Many businesses now offer their customers free access to their Wi-Fi networks, but if guest Wi-Fi best practices are not followed, opening up Wi-Fi networks to guest users is not without risk. You may have provided security awareness training to your employees, but guest users are unlikely to be as careful while connected to your network. Customers and guests may accidentally download malware or visit malicious websites, or even engage in illegal activities due to the anonymity offered by someone else’s Wi-Fi network.

If guest Wi-Fi best practices are not followed, there will be people that take advantage of your lax security. They could launch an attack on your business network, explore your network assets, change router settings, or even gain access to confidential data.

If you run a hotel, restaurant, shop, or another business that provides Wi-Fi access to customers, it is important to create a safe browsing environment for all Wi-Fi users and take steps to secure your access points and control the activities that users can engage in while connected.

Guest Wi-Fi Best Practices for Hotspot Providers

Create A Separate Wi-Fi Network for Guests and Employees

You will no doubt have a Wi-Fi network that is used by your employees. It is important that this is totally separate from the one used by guests and customers. Guest users should access a totally separate network. Ideally, there should be a network firewall that separates guest users from employees. If you use enterprise switches, create a separate VLAN for access points that broadcast the guest wireless SSID. Also make sure you use a software firewall to block traffic from the guest network from your company’s servers and computers. Also make sure guest users can only access the Internet while connected.

Naming Your SSID

An SSID is the name you give to your Wi-Fi network that identifies it as belonging to your business. Care should be taken when choosing a name. Your choice should depend on the nature of your business and who the Wi-Fi network serves. If you run a coffee shop, for instance, you should make it clear which is your Wi-Fi network and prominently display that information. That will make it harder for rogue hotspots to be created to fool customers into connecting to an evil twin – A hotspot set up and controlled by a hacker to fool customers into connecting in the belief it is your hotspot.

Encrypt your Wireless Signals

Unsecured Wi-Fi networks may be easier to set up and use, but they also allow anyone within range to connect, even if they are not in your establishment.  To connect, it should be necessary for a password to be entered. You should also encrypt your wireless network to make it harder for hackers to intercept users’ data. Secure your wireless network with WPA2 encryption or, even better, WPA3 if it is supported by your access point.

Create a Safe Browsing Experience and Control the Internet Content That Can be Accessed

You should develop and implement a guest Wi-Fi access policy covering what is and is not permitted on your Wi-Fi network. You should also enforce that policy with technical controls. A cloud-based web filter is ideal for this.

It is easy to deploy and configure and will allow you to carefully control the content that can be accessed while connected. You should block access to known malicious sites and illegal web content through blacklists. Category based filters are useful for blocking access to inappropriate content such as pornography and restricting bandwidth-heavy activities that can slow down Internet speeds for all users. By filtering content, not only will you keep your Wi-Fi users protected, you will also reduce legal liability and ensure that your Wi-Fi network is family friendly.

Adopt these guest Wi-Fi best practices to improve safety and security, keep your customers protected, and make it harder for cybercriminals to attack your network or your guest users.