Cybercrime is a billion-dollar industry in the United States alone (with damages reported to be upwards of $6 trillion worldwide); making a well-rounded, quality cybersecurity strategy a must for any business.
While large enterprises may seem like obvious targets, don’t make the mistake of equating small businesses to unlikely prey. In fact, 43% of cyberattacks target small businesses. At the same time, plenty are known to be less thorough in their safeguards — spurred by the mentality of “it can’t happen to me.”
Hackers are aware of this, and use it to their advantage. Securing your data as a small business is thus crucial to maintaining customer trust and business efficiency.
With most of our data stored on online resources (such as cloud-based applications), addressing your Wi-Fi security is a good first step.
Why Wi-Fi security should be a priority
An unsecured Wi-Fi network is an open invitation for hackers to step in and access any sensitive company data. Data you use and send through the internet can be easily intercepted (and used to their benefit when left unencrypted); these include emails, social media accounts, and credentials to private cloud platforms.
Poor Wi-Fi security also leaves you vulnerable to malware, which may be used to steal data or compromise any software or devices connected to your company network.
Such breaches cause major damage to a business’s profits, productivity, and overall reputation, as private customer (and employee) information is left exposed and vulnerable to the general public. In fact, Statista’s latest report shows that New York suffered over $200 million in cybercrime losses — and that’s just in 2018.
How to improve your Wi-Fi security as a small business
Quality cybersecurity is critical to minimizing the risk of downtime, poor public image, and lost information. Your Wi-Fi network is a goldmine for retrieving valuable company data; so to keep hackers at bay, be sure you’ve applied the best practices below.
1. Secure your router
Firstly, ensure both your router and ethernet ports are physically protected. Software security protocols can be easily circumvented by pressing a Wi-Fi router’s “reset” button, or by plugging into a network port.
Also keep your routers stored in a locked room or closet, or mount it on a high location near the ceiling. Users can also further secure their ports defining their IP address scope.
2. Change the default credentials
Routers aren’t secure right out of the box. When installing a new one, change the default login credentials to something complex and hard to guess (experts suggest using long, random passcodes as much as possible).
This is a crucial step to securing your Wi-Fi, as plenty of websites now exist to provide default passwords based on a router’s model. Keeping your default credentials thus provides hackers with effortless access to your company network.
Similarly, simple passwords are easily cracked using the right software — so the more complicated, the better.
3. Use firewall and encryption tactics
Encrypting data over your Wi-Fi network ensures that any communicated information is scrambled and rendered useless when it falls into the wrong hands. It adds an additional layer of network security.
For best protection, use Wi-Fi Protected Access 2 (WPA2) encryption. Networks that use WPA2 provide connected clients with unique “keys” to decrypt any accessed information.
Additionally, you’ll want to set up firewalls to separate your Wi-Fi network from the rest of your company network. This prevents hackers from further accessing your servers and other network assets should they successfully breach your Wi-Fi. It also helps to have a guest Wi-Fi network — isolated from all other networks — to limit visitor or outsider access.
4. Update your firmware
Just like your desktops and smartphones, your Wi-Fi router's firmware should also have regular software updates. This helps patch up any existing security vulnerabilities and may even improve your wireless connectivity.
Typically, routers will notify users of any firmware updates available, with some downloading them automatically. Otherwise, be sure to check the manufacturer’s website for the latest versions available.
5. Use a VPN if necessary
Finally, it may be worth investing in a virtual private network (VPN) server.
This further strengthens your data protection by hiding your company network. Through its ability to reroute your internet connection (transmitting data from your chosen server, rather than your devices), you’re able to hide your IP address, which effectively protects your identity.
Hackers who try and intercept these transmissions will find such data unreadable until it reaches its destination. As such, both you and your workers can enjoy safe and secure internet use for as long as your VPN is enabled.
No matter your business size, proper online protection is vital to keeping your corporate data (and reputation) safe. Capstone IT prides in supporting small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) with CyberShield — a security solution that assesses, safeguards, and insures your data and network systems against the wild west of cyber threats. Keep hackers at bay, and consult with our experts today.