Let’s look at the differences between residential and commercial wireless networks and some tips on how to secure your network with an emphasis on the risks of employee cell phones and remote workers.
A lot of people use wireless for their mobile devices and to connect to their computers and especially notebooks for accessibility to their work both remotely and even within the workplace.
How should a company determine what they need for wireless and the wireless network? It depends on many factors-how many of their employees are working from the office, whether the IT needs are outsourced through a managed IT support in Boise (or elsewhere), or are dealt with in-house, and the size of the office space. The actual business needs dictate the necessity for wireless. You could be in manufacturing with a need for tablets on the floor to collect data. You could be an oil company and need wireless devices in your trucks. But in the office, the wireless trend continues to grow. People want more mobility, they want the flexibility to get to the conference room, and they want the ability to hit the road and work from home. Today, everyone wants everything now, so wireless is critical in every business.
Most PC’s are hard-wired. In today’s work environment, especially with the Pandemic and adaptation of the remote workforce, employees working remotely may not realize that when they come to work, they are not hard-wired into their on-premises network.
What are the differences between what we have at work and what we use at home for connectivity? Wireless routers that we have at home and in a small office, provide an easy installation without cabling. This wireless router connects your WiFi enabled devices like notebooks, tablets, and smartphones wirelessly. It also provides digital television service and can be used for VoiIP (Voice over IP) calls. Your home router also provides basic protection including a password to defend against threats outside of your local area (home) network.
While this model does a great job at home, it is a consumer-based solution. It is not really geared to cover a whole facility, such as a five-thousand-foot manufacturing floor, or a business with 50 or more users.
Your home device is not a secure device, and it does not provide the necessary secure connection to your office to protect your business and data against a cyber-attack. In a business environment, you have many people using their phones, tablets, or notebooks to access network resources, VoIP phones, security cameras, HVAC, Door access and the IOT (Internet of Things).
Each access point can only handle “X” amount of people on that wireless access point, called the “density” of an access point. An example of this is a golf course or convention center where you have a 100 plus users trying to get on the wireless. You would therefore need multiple access points to accommodate this usage to give users a positive wireless experience.
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Wed Jun 16 20:43:37 +0000 2021
At the SMB and Enterprise level, a wireless access point (AP) is added to provide WiFi capability to an existing hard-wired network. It bridges traffic from wireless devices into your wired network. A wireless access point can be stand-alone or be part of a router and allows devices without built in WiFi to access a wireless network via an ethernet cable. A wireless point is beneficial in the workplace as it can be used for extending the wireless coverage of your existing network as users are added in the need of future growth. Where access points are located is determined by many things like the infrastructure and building materials of your space, the height of your ceilings and location of your users.
A thorough wireless assessment is necessary with this option to determine where all the access points will be needed for coverage. This will allow for a proper budget for wiring runs and the number of access points needed for connectivity for all your company wireless and device connections. To connect these access points with the main server, a business can hire a commercial electrician, for which they can search for Wyndham vale electrical companies (if that is where the business is located) and opt for the best service provider. This can help to create an efficient workplace wireless network that is also secured.
Moreover, one of the greatest risks to your business network is cellphone usage. All cellphones, whether employee or guests, need to be connected to your guest/public network. Never allow cellphone connection to your private network. It is a huge vulnerability risk. Address cellphone protocol in your employee handbook stating the expectations regarding use of your private network. Any savvy user that knows the private network password can get on. As part of on-boarding new employees, HR needs to emphasize that “Company data is our livelihood, and we need to minimize risk” by protecting that data.
Make sure there are protocols and processes in place if your employees work from home on their wireless. Lock down the home wireless as well to secure your remote workers. They should not share a home modem with the rest of the family. That is not truly private or safe and is a further risk to your business network.
It is common for many businesses to add wireless access points at their user’s homes for direct, secure access creating a VPN (Virtual Private Network) tunnel. Network traffic coming from the home to the work is more secure and separate from the wireless your employee may already be sharing with children and guests. It is a strong recommendation to add a VPN/Remote access appliance to ensure a secure site to connection, such as the Meraki Cloud Managed Teleworker Gateway appliance.
How do you know if your employees are using their cell phone to go onto the private work network? A cloud management portal is a great way to manage this. You will be able to “see” who is on and if there are too many cell phones on it or a wireless device with issues, you are able to remove them from that connection via a managed wireless device such as Meraki, by Cisco, enterprise mobility and security management. You can manage what they are trying to access and limit this such as streaming music which clogs up your Internet pipe.
Security concerns with remote workers, wireless connectivity, cell phone connectivity to your business is vital. This should be part of your business plan and security practice to minimize your risk and improve your security presence which also supports your Cyber Insurance Policy.
Your managed service provider can guide and get you there. Do it right and you won’t have any issues.
JoAnn Hodgdon is vice president and co-founder of Portsmouth Computer Group (PCGiT) with her husband David. PCG provides comprehensive managed IT services, business continuity, security, cloud computing and Virtual CIO services to their clients. You may reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or at www.pcgit.com.