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Easy steps toward network success

Are you protected against hackers and virus threats? Is there redundancy in the environment? Does your backup and restore system work? How stable are your servers? The answers to these questions will help you obtain optimum performance ...

Jun 19, 2003

Contact: Greg Richburg 559-213-5642
Netricks, Inc.

Don’t lose sleep over your computer network.

Are you protected against hackers and virus threats? Is there redundancy in the environment? Does your backup and restore system work? How stable are your servers?

The answers to these questions will help you obtain optimum performance from your Windows-based network. Focus first on these key areas: security, redundancy, and stability.

Security: The biggest concern

There are many levels of security in a network environment: security from outside hackers stealing information, security from viruses destroying data, security from employees with improper access to company information. It is imperative to deal with these necessary evils in order to achieve a sound network.

What about hackers? People don’t realize most hacks are undirected. This means you were not targeted, but rather your system was stumbled upon accidentally. Most hackers seek resource intensive systems with security holes in order to utilize for their own means.

Hackers look for running applications that allow access from ports left open on a network by unaware administrators. Network security can also be breached when unskilled users open an infected e-mail and accidentally release a Trojan horse.

While systems can be compromised, most security holes can be easily blocked. Inexpensive firewalls, corporate anti-virus systems, and network based file/folder permissions all can be implemented to greatly reduce a multitude of security risks.

Don’t overlook redundancy

Everyday I am amazed by the lack of integrity of many business network operations. I often ask business owners this simple question, “What would happen if your server crashed?” A redundant network, simply put, is a system that does not have any single point of failure. Frequently, powerful companies run their entire operation off of one file server, or a single domain controller. How much money would be lost if that system went down?

How do you achieve redundancy when building a network? The rules are simple. A network should have at least two domain controllers. These servers authenticate users to the network. If one goes down, the other will still allow your employees to log in and work.

Domain controllers, as well as any server, should be built with redundancy in mind. Power supplies, hard drives and network interface cards can all be installed with redundancy in order to minimize the possibility of failure. Any single point of failure can pose a potential problem and should be eliminated.

The next level of redundancy requires a solid backup system. Even though your network servers may be redundant, data can become lost or corrupt. Developing data backups to tape is a common way to store company information for prolonged periods of time. These backups can be used for archiving purposes, to restore lost or corrupt documents due to human error, or to recover files destroyed by viruses.

Many companies use backup systems, but have never tested a restore. One California government facility lost its entire e-mail system permanently due to this oversight. This can be avoided. Make sure that your backup and restore policies work. Test your systems.

Network stability

In order to achieve a stable environment, security and redundancy must be realized. From there, your network stability lies in the hands of your equipment and your technical team.

Proper development and maintenance of an operating system is essential towards keeping up with security and offering a stable, working environment. Operating system s should be installed as needed, anti-virus systems need to be checked daily and old equipment must be circulated out of use before it is too late.

The bottom line is this: A sound network infrastructure will not cause the delays that cost you money and cripple your production. Once you have established security, redundancy, and stability, your company can operate safely and efficiently within your environment. Sleep well.

Greg Richburg is a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer and the owner of Netricks, a network consulting, web design and hosting company located in Fresno, CA. Call 559-222-2500 or visit Netricks at www.netricks.com.

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