Networking for SMBs

Networks made simple -- or complex? From basic definitions to security and VPN must-haves, this guide takes the bite out of network management challenges.

Networks at small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), like most IT components, can always be improved, updated and made even more secure. But as new technologies promise to simplify your job, they also add another layer of complexity to your network. A virtual private network isn't secure with just a firewall. Wireless networks work well -- but what about remote users? What about networking tools that are made for large companies but scaled down for SMBs? Are they OK?

This guide offers articles, tips and advice on just about everything networking for SMBs. From simple definitions to security options and VPN must-haves, this guide is a worthwhile beginning to the seemingly never-ending network management challenge. Send us your comments, questions and queries, and we'll do our best to satisfy your networking needs.

For free advice and resources on more IT and business topics, visit our main SMB IT Management Guide section.

Table of contents

   Featured story
   Network administration and management
   Network security
   VoIP basics
   Wireless networking
   More resources

  Featured story  Return to Table of Contents

NAC helps SMBs control network, costs

For large and small businesses alike, achieving optimal network security is a never-ending quest. But small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), in particular, face many unique network security challenges due to their smaller budgets and staffs. Among them:

  1. Access control: SMBs face special challenges in tracking who has access to the network and if the level of access they have is appropriately set.

  2. Malicious code: Most attacks against small businesses are automated, and potentially debilitating to SMBs. These attacks can appear as viruses, worms, Trojans and bots.

  3. Mobile device security: Mobile devices such as USB drives, iPods and camera phones allow data and information to be moved in and out of the network without normal access controls, creating a definite security hazard.

One potential solution to these issues is network access control (NAC). NAC offers administrators a way to verify devices meet certain health standards before they're allowed to connect to the network. Laptops, desktop computers or any device that doesn't comply with predefined requirements can be prevented from joining the network or can even be relegated to a controlled network where access is restricted until the device is brought up to the required security standards.

There are several different incarnations of NAC available. These include infrastructure-based NAC, endpoint-based NAC and hardware-based NAC.

>> Learn more in the full story

  Basics  Return to Table of Contents
  • Definition: Network
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  • Definition: Networking
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  • Definition: Local area network
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  • Definition: Wide area network
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  • Definition: Wireless LAN
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  Network administration and management  Return to Table of Contents
  • Tip: Unified messaging comes of age for SMBs
    (, March 19, 2007)
  • Tip: Monitoring technologies making headway with CIOs
    (, Feb. 28, 2007)
  • Article: CIOs: Monitoring employees thwarts Internet abuse
    (, Feb. 1, 2007)
  • Tip: Event log manager saves bank both time and money
    (, Jan. 3, 2007)
  • Tip: Managed security services: What's right for you?
    (, Oct. 19, 2006)
  • Tip: Check IT List: Network appliances for small offices
    (, April 6, 2006)

  Network security  Return to Table of Contents
  • Article: Network downtime from security attacks proves costly
    (, March 14, 2007)
  • Tip: Insider threats a problem for SMBs, too
    (, March 5, 2007)
  • Column: Best of breed vs. big security: What's best for SMBs?
    (, Feb. 19, 2007)
  • Tip: NAC helps SMBs control network, costs
    (, Jan. 9, 2007)
  • Article: Remote workers still confused about security
    (, Nov. 15, 2006)
  • Tip: Network security 1-2-3
    (, March 23, 2006)
  • Column: Shop Talk: Network security -- Calm after chaos?
    (, March 13, 2006)

  VoIP basics  Return to Table of Contents
  • Definition: VoIP
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  • Article: VoIP security barely a blip on SMBs' radar
    (, Jan. 24, 2007)
  • Column: 2007 outlook: VoIP, SaaS, redefining alignment and security
    (, Dec. 20, 2006)
  • Column: VoIP: The migration dilemma
    (, Dec. 14, 2006)
  • Article: VoIP too big a 'pain' for small businesses
    (, Nov. 28, 2006)
  • Tip: Secure VoIP in simple steps
    (, Nov. 20, 2006)
  • Podcast: Is VoIP the right choice for SMBs?
    (, Oct. 17, 2006)
  • IT Management Guide: VoIP for SMBs
    (, Sept. 25, 2006)
  • Tip: VoIP privacy on the WAN
    (, June 12, 2006)

  Wireless networking  Return to Table of Contents
  • Tip: WiMax clearing path to mainstream
    (, Jan. 11, 2007)
  • Tip: Mobile management: Five tips for success
    (, Nov. 9, 2006)
  • IT Management Guide: Mobile computing for SMBs
    (, Nov. 7, 2006)
  • Tip: Wireless options: Opportunity knocks
    (, Nov. 2, 2006)
  • Article: Encrypting mobile devices: A best practice no one uses
    (, Nov. 1, 2006)
  • Article: Costs push SMBs to wireless, bundled services
    (, Oct. 4, 2006)
  • Tip: Troubleshooting WLAN connectivity on the network
    {, May 15, 2006)
  • Tip: WLAN security tools: SMB Buying Decisions
    (, March 28, 2006)

  More resources  Return to Table of Contents
  • Feature: IT cheat sheets for all
    (, Jan. 25, 2007)
  • Column: More SMB predictions: Performance-in-a-box?
    (, Jan. 10, 2006)
  • List: The SMB Information Architect Top 10
    (, Nov. 15, 2005)
  • Web site:

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