It’s a common misconception that anything wireless is unsafe. Sure, data breaches and hackers are out there and want to steal information. But they generally look for easy targets. Provided your business isn’t one of them, your wireless network and its connected solutions should be safe.
But just how safe will it be? Here is what you need to know about wireless networks for business purposes and some best practices for making sure yours is as secure as possible.
What Are the Risks to Your Company’s Wireless Network?
Your business needs might necessitate having a wireless network. For example, you may have mobile devices that you use throughout your factory or warehouse. Or some of your employees might work remotely and access the system from home or on the road.
Businesses need flexibility and mobility to remain productive and efficient. But wireless networks aren’t without their risks. In fact, data breaches reached an all-time high in 2021. Identity Theft Resource Center reports that data breaches jumped 68 percent last year to 1,862. Some high-profile attacks occurred in the country’s largest oil pipelines and businesses we trust with our personal information.
Data breaches and cyberattacks are costly in more ways than one. In 2021, the average cost of a data breach was $4.24 million. But a company also risks damage to its reputation when its data is compromised. How does this happen? Here are some of the most common risks with a business wireless network.
Piggybacking refers to someone gaining a wireless network connection using someone else’s internet service or access without their permission. This can be accomplished from any device with wireless access up to 1000 feet away. If someone piggybacks onto your business network, they could steal company data, control your systems, or do something else harmful.
Security breaches are usually intentional acts by hackers to gain access to a system. Cybercriminals might use things like phishing emails or trial-and-error methods to access encrypted systems and perform illegal activities.
Hackers can use an unsecured business WiFi network to distribute malware and infect devices on the network. Malware refers to any software that is designed to damage, disrupt, or access a system, and it is a serious business threat.
Best Practices to Make Sure Your Business’ Wireless Network is Safe
The convenience and need of a business WiFi network make it a vital service for most of today’s organizations. Unfortunately, many businesses lack the technical skills or necessary resources required to properly secure their network. This can be a problem considering the long list of risks we just described. If you’re going to have a business wireless network, here are some best practices to make sure it remains safe.
1. Isolate Your Router in a Physically-Secure Location
One of the simplest things you can do to secure your wireless network is to put your router in a secure place with restricted access. This could be someplace like a locked office or cabinet. If you want to make it even more secure, place 24/7 video surveillance in the area.
2. Place Guests on a Separate Subnet
It’s generous of you to allow guests to use your business WiFi. But they should be isolated to a separate network from the one that houses your business’ sensitive information or data. You can do this by creating subnets for guest WiFi networks that keep these things separate. At the same time, avoid using guest networks for business purposes because they may be less secure.
3. Use Unique SSID Names and Passwords
If you use a default SSID name and password, you are essentially inviting hackers into your WiFi network. You should instantly change these items to something that isn’t obvious. For example, don’t use “Admin” and make sure your password includes uppercase, lowercase, numbers, and special characters.
4. Keep Your Firmware and Software Updated
WiFi networks are common targets of hackers, so it’s critical that you update them regularly. Ensure that you frequently update your network device’s firmware and software with the most recent security patches. These adjustments will address any potential weaknesses in the network that a hacker might try to exploit.
5. Never Reuse WiFi Passwords
It might be tempting to have a series of rotating passwords so that you won’t forget them. But this is a risky move. Hackers look for weak passwords, and it doesn’t take much for them to gain access to your system. If you lack imagination, use a password generator to create something that won’t be vulnerable.
6. Turn Off WiFi Protected Setup
WPS stands for “WiFi Protected Setup.” This is a feature that allows you simply push a button to pair a device with an encrypted network. The problem with WPS is that it can provide hackers with access to your router. Disable this function and connect your devices another way.
7. Use a VPN to Encrypt Local Traffic
Even if hackers don’t have your WiFi password, they may be able to spy on your local network traffic. By doing so, it’s possible for them to get your password and access. You can use a VPN to make this type of activity impossible by encrypting your network’s traffic.
8. Secure Your Ethernet Ports
Even after you set up a strong username and password for your network, you should also secure your ethernet ports. If someone plugs a device into the port, they can gain access to your network immediately.
9. Use a Firewall
A WAF, or Web Application Firewall, can help protect your business's sensitive data. Any information that passes through the network will be protected, and your network will be more secure against attacks by hackers.
10. Secure Shared Folders and NAS Devices
When you have a business WiFi network, it’s important to control the exact folders, files, and resources your workers can access by setting permissions. You can also put specific settings on various attached devices to see who is accessing them.
Some businesses aren’t very adept at maintaining the safety and security of their data. In an age where data is one of your company’s biggest assets, it makes sense to ensure your wireless network and the wireless solutions you use are protected.