Computer Network Security

Whether a business is large or small, computer network security is always a major concern. Networks are a series of interconnected computers. Connecting these systems yield some important benefits including the ability to share files or to share an Internet connection. The need to keep these systems secure has become a necessary fact of life in today's business world. Achieving business computer security involves keeping users who are not authorized to enter a system from gaining access. Equally important is the detection of intruders or other types of malicious use within the system. If intrusion is detected, a trained professional can find out how much damage has been done and take steps to repair this damage. Obviously, taking preventative measures before an attack can occur are a top priority for any organization. The risks to valuable information, not to mention the potential loss of business in the event of a successful attack, make the implementation of solid safety measures a mandatory step in building successful businesses.

The fact that an outsider could gain control of another person's PC without that person knowing it is an unfortunate reality. Individuals who use their system for personal work and communication value their privacy. Business owners do as well, and all the more so since their livelihood depends on a well defended system. Once an intruder gains access to a system or network, they can gain control of the device, use it to hack into other systems, or examine confidential records. These hackers can also do malicious damage, reformat hard drives or make changes in important data. Many software programs work to provide business computer security, but even as these programs are developed, malevolent intruders look for ways to take advantage of any weaknesses. Businesses need to know that confidential information will only be available to staff and employees who need access and that access should be available whenever it is needed. Changes in this information should only be made by authorized staff. An efficient security system should make sure that these important needs are continually met. Other risks could include hard disk failure, or physical damage to a system.

Achieving computer network security in the business world is generally best handled by an information technology professional or specialist in this area. In addition to confidentiality, integrity, and availability risks, there are any number of attacks that a business network faces. Other assaults could include attacks against Internet protocol as well as Internet protocol spoofing. In these attacks, an intruder impersonates a host or IP address that does not belong to them. Another method of harassment is the Internet protocol session hijacking. In an IP session hijacking, a hacker can see what a user is doing and take over control in anyway the hacker wishes. A major danger of this type of attack is that the user is generally not even aware that the intrusion has taken place. A skilled professional in computer network security will know how to prevent attacks like this. The Bible talks about the security that can be found in God. "The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower." (Psalm 18:2)

Another type of assault on business computer security could come in the form of a DoS, or denial of service attack. This intrusion basically consists of sending multiple requests that overload a system. For example, if the host system can only process six hundred requests per minute, the attacker might create a program that will send seven hundred requests per minute. Stopping these attacks while still maintaining the ability to process legitimate requests can be a challenge. Up to date protection software can go a long way toward preventing such intrusions. More destructive aggression against a system could come in one of these two categories, data diddling or data destruction. The data diddler presents a major threat to computer network security by fooling with important information and making malicious but undetected changes. Not only is the problem difficult to detect until after the damage has been done, but it can also be very difficult to trace and locate the perpetrator. Data destruction happens when a hacker gains access to a system and then randomly damages or deletes important information. Other threats could include back door attacks, e-mail spoofing, Trojan horse programs, and viruses. Having an efficient system of data backup is an important protective step.

There are a number of precautionary measures that can be taken to insure computer network security. Anti-virus programs are a must and should be programmed to check for updates automatically and on a regular basis. Spyware and adware detectors are also vital tools that should not be ignored. These programs should also be updated on a regular basis to remain effective. A good firewall is an absolute necessity. Any programs that can be run from the Internet should be checked for viruses before they are installed or run. Extreme care should be taken in opening attachments to e-mails and all e-mails should be scanned for viruses. Important documents, files or e-mails should be protected by passwords. Frequent and extensive data back-up is crucial. Recovery plans in the event of a system crash should also be in place. Hackers can gain access to a system through a variety of ways including Internet connections or even by access to the actual device. Malicious attacks can come from the inside of an organization as well as from the outside. Whatever the source of attack, wise planning for business computer security will pay off in the long run.

