WiFi is a convenient and cost effective solution for businesses, but it’s important to ensure that your network is not at risk of being used and viewed by unscrupulous people.
Having an unsecured business WiFi network is just like leaving your confidential paperwork, business diary or meeting notes on the train, anyone might pick them up. Anyone. You don’t want to be held liable for leaks through inattention to security.
Hackers and the keen-to-be-initiated can locate “how to” instructions about accessing data, piggybacking on to an unsecure network and stealing intelligence. This means that someone who wants to defraud, impersonate or harm your business won’t have any trouble finding out how to hack an unprotected network.
So, now that we’ve contemplated the worst, what can be done to remove risk?
- Always use a maximum security password and try to mix alpha and numeric characters and upper and lower cases and ensure that the availability of passwords to guest network users is restricted.
- Encryption scrambles the data sent from a PC to a router so that it cannot be read by others. Perplexingly though it is for such a necessary service, many routers are supplied with the encryption facility switched off. You should check that the encryption is switched on and working at its optimum level, rather than assuming that your router is automatically protected at the point of installation.
- WPA is Wireless Protected Access and WPA2 has superseded the WEP Wireless Encryption Protocol. WPA and WEP cannot be utilised together so it is strongly recommended that WPA or WPA2 are used because they are less susceptible to hacking and system takeovers. If that means investing in a new WPA router, it is worth the small expense to safeguard your network in the long term.
- Hotspots don’t use encryption so you’ll need to ensure that any hotspot used is legitimate. Also, that your firewall is on and the file sharing and radio are always off when you aren’t at a hotspot. There are several hot spot protection providers that encrypt data. Not employing these safeguards makes life ridiculously easy for a hacker.
- Virtual Private Networks or VPNs protect public wireless links. VPN was designed to create channels for your encrypted data to travel through and it can be used by field staff.
- It is best to run individual software firewalls on your network so that each of your computers is protected. Some firewalls can be downloaded free from the internet but please check that the protection the product offers is rigorous and sophisticated. Remember that firewalls only stop hackers from accessing your computer.
- Check your provider bills, any obvious increases in charges or vast additional usage could mean you’re being hacked – at your expense.
As much as we would like to believe that all people are trustworthy, we all know that this is not the case. It is vital to protect our business WiFi networks and our businesses from the growing number of people who are out to steal our data.
Whatever your business size, managing network security should be a priority!