By Josh Harding, ABA Systems Administrator
Setting up a store network probably isn’t the most exciting part of anyone’s day. It is, however, important both for the security of a business’ sensitive data and for the protection of its customers. Offering a guest network and implementing a Wi-Fi password are two ways to provide customers with Internet without giving them access to your data — or giving other people access to theirs.
Setting Up a Guest Network
There are countless tools available to gather information from networks and the computers on them, and while they have many legitimate uses, they also have nefarious ones. Providing a guest network ensures that anyone with less-than-honest intentions (or just an overabundance of curiosity) can’t steal data or disrupt business by getting into and possibly damaging important systems.
Most modern wireless routers will allow users to set up a guest network. Enabling it is usually as simple as checking a box in the router configuration.
Check your router for a sticker with configuration instructions, which will lead you to a website where you can log in and change your preferences; searching online for the manufacturer of your router will also generally yield instructions. If your router doesn’t support guest networks, you will need to purchase a new one. A good-quality router costs about $100.
Securing the Network With a Password
If guest networks protect you, how can you protect your customers from each other? This is where Wi-Fi security becomes important. Many guest networks are ‘open,’ which means they can be accessed without a password or by entering a password at a webpage customers are directed to.
An open network is much like an open phone line: anyone who is interested can listen to what anyone else is saying. This is also worth bearing in mind when traveling the world as computer users: be careful where you browse on open networks.
Requiring a password keeps nosy neighbors from listening in on each other’s browsing activity, whether those neighbors are also on the network or outside of it; adding a password to a Wi-Fi network can also be done through a router’s configuration.