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Why Guest WiFi Is Essential for Better Business Security

If you’ve ever sat at a coffee shop, you’re likely already familiar with guest WiFi networks. In the age of working from anywhere, consumers expect free WiFi access from businesses – which is why everyone from mom-and-pop shops to major retailers set up guest WiFi alongside their business networks. Misconfiguring your guest WiFi network can have severe network security repercussions for your business.

Last year, the average total cost of a data breach reached $4.24 million, up from $3.86 million in 2020.1 Coupled with the knowledge that 83% of small and medium-sized businesses cannot financially recover from a cyber attack,2 it’s clear that keeping your company’s network secure should be a top priority.

In this blog, we’ll go over why guest WiFi networks are essential and how to set your network up to ensure your customers are satisfied – and malicious parties aren't able to access your sensitive data.

Why Should Businesses Set Up a Guest WiFi Network?

Providing free WiFi access has many benefits, like gaining valuable customer insights, communicating with your customers, and more. However, if your guest WiFi network isn’t secured, you may be exposing your business – and your customers’ information – to considerable risk.

If an unauthorized user exploits an unsecured WiFi network, they can:

  • Gain access to company resources and view or steal sensitive information
  • Install malware, either unintentionally or on purpose
  • Create additional vulnerabilities that can expose the network to hackers

Keeping up with the evolving cyber threats that might infiltrate your organization’s network can be a struggle, but security as a service solutions can help. Learn more by downloading our resource on these solutions.

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How To Create a Secure Guest WiFi Network 

You now know why guest WiFi network security is important, but how exactly do you go about setting your network up properly? Below, we’ve listed a few steps to consider when configuring your guest network for optimal security, functionality, and ease of use.

Check for Built-in Capabilities

Your router may come with built-in guest WiFi support which you can use to create a separate “virtual” network easily. This would allow your customers to access the internet without directly connecting to your primary network.

Set Up a Secondary Network

You can create a separate wireless access point if your router doesn’t support multiple WiFi networks. By using a separate access point to segment your guest WiFi, users bypass the rest of your network and connect directly to the internet, preventing them from accessing your company’s data.

Limit Guest WiFi Access

You don’t want your customers accessing critical business data through your guest network, so prevent this by confining your business applications to your business network. You can also block access to websites that may contain malware to prevent users connected to your guest WiFi from infecting your network.

Encrypt Your WiFi

While it should be easy for your customers to access your guest WiFi network, you shouldn’t make it a haven for hackers to view network connections. Keep malicious users out by encrypting your wireless networks with WPA2/WPA3 encryption. If your router doesn’t support WPA2 as a minimum, it’s time to upgrade.

Reduce Your Bandwidth

Because your customers aren’t using your guest WiFi for critical, business-related tasks, you don’t need an especially fast or powerful network. You can likely save your business money and still supply an efficient network for your customers by lowering your maximum bandwidth for your guest network.

Best Practices for Your Guest WiFi Network

Secure your network and mitigate potential risks by following these guest WiFi best practices:

  • Always keep your guest WiFi separate from your business network by setting up a second SSID designated for guests.
  • Make sure your guest network’s default password is changed and set a unique password for guests.
  • Share your internet usage policies with guests to ensure they know what they can and can’t access when connected to your guest WiFi.
  • Use the most advanced encryption your router allows, and upgrade your equipment if it doesn’t support WPA2 at a minimum. Avoid using WPS, as it can be vulnerable to brute force attacks.
  • Implement a web filter to prevent users from accessing potentially harmful websites while connected to your guest network.
  • Stay up to date on network security best practices to stay ahead of the ever-changing cyber attack landscape.

Get Better WiFi Network Security With Xceptional

Your customers don’t just appreciate free WiFi access when they do business with you – they expect it. Keep them satisfied while protecting your critical business applications and data by setting up a secure guest WiFi network.

Ensure your guest WiFi and business network are as secure as possible by working with a trusted partner like Xceptional. Xceptional’s network security solutions keep your networks and customer data safe with:

  • Regular updates to your security technology platforms 
  • 24/7 managerial support for all devices connected to your network
  • Automatic patching and the latest antivirus software

If you have any questions about how Xceptional can protect your business and help you stay ahead of the competition, contact us today.