If you Google anything that contains the words ‘Wi-Fi’ and ‘hotel’, you’ll be met with a barrage of webpages that appear to suggest guests need to undertake military-grade cyber defence training in order to keep their personal data safe.
In truth, operating an internet-connected device in a hotel is no different to doing so within any other public arena. It’s as safe as both the guest - and the hotelier - makes it.
In today’s blog, we’re going to focus on how hoteliers can build Wi-Fi networks that are as secure as possible and which give guests ultimate peace of mind.
We think there are five things you can do today to make a real difference:
1. Implement two Wi-Fi networks
You may have been told this by your IT guru previously and dismissed it for being too much of a faff, but hotels really should carry two Wi-Fi networks.
The reason is simple: one will be for your operation (front of house, back office, the till system, etc), and the other solely for guests.
This offers two big benefits. Firstly, you can set more stringent access controls for guests and, secondly, ensure they get all the bandwidth they need.
2. Change default passwords
If you set up the Wi-Fi network yourself and did so in a rush, you may have inadvertently left the back door swinging conveniently for would-be hackers.
The networking gear you purchased will have come with default passwords and user credentials, but no matter how secure they may look, it’s vital to bear in mind that they haven’t been created by you. They’re ‘default’ and default stuff gets around.
Always make the first task when setting up a Wi-Fi network that of changing the default passwords. Use a secure password generator to ensure that your digital back door remains firmly closed.
3. Use WPA2 encryption
Data encryption evolves constantly, but you should always ensure you’re using the default level of security on your hotel’s network.
That is known as ‘WPA2’, and unless your router was born in the era of Britpop and the Spice Girls, it will support it. Turning it on (if it isn’t already) should be very straightforward following a glance at the manual.
4. Don’t plaster the Wi-Fi password everywhere
When you offer public Wi-Fi access, there’s no getting away from the fact you’ll need to distribute the password, and as a hotel guest, there’s nothing more painful than hunting around for a Wi-Fi key that isn’t anywhere obvious.
It may therefore be tempting to place big signs everywhere that advertise the password, but in doing so, you’ll simply invite passers by and the more nefarious members of society to use your bandwidth as they sit outside in the car park.
Instead, place it somewhere obvious in the guest handbook or on a card within the room.
Alternatively, move onto tip 5, which would be our preference…
5. Implement a login system
Our last tip is only relevant if you don’t have the ability to implement a login system on your Wi-Fi network. If you do, you should use it.
These replace the need for a Wi-Fi key with a username and password combination that must be setup by the user on first use.
Some of these platforms will offer usage for a certain period of time before requiring a second sign in and, while this may be a little less convenient for guests, it’s not enough to send them packing elsewhere, and is far more secure than relying on a standard Wi-Fi key.
How secure is your hotel’s Wi-Fi network? Use our tips above, and you’ll be doing your bit for the fight against cybercrime.