4 Ways Federal Workers Can Protect Their Location Data


Opponents can track the locations of federal employees teleworking through smartphones, fitness trackers, medical tech, and countless other IoT devices. Since remote working is here for the foreseeable future, and devices regularly travel between home and office, here are tips from the National Security Agency on how to limit location exposure:

1. Store and use the devices in a non-sensitive location

All devices with wireless capabilities, including personal devices, should be left in a location that will not reveal the user’s location. Vehicles with built-in wireless communications should also have the capabilities disabled in unsecured locations.

2. Restrict use of public Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and other connectivity

Cybercriminals can use unsecured public Wi-Fi hotspots to access sensitive data on devices. If connecting to a public Wi-Fi hotspot, federal employees must use their agency’s VPN. Employees should also turn off Bluetooth and near-field communication, and turn off discovery mode when devices are in a public place.

3. Disable location collection in apps and ad trackers

Applications installed on mobile devices can collect and transmit data that reveals a user’s location. Photos can also unintentionally reveal locations; social media apps, for example, often store revealing metadata in images. Federal employees should know which apps and ad trackers are collecting data by checking their privacy settings.

4. Minimize mobile web browsing

Many websites use browser fingerprints to collect location information. If federal employees are to use a mobile web browser, it is important to incorporate secure browsing methods such as accessing only websites that use Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure. For an additional layer of security, virtual machines can be used to process unreliable data from external sources.

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