wifi securityThe technological innovation we call the Internet has spread across all walks of life. Although it’s relatively easy for businesses to set up Wi-Fi access for their employees, the process of controlling it properly can often be another story.

Wi-Fi networks use airwaves for communication, with the signal often extending over 300 feet. Because of its availability and range, Wi-Fi offers great potential for hackers to gain access to your network. Fortunately, there are ways to secure your company’s Wi-Fi. Let’s take a look at some of those ways and why it is important to have a secured Wi-Fi network.

How to Secure Your Wi-Fi

  • Change the router’s default admin password – When you set up your router, you chose a wireless network password, but you might not have changed the router’s default administrative password. The default passwords for numerous router makes and models are easy to find online, and with that information, someone can take control of your network and use your router for nefarious purposes.
  • Keep the router’s firmware updated – Just as when you update the software on your computer and phone, you need to keep the firmware updated on your Wi-Fi router. This easy task can fix bugs, which includes security vulnerabilities. Many routers will tell you when an update is available, and may even download such updates automatically.
  • Use Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) – You should avoid using the older Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) standard because it is easier to hack into; instead, use WPA or WPA2 security standards that are ideal. They also rectify weaknesses found in WEP, thus making it more difficult for hackers to break into your wireless network. You also could use  both WPA and WPA2 at access points to provide extra security for your wireless network.
  • Use strong passwords for your Wi-Fi network – You’ve probably heard about the importance of using strong passwords before, but it’s worth repeating. Someone monitoring your wireless traffic could easily crack your password if you use regular words or proper names. Make your password as long and as random as possible to prevent anyone from hacking your network.
  • Make a separate network for guests – If you have visitors or customers who are allowed to use your Wi-Fi network on a regular basis, you should provide a separate network for them. Guests will be able to access the internet, but not your primary internal network. This improves security and prevents guests from unintentionally infecting the primary network.
  • Physically secure your router – Anyone can get around the security measures you have in place by simply pressing the reset button on the Wi-Fi router. Keep your router in a locked room or cabinet. If that’s not possible, mount it high up near the ceiling to thwart any obvious attempts to reset the router.

Risks You Face With an Unsecured Network

Even if you believe sharing your Wi-Fi is harmless, you need to know that it can wreak havoc on your network and your company. Here are some dangers you face by having an unsecured Wi-Fi network:

  • A skilled hacker can use your router to take control of the network and change the Domain Name System (DNS) settings and redirect your web traffic to fraudulent look-alike sites as a phishing attack. Your employees may give away sensitive usernames and passwords on these sites. Along with a secured connection, teach your employees how to recognize fake websites with Global Learning System’s anti-phishing training course.
  • If a laptop infected with malware connects to your Wi-Fi, the virus could find its way onto your network. While the spread of the virus might not be particularly malicious, it is certainly preventable by using a secure network and a separate guest network.
  • Since Wi-Fi is transmitted through the air, it isn’t necessarily confined to the walls of your buildings. With an unsecured connection, anyone can sit outside and enjoy free use of your internet. Not only are there security issues with this, but your employees probably wouldn’t appreciate the sluggish internet speeds they could encounter when outsiders use the network.
  • Unsecured Wi-Fi opens you up to denial of service (DoS) attacks, which makes your network resource unavailable to the intended users. You may experience an unusually slow connection, no internet connection, unavailability of certain websites, or the inability to access any sites.

While it might seem easier or harmless to make your Wi-Fi available to everyone, doing so can open you up to a host of problems affecting both employee productivity and network security. Security awareness is important in any business, and Global Learning Systems offers a host of courses focusing on internet safety practices, helping you ensure your office network is secure.