Small Business Computer Networking

Setting up a small business computer networking system is a much less expensive venture than it used to be. Neither is it as complicated. Gone are the days when an expert, or the tech-savvy neighbor kid, had to be called in just to get the CPU (central processing unit), monitor, keyboard, working together. The systems certainly are more sophisticated, but so are the individual components. Modern CPUs contain software that detects when new hardware is connected. For example, replacing a printer used to mean running printer driver programs from floppy disks and crossed fingers. But now a new printer can be plugged into the appropriate port and spitting out documents in less time than it takes to brew a cup of tea. (Of course, there is this caveat: some major companies may require printers and other peripheral devices that perform multiple tasks. The installation of such components may require expert assistance. However, such companies usually have people on staff or contract such work to an outside vendor. A small business owner, though, may be surprised by how much he can do by himself.) Similarly, families can easily set up home computer networking systems. In fact, many households may have already done so without giving it much thought at all. After all, a simplistic definition of a network is two or more computers and/or peripherals connected to one another through an internet connection.

A family may find that they need to upgrade or simplify their home computer networking system. Perhaps they began, several years ago, with one computer and printer shared by each family member. But as time went on, dad started bringing home the office laptop. Mom started a home business and needed an updated desktop with a printer that also scanned, copied, and faxed documents. The oldest child is in high school and has a laptop of her own. The original computer is now stuck in a corner of the family room for the younger children to use for homework assignments. But let's not forget that big brother also has a sophisticated gaming system, dad has a wireless digital camera, and mom uses a personal digital assistant (PDA). What started as a simple computer and printer with an internet connection has mushroomed into multiple computers and peripheral devices that all depend on internet access. This family's system has grown as new devices were added to the mix. They have a combination of wired and wireless devices with a modem, router, and firewall.

But are the computers really connected? Not necessarily. When the younger child wants a document printed out in color does he have to transfer it to mom's computer first? The family that is still sharing files by copying them onto disks or using a USB key or emailing attachments needs to know that there is a better way. With the right equipment and software, the younger children can print documents to mom's fancier printer even if it's in another room. Dad can download photos from his camera to mom's PDA. And more than one family member can play the same online game at the same time. Games like this can bring a family, who may be too often isolated by the use of computers in different rooms, together to interact with one another and make some fun memories. A wise man once wrote: "In the fear of the LORD is strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge" (Proverbs 14:26). With appropriate priorities, the home computer networking system can be a blessing for the family. All the components are in place to perform the tasks required by the family, whether they are related to school, the home, business, or entertainment. Instead of an either/or choice, both wired and wireless technology are used in tandem. In other words, even though the purposes are different, this example family's home network may not look that much different from a small business computer networking system (except, perhaps, for the games).

Small businesses may find themselves facing a similar situation to the family used in the above example. As devices are purchased, they are added to the existing system. An entrepreneur who is just starting out has the advantage of setting up a seamless small business computer networking system with the capacity for upgrades. A basic understanding of the way a network operates can help the family, the small business owner, and the entrepreneur may good decisions when it's time to upgrade the network or to add additional components. Basically, the internet connection comes into the home or office through service provided by a local cable or phone company. The device that makes the internet usage possible is called the broadband gateway or, more commonly, the modem. A router, which connects to the modem, directs internet traffic to the appropriate device. In the example of the family with the home computer networking system, the router ensures that when mom enters a specific website address into her browser, she sees the appropriate web page on her computer. It doesn't go to the old computer or to the teenager's laptop. Similarly, when one of the younger children wants to print to a remote printer, the router makes that possible through switches, or cabling devices. These cables are thicker than the traditional phone cords and are called Category 5 or Cat 5 cables by those in the industry.

Both the household and the small business computer networking system need to be protected from viruses and hackers. Most routers already include firewall security, but additional security software can be purchased for those needing additional protection. Though setting up a network using wired technology is usually less expensive and provides faster connections, wireless technology allows freedom to use laptops, wireless cameras, PDAs, and online gaming systems without being tied to a specific location. As indicated above, most small business and home computer networking systems will use a combination of both wired and wireless components in their networks. No matter how organized and integrated the original network design, almost all businesses and households are going to find that, as time goes on, they will once again have a hodgepodge of old and new components dedicated to a variety of tasks. But with a network connection that allows the various components to communicate with each other, all the tasks that need to be accomplished will be accomplished.

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