First there were sewing-machine sized portable PCs, then laptops, the Newton, the Palm Pilot, and phones with built-in PDA functions. The iPhone led the way to the ubiquitous smartphone, and the iPad ushered in an era of tablets. Now wireless hotspots, printers, storage, and a variety of other devices are making their way onto your office network, possibly without the knowledge of managers.
These devices have the potential to compromise security, whether by introducing malware onto other devices on your network, or transporting company data outside the network. Fortunately, antivirus and encryption apps are available for all the major smartphone and tablet platforms, and most allow remote management.
First there were laptops, and then came PDAs, smartphones, tablets, netbooks, e-readers, and a host of other portable devices. Many gadgets first used in the home migrate to work, where users expect to connect them to the company network.
Unfortunately, while PCs or Macs are relatively simple to manage and secure, mobile devices can create a nightmare for the IT administrator. Each type of device requires a different antivirus client, and management options vary from one operating system to another, as well as from carrier to carrier.
You can include network access control systems to ensure that devices have minimum security software and settings before they can connect to your network; wireless access points to keep insecure devices on a separate network; and management systems that remotely wipe lost devices or enforce encryption standards.
Only 5 percent of respondents identifying as IT managers said they have an open Wi-Fi network without password protection. Thirty-nine percent put users and guests on separate networks, ensuring that visitors can’t access corporate assets, and another 12 percent use network access control to prevent insecure systems from connecting to the network. One-quarter password-protect the network before sharing it with visitors. Surprisingly, however, 17 percent said they don’t allow guest access at all.
It was also surprising that 10 percent of respondents to our poll for business managers reported having no Wi-Fi service at all. Half, however, said they were happy with their current configuration. A smaller yet significant group, 31 percent, said their Wi-Fi needs improvement.
Laptops used to be the only devices on the company's wireless network. But Wi-Fi has become a ubiquitous standard used by a host of devices--including desktop PCs, laptops, netbooks, tablets, smartphones, printers, storage devices, and projectors.
To determine whether you need to update or improve your Wi-Fi network, you need to know which new features are available for recent Wi-Fi devices, and how they can improve the services you provide.
For a long time, Wi-Fi basically meant connecting laptops to the network. Now cellular phones, tablets, netbooks, printers, hard drives, and projectors are Wi-Fi enabled. This can drive demand to expand coverage or increase speeds on your network.
Wireless access points (APs) or wireless routers have evolved substantially in the last few years, bringing newer, higher-speed network protocols as well as improved security.
The basic wireless network standard is 802.11, with variations such as a, b, g, and n. Some vendors use multiple channels to allow for a multiplexed connection, theoretically enabling three channels simultaneously to triple the base speed. You’ll see numbers quoted from 22Mbps all the way to 600Mbps or higher. In many cases, though, speed drops dramatically with signal strength, and better coverage can provide more user satisfaction than higher but intermittent speeds.
On Monday, we polled IT and business leaders about how they’re using public and private clouds. The respondents to our pair of suveys who say they are well on the way to a completely virtual data center outnumber those who haven’t started using the cloud at all.
Nearly one-quarter of respondents to each of our two polls--one for IT managers and another for business managers--said they're on the way to a virtualized data center. Only 17 percent of people who took either poll said they're not using the cloud at all. The remainder have some sort of cloud initiative in place, either public or private.
Based on these results, small businesses seem to be buying into the notion of the cloud, but taking extra precautions against data loss. A spring survey by In-Stat shows that even when SMBs are buying cloud storage, they are also buying NAS systems for internal use to back up the online storage.
Outsourcing IT functions such as payroll, website hosting, email, or enterprise resource planning (ERP) has long been normal for businesses of all sizes. But outsourcing critical IT functions including database servers, file servers, document storage, or application development, gives many organizations pause.
Many experienced IT admins point to recent well-publicized outages, data losses, and hacking incidents that have cost companies big in lost productivity, lawsuits or penalties, and even leading to bankruptcy.
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