Office of the Chief Information Security Officer

July 30, 2021

Public vs private: Wireless encryption

This week in the public vs. private series we will cover what to do to keep your personal and UW data private, particularly while you’re in a public place.

In order to protect your data, it is good to understand two “states” of data:

  • Data at rest
  • Data in transit

Data stored on computers, laptops, mobile devices, and in spreadsheets, databases and information systems is termed “data at rest.” When it is transmitted via the Internet, email, or private or public networks, including WIFI networks, it is termed “data in transit” or “data in motion.”

Data in transit or in motion carries some risks that are distinct from risks to data at rest. For instance, if you are using your smartphone in a cafe, eavesdropping tools might also be used to view your data and activities on the WiFi network. Cybercriminals and other adversaries can use tools to view login credentials, spreadsheets, credit card information, and just about anything you do or store on your device.

UW offers tools you can use to block these types of intrusions:

  • On campus you can use eduroam, a free encrypted wireless service.
  • Husky OnNet, a service that creates a virtual private network (VPN) by encrypting traffic from remote locations to the University, can be used at home or in cafes, hotels, or airports.

More information can be found on IT Connect:


Husky OnNet:

A comprehensive list of best practices for securing wireless devices for telework and in public settings can be found on the National Security Agency’s website:
Securing Wireless Devices in Public Settings


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