Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Open WiFi

(1:00) I periodically hear from marinas wanting advice on whether or not they should password protect their WiFi systems. They are typically thinking about it from a sales and marketing perspective. Do they limit the service to only paying customers or is it better to keep access easy and open? It's true that there is a balance between maintaining the value of the services you are offering while keeping the customer experience positive, but in the case of WiFi there is something much more important to consider.

(0:49) You should absolutely have your WiFi password protected. The reason is a technical one that if not followed could lead to poor customer service. If your marina WiFi system is open and does not have a password you are putting every boater who uses it at risk. We've covered this topic in several ActiveCaptain newsletters over the past couple of years telling boaters how to protect themselves. But I felt it was just as important that marinas understand the issues so that you can provide boaters with the best and safest service possible.

(0:34) Leaving your WiFi open exposes unsuspecting boaters to being compromised by hackers or mischief makers (that 14 year old in the condo nearby). It can allow them to gain access to boaters personal accounts such as Facebook or Twitter, and even obtain passwords to their bank accounts or other secure sites. This is a real threat.

(0:25) We have advised boaters on ways they can protect themselves when they encounter open, unprotected WiFi. But by stepping up and ensuring that you are already providing them with the most security possible you are showing them that you are knowledgeable and care about the safety and security of your customers.

(0:18) Best of all, protecting them is actually pretty simple. First, always require a password to use your WiFi system. Second, make sure that your WiFi system is configured with WPA or WPA2 encryption and NOT WEP. If you don't know what that is, ask whoever maintains your system for you. Have them change it if needed. Even if you publicly display the WPA password, all users on the router are protected from the open WiFi hacking.

(0:06) Doing these simple things can help ensure that boaters are protected and have a positive experience will visiting your marina.

(0:02) And that's the marina minute.