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For small businesses operating from a home environment or from their own business premises, the temptation has been to use the same 'home grade' internet hardware and software to connect to the internet. However, the potential risk of losing vital company information, which might have catastrophic consequences, is a gamble probably not worth taking. Despite the day-to-day pressures of running and growing a business, owners and directors should carefully consider how they plan to secure their PCs and network from an ever growing list of threats all coming from that same ‘wonderful tool'.
Until the introduction of SoHoBlue, there hasn't really been an internet security device designed specifically for small businesses that offers all the latest and highest standards of internet security yet is both easy to install and keep running.
What are the main reasons for having a computer network in your office?
Setting up a small business computer network has become easier over the years as PC and networking technologies have improved. It is a good way to get more use out of your PCs and share other devices such as scanners and printers. Networks allow you to share a single broadband Internet connection among multiple PC users.
Very importantly, they enable to quickly and easily share files of any type among computers and also share useful information such as diaries
Networks attached to the internet also offers sharing possibilities with other offices, your home, or even your laptop when you are on the road.
Should I go wired or wireless?
More and more small businesses are using wireless networking equipment, particularly since it has fallen in price and become faster and easier to configure and use. Wireless connections are sometimes
Wireless networking allows you to have a more attractive and arguably physically safer office environment with fewer cables around. It gives you more flexibility about where you locate your IT kit, and you can use your laptop from anywhere in your office. It also allows you to offer visitors wireless internet access or hot-desk facilities.
Wireless signals on the other hand can vary depending on the layout of an office, the thickness of the walls and sometimes even the weather. Wireless is also less secure. It is essential to install wireless networks with encryption of network messages turned on; without this enabled it's incredibly easy to hack into your network and see what's on your PCs.
However, wired networking can still have the edge over wireless equipment in being more reliable, easier to set up, lower cost and offering up to ten times faster connection speeds.
What equipment do I need to set up a basic network?
At the centre of a network you will require a ‘hub'. This maybe a ‘wired hub' for a cable based network with perhaps 4 or 8 sockets for cable connections to all PCs, printers and your internet connection unit. Obviously each of the devices you want to connect to the wired hub, must have its own wired network (or Ethernet) port into which the other end of the network cable is connected.
Alternatively your hub may be ‘wireless hub' typically with one or two wireless antenna aerials, again enabling connections to all your PCs and other devices. Obviously to attach to the wireless hub, all the other devices must have their own built-in wireless connection.
As time as gone on and devices have become cleverer, combined wired and wireless hubs have become available which aids flexibility. In addition devices used for internet connectivity often provide an integrated wireless hub. Such internet connection devices are also known as ‘broadband routers', which come in two major types: an ADSL router and a Cable router. These devices route traffic between your network and the internet.
PC operating systems like Microsoft Windows 7, Vista, and XP; as well as Apple Mac OS X all have networking capabilities incorporated into them. So if you have a relatively up-to-date laptop or desktop PC, it should be fairly straightforward to connect to a wired or wireless hub.
How do I secure the network?
Before going very much further it is essential to think about network security. There are three major areas to consider:
What else can I use my network for?
Apart from common internet access and security, file sharing and printer sharing, you can use your network to share other peripherals such as scanners and copiers.
|With acknowledgement to Computer Weekly article published 21-July2009 , content revised and updated.|