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11Jan 2017

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Small Business IT Support – WiFi Security

Security by Scott Campbell

Are you concerned with the present security being used for the WiFi network in your small business? Or perhaps you’re considering implementing a WiFi network for the first time and you’re curious about the security options available? Maybe you are hiring a new member for your small business IT support staff and merely wish to be abreast of the latest aspects that are important surrounding WiFi security for the upcoming interview process? Whatever your particular case may be, if you’re looking to quench your thirst for the latest IT tips and knowledge involving WiFi security then look no further, you have located the perfect trough and will thirst no more.

For starters, let’s begin with some reasons as to why it is so vital to ensure that your WiFi network in place at your business be secure. The most widely associated problem with wireless networks is the issue of piggybackers. Piggybackers are unauthorized users of your wireless network. They are people who will login to your WiFi network in order to procure free internet access.

Sounds innocent enough, right? If you think this, you’re wrong. Let’s assume that whatever internet access you have at your place of business allows for unlimited internet access. Even if this is the case and therefore you wouldn’t incur any extra expense from your internet service provider for the extra bandwidth these piggybackers would steal from your internet, they will, at the least, slow your internet access down for any legitimate users inside of your operation. This is because every single user that is on your wireless network downloading and uploading data is using some of the bandwidth that is available from your source internet connection. You wouldn’t, for example, want that important e-mail with the quote attachment for an important upcoming assignment fail to send, because some random person you’re not aware of is streaming an episode of their favorite television series over your network, would you? Of course, you wouldn’t.

An even more important reason that you want to make doubly sure that your WiFi network is secure is for data integrity purposes. I’m going to guess that you built your business from the ground up to succeed, right? It’s along those lines that you probably use shredders in your office to prevent malpractice or misuse of important company data. All those vital documents from the past that are no longer necessary, documents like prior invoices or other accounting documents that you wouldn’t want just anyone from the public to get a hold of are going to be minced up into tiny pieces in that shredder.

Well, anything that would be transmitted across your wireless network in order to get your business’s essential everyday tasks done could be potentially compromised by anyone logged onto your network that isn’t authorized to be. Hopefully, they wouldn’t be able to intercept any of this data properly or if they had, wouldn’t use it against your organization in any negative way. Is that a chance that you’re willing to take by neglecting the security of your WiFi network?

I highly doubt it and that’s likely why you are here researching this informative article. So then, now that you’re fully aware of just a couple of the reasons as to why to be concerned with the security of your wireless network, how then do you go about it?

One of the initial steps you should consider using to help secure your WiFi network is turning off the broadcast of your SSID in your router’s configuration. By doing this, only users who are aware of what the SSID or broadcast name identifier, basically, for your wireless network is will be able to attempt to connect. That said, it’s not the only thing you ought to do to secure your WiFi network. Any skilled hacker with the right ‘sniffer’ program at their disposal can still figure out what your SSID broadcast name is but still, it’s a start.

Next, you’re going to want to secure your wireless network with a strong password and encryption method. In deciding upon a strong password, choose one that has a mixture of numbers, both uppercase and lowercase letters, as well as at least one or two special characters. As far as encryption methods go, choose WPA 2, or WiFi Protected Access 2. While WEP, or Wired Equivalent Privacy or WPA 1 are certainly better than nothing, they are inherently much less secure than WPA 2. If choosing WPA 2 is not an encryption option due to the age of your networking hardware, WPA is a lot better than WEP. Still, though, consider upgrading your networking hardware to enjoy the stronger encryption standard that is WPA 2.

If your business is in a line of work where data security is absolutely vital for your operation’s success, also do consider turning off the ability to connect to your WiFi via WPS, or WiFi Protected Setup. This will make it much more difficult, if not nearly impossible for hackers to hack into your wireless network. Disabling WPS connectivity will also make it a much more involved process for new and authorized clients to connect to your business’s wireless network too, though, so do keep this in mind.

Yet another way to help secure your wireless network from unauthorized access is to turn on the MAC address, or media access control address, filtering option in your router’s configuration settings. Every manufactured electronic device that has the ability to network to other electronic devices has a MAC address. This address is unique and identifies the specific device on the network. When MAC address filtering is turned on, even when a device attempts to connect to your network with the correct credentials, unless that device’s MAC address is on the router’s list of accepted MAC addresses, it will fail to successfully complete the logon process.

The only problem with turning on MAC address filtering as a security enhancement for your business’s WiFi network is that it makes it much more difficult a process to add newly authorized clients to your network. For this reason, consult with your small business IT support team to determine whether this additional security for your company’s network is a viable idea or not.

There are, no doubt, many aspects to take into consideration when deciding upon which steps to take in order to secure your WiFi network. It’s my hope that with the information you have now swallowed from this WiFi security tips trough, though, that you are now ready for the challenge.

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