Another Tech Tuesday, where we answer reader questions!
Cathie from Rindge asks….
My new technology company says I need to replace my router…or firewall…not sure which. The sales guy said my D-Link is not made for business. Is he just trying to sell me a more expensive one?
Thanks, Cathie…most small businesses have a single device that acts as both a router (moves traffic between networks) and a firewall (inspects each packet of traffic and allows/blocks based on a set of rules). Many small-business techies use the words interchangeably now, but you’ve almost certainly got a single device that does both.
Here’s a nifty older picture (despite the mid-90’s iMacs the theory still works)
But the bigger question is….
Is it “professional grade?”
The simple answer? It depends. Many businesses can get by with less-expensive, consumer-grade networking gear. It’s 2013 and nearly any firewall/router you can buy will give a few years of trouble-free connection to the internet.
Take this one, for instance. It’s a TrendNet N150 Router. This is a typical $40 consumer-grade router.
A basic Internet and Wireless connection! Who could ask for anything more?
Well… Looking at the specifications…this is a router that does not claim to have a Stateful Packet Inspection Firewall.
It might be nice to set up a second wireless network for guest access.
And, setting up more than a few connections at the same time the lil TrendNet will start to lag….
and what happens if something doesn’t work? Send an e-mail to Trendnet support and hope for the best?
So we can consider an entry-level business firewall…like the Netgear FVS300.
These cost around $200. For the extra money we get:
- Better network speed
- Real SPI firewall
- Phone or chat support
- VPN connections (limited)
What could be better?
“I want to block job hunting/porn/shopping websites, except on my computer… or at break time.”
“We use voice over IP phones, how do we make sure that gets priority?”
“We need a reliable connection between our two buildings…”
“Our regulations say we need to monitor for unauthorized access…”
“Can I get a report of what websites employees are going to?”
“Can this system collect evidence in case of an attack?”
This is a job for a Sonicwall! (Or Cisco ASA, or WatchGuard, or Meraki, or Fortinet)
Here’s where we leave the “router/firewall” and enter the “Unified Threat Management” systems. These devices have:
- Comprehensive router/firewall systems designed for setup by a professional technician
- Additional services like Intrusion Detection, Web filtering, Remote administration, and incident logging
- Secure wireless systems that offers segmented guest access
- Reliable, highly-secure VPNs for remote and site-to-site connections
- 3G/4G wireless backup connections
What are YOU using for a firewall? Drop a post in the comments!
Got questions? Send them to CharlandTech via Facebook, post as a comment on this article, Tweet ‘em to @gregc00 or @CharlandTech, or find another creative way to get them to us.