The number one fear for most network managers is a security breach. If you want to do everything you can to make sure your network is safe from intruders, give the following downloads a try.
Shared folders and open ports are some of the biggest vulnerabilities of a network, yet many people who run networks--especially home and small-business networks--have no idea whether such weak points exist.
NetBrute Scanner will tell you, quickly. It scans your network for all devices, and then looks on those devices for shared folders and resources. You can either point NetBrute Scanner at a single computer (as long as you know its network address) or tell it to scan an entire range of IP addresses. I've found that when I instruct it to scan a range of IP addresses, it sometimes doesn't find all PCs; but when I direct it to a specific IP address, it always seems to do the job.
NetBrute Scanner will also check your networked PCs for open TCP ports, allowing you to see what Web servers, FTP servers, and similar software are installed. It will show you where your port vulnerabilities are, too.
Finally, the program includes a utility that examines Web servers on your network to see if intruders might be able to break into them by using a "dictionary attack"--that is, by trying combinations of user names and passwords to gain access to the Webmaster's account.
Download NetBrute Scanner | Price: Free
Anyone with a network should worry about intruders, who may sneak in and steal private information, plant malicious software, or generally wreak havoc. The problem is especially serious, however, for those with wireless networks, because someone could simply be across the street from your house, or in the parking lot of your place of business, and hop onto your network undetected.
The free RogueScanner identifies rogues that may have managed to hack into your network. First it identifies every device on your network and gathers as much information as it can about them, including their IP address and MAC address. It then tries to profile the device--is the device a printer, a workstation, or something else? The program sends all of that information to its server, which analyzes the devices and identifies those that could be intruders. The report ranks every device according to its potential for being a rogue, and flags any that might be rogues.
To best identify intruders, before running the scanner you should make a list of every PC and device on your network. Then you can compare that list against what RogueScanner finds, to see if it discovers anything you haven't accounted for.
Download Paglo RogueScanner | Price: Free
A wireless network can seem like the most frustrating and confounding technology on the planet. When it works well, you have nothing to think about. But if the connection is problematic, you can wind up spending many hours troubleshooting it, with no clue about what to do. That's where these downloads come in--both are great tools that can help uncover the source of the problem.
If your house consists of more than one story, or if the property is sprawling, you probably have dead spots where your wireless network doesn't have a strong enough signal. The same holds true for a small business--offices have the same problems as homes do.
This great piece of free software can help you troubleshoot wireless networks. The program finds all wireless networks within range of your PC, and displays their signal strength as it changes over time. The app also shows you the channels on which your wireless network is set. Why is all of that important, and how can you use it? First, try putting it on a laptop and walking around your house or office, and you'll see the strength of the network in different locations. Based on that, you can either relocate your PCs or relocate your wireless router, until you correct the problem.
In addition, since the program shows all wireless networks within range as well as on which channels they broadcast, you can look for network conflicts. For example, you might find out that on the top floor of your house, a neighbor's wireless network is broadcasting on the same channel as yours--and that its signal is stronger, causing no end of problems for your network. To fix things, you can change the channel that your router uses for transmission.
InSSIDer is one of the best utilities for troubleshooting wireless networks that you can find. That it's free makes it even better. One final note: You have to install this software on a PC with a wireless adapter; it won't work with PCs that are connected to a network via ethernet.
Download InSSIDer | Price: Free
Here's another nice troubleshooting tool that's small and simple to use. It runs as a small display that you can place anywhere on your desktop, and it tells you the strength of your current wireless connection. As with InSSIDer, you can use WiFi SiStr on a laptop and inspect your house or office to discover dead spots or bad connections.
One nice touch is that the program can keep logs of your connection, so you can test out locations over time, not just for a minute or two. It also issues alerts if your wireless connection drops below a certain strength.
Download WiFi SiStr | Price: Free