Guest Wi-Fi Security Best Practices

Unsecured Wi-Fi could expose your private IT network.

October 24, 2014 • Published by

“Excuse me, do you have Wi-Fi?”

While you may find the increased frequency of that question irritating, there’s no denying it:
Your customers crave connectivity. And if you don’t provide it today, they will go elsewhere tomorrow.

Guest Wi-Fi access for customers is quickly becoming an expected commodity, especially in settings such as coffee shops, restaurants and shopping malls. If you’re reading this post, you’ve likely at least considered implementing guest Wi-Fi in your establishment.

Installing guest Wi-Fi can be good for business, but if done incorrectly, it can actually put you out of business. That’s because an unsecured Wi-Fi hotspot provides open access to the information your guests are working with and can even expose your private IT network. Worst-case scenarios include individual privacy lawsuits, cardholder data breaches and organizational liability for illegal content downloads.

How to Securely Implement Guest Wi-Fi

Before jumping on the Wi-Fi bandwagon, you must know how to implement the technology for optimal security. Wi-Fi routers and access points aren’t secure unless you enable controls to prevent unauthorized access. Here are the security basics to implementing guest Wi-Fi:

1. Establish a private Wi-Fi network for internal use.
This way employees aren’t tempted to utilize the guest Wi-Fi from business assets. Ensure that you are using the current encryption standard (WPA2) and requiring an 8-plus character, alphanumeric password for network access.

2. Use different SSIDs (Service Set Identifiers) for your private and guest Wi-Fi networks.
Dual SSIDs will prevent someone on your guest Wi-Fi from setting up a line of communication with your private Wi-Fi.

3. Enable encryption on your guest Wi-Fi, just as you did for your private Wi-Fi.
Controlling who connects with and uses your guest Wi-Fi enables you to exclude nearby non-patrons, thereby improving security as well as browsing and download speeds for legitimate guests.

Secure guest Wi-Fi is an easily accomplished task.

If you’d like more information on keeping your business secure while accommodating customers’ mobile needs, download our white paper, "5 Critical IT Challenges You Can Solve Today."

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