able to remotely wipe your sensitive data with that software. If you’re using a data backup solution, any lost files will be recoverable once the status of your devices is secure 

Lower Your Risk

Being a digital nomad means that you’re at a higher risk for a breach, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take steps to lower that risk. These best practices could drastically reduce the risk incurred by leading a digitally nomadic lifestyle. 

  • Toggle off. Remember to always turn off WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity after a session. This will prevent accidental or nefarious connections that could compromise your security. 
  • Mindfulness. Be aware of your surroundings and of your devices. Forgetting a device might be an acceptable slip up for most, but for a digital nomad it can bring your lifestyle to a grinding halt. 
  • Be prepared. Secure your devices behind a trusted VPN before beginning any remote adventures. This will encrypt all of your web traffic, regardless of where you connect.  
  • Stop the spread. In case of a device or account breach, strong passwords and multi-factor authentication will help minimize the damage. 

A staggering 4.8 million Americans describe themselves as digital nomads, a number that won’t be going down anytime soon. With remote work becoming as a new norm, it’s more important than ever that we take these cybersecurity measures seriously—to protect not just ourselves, but also our businesses and clients. Are you a digital nomad making their way through the remote work landscape? Let us know your top tips in the comments below! 

The post A Cybersecurity Guide for Digital Nomads appeared first on Webroot Blog.

Webroot Spotlight: Michael Balloni, Senior Manager of Software Development

Reading Time: ~3 min.

From recruiting top talent to daily technical leadership, a day-in-a-life of a software engineering is never boring. After chatting with Webroot Senior Manager of Software Development, Michael Balloni, it became even more obvious.  

Michael is working hard to build a robust and efficient team, and is undeniably enthusiastic about every stage of the process. The conversation only got more interesting as we dug into his role and responsibilities. 

What is your favorite part of working as a Senior Manager of Software Development?  

Hiring is my favorite part. Whether we’re sourcing talent on paper, on the phone, or in-person, it’s always fun to see how things evolve, right up to the offer and the day-one lunch. We use an agency called Accolo, and their excellent recruiter, Adam Robles. They have effective screener questions and a scoring system that helps us zero in on good candidates.  Given that score and a reasonable resume, we set up a phone call to discuss their claimed skillset. If that goes well, we bring them onsite and treat them like human beings. Finally, we put them to work on the whiteboard with problem solving. 

What does a week as a Senior Manager of Software Development look like? 

I interface with other teams to get big things up and running, like the collaborative Mac DNSP project. We marched through our code base to identify which modules would give us the most trouble and to put the porting process through its paces. We picked a module to port and worked through the process of creating the shared codebase and the mechanics thereof. Also, I promote technical leadership through mentoring and setting direction. 

So, what does promoting technical leadership look like? Do you have any criteria for promoting technical leadership? 

Technical leadership involves staying up-to-date on our industry and the technical craft, and sharing that information with the broader team. It also involves staying up-to-date on the development of the products at hand and steering that direction as needed. Most of the time there is no need to change direction, but sometimes there is, and it’s tough to identify. I’ve learned that getting clarification and input should happen before prescribing a fix to what may not be a problem at all. 

What is your greatest accomplishment in your career at Webroot so far? 

Promoting my colleague, Bindu Pillai, to software development manager. She’s my partner in crime, and has been indispensable with the latest round of, you guessed it, hiring! Promoting Bindu to a leadership position gave her delivery teams a capable leader. Bindu was what’s called a Product Owner, the technical and managerial lead of the delivery team. When her teams’ Agile Team Coordinator (who manages the digital resources like bug tracking and documentation, and make sure that developers have the tools they need and nothing blocking them) quit, Bindu took over the responsibility of the ATC. She did so without complaint or friction to the point where she took the loss of an ATC in stride. She delivers product on schedule, and keeps her direct reports productive and well-fed. 

What brought you to Webroot after your last job? 

I had fun working with Webroot’s CTO Hal Lonas in the 2000s at a previous company, so coming to work with him again was a no-brainer. 

How did you get into the technology field? 

I did hard math and physics in high school, which got me into Harvey Mudd College. That’s where I met my wife, and (only) did well at software development. So here we are. 

What is your favorite thing about working at Webroot? 

Everybody says it, but it’s the people.  All sharp and hardworking and friendly.  We’ve got a good thing here. 

Check out career opportunities at Webroot here: www.webroot.com/careers 

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