Why Protect Your Network?

Our example is just one (albeit, a worst-case) scenario that demonstrates why you need to protect your network, whether it’s your home or business, but
there are plenty of other reasons, as well. “Users expose themselves to significant risk when a network is left open,” says Zak Wood, director of global marketing for networking solutions provider TRENDnet (www.trendnet .com). “More common, however, is the use of open wireless networks by neighbors to access all kinds of Internet sites, leaving not only the owner but his/her entire network and digital data at risk. Aside from the black marks you could get by someone using your network for less-than-appropriate purposes, you’re also at risk of losing data. It doesn’t take a very experienced cybercriminal to easily gain access to your data through an open network and steal passwords, personal information, and more. For an individual, that can be calamitous— your identity could be stolen and your financial, email, and social networking accounts compromised— but it can destroy an entire business. Not only is the personal information of all the employees at risk, so is the company’s financial information. Further, if someone can gain access to your network, your company’s intellectual property and corporate secrets could be exposed; thus, even if you can recover from a financial hit, the foundation that you built your business on could effectively be gone. As an aside, if you’re traveling for business, it’s also prudent to either avoid using public Wi-Fi networks (which are, by nature, open) for anything involving sensitive data or rely on a VPN (virtual private network) connection to safely connect back to your corporate network. A VPN uses encryption and authentication to provide a sort of secure “tunnel” to your home or business network through which you can safely work, even when using public Wi-Fi.
Smart Computing | June 2011 p.47

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