What to Know About Wi-Fi

Today, we experience Wi-Fi that is faster, smarter and more widespread than ever before. Because of this, we need to be smart consumers and this month, I'd like to share three recommendations about Wi-Fi usage that are important for connected individuals and businesses:

  • The Dangers of Wi-Fi
  • What's Causing Slow Wi-Fi?
  • Risk of Guests Using Your Wi-Fi

The Dangers of Wi-Fi

Free, public Wi-Fi networks are promoted everywhere, and soon we'll be able to connect seamlessly as we travel around New York City. Have you heard of LinkNYC? This new network will replace NYC payphones with kiosks providing free services such as high-speed Wi-Fi, charging stations and a tablet for web browsing. Over the next few years, 7500 Links kiosks will be installed in the five boroughs. Click here to read more in The Wall Street Journal

When using open Wi-Fi, be aware that you're actually sharing a network with other people, thus putting your data at risk. You may think a public Wi-Fi is safe when, in fact, it might be bogus and can compromise your sensitive information and can lead to identity theft or financial loss. I want to share five tips on what you need to do to protect yourself:

5 Wi-Fi Tips/Warnings

  1. Use your personal hotspot. If you often work in public places, use your personal hotspot but don’t connect through Wi-Fi; rather, use a cable connecting your smartphone to your computer. And, turn off Wi-Fi when you’re not using it.
  2. Don’t use Apple’s default password. When using your personal hotspot on an Apple device, don’t use the default password they’ve given you, as the strength is very low and can be hacked – make up your own. Click here to read how this has been tested and hacked within 50 seconds!
  3. Turn off sharing. When you're in a public place, you don't want to be sharing files, devices or printers.
  4. Disable auto-connecting. You don't want to connect to a network that you're not aware of, even if you've connected to it before.
  5. Use SSL connections. Only browse websites that are secure and contain the HTTPS in their web address. Notice the lock icon near the web address. You can enable this feature to only connect to secure sites. And if your business offers VPN (Virtual Private Network), use it.

This can all be quite confusing! If your employees are working remotely and using public Wi-Fi, call LeBlanc Communications to see how we can help protect you. You don’t want to have to make the call after your data or devices have been compromised.

What’s Causing Slow Wi-Fi?

Did you know that we are currently in the fifth generation of Wi-Fi? Even if you’re not a techy, you’ve noticed that Wi-Fi has changed dramatically over the years. You may have an older router/access point with 802.11a, 802.11b or 802.11g. These devices provide Wi-Fi that is slow with less signal strength. The most recent Wi-Fi generation, 802.11ac, is significantly faster, providing up to 866 Mbits per second.

See the chart below with general information on router speeds and the stream data rate:

Most businesses are getting at least 50 – 60 Mbits per second download speed from their cable company. Using an old router that provides a max of 11 Mbits per second can be the culprit for your slow Wi-Fi.  

Below are three tips that can get you up to speed:

  • Know which generation Wi-Fi you’re using.  If you’re using an older, wireless router or access point with 802.11 a, b or g, it’s time to upgrade to 802.11ac.
  • Add extra access points for better connections. If your business has dead Wi-Fi spots, you can’t connect through thick walls or you have many users, you may need additional access points.
  • Use wireless “AC” adapters if necessary. If your business has some users on older laptops or devices, purchase wireless AC USB adapters so they can take advantage of the wireless AC speed, or just plug their computer into a wired network jack.

We’ve recently been working with a revolutionary wireless brand called Ubiquiti. It has a contemporary and cleanly designed Wi-Fi system with enterprise grade features at a substantial discount versus most of the competitors. The access points can be mounted subtly and now come with optional built-in paging speakers, ideal for a work or school setting for announcements and emergency communications. Ask us for details.

Risk of Guests Using Your Wi-Fi

Having a separate SSID (Service Set Identifier for networks) for employees and guests is a wise decision. You don’t want to give guests access to your proprietary information when they visit your building. Below are four tips for securing your business network:

  • Provide separate guest and employee SSIDs.
  • Encrypt your employee network.
  • Restrict your guest network by filtering bandwidth, blocking malicious traffic and eliminating peer-to-peer file sharing.
  • Provide wireless separation through your firewall, which only allows guests access to the Internet – there is no interaction with other devices or your main, secured network.

We often use a technology called VLAN (Virtual LANs) to do this segmentation between guests and employees. It is built in free with most switches, firewalls and access points.

Looking for help with your Wi-Fi network?  Call LeBlanc Communications today!