Your network is how all your equipment in the office talks to each other. Be it a local network where everybody is in the same building, or on the same floor, or whether it is a wide area network and you have a branch office in another state and you want to be able to talk to each other and use each other’s resources (such as being able to send a document to a printer in Toledo from a computer in Columbus). The wide area network allows you to do these things.
Networking can be tricky...there are so many different components and pieces made by different manufacturers that are all trying to work together. Sometimes they don’t work as well as they should. When this occurs, you must identify what the troubled piece of equipment is, and then try to figure out why it is not working.
Sometimes you have to temporarily replace it with a different brand or different model, just to identify the problem. And then you can go from here to troubleshoot, perhaps getting the original component working again. Other times, it can be a simple configuration issue that must be tweaked or updated to handle some new technology that was recently added.
Networking also includes what are called firewalls. Firewalls are very important—they basically keep bad people out. We often hear about hacking and hackers getting in and stealing data and accessing privileged information, whether it is credit card information or customer information or social security numbers. A firewall is your best defense against that and that adds a lot of security and barriers that make it difficult for anyone to get into your network.
There are many different manufacturers that make firewalls. They all work a little different from each other, but they do the same job: keeping unauthorized people out. They can also be configured to control what your internal people can get to outside the network (on the “open” internet). Sometimes this is important just to make sure that people are not going to sites they are not supposed to while working. Some companies will block some social media sites, or streaming media (audio and/or video) to conserve bandwidth and the costs associated with that. Such precautions help make a network run more smoothly.
Unless you are a very high risk target, most companies are perfectly safe using the normal security systems that are readily available. These are off-the-shelf products approved by most government regulatory agencies. If you have your firewall setup correctly and are running anti-virus or anti-spam systems such as Norton, McAfee or Trend Micro, you can rest assured that you are safe.