It is not very clear if someone providing free WiFi (private or public – like a business) will be legally liable for WiFi users’ actions on the WiFi. For example, if a customer of a Coffee House uses the WiFi to download pirated or illegal content, perpetrate cyber crime, or some other illegal use. The owner of the WiFi will have a huge legal headache on their hands, even if it’s ultimately determined in court that they aren’t liable. A little preparation will go a long way in avoiding the hassle and expense. Even if not legally responsible for the actions of your WiFi users, your legitimate users will suffer by having to deal with slow WiFi because someone is hogging all of the bandwidth!
So, what can you do? Well, I’m glad you asked because it’s not all that complicated!
- The first thing you should do is to set a password on the WiFi. Requiring your guests to enter a WiFi password is you exercising some control over who can use your WiFi. If you have the password posted somewhere that can’t be seen from outside of your business or home, then there’s a greater chance that whoever is on your WiFi is someone that you’re OK with being on your WiFi.
- Second, set a time of use limit. Pretty much all modern Wireless Access Points have some mechanism to limit access to a set time frame. Such as from 9 am to 5 pm, or whatever your hours of operations are usually.
- Third, make sure you have enabled “Isolation Mode” on your guest WiFi network. Different Wireless Access Point manufacturers call it different things, but usually the word “isolation” is in the feature name. What this does it make it so that anyone connected to your “Guest” WiFi cannot access or interfere with the access or activities of others on the “Guest” WiFi, basically keeping the digital pickpockets in check.
- Finally, make sure that your WiFi doesn’t go where you don’t want it. If you can keep the usable WiFi signal to areas that you can control, then you don’t have to worry about some shady figure sitting in a van across the street in the middle of the night doing something bad with your WiFi and internet. This is probably the easiest to check, but can be a bit challenging to change for the better. To check your WiFi coverage, just take a phone or tablet and walk around where you have WiFi (this is a simple, but far from complete way to check the area of your WiFi coverage) while connected to the WiFi. While you’re walking around pay attention to the WiFi signal strength on your device. Easy peasy! If you find that your WiFi signal is running out into the street or somewhere else you don’t want it, then the challenge may start. You can try and moving your WiFi Access Point farther in the opposite direction, moving the access point so that a wall is between the access point and the area you don’t want covered, or reduce the output signal in the access point’s control software (if your access point has the option).
- Bonus: Some manufacturers have the option to limit the bandwidth available to the Guest Network. You can set a limit so that your main network, along with your Guest Network is not clogged by someone streaming all of the “Friends” episodes they can!
It isn’t too difficult, as long as you have some information on your side! Not sure about what you need to do in your situation? Just comment below or reach out to us and we’ll be happy to help anyway we can.