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How to Secure Your Public WiFi Network

 

In a world that is being increasingly run by technology, keeping up with the latest and greatest technology is a tough task for small businesses. Making sure we have the right equipment and security measures in place can be confusing, stressful and expensive. Technology debt can creep up on all of us quickly, making working capital a necessity just to keep up with our competition and the growing demands of our customers.
Regardless of the hardware and software we have available for our business, we always need to be on the lookout for ways to keep these properties safe and sound. For those of us who aren’t super tech-savvy, that can be an even greater challenge. What’s most unnerving about it? It’s most often the thing that’s right under our nose posing the biggest threat.

Protecting Your WiFi

Knowing that this is a struggle for business owners and operators, we want you to be armed with the knowledge necessary for a successful business in 2018.

Fast Capital 360’s own Technology Systems Administrator, Tim Oakley, has put together a list of actionable tips you can use in your business to keep the data of your employees, customers and business safe.

Change your default admin credentials on your wireless router

Access to public WiFi is a way of modern life. As consumers, we’ve become accustomed to asking ‘what’s the WiFi password?’ at our favorite coffee shops, mostly without thinking of the risk we could be putting ourselves in, or the businesses we love.

For as far as we’ve come with consumer cyber-security, there will always be flaws needing to be repaired by the manufacturer. The default admin credentials are not as safe as we want to believe.

According to Tim, “simply by knowing the model of a wireless router, I would be able to identify the default admin credentials and gain access to your network.” 

If someone got access to the network, there’s no telling what they’d do. A malicious hacker could install tools allowing them to sniff out traffic, intercept data, identify intellectual property, passwords and a litany of other haunting activities. Long story short – don’t let your default router setting rule the roost for too long.

Set-up a different password

Creating a new password is a pain, but it’s more painful (and expensive) to fix a problem after the fact than it is to be proactive. Tim gave a really good suggestion for remembering your passwords, one that we’ve taken to heart in our own offices.

“Make the password simple, challenging but memorable.” The example Tim used was the word ‘Tomorrow’. Instead of spelling the word as normally would, Tim suggested using  ‘T0I\/IorROw’. This way, your eyes are still able to see it as ‘tomorrow’ and will act as a natural reminder to what the password truly is but adds security by increasing the password’s complexity.

“Perhaps instead of advertising your public WiFi in the open, print the password on your receipts so only your customers have access to the latest password.” While this is simply a suggestion, one thing that we know you should absolutely be doing is changing your passwords on a regular basis. Establish a password policy within your organization that all employees are aware of so you’re never caught off guard…or using password1234.

Update your firmware

Firmware is the software that runs your device – in this case, a router or modem – and holds any new instructions and security settings.

“Updating your firmware protects you from vulnerabilities that older versions were susceptible to.” In addition to beefing up the security, updating your firmware could lead to increased user experience, features and functionality. It’s similar to updating a Smart TV – just not as much fun.

Don’t leave your router in plain sight

Might sound a bit simplistic or weird, even, but this is for the best. If anyone who is capable and interested in hacking into your network is able to see the model of the machine, you’re already in trouble.

Just like changing the default settings, make sure that you know exactly where your router is, who could have access to it and never leave any information visible.

Don’t use a WEP Key

“Don’t use a WEP key.” Tim was pretty stern about this one. As much as we might all be familiar with this version of logging into a network, he stated that WEP keys, along with WPS, are antiquated and incredibly vulnerable technologies.

Instead, use WPA2, which stands for Wi-Fi Protected Access II. The technology has been around for nearly 15 years and while January 2018 saw the introduction of WPA3, the accessibility and ubiquity of WPA2 devices is where you should invest.
Investing in your hardware and software is never an easy thing, nor is it cheap. Having someone like Tim on your team is certainly helpful but even the best administrator can’t slow the wheel of time and technological progress. Whenever you need to upgrade your machines and you don’t have the cash on hand to address these problems immediately, take a look into our alternative funding options for business loans and bad credit business loans.

 

How do you keep your network safe? Did we miss tips? Let us know on Facebook and Twitter or in the comments below!

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