Do you know who is accessing your Network?
We all have wireless devices that need the internet, so it becomes something that we expect wherever we go. We expect to be able to connect to a someone’s WiFi for the internet, especially when we visit a friend’s home. But are there any risks to that? It’s quite interesting we’d never dream of getting a laptop out at a friend’s house and connecting to their router with a cable, but wirelessly we expect to be given the password, and we give it, as if its not a real connection to our network as there are no physical wires. The problem is that it is exactly the same as being connected to your network with wires. When you have guests connect to your WiFi, they are connected to the network where all your business computers are.
What risks does this bring?
The biggest risk is internally shared data and devices. The person connecting to your network can communicate with all of those devices on that network, your computers, printers, NAS drives, lights, sound system, heating and possibly your fridge or kettle. All of which have varying degrees of security, from within the network, after all, the only people connecting to your network would be someone you trust.
However, what if it is a client? A friend of your child? Friends of friends over for a party? Who would you say “No you may not use my internet” to? If these strange devices you have no control over are on your network, do you know how security conscious the “guest” is? The NHS Ransomware of 2017 spread because 1 computer got infected within the network and none of the others had any protection against it from an attack within the network.
The next issue is that we never change the password. So, while we’ve given it out to everyone who comes into our house or business, their devices remember this password so they can use our internet whenever they are in our vicinity again, and never need permission. Why don’t we change the password? Because we then have to update our Laptops, printers, several phones, several tablets, TV’s, consoles, light systems, heating systems, fridge and kettles and so on….
What can you do?
The answer is simple. Create a guest WiFi. Most routers have this ability inside their settings, it just needs to be activated. A guest WiFi creates another WiFi network which normally ends with the word “-Guest”. It is a completely separate network where each device is isolated and can only see the internet, nothing else.
You can then freely share that password with anyone, and even change it often, so that those devices can’t be sitting outside our home or business using our internet. You can change the password easily and frequently, because you will not have to update all your devices, When your guests come back to visit you can give them the new password. You won’t need to reconnect all your own devices, as you are connected to the main network and the passwords are different for both WiFis.
This is all done from the router. You will need to access the web interface of the router to see if it is a feature you have (please note Internet Providers give a free router, and routers can cost from £20 to £350), some times it is worth investing in your own router as it will be better quality and include these extra features. For a home user approx. £100, for a small business office £150-£250 depending on their specific requirements. The router will work with all internet connections as long as the same type. i.e. Fibre/ADSL/VDSL – going from Talk Talk to PlusNet isn’t a change of technology. The only time there is a change of technology is moving from phone line to cable (like Virgin).
Today’s guest post comes courtesy of Tristan from TLMartin Ltd – Tristan loves looking after Virtual Assistant businesses of any size. He truly understands the IT issues they face and offers lots of guidance to help them keep their data and the data of their clients safe. Tristan will be sharing a regular tech update with us every month – I am really looking forward to learning from him!
If you want to find out more about setting up a guest WiFi network rather than doing it yourself then I highly recommend speaking to Tristan who will definitely be able to help and advise.
Tristan also offers an IT Health Check without charge at https://www.tlmartin.ltd.uk/services/it-health-check/ where he will give you a report of your strengths and weaknesses and how they can be easily fixed.