If you're a business owner, or even a manager at a business, then there's a high likelihood that at one point or another you've experienced some sort of a computer problem. Whether it was as small as having troubles with a particular software program or as significant as a hard drive crashing. In today's day and age we all are exposed to technology every day and therefore it's just a matter of time before we encounter a problem with the technology. While some of these problems are common across the board occasionally you'll find an issue that stems from an inexperienced person patching something together. With the end result being an overly exposed and vulnerable network.
Take for example Fran's Frozen Yogurt (a pseudo company for the sake of this article). Fran's has a Point-of-Sale system that is hard wired into their network. There is one main computer and then two mobile peripheral POS systems. For the two peripheral systems, the main computer acts as a server for them to connect to. There is also a wireless network setup for the customers to use while they're eating their frozen yogurt. Seems simple enough right? Well...yes and no. It just so happens that the company Fran's worked with wasn't a highly qualified Dallas IT consulting firm and as a result, all of their internal sensitive information was extremely exposed. So what happened?
Well, first off whenever you are having a network put in, whether it's a wireless network, VPN (Virtual Private Network), or a LAN (Local Area Network) it's extremely important to map out what is going to be connected to what and how data is going to be transmitted via the network. If you are going to be processing credit cards and sending that data over the network then there are increased security measures that need to be considered. You want to avoid having any weaknesses in your system, which isn't an impossible task. Many a times it can be as simple as moving a wire or adding a router with a built in firewall. The main point being that you just can't expect to plug and play when it comes to your business network.
So getting back to the network problem at Fran's. When they had their network installed the Dallas IT consulting firm that did the work placed the networking equipment in a backwards configuration. They had attached a wireless router (with all of their POS systems directly plugged into it) to the local Internet Service Providers modem, which isn't any sort of problem if the settings are correct on the network. However, because they offered their customers free Wifi access, what became a security risk for them is how they connected a second wireless router to the network. Rather than having the wireless router used by customers connect directly to the ISP modem and then having the main wireless router come off of that router they connected the customer wireless router to the main company wireless router. Thereby enabling any users on the wireless network to already be inside the built in firewall that is present within the wireless router.. Meaning that any technically savvy person with harmful intentions could very easily and quickly access Fran's internal network with all of the sensitive information and do so with little security resistance.
Now, getting to the fix. This was a classic case of an easily remedied situation and involved very little time but made a world of difference when it came to security risks for the company. It didn't require any new equipment or even any new programming. All it involved was simply rewiring the customer wireless router so that it no longer connected directly to the company router but instead connected to the ISP modem. This simple task of just changing the order that the equipment was wired together in, made all the difference in the world with their network security. And now the owner's of that business can have peace of mind knowing that their network is secure and it didn't cost them an arm and a leg. All it took was a knowledgeable Dallas IT consulting firm. So next time you need an IT consulting firm to do any of your networking needs make sure that they have a game plan for mapping out your network needs and ask them how they plan on keeping everything secure.