Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Secure WiFi

(1:01) We were not surprised that last week's discussion about WiFi generated a big response. We also wrote about WiFi in our weekly ActiveCaptain newsletter which generated even more input from boaters. It is obvious that this is a topic that hit home on both sides. That makes it all the more important that we look to find a solution. As I mentioned in last week's Minute, I want to use some of the upcoming Minutes to help clarify WiFi issues and hopefully help us all to reach a better solution. This week the subject is WiFi security.

(0:48) I doubt I have to address the importance of online security when lately all one needs to do is turn on the news to hear about another computer security breach. We ran a series in our ActiveCaptain newsletter beginning on November 2010 pointing out the dangers of open WiFi and offered ways for boaters to mitigate those dangers. But still today, marinas and boaters have little idea about the potential risks when connecting to an open WiFi system. Or how simple it is to make the system much more secure.

(0:37) Our ActiveCaptain series dealt with the potential security risk a boater faces when they connect to open WiFi. Open WiFi is when you connect to any WiFi hotspot without entering a password. The password must be at the time of WiFi connection too, not part of some login process. And to make it even more confusing, there are multiple acronyms for encryption settings: WEP, WPA, WPA2, and others.

(0:29) The real problem began in October of 2010 when freely available software made it trivial for the average 14 year old to grab passwords, cookies, and emails through an open WiFi hotspot. Boaters can protect themselves using a VPN service and we've written about it numerous times to boaters. Today, few have VPN's and they have no idea about the risk they are putting their information in. But you can protect them.

(0:21) The right solution is for you to have a WPA or WPA2 password on your WiFi hotspot. It costs nothing extra for you. The actual password doesn't matter and can be displayed for everyone to see. Just having the password for WPA or WPA2 encrypts users from each other even with the same password. It also allows you to control who gets onto your WiFi which might be important to you.

(0:13) There's a marketing angle with WiFi passwords too. With a little imagination you can use that password to promote your branding. For example, how about making it "ThankYou"? Or something you are promoting, like "Sunsets", "PamperYourself", or maybe "BestBeach". Use a phrase you'd like boaters to think of when they think about you. Let your customers know that you're watching out for their security when they're away from home. That's a message that will keep more of them coming in.

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