4 Tips to Improve Business Wi-Fi Security

By Zachary Amos •  Updated: 09/10/22 •  5 min read

Business owners or IT team managers probably know the importance of keeping a Wi-Fi network secure as part of an overall strategy to avoid hacking and unauthorized network traffic. Perhaps you’ve already done some things, such as changing the Wi-Fi network’s default credentials to a unique network name and strong password. Those are a good start, but there’s more to do. Here are some actionable tips.

1. Consider Having Team Members Use a VPN

Some organizations use virtual private networks (VPNs) to strengthen their Wi-Fi security. A VPN routes traffic through intermediary servers and encrypts the data. These tools are straightforward to use. Using them usually involves activating them and choosing a location for the intermediary server.

Working through a VPN is a good practice for companies to follow if they regularly handle sensitive information related to finances or health. VPNs are also helpful when businesses have remote team members. After all, it’s challenging or impossible for an IT manager to verify the security of someone’s home network. A VPN provides an extra layer of protection.

As you research the options, think carefully before using a free VPN tool. They exist but don’t always have the same levels of security and reliability as the paid possibilities. Plus, when you pay for something, it’s usually easy to connect to a technical support representative in case things go wrong or you need a few questions answered.

2. Provide a Guest Network

Regardless of the business you’re associated with, you almost certainly welcome occasional visitors. They could be current or prospective clients, candidates for open positions, vendors, consultants, legal professionals, and others essential to helping your company operate smoothly.

Internet access is instrumental in helping people communicate and access information, so, understandably, some visitors would need and appreciate Wi-Fi access. However, having them use your company’s main network is a security risk.

Allowing that to happen means the Wi-Fi credentials don’t remain within the company. However, guest networks have some specific security features, too. For example, an administrator can set up the connection so guests can access the internet but not local resources.

It’s also often possible to limit the number of people who can use a guest network simultaneously. This primarily ensures Wi-Fi traffic does not get too heavy for people at the company who need the internet for their daily work.

Wi-Fi networks have gotten a lot better over the years. For example, beamforming technology setups can intentionally transmit a signal in the receiving device’s direction for better connectivity. However, most networks will get progressively slower as more people use them. That’s why limiting how many individuals can use your guest network is good.

3. Give Employees Safe Options for Using Wi-Fi Outside of Work

Today, and especially since the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s less likely that people will do all their work on the clock while within a company’s building. They might need to meet clients elsewhere, have a work obligation that requires traveling to another city or state, or take care of other necessities that make them unable to stay on-site at all times.

In such cases, it’s often tempting for employees to use public Wi-Fi connections since they’re so easily accessible. However, that can pose security risks. It’s a good idea to remind workers of cybersecurity best practices periodically. Those include never leaving their devices unattended and keeping software updated. The discussions should also extend to how people should connect to Wi-Fi while away from work to stay as safe as possible from cyberattacks.

One option is to recommend people tether from their smartphones, so they connect to the internet through cellular data. That strategy automatically encrypts all information that goes over the network. Another possibility is having people do their away-from-office work through browsers with built-in encryption.

Perhaps the broadest strategy is to have people think carefully about what kind of work they do outside the primary company’s Wi-Fi connection. For example, handling confidential or highly regulated data is never a good idea. However, it’s easier to justify something like sending an email to a colleague to confirm a meeting.

4. Help Workers Understand Wi-Fi Risks

Working over Wi-Fi connections is a regular part of daily life for many people, and they often don’t stop to think about the potential risks. For example, Wi-Fi signals can extend up to 1,000 feet outside and several hundred feet indoors. That can make it easier for unauthorized people to use the connection without being noticed.

It’s often said that workers are the weakest cybersecurity links within organizations. However, that’s frequently because employees don’t immediately realize the consequences of their actions.

Your workplace might have Wi-Fi networks set to ensure individual employees need specific credentials to access them. Consider a case where someone shares authorization if a colleague says theirs won’t work. In that place, the worker who gave the login details was probably primarily thinking about how to help and didn’t evaluate the cybersecurity risks.

However, education is critical in helping people avoid making mistakes that could elevate cybersecurity threats. No one’s perfect. However, the more someone’s aware of the dangers, the easier it is for them to stay careful.

Start Tightening Wi-Fi Security Today

Improving Wi-Fi security at your business is not something that can happen overnight. It’s a lengthy process but a worthwhile one. These considerations will give some excellent points for improving your company’s safety.

Zachary Amos

Zachary is a tech writer and the features editor of ReHack Magazine where he covers cybersecurity and all things technology.