By Brandon Cerocke
Many organizations are interested in providing Internet access for their customers, partners and vendors while maintaining the security of their own network. Now more than ever, people are using their cellphones for much more than talking. With over a billion smartphone users worldwide and corporate employees requiring Internet access to their phones, tablets and laptops, the importance of providing a guest wireless network is imperative.
Much like coffee in a mechanic’s lobby, free Internet access has become another expected perk for modern-day customers. However, even more important than providing your guests the hospitality of free Internet access is securing your organization’s coveted data in the process.
A guest network is a section of an organization’s overall network designed for use by temporary visitors. Known as a subnetwork, this division from your corporate wireless environment can be designed to operate under strict security parameters. Your network administrator or helpdesk can assist in configuring your guest network to provide full Internet connectivity while preventing access to your corporate network files and internal web sites. Guest networks also prevent viruses from being introduced to your network by visitors that may have infections on their mobile devices.
A network should have multiple layers of security established to prevent against outside threats. Typically, this is achieved through the use of a firewall and by pushing, or locally installing anti-virus software to your employee’s mobile and stationary computers. Operating your guest wireless on a subnetwork removed from your corporate environment adds yet another layer of protection. Network administrators can rest easy knowing they have removed an entry point to secure data while providing access to Internet-based services, such as email and social media, to their visitors.
While it is commonplace for a mechanic to provide hot coffee in their lobby, you can be sure they do not want nonpaying patrons coming in off the street for a quick caffeine boost while having no intention of soliciting their services. Likewise, organizations can limit Internet connectivity specifically to their visitors by providing a network key. Without this, individuals within the radius of your wireless broadcast, but not necessarily associated with your company, will not have the ability to take advantage of the perk you are offering your customers.
By incorporating guest wireless access on a subnetwork, you eliminate potential data phishing and infections by never allowing a window into your corporate network while at the same time providing your visitors the hospitality they have come to expect.
Brandon Cerocke is director of sales and marketing of IQ Technology Solutions.