How many hours of productivity are you losing a month because your employees are abusing the wireless network in your office for their personal technology devices? Not just in the time they waste checking facebook, emailing pictures, or youtube hopping, but in productivity lost by your entire office when they suck up your bandwidth. Many offices have seen the number of devices on their wireless network double or triple in the past few years even though they haven’t significantly changed the number of computers they own. Application updates, pushes, and synchronized email connections will even tap your connection without warning. Most recently, printers are broadcasting themselves as ready for personal smart devices to print directly to them, costing your company paper and toner as well as time. What are your choices as a business owner?
Let’s explore some of those options. The most obvious answer is not to give out your wireless password. Unfortunately, that also limits its usefulness. Most routers and access points have the ability to screen users by MAC address, meaning you can filter which devices have access. This can be a tedious process in a larger organization, but very effective in controlling Internet usage. The status and information pages of computer network adapters, on both mac and pc will provide you with the MAC address, six pairs of hexadecimal numbers usually separated by a : or -. Tablets and phones will usually have them listed in the network configuration information. With over 200 trillion unique combinations, this address can allow you to block or allow specific devices easily.
Setting up a security device, be it a router or a firewall, with the ability to block certain websites can also be an advantage to your overall productivity. Blocking the app stores for the various mobile devices will prevent users from chewing up your bandwidth updating angry birds, or downloading back issues of Field and Stream. Blocking iTunes, facebook, Pandora, and youtube can save you bucketloads of bandwidth as well. If you use these pages for business social media purposes, you can make your wireless network a separate entity from your wired network, and set up these fences on the wireless side only.
With the prices of SOHO (small office/home office or consumer grade) devices plummeting, users are more frequently now than ever before bringing their own wireless to work. They may not be considering the ramifications of hooking a device to your network to grant themselves and their buddies wireless in the office. Maybe they even think they’re doing you a favor. Often these devices have little to no security and provide an excellent way for unscrupulous people to infiltrate your network, steal your data, and turn your systems and servers into their own little server farm. Some devices can now wirelessly become repeaters, so an Android phone in a pocket may be latching onto your wireless, then broadcasting another network for unauthorized users to access. Scan for rogue access points often, and look for new devices on your private network.
If you’re concerned about data loss, poor productivity, or the cost of maintaining a healthy online environment for your business needs, and you don’t fully understand the corrective measures discussed here, call on Simpletech, your solutions partner.