Home Network Configuration Basics
Research shows that majority of everyday computer problems are caused by poor network configuration. That small white Ethernet cable plugged into the back of your PC is where most of your computer-related headaches are coming from. All those occasional slowdowns, unexplained hard disk activity, missing files, slow network access – you name it. Applications that worked just fine for months suddenly start crashing or take twice as long to load for no apparent reason. Your printer stops printing and your email client can’t find your profile.
Unfortunately, disconnecting the network cable, however tempting, is not an option. Every other computer user calling tech support has the same old story: it was all running fine yesterday, I made no changes and now nothing works. Troubleshooting network-related problems is a nightmare of all support analysts. Such problems seem to come and go when they please without leaving much of a trace. And the funny (or not) thing is that most of this aggravation can be easily avoided by having your home or business network properly configured.
The key to a secure network configuration is zoning. The basic idea is to use keep your computers in one zone and all the hackers and viruses in another. Easier said than done. Zoning can be done with software or with hardware. What’s the difference? Protecting your computers with software is like putting a “Do Not Trespass” sign in your driveway. Using hardware to protect your network is like building a fence around your house. A software firewall is a deterrent, while a hardware firewall is a physical barrier.
With software firewalls you need to buy multiple copies to install it on all of your computers. You need to make sure that all these separate installations are regularly updated and function properly. And, as weeks go by, you will start noticing that your computers is running increasingly slower, as the firewall software builds up in size and consumes more of your system resources. To summarize: software firewalls are ineffective, expensive, and hard to manage resource hogs. DAS companies will provide a solution tailored to your needs.
A hardware firewall is a computer that sits on your network between the modem and the rest of your computers. Its only job is to filter and direct network traffic. A firewall like that will have three network interfaces: red, yellow, and green. The red interface connects to the modem and is not secure. The green interface provides secure Internet connectivity for all of your computers. The yellow interface allows some outside systems and people limited and precisely controlled access to selected systems on your internal network.
Take a look at the diagram below. This is a sample configuration of a home network. The green zone represents a segment of your network secured by the firewall. Nobody outside your network will be able to gain access to any system in the green zone unless your explicitly allow them access. The green zone is where you keep your desktops, laptops, printers, and your Wi-Fi access points. But not all of the potency of the security of the system can be attributed to this network configuration. The security of a normal laptop might differ from a laptop that exhibits ultra gaming laptop specs.
The yellow zone is also protected by the firewall but the restrictions are not as stringent. This is where you can put your Web server, Voice-over-IP router, and your gaming console.
And the red zone is where you will keep your modem and all the hackers.
These three zones are separated by physical hardware: the firewall computer has three separate network interfaces. Software firewalls operate on a similar principle, but, as any other software, they have bugs. These bugs are exploited by hackers to gain unauthorized access to your network. By separating the three zones using different network interfaces you create a physical barrier that hackers find extremely difficult to breach.
Keeping Viruses Out and Secrets In
The firewall does much more than just keep hackers away. A hardware firewall can run an anti-virus application that will scan all of your incoming network traffic. You will be able to safely browse the Web and read your emails without having to run a separate resource-hungry network traffic scanner on each computer in your home. A hardware firewall doesn’t just protect your network: it also frees up your computing resources to do more productive things.
While it’s important to keep unwanted guests out, sometimes it is equally important to keep certain things from escaping your local network. Things like your social security number, credit card and bank account numbers, passwords, private documents, etc. Since the firewall is scanning your network traffic anyway, it can be configured to look for certain text strings – like your credit card number, for example. Every time the firewall detect your credit card number trying to escape, it will block the transmission. Your private information will never make it outside of the green zone.
But what if you want to buy something online using a credit card? This will not be a problem. All legitimate online businesses that accept credit cards are required to use data encryption. When you make an online payment, the credit card number is encrypted inside your Web browser. When your credit card number is encrypted, the firewall will no longer be able to recognize it and so it will be allowed to go through.
Food for Thought
Investing in a hardware firewall is the best way of protecting your business or your family from online risks. A hardware firewall is the best answer to hackers, viruses, adware, spyware, keyloggers and all the other wonderful things that the Internet brings into your home. True, a hardware firewall is more expensive than a software firewall. But what’s the point of comparing prices if you know that one works and the other one doesn’t? When you buy a safe or a lock you want them to work and not just to be cheap.
Take a look at the different network security solutions that KrazyWorks has to offer and decide what’s right for you. We will install, configure and support our systems to ensure safety and functionality of your network. Our firewall systems are among the most advanced and affordable network security solutions for homes and businesses. We stand behind our products and so should you.