MSPs must reconsider best practices to meet guest network needs – News Couple
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MSPs must reconsider best practices to meet guest network needs


People expect and demand connection everywhere. Free Wi-Fi was once the domain of cafés and bookstores, but now businesses ranging from rural campgrounds to hospital waiting rooms must have Wi-Fi on their guest network to satisfy their customers.

These days, it’s pretty much standard practice to have separate guest and internal Wi-Fi networks. This should solve the data security problem, right? Well, not quite.

The pandemic has put guest networks in a quandary, but as businesses reopen and people begin to gather again, guest networks are once again seeing a lot of use. However, some experts find MSPs and other security stakeholders to be too lax about securing them. Now is the perfect time for ISPs to reconsider their best practices for managing a guest network.

While running a guest network is an important part of any organization with a public facing component, there is more to it than just having an open guest network. The open network cannot be turned into a free network for all.

“The last thing you want is for someone to use your open network to conduct illicit activity because that would bring with them potential liability. It is still essential that the guest network is secure and adequately controlled,” says Elizabeth Wise, a cybersecurity consultant in Ottawa, Canada. .

Strong content blocking should be considered, especially sites that focus on pornography, gambling and dating.

Guest networks are riddled with issues related to protecting sensitive data

“There was a car dealership that our company took over for IT support. They let guests use free Wi-Fi in the waiting area, and they had a printer available for customers to use. But we found that sometimes customers might double print items or hit print and forget to choose Item. The agent was left with hard copies of HIPAA-violating medical data, clients’ private banking information, and personal emails,” Wise told SmarterMSP.

“This is all a minefield for an MSP to navigate. Wise points out that the generic printer is just another complication that might not be necessary. But it’s not just a printer, it’s passwords, too.

“Many hotels, for example, bypass free Wi-Fi and have a public computer to use. This is a very dangerous situation because people will enter passwords and not delete them, so if you have a public computer, monitor it constantly,” advises Wise.

Another danger of a guest network is the ease with which hackers can spy on your guests and customers. “Make sure your wireless network is encrypted,” Wise says, recommending WPA2/WPA3 encryption. This encryption is generally adequate.

“Hackers will look for the easiest targets first. If they had to tamper with an encrypted network, they would probably go somewhere else,” Wise says.

Also, don’t get caught up in a false sense of security, believing that the guest network is completely isolated from the main network. Research from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel showed that guest networks on routers were not as secure as many believed.

“All routers we surveyed regardless of brand or price point were susceptible to at least some networking once we used specially designed network packets. A hardware-based solution appears to be the most secure approach to ensuring isolation between secure and unsecured network devices,” Also advises Adar Ovadya, the master’s student who conducted the research. Wise agrees with the findings that routers are not foolproof.

“The best advice I can take is that the guest network should be treated with as much care as the client’s main network, because there are all kinds of ways in which a designed hacker can hack into the guest network and use it as an entry point into the main network. Inaction is the biggest risk,” says Wise. Importance to the guest network

“It’s almost seen as an afterthought, but the firmware needs to be updated, the patch completed, and all the other precautions you would take with any other network,” Wise explains.

home guest network

Guest networks are under more scrutiny these days because even as the COVID-19 pandemic subsides in some places, working from home is here to stay. So company employees handling sensitive data from their home networks could inadvertently jeopardize security by allowing anyone to use their home network.

“Even if someone who is working from home is using a VPN, it is still not foolproof,” Wise says. A strongly secured home guest network must be created. If the visitor wants to connect, they can do so separately from the main home network.

“Homes are turning into small offices, so the same cybersecurity rules should apply,” Wise advises.

Home networks continue to be an emerging opportunity for service providers who have the resources to offer their services to these types of distributed organizations.

“Most people don’t have the cybersecurity skills or the time to secure their homes. With more and more people working from home, we’re finding a greater willingness to pay MSPs to handle security. And some companies are calling for it.

Photo: santypan / Shutterstock



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