WatchGuard Technologies Helps Hotels and Restaurants around the World Secure Guest Wi-Fi Networks and Prevent Malware Infestations

19 December 2014

71% of global hotels, restaurants and other hospitality organizations jeopardize customers with inadequate security controls

New WatchGuard functionality enhances security and convenience to better protect guest network users across hotel, restaurant and other hospitality organizations

WatchGuard® Technologies, a leader in multi-function firewalls, today announced that its Next-Generation Firewall (NGFW) and Unified Threat Management (UTM) appliances now offer enhanced guest network access features to allow hospitality organizations to quickly and easily provide temporary user passwords to better secure guest Internet and Wi-Fi networks.

Free Wi-Fi was recently rated the most important in-room hotel amenity, above a bathroom with shower and daily housekeeping.¹ While Internet access may be a priority, lax security controls often jeopardize guest network users and create a risky proposition for global travelers wanting to stay connected. A recent WatchGuard survey revealed that 71 percent of global hotels, restaurants and other hospitality organizations do not provide unique temporary user passwords for guest Wi-Fi networks, which could compromise corporate and guest network security.²

With WatchGuard's new features, hospitality organizations can now tailor the user experience with custom hotspot splash pages branded with company logos. They can also provide flexible account options, such as configurable time limits, batch-generated usernames and passwords and password-only voucher options. Liability can also be minimized with custom terms and conditions. Convenience is enhanced by allowing guest administrator roles for non-IT staff to generate accounts.

"Our hotel and hospitality industry customers find great value in offering secure guest Internet access backed by a trusted name like WatchGuard Technologies," said Tullio Cozza, CEO of OmniNet, an Italian IT systems integrator serving the hospitality industry. "The ability to offer unique user passwords that expire at pre-set times lets them know who has access to their network and for how long. That control creates deeper levels of guest wireless security and performance, especially since they can control bandwidth-heavy applications and users."

The WatchGuard survey also found that 51 percent of global hospitality organizations do not monitor guest networks for suspect applications, malware or malicious activities; 62 percent do not monitor guest activity to limit bandwidth-intensive applications; and 48 percent do not use policy mapping or data visualization tools to monitor performance.³ This lapse of guest Internet and Wi-Fi network visibility and controls can have a significant impact on overall guest network performance and user experience on top of growing security risks.

"A lot of liability comes with offering free guest wireless access, even if most hospitality organizations don't realize or recognize the risk," said Stuart Rowbotham, managing director of Bromleynet Limited, a UK-based security management provider. "We continually tell our customers that they must know who is on their networks and for what reasons. If not, it's an open invitation for uninvited guests that can bog down network performance or, even worse, ill-intending users running malicious applications and content. WatchGuard's extended protection for guest wireless networks provides a great solution to that liability risk."

"Complimentary guest Internet and Wi-Fi network access is definitely a service that people who travel as much as I do have come to expect," said Dave R. Taylor, vice president of corporate strategy and product management for WatchGuard Technologies. "WatchGuard provides the peace of mind that hospitality organizations need to feel confident that their guest network users are protected and that network security and performance won't be compromised by uninvited guests. Our customers appreciate the increased visibility into and control over their guest wireless networks delivered by WatchGuard security appliances."

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