Businesses today need to have a robust and secure wireless network, but building one isn’t always that easy. Since there are a lot of machines that use your business’ Wi-Fi—from core machines that are essential to your business’ productivity, to IoT devices that your employees or customers bring onto the network—it is important to understand how best to structure your wireless networks to meet the demands that are put on them.
There are some big differences between the wireless network that a business uses and one that you would use in your home. Considering the data that is transmitted, this probably isn’t much of a surprise, but that doesn’t mean that every business is doing what they can to treat their wireless network as the foundational piece of technology that it is. In fact, a lot of organizations may look at their wireless network as just a secondary network that gets little-to-no attention.
This puts your business at risk.
Even if you haven’t experienced a data breach, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t active threat actors out there targeting you. Today, most employees enjoy the benefits of having a smartphone and they expect that they will be able to use their company’s Wi-Fi for the hours they are at work. In fact, they don’t just expect to be able to use company Wi-Fi, they expect that Wi-Fi to be a secure channel to use so as to not put their personal devices at risk. This can be tricky to set up, but you can create a secure and reliable wireless network to the benefit of all.
Let’s look at four actions you can take that will help you build a better wireless network for your business:
One of the best ways to ensure that you can control the use of your wireless networks is to create what are called subnets. A subnet is just a partition of your available wireless network that has different security and access controls. Some organizations choose to make guest Wi-Fi insecure so that people can actively access it. That’s fine to do, but you will want to ensure that network doesn’t touch any other networks in your business. For most businesses creating subnets for employees and another for guests, each with their own set of security guidelines, is a great way to keep congestion down and have better transparency for your whole wireless network.
One of the easiest ways to start securing your wireless network is to ensure that the hardware that fuels it is in a secure location. This can be under lock and key or simply in a place where there isn’t foot traffic. Many businesses use commercial Access Point (AP) technology rather than your over-the-counter router, which provides better coverage so that the hardware can be placed in a ceiling, but if your company still uses a router, having it out of major thoroughfares will go a long way toward keeping people’s mitts off it.
Most businesses want to have total coverage of their wireless network through their location. This seems reasonable. If the wireless signal carries much past that however, it can make it possible for people to access Wi-Fi on the street, which can be a major risk. You will want to be sure to manage your signal strength from your access points (or routers) by reducing the signal strength or placing them in places where you feel comfortable letting your wireless network reach to.
Many people don’t know that routers have their own operating systems and like any active software, developers are working to patch vulnerabilities and further support the software all the time. You will want to make sure that the firmware is always up to date in your APs or routers. While it may not make your wireless network impenetrable, it will go a long way to keeping vulnerabilities at bay.
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