19 Sep 2013

Q. What precautions should business take when creating public Wi-Fi hotspots?

Wireless Access for your guests and customers whilst at your store or office can be an effective method of engaging, differentiating and promoting your brand. It can also leave your internal network and data open to being compromised if the correct design and operational steps are not undertaken. Here are some common principles to adhere to when implementing public Wi-Fi hotspots:
  • Purchase enterprise grade Wireless Access Points (WAP) which can be centrally managed
  • Create separate Service Set Identifiers (SSIDs) – one for corporate and one for guest
  • Broadcast just the guest SSID
  • Always use authentication and encryption on the corporate SSID
  • If guest access is without password authentication, use usage limitation features available in the WAP
  • Setup your WAPs (individually or at the central controller) to restrict access to specific or URL categories based on your access policy
  • Use the WAP or central controller to create a splash page with a link to your internet access policy
As retail models evolve, public Wi-Fi access is likely to be natively integrated into Customer Relationship Management systems and loyalty programs to better associate online to in-store purchasing and even a customer’s social network. Companies who make this connection early will naturally develop a competitive edge.