Wi-fi network security

News: April 2013

Wi-fi network security

It is almost expected that businesses offer Wi-Fi as a facility to their customers these days. However, having a guest Wi-Fi network adds a security risk to your business. Using appropriate security software, firewalls, etc. can help mitigate against such risks.

Securing your wireless access points will help you to protect your network from hackers, viruses and malicious software. Hackers no longer need to hack into their victims computer directly and can obtain personal information simply by being connected to the same network as that user.

Even in a scenario not involving identity theft, unauthorized access uses network resources and having a large number of people connected to a single network could slow a home or office network substantially. A strong password paired with suitable router settings could reduce the risk of unauthorised access and ensure that your data is protected.

You should secure you Wi-Fi network with a password. If you have a guest network for your customers, you should password protect this too and change the password regularly. Your customers can be provided with the password if and when they need to access your network.

Most wireless access points come with either a default password such as “Admin”, “password”, or some other simple phrase that is meant to be used to configure the device for use the first time it’s connected. After configuration, this password should be changed. There are several encryption types from WEP-16bit to WPA2. A good rule of thumb to remember when choosing an encryption type is to choose a type that is both secure and suits user’s needs. For most purposes WEP-64 or WEP-128 bit encryption should be enough for most standard home or small business networks. However, WPA or WPA2 could be the best choice if higher security is needed (for example if your business stores highly sensitive documents such as customer financial information).

Wireless security is often perceived as something complex and difficult. However, in reality it is fairly easy and many of the same steps used to secure a standard desktop or laptop computer can be applied to wireless security as well. However, ultimately it’s up to the user to research their security needs and then implement a proper solution for the needs of their business.