How to Evaluate Your Wireless Network
Business IT Self-Assessment – Part 5

Can you believe that we’re coming up on almost a full year of social distancing, stay-at-home orders, and remote work? There’s no better time to evaluate the wireless network in your office then when you can take advantage of the fact that some or all of your staff are working remotely.

A wireless network evaluation is a review of your security standards against the needs of the equipment in use, with special attention given to signal quality, coverage, and cybersecurity. Evaluating your wireless network allows you to stay ahead of problems by identifying areas that could cause outages or weaknesses that make you susceptible to security threats. Identifying these issues is also the first step to fixing those issues faster and quite literally bring your team back up to speed, which in turn increases ROI while reducing the likelihood of a data breach.

Managing and evaluating your wireless network can be complicated, simply because the technology continues to evolve so quickly. And an evaluation might identify areas that need a significant upgrade, meaning you’ll need to commit at the start to putting finances toward security upgrades. Having the right tools in order to both evaluate and improve your wireless network are vital to a successful wireless evaluation, but the benefits of doing so far outweighs the expense. 

Here are some of the things that a wireless evaluation will accomplish:


Improve Wireless Network Signal Quality and Coverage

There are several areas to review that can uncover quick fixes that will improve signal quality and coverage. Reviewing your device log can reveal wireless equipment that is overwhelmed or experiencing errors. These issues are often easily resolved by adding or relocating devices. These are small steps that will go a long way to improving the quality of your signal. 

Frequency detection allows you to review the wireless signals in the building and locate access points to provide the best coverage. We all know what it’s like to visit a friend’s home and realize that they have  dead spots, sometimes resulting in dangerously leaning way over a deck in order to get a single bar of signal! 

Eliminate that frustration for your staff by ensuring that their work spaces have adequate signal coverage. Or better yet, consider physically moving your router to a more central location in the office, which will boost the signal across your entire work space. 

If your router can’t be moved, the next step would be to purchase a signal booster or wireless repeater to improve the range and strength of your wireless network. This is additional hardware that will, as the name suggests, boost the signal strength of your router and ensure that every area of your office has good coverage.

Finally, an evaluation may result in the recommendation that you simply purchase a new router. Like all technology, routers are susceptible to regular wear and tear and a new router can save time and frustration in the long run. Just be aware that wherever your router “lives” it needs to be hidden from view and physically secured.


Increase Wireless Network Security

A quick way to increase your wireless security is to change your username and password from the factory default. You’d be surprised by the number of hackers that have accessed networks simply by typing “admin” into the username and “password” into the password! Update the default name and password, share it only with staff whose role requires them to have that knowledge, and make sure that your username and password are encrypted in case of device theft.

In that same vein, hackers can’t hack what they can’t see, so hiding your SSID and only having it accessible on a limited number of devices can greatly improve your security overall. 

Part of evaluating your wireless includes looking at the physical devices you use. Is the make and model of your router one that is current, or at least current enough that tech support is covered under the warranty? Cyberattacks can target specific brands of routers, so ensure that yours is up to date and replaced if need be.

If you provide your staff with laptops and other personal devices, you can configure your wireless network to only allow devices with MAC address whitelisting. This ensures that you always know who is connecting to your network, since only those devices set up with specific MAC addresses can access your network.

Alternatively, if your small business has a “bring your own device” policy, you’ll need to get permission to review those devices to ensure that there are no security flaws that could result in a wireless breach. The danger here is that an employee could connect to an unsecure network on their own time, have their device be infiltrated by a malicious trojan or malware, and unknowingly expose your small business to those threats as soon as they log on to your network.  

Get ahead of those risks by having a policy that requires that personal devices be regularly updated with whatever firewall systems you use for your small business.


Identify Wireless Network Updates and Upgrades

The best response to a wireless network evaluation (and in our opinion, the only appropriate response) is obviously to take what you’ve learned and apply it to updating and upgrading your wireless system. Wireless technology is constantly and rapidly changing, which means that both hardware and software systems can quickly become obsolete or be at risk for increasingly malicious threats due to poorly developed software. 

Network upgrades tend to refer to hardware, for example the suggestion to replace a router as noted above. Whereas updates have to do with ensuring that your software is staying up to date with the newest release or version. 

Staying on top of these helps to keep your network secure and improve overall performance. It can be hard to quantify the expense of regular upgrades, or the time involved to process updates, but the risk of not doing so is that your small business is vulnerable to cybercrime.

Let Tech Masters manage the process for you by running a full network evaluation and providing recommendations and solutions that meet your needs. Get started with a free assessment that includes a review of nine key IT areas with an executive summary of personalized recommendations for your small business.

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About Tech Masters

Tech Masters takes care of all your business’s IT problems before they happen, from emails and phones, to broken computers and unreliable servers.

Routers are susceptible to regular wear and tear and a new router can save time and frustration in the long run.

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