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September 2010

Why 24x7 connectivity is both a blessing and a curse!

It's hard to imagine what the average work day would be like without network and Internet connectivity. We're so used to high-speed Internet access for wikis, news sources, blogs and e-commerce portals to help us to conduct business on a day-to-day basis. We connect to our office's Exchange servers to access emails via our smartphones. And our employees probably log on to social media sites like Facebook and LinkedIn from the office, both for work and personal reasons. So, for small and medium businesses (SMBs), affordable and always-available bandwidth has definitely been a real blessing. Unfortunately, it can also be a curse. Here are just two examples:

  1. The rise of the digital terrorist – Today, there are only three things which are certain: death, taxes, and continuous growth in the number of security threats. Apart from the more traditional viruses, Trojans, worms, and spyware, there are also "innovative" new ways to steal information, disrupt business systems, or wreak havoc on office networks in general. In fact, a recent report reveals that security vulnerabilities have grown by 36% in the past year; yet, 31% of SMBs are either not using security of any kind, or are using freeware which are more suited for home users. Given security concerns, it's no surprise that governments are so worried about Internet security that they have enacted regulations - like UK's Data Protection Act - to ensure that all businesses have some basic level of security to protect vital information.
  2. Too much "personal research" and social networking during office hours – Admit it: we've all used Facebook, or perhaps surfed to NSFW sites at one point of time or another during office hours. For example, a recent study revealed that 77% of employees who have Facebook accounts access them during work, spending an average of 2 hours per day on them. There's no denying that employees might be able to ping a useful business contact via Facebook; yet, if half the employees were to spend most of their productive time playing Farmville, or checking out the latest nude pictures of Cameron Diaz, instead of taking customer calls, the business would start to go downhill pretty quick. There's also more than lost productivity or wasted bandwidth to worry about: Facebook and dodgy sites have the potential to expose your business to security threats, ranging from the download of fake apps which are actually spyware in disguise, to the rapid transmission of viruses.

How SMBs can separate the good from the bad

Thankfully, with the right approach, SMBs can adopt a four-tier strategy which allows the good stuff in, and to keep out the bad. Here's how:

  1. Think "all-in-one": Many SMBs resort to a mish-mash of products catering to different functions (e.g. anti-spyware from X, anti-virus from Y, firewall from Z etc). Not only is this expensive, it also takes a lot of administration time. Ideally, SMBs should consider an all-in-one solution that seamlessly integrates these major security technologies into a unified solution.
  2. Think "speed without sacrifice": Because security attacks can come from many vectors, SMBs need multiple layers of protection that offers capabilities ranging from antivirus to anti-spyware, and from intrusion prevention to content filtering capabilities, in order to prevent employees from visiting unsafe sites, or using dodgy web applications. Yet, to make sure that multi-layer security won't slow down the network, you need solutions that are veritable speed demons, capable of carrying out inspections or filtering at light speed, without compromising its security functions.
  3. Think "simple": Of course, we don't really want complex boxes which require an entire of platoon of IT staff to manage. For the typical SMB, solutions need to be easy to install, manage and update in order to stay up-to-date with the latest threats.
  4. Think "savings": Big business security doesn't have to come at big cost. Simpler, all-in-one answers not only mean lower investment and maintenance costs, but also fewer disruptions that will be avoided. And considering the fact that a lot of networking equipment run 24x7x365, you can save even more if the security solutions purchase come with energy saving features.
You want always available, 24x7 connectivity for your business, without the improper surfing or virus intrusion that can impact staff productivity or shut down the office server entirely. Talk to ZyXEL to get the high performance, high security solutions you need.
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