Welcome back! In Part One of our two-part blog series, we discussed the security risks associated with a business Wi-Fi strategy. In this second part, we’ll take a look at the two essential parts of Wi-Fi control and mitigation – content management and improved security.
Controlled and Secure
The introduction of even the most basic controls can radically reduce the risk without compromising the user experience. For example, guests can be provided with Wi-Fi access for a set time period – such as 30 minutes or one day – ensuring there is no chance of an ‘access once, stay online indefinitely’ Wi-Fi service. Staff access can also be tracked via an audit trail – providing management with inherent control over the way in which the Internet connections are being used and insight into how much time is being spent on non-work activity.
Guest and staff access can be securely segregated to protect the core infrastructure. It is also possible to control the amount of bandwidth available to different user groups – for example, ensuring staff always have more bandwidth than guests to avoid any productivity dips, or simply checking that priority traffic is never compromised by those heavy users that exist in most organisations. Indeed, specific bandwidth can be locked to individual users if required.
On the content management side, the emphasis is clearly on prevention rather than simply highlighting activity in real time. Realistically, no one wants to knock on a hotel door or quiz a supplier to find out what they’re using the Wi-Fi for. It is far more effective to simply lock down and prevent access to any illegal and/or unacceptable content. With strong content management and filtering tools, companies can pick and choose what should be censored – effectively both locking down the network and demonstrating that robust procedures are in place.
The problem facing many SMEs is that despite the ubiquity of Wi-Fi provision, most companies find the whole process of managing the wireless network rather arduous. Far too much time is already spent dealing with user access problems and chasing providers about the quality of service – few companies will have the resources to introduce better security or content management.
As a result, there is a growing trend towards Wi-Fi Managed Services that can not only lock down the network but also deliver the continuous maintenance and upgrades required to improve overall uptime and minimise user issues. The service should also include a choice of security policies and procedures, such as timed access, as well as the ability to make content filtering decisions that reflect industry/company specific policies.
Security is a high priority but, as ever, there are battles between operational requirements and the need to lock down the business. Companies feel obliged to provide Wi-Fi for customers, partners and suppliers; it is a standard component of many business models. But that does not justify providing open access to all and sundry. The ability to offer different access points with different controls, time constrained and with strict content management, enables organisations to meet corporate requirements while also safeguarding corporate integrity. The key is that the managed services model allows organisations to take a far more controlled and sophisticated approach to Wi-Fi provision without compromise.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this two-part blog series about Wi-Fi security. If you have any questions or would like to discuss the topic further, please give us a call on 01234 865880 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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