We all know that the diversity and energy of the wide variety of individuals working in a coworking space each day are what make it so special. The amalgamation of backgrounds, experiences, and companies create the environment that draws clients to the space (and us to work each morning). However, that diversity doesn’t come without risks, specifically potential risks to the data of your members.
Digital security is the topic on everyone’s tongue. Without the right security measures, client privacy, business data, and proprietary IP are all at risk of being compromised. Coworking space managers must be aware of the ever-changing risks posed by today’s digital world and be prepared to protect both their business and their members. As both technology and digital threats develop and evolve, security must as well, which is why coworking space managers who want to keep both their data and member data as secure as possible should start considering whether new solutions like individualized private Wi-Fi networks are right for their spaces.
If your space isn’t offering private Wi-Fi networks, you’re potentially compromising the security, productivity, and stability of your business, and the businesses of your members—and just having password-protected Wi-Fi isn’t enough. You’re probably already familiar with the two main tools to secure data: Virtual Private Networks (VPN) and guest networks for visitors. While VPNs can encrypt your data via an off-site server, and guest networks allow visitors to connect without getting your security key, neither of them provides total privacy for every single person or business on your member network each day.
Imagine if every business, freelance or visitor in a coworking space had a unique network to use—and they could access it from the cloud. Rather than all members connecting to the same network and risking a possible security breach, each member or group of members from the same business could have their own secure connection that goes with them everywhere. Such a set-up would start feeling a lot more like a private network—providing safer, more secure connections for your staff and members alike, and offering one more reason for members to love your space. While VPNs and guest networks are still valuable security tools, the cutting-edge personalized private networks take digital security for your coworking space to a whole new level.
Let’s take a look at the core threats to the small businesses and freelancers who rely on traditional networks and security protocols used in coworking spaces.
Fake Networks / Access Points
Any time you log on in a public place, you’re joining a network you don’t know. Most public areas make network information available to you, but network names are very easily mimicked, something a guest coming into your coworking space for an event could easily set up a fake network that could put your members at risk. Hackers frequently broadcast similar network names designed to lure unsuspecting users into connecting to them, causing your members to think that they’re linking safely to their sensitive company data, when in reality, ever click may be monitored by a hacker. If you’re trusting your coworking space’s network credentials, you may be out of luck. However, if each business represented in your space has its own digital network, hackers won’t be able to mimic a single network name in order to track thousands of clicks across your space, and your members can know that their private data is just that—private.
Closed (password-protected) networks encrypt your data as it passes between your device and the access point. The password protects users that have access to the network from users that don't. But what about all the users in your coworking space who also have the password? While closed networks are certainly safer than open networks, they don't provide the security your business needs. After all, anyone who has the password to the network is also holding the key to decrypt your data. Given all the visitors, temps and competitors who pass through a coworking space, this is a significant security issue. However, if each person who comes through your doors only had access to their own personalized connection, no one has to worry about network information falling into the wrong hands.
In a private environment such as your office or your home, you're not going to give a stranger access to your network. Presumably, everyone on that private network is a "trusted" user. However, on a public network, there are no real restrictions regarding who can or can't join. When you’re on a shared Wi-Fi network, there’s a good chance that you’re sharing the network with people that you don't know – especially in a place as large and variable as a coworking space. Now, you’re connected to other unknown devices that have a direct path to your device and potentially your data. Networked devices can share files, programs, resources, and even viruses. A shared network connection puts you at risk, regardless of your encryption tools. In public—even in a coworking space with other professionals—privacy might be your best security. While passwords and VPNs aim to provide this privacy, an individualized connection takes it one step further.
It’s only a matter of time before individualized Wi-Fi connections as the best security practice for businesses hits the mainstream. Our company, Aerwave, has anticipated this impending shift in how we work with a platform that automates private networks in public places. Through Aerwave, you can build a network that lives in the cloud and seamlessly finds you, in any location that offers Aerwave. This means that you don’t just have access to a private network, you have access to your private Aerwave network anywhere you go. For coworking spaces, which are known for their flexibility and innovation, this kind of “go with you” secure access could be an excellent option to offer members, along with giving you the peace of mind that your private data—and the private data of your members—is safe. For more information, please visit www.aerwave.io.
This is a guest blog post, written and edited by Aerwave. For questions about this blog, please contact Aerwave.