How to Leverage GeoFencing and Geo-IP Filtering for Your Business

As technology advances and becomes more accessible, consumers and businesses alike are able to take advantage of more cost effective, feature-rich solutions not previously available to them. Geofencing and Geo-IP filtering for hardware and software used to be a very costly tool implemented for very specific use cases. It is now technology featured in almost every smart phone, firewall or router most consumers already have in their possession, and is the foundation of several applications and services.

How It Works

Geofencing uses global positioning or radio frequency identification (RFID) to define geographical boundaries or a virtual perimeter. It enables software to trigger a response when an event happens within or outside of the predefined boundary.

  • By GPS. Set up triggers so when a device enters or exits the boundaries defined in the geofence, an alert is issued.
  • By Cell Signal. Location tracking by proximity to cell sites.
  • By Geo-IP Filtering. A feature equipped on most firewalls or routers, allows you to filter internet traffic by country. Restrict computers with certain IP addresses from accessing content in servers within the virtual perimeter set. Commonly used to prevent other countries form accessing content.

Use Cases

Geofencing can be used in a variety of scenarios to improve productivity, efficiency, security, and even marketing of your business services.

  • Smart Home Control. Mobile phones commonly act as controllers to smart home devices.  Geofences can be set to automatically lock computers, or shut down devices as you move away from the perimeter. Android 5.0 devices have the ability to disable device locking if you are within the range of your home Wi-Fi or “safe zone”.
  • Fleet Management. To manage and monitor driver’s mileage and time spent on the road, a geofence can send alerts to managers if fleet moves outside of restrictions set.
  • Classroom, Restaurant or Retail Devices. When shared devices like those used in classroom settings, restaurant or retail PoS (point of sales) devices leave their safe-zone, an alert can be sent out to advise superiors appropriately.
  • Location Based Marketing. Send real-time targeted advertisements to engage customers that have opted (via a downloaded app) as they enter into your organization’s network. Improve social media interactions with real time customer data and communications.
  • Emergency Services. Law enforcement can use geofencing to monitor and track movements of those who have monitoring devices. Emergency crews can improve dispatch times by seeing in real-time who is close by to trauma sites.

Improve Your Security Strategy

One of the great benefits to Geo-IP filtering is the security improvements your business is able to make by leveraging it. It can be used to improve your BYOD policies by controlling mobile devices’ accessibility range, or by restricting access to certain IP addresses.  Here’s a closer look at some of the many approaches you can take by when incorporating geofencing into your security strategy:

  • Restrict Access. Restrict access to devices or applications while inside a company’s perimeter, making it impossible for devices outside to access the network. This will keep information in the perimeter, and devices not authorized out of the perimeter. When geofencing is used in combination with a Mobile Device Management (MDM) solution and other endpoint protection solutions, IT administrators can establish very granular restrictions. Geo-IP filtering can allow your IT provider to set particular geographic limits around a group of IP addresses. Once network traffic patterns is analyzed, they may be able to track down the origin of email spam or phishing attempts and block exploits coming from other countries.
  • Loss Prevention. As part of a comprehensive data loss prevention strategy, organizations can control access to devices and apps on the devices within a certain physical perimeter. If a device were to move out of its predetermined safe zones, the device and/or apps could be locked down.
  • Data Protection. Ensure your critical business data remains private by disabling camera or SD cards, or disabling cell phones entirely while in meeting rooms. Board meeting presentations or sensitive documents can be shared as members walk into a specific area or meeting room. Once members leave the designated area the materials can be removed from their devices. Perhaps more harmful than spam, are network vulnerability probes and attacks. As most small businesses dont need to communicate with distant countries (where most cyber attacks originate), Geo-IP filtering can be implemented to filter out countries that dont need to access your network. If you happen to do some business with countires that are known for producing heavy amounts of spam, than IT can add your client’s IP address as an allowable exception.

Things to Consider

GPS signals used by geofencing are not always accurate and locations picked up by satellite signals are not always perfect. While that may be an acceptable limitation for the way your intend to apply geofencing, remember that privacy remains a top concern for organizations deploying BYOD strategy. It will be important to get informed consent from employees. Any geofencing used on personal devices should have a way for end users to turn on and off tracking.

Geo-IP filtering is not a complete security solution and blanket policies against blocking all content from specific countries may not be the policy best suited for your business operations. However utilizing Geo-IP filtering technology with custom rules can be just one of the several layers of security your business may want to consider.

(image via pixabay)