Should Your Business Offer a Guest Wi-Fi Connection?

If you’ve ever taken your laptop into a Starbucks to do a little work, you know how nice it is to be able to make use of the free Wi-Fi connection to boost your productivity. While being able to sip a freshly-made triple grande sugar free vanilla latte and work on your latest projects is something the world at large has come to take for granted, offering free Wi-Fi access in your business is something that takes careful planning.

Unlike wired networking, which limits your network access points, Wi-Fi networking allows users to work from any location within the reach of the Wi-Fi signal. While this is great for productivity, it can also open you up to potential security breaches if you allow outsiders to access your Wi-Fi without protecting your information.

guest wifi accessIf you want to allow business customers to utilize your company’s Wi-Fi connection while they’re in your office, you’ll want to set up a Guest Wi-Fi Network.

A guest Wi-Fi network is a portion of your company’s wireless network that’s set up for use by temporary visitors. Within this sub-network, your guests enjoy full internet connectivity without being able to access your internal network information, including your intranet. You isolate and protect your confidential company information while still providing your corporate guests access to the internet during the time they are on your business premises.

Not only are you protecting confidential company information from prying eyes, you’re also protecting your entire network from potential infection by viruses or malware that your visitors may be harboring on their devices. Please note, however, that not all wireless routers offer this functionality; you will need to examine your wireless hardware to determine if setting up a guest Wi-Fi is possible with the equipment you already have.

A properly configured Wi-Fi network should:

  • Be secure from your internal LAN (Local Area Network)
  • Require access via a WPA or WPA2 key (WPA/WPA2 key should be changed on a regular basis)
  • Be able to be easily administrated and monitored
  • NOT be easily detected by other businesses or individuals in your area

Keep in mind that there is no rule that you must offer visitors access to your Wi-Fi. It’s simply a nice gesture upon your part, particularly if you have customers or business partners who bring their devices into your business with the expectation they will be able to access the internet. Setting up guest Wi-Fi access makes your business friendlier to guests and visitors and demonstrates that your business is serious about IT security.