Secure your business from WiFi Sense in Windows 10

With more people likely to upgrade to Windows 10, even if you don’t, here’s what you need to know to keep your WiFi network secure from WiFi Sense, the ability to share WiFi networks with friends on Facebook, and Skype.

What’s the problem with sharing my WiFi?

Firstly what does it matter if you share your WiFi? Well if it’s your work network you want to know who’s accessing it. Even if it’s your home network if illegal activity takes place on your network then it’s you who have the contract with your ISP and it’s your door the police could potentially come knocking on.

Most of us think sharing WiFi is harmless, after all it enables adults to check their emails and kids to play Facebook games and post on Instagram. However others use the Internet for less than desirable purposes such as illegal file sharing, child pornography or terrorism. That’s not something you want your network used for.

The broken promise of WiFi

When WiFi first appeared we were promised a connected world where WiFi would be everywhere and we’d be online whenever and where ever we went. That’s never happened and even in major towns and cities WiFi isn’t available. You might be able to log in when near various shops or cafes, but even then you have to connect to a ton of different networks.

Other similar solutions already exist, for instance BT Fon which already allows other BT users to log onto your BT router for free if they’re within WiFi range. In this instance however they’re on a separate network and bandwidth is limited.

Microsoft appear to offer a solution with WiFi Sense, but the problem is that control simply isn’t granular enough. Most people have close friends on Facebook, but they’ve also got people they hardly know and people they were once close to but don’t see any more. Whilst you might trust your next door neighbour, do you trust all of their friends and acquaintances that live in your neighbourhood?

Is it really a problem?

Reports and scare stories about WiFi sense are probably exaggerated. There will be no master list telling people to come to your house as they can get free WiFi. Equally people will only be able to connect to your network if they’re within range of your network.

The biggest problem you’re likely to have is your immediate neighbours hogging your bandwidth. That’s a much more realistic scenario than an unknown friend of a friend logging on to your network.

Why is it more important at work?

For work it’s even more essential that you keep your network secure. Most small businesses don’t have enterprise level security. Once you’re on a small business WiFi network you can probably access all their computers, printers and servers as well as the Internet.

If you have customer information on your computer systems than you come under the Data Protection legislation. In today’s world of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), where your staff connect their personal smartphones, tablets and laptops to your business WiFi, you have no control over who they’ve shared your network with.

Prevent anyone from sharing your WiFi connection

Microsoft have given the ability for you to opt out from WiFi sense, anyone who tries to share you network with Facebook, or Skype friends will be unable to do so. To block your network from WiFi Sense you need to include _optout somewhere in the WiFi network name (also called the SSID). For example, mynetwork_optout.

The other thing you should do is to set up a private network and a guest network (if your router can be configured for this). Then keep your WiFi network private and only ever give out your guest network password to visitors.