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Whether you’re a two-man show or a business with 50+ users, our Top 10 Practices For Computer Networking address how to mitigate risk by securing your data, how to protect your data from failures and viruses, and how to design your network to minimize downtime. By implementing strong practices in all three areas – security, protection and design – you can create a safe and efficient computer networking system.

 

1. Automate Software and OS Updates

Prevent your networks and servers from being compromised by setting up your computer for automatic software and operating system updates. With patch management, you can resolve a software vulnerability or glitch as soon as the patch is released, greatly minimizing your risk of being attacked by malware or hackers.

   

2. Install Anti-Virus Software

It’s not the magic bullet, and nothing beats good surfing habits by the user. Since corporate networks face different threats than home users, educating your team about how to take precautions and how to detect hacking is your best tool in this battle. At the same time, anti-virus software like Sophos, Symantec or McAfee can minimize a number of vulnerabilities, from emails to web-surfing, by scanning your files on a regular basis.

 

3. Choose Strong Passwords

What’s your birthday again? Or how about the name of your dog?  Hackers use brute force cracking tools to quickly demolish the weak passwords you created to keep your password uncomplicated and somewhat memorable!  Bolster that. Create a more difficult key. Longer and more random is better.

 

4. Backup Your System

What is your data worth to you?  How much downtime can you sustain?  In the event of data loss or a system-wide failure, you want a minimum of a week’s data on hand and readily accessible. Your backup routine should be regular enough to protect you from surprises.

 

5. Use Firewalls

Firewalls come in many flavors, from perimeter firewalls (sometimes called gateways) to personal firewalls on your desktop.  Regardless, they serve one function – to keep unwanted traffic away from your data!  But today’s business environments, with regulatory compliance needs such as HIPPA or PCI-DDS, demand a Next Generation Firewall (NGF) like SonicWall, Baracuda or FortiNet that can scan more complex (blended threats) in real-time at the perimeter.  These appliances give a higher level of control to administrators by also enforcing digital policies and user behavior.  

 

6. Establish A Remote-Access VPN

Setting up a secure connection with a remote Virtual Private Network (VPN), allows users to work off-site or bridge regional offices with corporate to increase mobility, flexibility, productivity and workflow while ensuring a high level of security. SSL VPN technology is an inexpensive, entry-level VPN solution for use with a standard web browser, allowing users to function securely from a kiosk or home office.

 

7. Don’t Put All Your Eggs In One Basket – Diversify

Ask any investment banker and they’ll tell you to diversify. We all want to get the most out of our investments, so it’s natural to overtax your servers with multiple functions. But are you aware of the hidden costs of this choice?  Let’s say your business relies on four types of services/roles: File/Print, Accounting, Email and Database/CRM. By assigning all of these services/roles to a single machine, your business will be down 100% if that one machine goes down.  How much downtime can your business sustain?  

 

8. Implement A Centralized Network

Small businesses that grow beyond five users don’t often shake their peer-to-peer startup roots.  Peer-to-peer networks are great for home use; they’re fast and cheap to set up.  But that’s about it.  They offer no centralized management, making it difficult to manage security, enforce policies and, more importantly, ensure that all data is backed up.  Since data is spread across multiple computers, you really need to bulletproof all of them.

 

9. Build Redundancy Into Your System

A network snafu and shutdown can cost you hours of lost productivity. The point of redundancy is to avoid this worst case scenario in the first place. By strategically configuring your system with cascading hard drives, redundant switches and cables, and uninterrupted power supplies, you remove tension from any single component and protect your network from collapse.

It is cost-prohibitive to bulletproof all of your systems; instead, you should bulletproof your servers and mission-critical systems.  At a minimum, choose server-class computers, which have levels of redundancy built-in.  By eliminating a single point of failure, you can minimize the risk of downtime.

 

10. Protect Against Power Surges

Did you ever figure out why your system suddenly reboots? The cause is probably the most ignored factor in most businesses. Installing an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) to regulate power to your equipment, as well as to provide backup power in case of a momentary power loss, not only conditions your power but also protects your investments by extending their life.  

 

RELATED PRODUCTS

ZenWorks Patch Management

FortiNet FortiGate Firewall

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Suse Linux Enterprise Server

APC UPS

 

Keywords

Firewalls/Gateways, Hard Drives, VPN, AntiVirus/AntiSpam, Backup, Redundancy/RAID, UPS, Clustering, Virtualization

 

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