Small Business WiFi Network Security

Is WiFi security in your business a simple “set it and forget it” matter? Well, if it is, the number of ways malicious actors can take down your business is increasing by the day. With 43% of data breaches targeting small businesses, observing business WiFi network security has never been more important.

While having a business WiFi can create new opportunities for your business, unsecure networks may kill it. Of the data breached small companies, 60% never open. How do you keep your business WiFi secure, and what are the risks of unsecure WiFi to a business? Let’s break it down.

Risks For Not Securing Your Company WiFi Network

The vulnerabilities of an unsecure business WiFi makes an enterprise an easy attack for hackers. With potential data breaches looming, a business stands to lose a lot, including:

  • Business insights

Since any small business aspires to grow and flourish, companies collect data over time. The data gives insights, showing the firm its areas of strength and weaknesses. Additionally, business units identify opportunities.

A data breach resulting from an unsecure WiFi network may lead to loss of such important data. Worse yet, hackers can leak the data to the competition. Afterward, the business will be having a competitor they know nothing about but knows everything about them.

  • Client confidence

Having a data breach, especially one that touches client data, is the simplest way to lose a customer. After all, how can customers trust you with their data if you cannot protect it?

The havoc that an unsecure WiFi can create most certainly causes loss of goodwill. As statistics show, regaining that confidence may take a massive amount of capital resources.

  • Money

A successful data breach will cost the business money. Statistics indicate that a ransomware attack costs a business $133,000.

Also, a cyberattack opens the business up to litigations. Fighting or losing a case requires financial resources that the firm may not recover.

  • Personal data

A cyberattack can involve a hacker collecting personnel and customers’ data. The hacker can utilize the data to do more damage, most likely by threatening the victims.

What Can Happen to A Business That Fails to Properly Protect Their WiFi Network?

An unsecure business WiFi can shut down a small business overnight, literally. A hacker can penetrate a network and get a hold of all devices on it. After injecting a self-propagating malware, they can infect every electronic device on a WiFi network within no time. Subsequently, they can lock all personnel out of their computers, crippling business operations in a matter of hours, if not minutes.

The stints of companies with unsecure WiFi networks sum up to:

  • 60% of small businesses that fall victims to cyberattacks never open shop
  • Those that become operational incur financial burdens averaging $133,000

How To Keep Business WiFi Secure

While the costs of an unsecure WiFi are hefty, keeping a network secure isn’t as expensive. All a business has to do is observe simple safety measures and have a professional network analyst to perform a security audit. Here is what a company can do to stay safe.

Change Default Configurations

Have you configured new login credentials on your new router?

Usually, a router will ship with a default username, password, and SSID (Service Set Identifier). You want to change all of them, as anyone with intermediate computer knowledge can get them and attack your business network. Firstly, the default username is usually “Admin.” Be sure to change it to something you can remember.

The default router’s password varies, but an attacker can check its default password on the internet by knowing its model. You want to change the password to a fifteen-character long string consisting of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and other ASCII characters.

Your password’s length is especially important. A hacker can crack a seven-character password in about twelve milliseconds. Take that up to nine characters, and it would take five days. By raising it to fifteen characters, a hacker would sweat over it for a couple of centuries.

Finally, change the SSID, the name publicly broadcasted by the network. By default, the name is the router’s model number. A hacker can use that to check on known vulnerabilities and attack your WiFi network.

Secure Your WiFi Physically

After implementing all security measures above, a person can restore the defaults. All they need is approximately thirty seconds with your router. Therefore, keeping unwanted hands off your router is wise.

You can avoid this situation by keeping your router in a locked place. Additionally, it is good to know who has physical access to the router. Better yet, retain a video feed of the room where the router stays. Surveillance makes it easy to put a face to a hacker’s name, helping resolve data breaches quickly.

Activate Your Router’s Firewall

After changing defaults and securing the router, it would now be time to protect the network. This step is where the firewall comes in handy. By default, the router ships with its firewall deactivated. You want to access the router’s interface, find a feature called SPI, NAT, or something similar, and activate it.

After doing so, activate the firewall on your device as well.

Keep Your Software Updated

Time after time, you might receive notifications about an update for your router’s software or firmware. These are not fancy ways of keeping clients interested in a router they bought. On the contrary, they are solutions to known vulnerabilities about the previous version of your software.

Since network experts, hackers included, know about the vulnerability, failing to update software is welcoming a data breach. You can make configurations to effect updates automatically when no one is using the network.

Separate the WiFi’s Access Points (AP)

Does your workforce and your clients use the same network? Having separate access points may be a good idea.

An access point connects to your router via an ethernet cable and delivers a wireless network to end-users. On your router’s interface, it is possible to create two access points.

The goal of separate access points is to alienate public and private networks. Many businesses allow their customer to use their WiFi as part of customer service. Be sure to separate the WiFi network your workforce uses from the one used by your on-premise clients. This practice will help keep your business WiFi network safe and fast.

While at it, confirm there are no rogue access points in your network. You might want to get an IT consultant to perform an access point scanning. Rogue APs usually come with poor configurations, making you easy prey for a hacker.

Encrypt the Network

How do you scramble data on a network? One of the ideal ways to keep a network’s data secure is encrypting it. While the method doesn’t keep hackers off the WiFi network, it means that even if they intercept data packets, they can read them.

A standard router will have three protocols for encrypting. The first is WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy). It is advisable to keep off it. Not only is it old, but its encryption algorithm is easy to crack.

The second is WAP (WiFi Protected Access), fairly secure but not advisable to use. The third and most reliable is WAP2 (WiFi Protected Access 2). Indubitably, you want to turn on WPA2 encryption.

Keep WPS Turned Off

The function of WPS (WiFi Protected Setup), to provide a user-friendly interaction method, is also its downside. Hackers can exploit the WPS vulnerabilities to connect their wireless devices to your network effortlessly. Therefore, consider turning it off.

It is important to note, however, that business-grade routers may have WPS turned off by default. You want to keep it that way. If your business is small and uses a consumer-grade router, you can let a professional guide you on keeping the network secure.

On the WPS issue, confirm that the remote management feature on your router isn’t turned on. The functionality allows you to configure the router remotely. But if you can get in the router from a geographically distant position, so can hackers.

Logout When Done

To enable configuration, most routers ship with an interface that users can access through a browser. Once you finish with a particular setting, be sure you logout.

It may be tempting to flip the laptop shut and consider that logging out. This habit is a bad idea. You want to click the logout link on the dashboard. By doing so, the system can invalidate cookies associated with your login session. Without cookies, a hacker’s chance of getting on the user interface becomes slimmer.

Filter MAC Addresses

The Media Access Control (MAC) address is a unique identifier assigned to devices connecting to a network. With configurations, you can restrict the devices that initiate a connection with your business WiFi.

An IT specialist can create a record of devices that can access your network. Henceforth, new devices, including those from hackers, will not connect to the configured WiFi without your consent.

Every Business Is at Risk

More than half of the US’s small businesses feel they are too small to be on a hacker’s radar. Unfortunately, the said hackers may not share this view. More cyberattacks are targeting small businesses, exploiting the insecurity of their business WiFi networks.

What cybersecurity strategy is your business implementing? How prepared are you to handle ransomware? If these are questions that your business cannot answer, then you are not ready. You can start by implementing the measures we discussed above, and keeping your computer safe.

Remember to consult a cybersecurity expert to keep your business in the clear. You can never be too careful.