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Securing Your Small Network

A new router from ZoneAlarm can help you easily secure your network.

Joel P. Bruckenstein, 01/18/2007

Most advisors I speak with are increasingly concerned about the security of their data. It is easy to understand why. Viruses, worms, and other malware are prevalent. The threat from hackers is real. Incorrectly configured routers, weak passwords, and other user-related errors leave too many readers vulnerable.

Based on what I hear from advisors, and what I see when I visit the offices and homes of advisors, it is clear to me that with regard to Internet- and network-related threats, two groups of advisors are most at risk: small advisory firms that use consumer wireless routers at their place of business and advisors who use consumer wireless routers for their home-office network.

Says Check Point Software Technologies spokeswoman Allison Wagda, "The typical home wireless router only offers basic security features." As a result, many users may believe that their network is more secure than it really is. When you add in the fact that many users do not know how to configure their routers to take full advantage of all the security features offered, and many either rely on the default passwords or other easy-to-break passwords, you have a potential accident waiting to happen.

Until recently, users with modest networking needs and limited budgets didn't have many alternatives. They could choose to purchase a business router, which was expensive and difficult for novice users to configure, or they could stick with a consumer router and hope for the best.

Now, it appears there is a better solution. It is called the ZoneAlarm Secure Wireless Router Z100G. The Z100G is the first unified threat management (UTM) appliance created for consumers and home offices. This router, currently available only on the Zone Alarm for the special introductory price of just $149.95, including shipping, could be an ideal entry-level security appliance for financial service professionals.

What makes the Z100G so good? For starters, it includes seven layers of protection: a firewall, intrusion detection/prevention, antivirus, Web filtering, VPN remote access, wireless encryption, and secure remote desktop access. Let's briefly examine each.

Almost all Windows PCs these days employ some type of software firewall. ZoneAlarm, for example, offers a software firewall that many consider the best in the business. Other vendors of security software, including such well-known names as Symantec (Norton) and McAfee, sell competing products.

So why is router firewall protection important? Because if malware gets past your router, it has already breached your first line of defense. Ideally, you want to stop threats before they get past your router. There may be devices on your network that do not have protection and thus are susceptible to attack, or computers on your system might have software firewalls that are not configured or maintained properly.

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