What is the first thing that most people do when sitting in a waiting area? Our guess is that it is to take out their phone and start browsing or working online. If Wi-Fi is available at the premises, many will automatically connect and go about their business answering emails, logging into personal spaces or professional networks and more.
For a business in 2021, providing a fast Wi-Fi network for customers or visiting suppliers and partners is a standard expectation and most companies now have Wi-Fi access readily available. While this is a good business practice and value added service, the downside for the business offering the free access is that it can pose a series of risks, from security threats to bandwidth and speed issues.
Cyber security threats
One of the main concerns that many businesses have with regards to providing Wi-Fi for guests is from a security point of view. The recent ransomware attack on the Health Service Executive (HSE) highlighted the importance of strong cybersecurity for all types of organisations.
This cyberattack resulted in an immediate shutdown of all IT systems across the HSE and left a lasting impact on the health service with many delays for patients awaiting appointments and procedures. While this was a highly publicised attack on a government body, it is not just the bigger organisations that are at risk. A recent survey showed a 600% rise in cyber-attacks, with over 46% of businesses globally having reported at least one cyber-attack in the past twelve months.
At a time when people have been at their most vulnerable, elaborate phishing email schemes by cyber criminals are ever prominent and have duped a lot of innocent internet users. This can be as simple as clicking on a malicious link in an email which downloads malware onto a device that then has the ability to infiltrate the entire network.
In 2020, 95% of all security breaches were caused by human error making it clear that strong security protocols need to be in place in order to reduce the risk of cyber-attacks on businesses. Firewalls and antivirus software, while essential, are no longer enough to protect against these types of attacks. Therefore, providing restricted guest Wi-Fi access, that uses a separate SSID(network name) from the main business Wi-Fi network, will be crucial to protecting a business from unsolicited attacks.
Impact on network bandwidth
Another factor to be considered when offering free Wi-Fi access is the potential impact those additional users will have on the speed of the network. Allowing guests to browse, connect and stream will put a significant strain on bandwidth and will ultimately affect how efficiently employees can do their job.
Creating a separate guest Wi-Fi network, allows for a further level of control over your network’s usage. With a separate network, businesses can restrict certain browsing actions for guests giving priority to business activities so that bandwidth for employees is not impacted.
What are the key benefits of having a guest Wi-Fi network?
1. Business network protection
As discussed above, the main benefit of having a separate and secure guest Wi-Fi network in place for any visitors to a business is the protection it offers to the internal business network. By segregating the networks in this way, a business owner can configure the setup to control who has access to the company’s network of computers, servers, storage appliances, printers so that one will not impact upon the other. This greatly reduces the risk that a guest may inadvertently download dangerous software onto the company network.
2. Not compromising the network performance
Elaborating on where we mentioned impact on bandwidth, maintaining control over the internet usage is crucial. A business offering a separate guest Wi-Fi network can limit internet resources available to guest users. The balance to strike is to be able to provide a reasonable amount of internet access without compromising the network performance required by the business itself and its employees.
As of January 2021, there were 4.66 billion active internet users worldwide. This is 59.5% of the global population. Of this total, 92.6% (4.32 billion) access the internet using mobile devices. That trend shows the sheer scale of the pressure on Wi-Fi networks. With the correct set up, the business can do a few things to help. One would be to limit the amount of guest users on the guest network at any given time. Another is to control the times that visitors can access Guest Wi-Fi so that there will be no risk of disruption to network speed at busier times for the business.
3. Control over user access and protection
Some businesses offer unprotected guest network access where users can just log on without seeking out the password or access code. While this is very convenient for guests, it limits control and also increases the chances that other users who may not be legitimate visitors, could potentially connect to the network.
Operating a separate guest Wi-Fi network with an access password, gives you greater control over who has access and when. It also allows a business to keep the primary network’s security password private and this can prove particularly useful as an alternative to sharing the primary network password with visitors. Otherwise there would be a necessity to change the primary password after each group of visitors which would be time consuming and impractical.
How can One Contact help?
One Contact’s Managed Wi-Fi services offers businesses a secure and cost effective Wi-Fi solution with a wide range of benefits and features:
Prioritise Critical Systems
Having this feature will ensure that business critical systems receive Wi-Fi priority over non-essential systems and devices. This will help the business to run smoothly and efficiently.
Safeguard against breaches and cyber-attacks
Cybersecurity is more important than ever in these current times where businesses of all sizes are being targeted by hackers. One Contact’s highly experienced team can help protect the network and ensure that businesses are safe from security breaches and attacks.
Eliminate Wi-Fi Blackspots
The last thing a business needs is a slow internet connection. The importance of having the right internet speed for a business and its devices is vital to the efficient running of the business. This is where the expertise of the One Contact team comes in. The team will specify and size the Wi-Fi network correctly so that there are no slow connections and that black spots are eliminated so the business will have coverage everywhere required.
Separate Network for Guests and Staff
Preventing unauthorised access to the business network is essential for protecting against certain cyber-attacks. Having a separate network for guests and employees can help to reduce the risk of sneaky malware or viruses creeping into the network.
In the event of a cyber attack or an unforeseen disaster, it’s essential for any business to have their network restored swiftly. One Contact’s Wi-Fi networks are cloud based which allows a new network to be deployed in a new location if a business needs to relocate in an emergency. The One Contact team can help businesses prepare and plan ahead for any eventuality and ensure that the business is back up and running without any data compromise.