Previously we have covered How to Secure Your Home Wireless Network. Now we will cover the best practices for small business wireless security. Every small business must make security a priority, just as you would if you run a larger business. Unsurprisingly, security extends to technology. For example, your wireless internet can play a key role in keeping your information and company safe. If a hacker gains access to your wireless network, they can access anything stored on that network, putting your trade secrets and personal client information at risk. To avoid potential problems, make sure you follow these best practices for wireless security.
8 Best Practices You Need to Know
Don’t Stick to Default Settings
Just like when you set up any device in your small business, one of the first steps you should take when setting up your wireless network is to change the default settings. It is possible to find the default password and username for many wireless-capable devices. Experienced hackers also find it fairly straightforward to discover the password for a wireless network that you leave on the default setting. A simple online search will often be enough. Avoid this problem by immediately changing the default name of the router known as the SSID and setting up a unique, hard to guess password.
Make Sure Ethernet Ports Are Secure
The typical small business will have its wireless and ethernet connections on the same overall network. This means that even if you follow all the guidelines for making your wireless network impenetrable, if a hacker can get into an ethernet port, they can access the network. Prevent this problem by confirming that all ethernet ports are in safe spots where there is only access for employees. Ideally, the ethernet ports directly linked to your wireless router will be in a locked closet or cabinet for added safety.
Enable Strong Encryption
When setting up your business’s wireless internet, the data shared on the network is one of your big priorities. You can help keep it safe by enabling encryption for your wireless network. Always opt for a secure encryption standard, like WPA2, ideally WPA2-Enterprise. You can even add on EAP-TLS authentication, which uses digital certificates for validating users, dramatically reducing the risk of a cyberattack on your business. Whatever you do, do not rely on old methods of encryption that are outdated, such as WEP and WPS. Both are very insecure and should not be used in a business setting, or anywhere for that matter.
Use a Firewall to Separate Networks
A good extra step to take is setting up a firewall to keep the wireless network away from your other networks. Without this step in place, anyone who accesses your network via Wi-Fi can access the entire network, including confidential data and servers. The simplest fix is firewalling your wireless networks from all other assets on the network.
Use a VPN Outside the Office
In a small business, everyone has multiple roles, so you likely have at least some team members that do not spend all their time in the office. However, using wireless networks outside the office can actually put your company’s wireless at risk since hackers could figure out your internet traffic history and get your passwords. The best way to do avoid this is with a virtual private network (VPN). This secures internet traffic via redirection through an encrypted tunnel to the VPN server. VPN will also let you access your company’s network when away from the office, so you can maintain full productivity and access to information.
If you do not use a VPN when outside the office, at least ensure you use only websites with encryption, like SSL/HTTPS. If a webpage does not offer secure encrypted access, then do not visit it when outside the office and on a public network. Only do so on a private network with other security measures or encryption in place, such as the office one or your home network.
On a related note, ensure that you and your employees do not connect to any unsecured networks without proper precautions. Even being physically in the office and connecting to a faster nearby network is a bad idea that leaves your company open to security threats.
Create a Guest Wi-Fi Network
Also related, take the time to make a second wireless network specifically for guests to use. This Wi-Fi network should be in complete isolation from other wireless and wired networks your company uses, so guests are able to connect to the internet but not access the information stored on your network.
Ensure the Hardware Is Up to Date
Of course, you should also follow the same cybersecurity advice with your wireless network as you would with anything else in your office and use up-to-date hardware and software. Regularly check for any firmware updates for your network components, such as access points and the router. Assuming that computers have network adapters, also check these for new drivers and install those when necessary. This goes along with ensuring all your devices have the latest operating system, so you can take advantage of all known security patches.
Get Cyber Insurance
Even with all the above strategies in place for your small business’s wireless security, there is a risk that something will not go according to plan. Savvy companies have cyber insurance in case of those situations. The best cyber insurance companies will help you bounce back from any type of cyberattack as quickly as possible with minimal damage to your company. They may even help you adjust your wireless security policies to reduce your risk of a cyberattack since that is in their own best interests, as well.
Without the proper wireless security strategy in place, you leave your small business exposed to potential threats from hackers who want to steal private information, such as client contact details or trade secrets. You could also be at risk of other problems, like a ransomware attack or the hacker downloading malicious programs onto your devices. Once you implement a strong wireless security policy, however, you will dramatically reduce these risks, letting you focus on the day-to-day business of running your company instead of worrying about cybersecurity threats.