Did you think that turning on the "firewall" setting on your router was going to be the only thing you needed to keep your business wifi secure?
Wireless networks are both quick to set up and easy to use, making them a popular choice among small and medium-sized businesses.
However, despite its convenience, Wi-Fi can also pose a significant threat to your business network security if it’s not properly secured.
Here are ten ways to protect your business’ wireless network from hackers:
1. Opt For WPA2 (and a new password)
All too often, and for the sake of ease and speed, small businesses opt to set up their equipment (router) using the default password and admin provided.
The problem is they leave it that way – making them an instant target for hackers everywhere.
One of our #1 wireless security best practices is to fortify your Wi-Fi using WPA2 and a strong password that is at least 12 characters long.
While you may be able to select from several wireless security modes on your router (such as WEP and WPA, below), WPA2 employs the most complicated (and best) encryption algorithm.
Short for “Wi-Fi Protected Access 2,” WPA2 is a router-based security standard designed to protect your Wi-Fi network and the devices using it.
2. Use a VPN
You may have heard about this one while trying to get some different shows on Netflix (don't worry... we won't tell 😀), but it's one of the best methods to keep your WiFi secure.
A Virtual Private Network, or VPN, is a “hidden” network that allows you to conceal your internet activity from the public.
Using encryption, this service hides your IP (internet protocol) addresses to protect your business data while ensuring your online privacy is maintained.
VPNs can be set up manually on your router (note: not all routers can support secure VPN protocols) or online via a downloadable VPN app.
3. Enable All Firewalls
A router’s firewall is your first line of defence against hackers - if it’s turned on.
While most routers come with this wireless security feature built-in, it may not be activated, so be sure to check this in your device settings. If you’re unsure if your router is configured correctly, ask your IT service provider to help you.
Note: You’ll also want to double up on network protection by installing firewall software on your PCs, laptops and other devices.
4. Update Software and Firmware Regularly
Make a point to check your router for firmware updates regularly.
Firmware is what allows your router to perform its job.
Just like any other regular software update (say, for your PC), these patches must be installed if you hope to keep your network protected from the latest cybersecurity threats.
Speaking of PC updates... you’ll also want to check that firewall, anti-virus, and other forms of networking software remain up to date on your devices.
5. Change Your Name... The WiFi's Name.
Your wireless network’s "name" is called a Service Set Identifier (SSID). This name makes it easy for users to both identify and connect to your Wi-Fi.
While you want to make it easy for employees and trusted users to jump online, it's a VERY bad idea to broadcast your router’s specific information -- this presents yet another wireless security vulnerability for cybercriminals to exploit.
Instead, when configuring your router, be sure to change the manufacturer's default name (i.e. "Linksys" or "WRT54GS") to a unique name, easily remembered by employees.
6. Create a Separate Network For Guest Users
Your SSID also makes it possible for you to create both private and public network access.
As a business owner who wants to provide Wi-Fi access to visitors, a separate network is a must for keeping your data and devices hidden.
To prevent just anyone from connecting to your guest network, we recommend establishing a different WPA2 password.
This will both protect your visitors (and their online activity) and minimize the number of people familiar with the password itself.
7. Disable WPS
Consumer-grade wireless routers (yes, including the new one you bought from Amazon or Best Buy) often include Wi-Fi Protected Setup or WPS.
This feature is designed to make device and network pairing easier – as simple as pushing a button or entering a personal identification number.
But because WPS is not without its vulnerabilities, this feature can easily be exploited by hackers looking to access your network.
For this reason, we recommend keeping this feature disabled unless necessary.
8. Employ MAC Address Filtering
MAC address filtering adds yet even another layer of protection to your wireless network by only granting access to devices it recognizes.
Short for Media Access Control, a MAC address refers to a unique serial number assigned to each device by an administrator.
Depending on how many devices you have, MAC authentication may prove to be time-consuming - but well worth it due to the added layer of security it provides.
9. Remove Rogue APs Regularly
Rogue Access Points (APs) are any wireless access point (WAP) created without the explicit permission of the network’s administrator.
Rogue APs are typically created when:
a) an employee tries to gain access to your network when there is none available
b) by a hacker attempting to carry out an attack.
To prevent any Rogue AP from weakening your wireless security, perform the an access point scan. This will search for and identify access points within your network... then delete/block them.
10. Keep Your Router Physically Secure
Last but not least (and one of the easiest ways to protect your business Wi-Fi) is to ensure your router is stored in a secure location.
Whether locked away in your filing cabinet, or the closet office, it’s important to protect your device (and ultimately your network) from any physical mishaps.
There you have it! If you're a business that offers the convenience of Wi-Fi to your customers, please start putting these recommendations to use, today.
At GAM Tech, we rely on a vast selection of security tools to keep your wireless network safe and secure. For more information on how we can eliminate threats, kickstart your business’ potential and boost your bottom line, get in touch with us today for a free consultation.