In today’s digital age, the use of the internet has become an integral part of our lives. Whether it is for personal or professional use, we all rely on the internet to some extent.
As a result, businesses, organizations, and educational institutes are increasingly adopting captive portals as a means of providing secure and controlled Internet access to their employees and faculty. In this article, we will explore everything you need to know about captive portals, including their benefits.
What is a Captive Portal?
A captive portal is a web page that requires users to complete a specific action (login/sign-up/authenticate) before gaining access to a network or the internet. The action can range from entering login credentials, accepting terms of service, or making a payment.
You might have also seen a captive portal when you try to connect to a public Wi-Fi or Wi-Fi within your college or university. Captive portals are also commonly used in hotels, cafes, airports, and other places that provide free or paid internet access.
With the advent of cloud-based technologies in every industry, Wi-Fi captive portals it was only natural for cloud-based captive portal solutions to emerge, helping multi-site organizations to simplify their network security administration while improving deployment ease and overall guest, employee and IoT connectivity solution maintenance. This eventually increases the security and data privacy for organizations and the users connected to the network.
How Does a Cloud-Based Captive Portal Work?
When a user connects to a network with a cloud-based captive portal, they are redirected to a login page where they must enter their login credentials, accept the terms of service, or pay for access. Once the user has completed the required action, they are granted access to the internet or network.
Cloud-based captive portals act as a gateway between the user’s device and the network, allowing the network administrator to control access and monitor usage without using additional hardware. Cloud-based captive portals can therefore play a significant role in building a strong Zero-Trust authentication framework.
Below are a couple of more benefits of a cloud-based captive portal in brief detail. Here are the key benefits of a moving from traditional captive portal to a Cloud-Based Captive Portal solution:
- Fewer Maintenance Costs
As mentioned above, cloud-based captive portals will integrate with your existing network infrastructure and therefore you will not need extra hardware installation or maintenance and that is massive when you need to maintain connectivity for guests and BYOD in multiple locations. This, in turn, leads to less hassle and fewer maintenance costs, enabling organizations to save more.
Moreover, captive portals can be used to generate revenue by offering paid internet access. This is a popular option for hotels, airports, and other public places that provide Wi-Fi access to employees, faculty, travellers, and guests.
With the help of the right cloud solutions company by your side, you can get captive portal solutions for your institution or organization to provide your faculty with a secured Wi-Fi network with fewer to no maintenance costs.
- Fully Compliant opt-in personal Data Collection and Analysis
Some captive portal providers allow businesses to collect data on users who access their network.
Compliant captive portals will help organizations to collect valuable insights such as name, e-mail but also user behaviour, demographics, and preferences, especially valuable for retailers and service/hospitality organizations. This data can then be used to create targeted marketing campaigns, improve the user experience, and ultimately increase customer loyalty and revenue.
Through the use of cloud captive portals, businesses can gather a wealth of information about their users, including their age, gender, location, and even their interests and buying habits and use such data to compliantly re-target the captive portal users with relevant content and offer on their next visit for instance. Last but not least, cloud-captive portals allow for real-time analytics, meaning businesses can track user behaviour and adjust their marketing strategies on the go.
For example, if a business notices that users are spending more time on a certain page, they can use this information to create more targeted content that speaks to the interests of those users
- Additional Security
Hardware-based captive portals can only be operated and maintained on the premises, which makes it difficult to verify the updated status of the portal at all times. Cloud-based captive portal solutions, on the other hand, let you manage all your locations in one place and even troubleshoot any problems from anywhere in the world.
These solutions also help multi-site organizations immediately identify any untrusted devices and detect problems related to authentication and overall network security. This ultimately helps prevent unauthorized access and reduces the risk of cyber-attacks.
- Compliance with Data Regulations
Very few Cloud captive portals providers have done the work to provide legal and technical frameworks in each country to help businesses comply with legal and regulatory requirements. For example, they can be used to display terms of service, privacy policies, and other legal notices. Cloudi-Fi captive portal now delivers full compliance in over 100 markets and when deploying authentication solutions globally this is a massive advantage.
It is also important to understand that this will allow organizations to adjust the guest policy based on the type of user and which category they belong to.
Cloud-Based Captive Portals authentication options
Depending on the captive portal user requirements various authentication options are available to organizations offering a captive portal for Wi-Fi access:
1. Splash pages
A splash page/screen is a simple, one-page portal that users see when they first connect to a Wi-Fi network. It typically displays the business’s branding and a message welcoming users to the network.
Splash pages are easy to set up and can be used to provide basic information about the network, such as its terms of service and privacy policies. These pages can also be used to provide information about the organization that is providing the network or can be used as a marketing medium to place relative ads.
The splash page will require users to enter their login credentials before accessing the network. This type of captive portal is more secure than a splash screen, as it requires users to provide a username and password. These login pages can also be customized with branding, messaging, and other features.
3. Social Media Login Pages
Social media login pages allow users to log in to the network using their social media accounts. This type of captive portal is convenient for users, as it eliminates the need to create a separate account for the network.
Social media login pages can also be used to gather data about users, such as their interests and demographics.
4. Acceptable Use Policies (AUP)
An AUP captive portal requires users to agree to the network’s terms of service before accessing the network. This type of portal is commonly used in schools and other educational settings, where it is important to ensure that students are using the network appropriately.
AUP captive portals can also be used to provide information about the network’s security policies and other important information.
5. Customized Portals
Customized captive portals, as implied by the name, are designed specifically for a business or organization. They can include a variety of features, such as branding, messaging, data collection, and analytics.
Customized captive portals can be more complex to set up than other types of portals, but they offer more flexibility and customization options. But the thing is that these portals can be customized to your needs and can be developed however you want them to.
With the advent of cloud authentication solutions, customizing captive portals to align with your organization’s guidelines and connectivity rules and regulations is easier than ever. With Cloudi-Fi’s unique cloud-based DHCP service, organizations can enjoy enhanced security for their IoT devices.
Furthermore, Cloudi-Fi’s implementation of the Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) framework ensures efficient protection across all internet breakout points. By simplifying network administration, Cloudi-Fi brings ease and innovation to the authentication and security of IoT, even for complex organizations.
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