Offering customers free Wi-Fi is the current norm. Have you considered your customers’ online security when they log onto your free Wi-Fi network? You want your customers to feel safe when they are in your store, and this includes when they use your free Wi-Fi.
Some of the risks associated with using free Wi-Fi
- Opening yourself up to hackers
Free Wi-Fi requires no authentication to establish a Wi-Fi network. Hackers can, therefore, gain unlimited access to unsecured devices on the Wi-Fi network.
- Hackers can interrupt a Wi-Fi connection point
It means that instead of connecting directly to the Wi-Fi network, customer data will first pass through the hacker then onto the Wi-Fi network.
Hackers position themselves between the Wi-Fi network and unsecured devices to access user data first. In this way, they can steal vital information such as passwords or credit card information.
- Probably the worst risk is how easily hackers can spread malware
Allowing file sharing across a network, will enable hackers to infect files with malicious software which can later install itself on your computer. Some hackers have managed to hack the Wi-Fi connection points and have installed their pop-up windows that appear when customers log onto the Wi-Fi network. When users click on the window, malware is installed.
You can see from the above list that free Wi-Fi can be a hacker’s hotspot.
How can you use a VPN to protect your customers from falling victim to hackers who infiltrate Wi-Fi networks?
A VPN is a Virtual Private Network that lets users access the worldwide web privately and safely by routing the internet connection through a server and hiding the user’s online footprint. Simply put, VPN’s act as cyber bodyguards that protects (through the encryption process) all data being exchanged over an internet connection.
How Does A VPN Work?
- User’s install VPN software, such as Pure VPN, on their devices.
- The VPN software must first be started or running for it to protect your data.
- The VPN software will then encrypt your data before sending it to the Wi-Fi network.
- The online website that you browse will see that your data is being sent form a VPN server. The location of the server will be shown and NOT the location of your device and its IP address.
Users must run VPN software separately for every device they own.
As a business owner, can you get customers to use a VPN especially if they are unaware of the risks of using Wi-Fi networks without a VPN?
Can you, as a business owner, protect your customers from falling victim to cyber-crime as a result of ignorance?
Yes, you can.
VPN routers protect numerous devices at the same time while these devices are connected to a Wi-Fi network. Since the Wi-Fi router is also a VPN router, users are automatically protected.
Although VPN routers are expensive, buying one is a long-term investment. Although the VPN router itself is costly, monthly subscriptions to VPN services for VPN software that is running continuously is quite cheap.
Benefits of using a VPN router
- Multiple devices are protected at once. These include TV’s, mobile phones, tablets, laptops, desktops, smart watches, and many more.
- It is convenient since users do not have to run VPN software on every device before using it to connect to free Wi-Fi. Since the VPN service is continuously running, users are always protected.
- VPN routers offer superior compatibility. The VPN router provides an encryption service to any device that can connect to Wi-Fi over the VPN router.
- VPN routers are incredibly reliable. The VPN router will always connect to the internet via a VPN service. It means that users don’t have to worry about forgetting to connect to a VPN service every time they use your free Wi-Fi.
- VPN routers offer security to non-native devices. Non-native devices include Apple TV and Play Station 3 which does not typically support VPN services.
- VPN routers unblock restricted applications and content. VPN routers allow users to access applications or content that Governments may block by enabling users to bypass restrictions and connecting to the internet through an encrypted VPN tunnel that disguises the user’s actual physical location.
- VPN routers take a few minutes to set up allowing users to enjoy encrypted browsing.
With so much to offer, what is the downside of using a VPN router?
Users may experience limited bandwidth. The more devices are connected to the VPN router, the slower the connection. Not all VPN services are slow, so the speed will depend on who the VPN service provider is.
Choosing a VPN router for your business
When hoping around for a VPN router remember that not all routers have a pre-installed VPN. Also, not all routers support a VPN service or run VPN software. ISP modems are not compatible with VPN routers. ISP modems consist of a modem and router device.
A few available options for VPN routers include
- Pre-Flashed Routers
Although pre-flashed routers are more expensive than other VPN routers, it saves you the hassle of installing VPN software and is one of the most convenient VPN router options. This router comes with additional benefits including encrypted plug and play.
- Ready-To-Use VPN compatible routers
VPN compatible routers come ready to use out of the box, pre-installed with VPN software that also supports OpenVPN protocol which allows users to use a VPN service provider of their choice.
- Flash Router with new VPN firmware
This is the most complicated process. You will have to install new VPN software onto the operating system of your router. This success of flashing new firmware will depend on the limitations of the router and its operating system. This process involves:
- a) First, download VPN firmware.
- b) Connect your router.
- c) Flash your router.
Additional steps include:
- a) Disconnecting the VPN from the internet
- b) Change the location of the VPN
- c) Check all recently used devices you want to be protected by the VPN.
- d) Change the SSID password.
The easiest, hassle-free option is to use a pre-flashed router to ensure that your customers are protected when they use your free store Wi-Fi.