Wireless access allows users to work from anywhere within the reach of a Wi-Fi signal. Unlike wired networks, Wi-Fi gives workers the ability to increase their productivity wherever they are in the office.
Today, most companies offer Wi-Fi access to their employees. Even your corporate clients, partners and other guests can be offered Wi-Fi access when they visit your office. Providing Wi-Fi Internet access for guests makes them feel welcome and can open up new opportunities for your business; however, it may also expose your network to possible security breaches if not set up securely.
Therefore, the decision to provide corporate Wi-Fi access to guests and other visitors should be taken seriously. It is not as easy to protect a wireless network as it is to protect a wired network.
What is the Solution?
Setting separate Guest Wi-Fi networks for your business customers and visitors is the best solution in order to protect your company’s data network while still allowing internet access throughout your office network.
How is a Guest Wi-Fi network different from a Corporate Wi-Fi network?
A Guest Wi-Fi network is a separate subnet of your company’s wireless network. Within this network your customers will not have any access to corporate network devices or data, but can still enjoy full internet connectivity during the time they are on your premises. Furthermore, by separating the Guest Wi-Fi from your Office Wi-Fi, you are protecting the corporate network from potential virus or malware infections.
What are Important Considerations for a Properly Configured Wi-Fi network?
- Should be on its own subnet.
- Should be secure from the Office network (Internal).
- Should be easy to use and encrypted with a WAP or WAP2 pass phrase which is changed every quarter.
- Should be easy to manage and monitor.
It is also a good idea to enable content filtering, as you don’t want visitors surfing inappropriate websites. At the same time, set up Quality of Service (QoS) rules for the guest network. This can limit the bandwidth used on the Guest network so the Internet connection is not over-utilized.
When purchasing Wi-Fi equipment for the office, purchase Enterprise class equipment, not equipment designed for homes. The Enterprise class equipment is much more secure and manageable. Typically, your firewall vendor will also sell wireless access points that can be connected to and managed by the firewall.
Indika Ekanayake is a Senior Consultant at Triella, a technology consulting company specializing in providing technology audits, planning advice, project management and other CIO-related services to small and medium sized firms. Indika can be reached at 647.426.1004. For additional articles, go to www.triella.com/publications. Triella is a VMware Professional Partner, Microsoft Certified Partner, BlackBerry Alliance Partner, Authorized Worldox Reseller and a Kaspersky Reseller.
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