The announcement of Telstra’s plans to rollout a new WiFi network to provide 8000 new WiFi hotspots around Australia is no doubt welcome news to individuals and businesses alike. New modems will be provided to two million homes and businesses to serve as one interconnected public WiFi network, literally laying the foundations for a more connected nation and advanced economy.

According to the latest research by Telsyte, the rollout of Wi-Fi networks are competing with dedicated mobile broadband devices. In addition, more than 80 per cent of businesses with more than 20 employees operate Wi-Fi networks giving people’s devices access to the Internet at work.

For today’s mobile workforce, ensuring wireless network security can be a serious challenge for businesses. Administrators face an ever-growing need to protect critical company resources from increasingly sophisticated cyber attacks. When employees access private corporate data over a wireless network, the data may be compromised by unauthorised viewers if the user is not shielding the connection from outsiders, for example, via password-protected access.

As such, businesses need to consider the following options to ensure their data remains secure whilst offering wireless network access.

1. Use a VPN

Enforcing users to connect to the WiFi network using a VPN will ensure any data that passes through the network is encrypted, thus securing your data from external threats.

With iOS 7, Apple introduced a great way to accomplish this with their Per app VPN.  Per app VPN allows iOS to control which applications have access to the VPN tunnel.  This gives organisations the ability to designate which applications are corporate apps and treat everything else as personal.

2. Encryption is key

Encryption is the process of transforming information using an algorithm (referred to as a cipher) to make it unreadable to anyone except those processing special knowledge (usually referred to as a key).  Encryption is especially important for wireless communications due to the fact that wireless networks are easier to "tap" than their hard-wired counterparts.  Encryption is essential to implement when carrying out any kind of sensitive transaction, such as financial transactions or confidential communications.  Network devices implement the processing of encryption to the network layer eliminating the overhead required on individual servers.

3. Turn on two-factor authentication

Two-factor authentication (TFA) has been around for many years and the concept far pre-dates computers. The application of a keyed padlock and a combination lock to secure a single point would technically qualify as two-factor authentication: “something you have,” a key, and “something you know,” a combination. It essentially involves setting up a two-step process in order to verify the identity of someone trying to gain access to a network.