‘Free’ and ‘unlimited’ are the new catch phrases in hospitality wifi, made possible with lower cost, super-fast, twenty-first century Internet. The management systems originally purchased to tightly grip customers’ wifi, which could understandably be mistaken as no longer necessary, also do other things, in the background, hidden – but critically important. One example of this is firewalls. In the same way passenger aircrafts are safer with locked cockpits, businesses are safer with firewalls between office and guest networks. Cyber warfare is on the rise and anything connected is a potential target. PBX, IP phones, cameras, printers, not just PCs are being shown as worthy of attack, yet they generally receive far fewer security updates since purchase, possibly because they expect to be installed on trusted networks. Securing your network from guests with firewalls reduces the risk, even for well-maintained devices, and firewalls are already built into most Internet management systems. For example, Eftpos NZ recommends against having their pin pads on guest networks. Secondly individual passwords – as shared wifi passwords leak. Software architect for Skagerrak Software Richard Warburton has personally seen a motel’s wifi password on a nearby backpacker’s notice board. There are even phone apps that help record and distribute such passwords. Without managed systems, one can’t really tell who is connected or the damage they might do, and changing a single password to keep riff raff out, disrupts access to all other devices connected. Lastly, reasonable use comes in to play. ISPs have a ‘reasonable use’ policy on their unlimited plans. They do this to prevent a small minority of users from adversely impacting the majority. Their livelihood depends on it. Wifi in hospitality is no different. But without the right tools, figuring out who is abusing the wifi will be challenging let alone being able to stop it.

“Guest internet systems were once sold on monetising data, protecting against ISP bill shock and other features that were fervently flavoured as ‘important’ at the time,” said Warburton. “For most, like Bucks Fizz, those days are gone. These same systems however, by maintaining order, remain relevant. Perhaps more so, because offering quality internet to customers is no longer a convenience or selling point – it is a requirement for survival.” For more information contact 0800 367 658 or visit www.trafficmate.co.nz.