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Three Tips for Improving Router Performance and Security

This post is brought to you by the Cisco Innovators Program.

Small is beautiful, cybercriminals agree.

Attacks on businesses of all sizes occur in essentially the same way. But they succeed much more often on smaller companies than on larger ones.

Information Week Analytics refers to small businesses as “filet mignon” for hackers and malware; it says the primary threat is external penetration into the business’s network.

Small businesses often rely on cheap, consumer-class technology, even at the external network interface—the router. Cheap routers jeopardize security, operational efficiency, and employee productivity. Their cost structure simply precludes business-class performance and security.

Good News About Routers for Small Businesses

Fortunately, you can now find routers with business-class security and performance—including Gigabit Ethernet, dual-band Wireless-N, robust firewall, and virtual private networks (VPNs)—priced at just a few hundred dollars.

An example is the new Cisco RV220W Wireless Network Security Firewall. It’s an easy-to-use router designed for small offices that have up to 25 employees, customers, or business partners who need remote access to the company data network. It’s unique in offering high performance, large hybrid VPN capacity, and web threat protection.

Here are some ways to use these technologies to improve network security and performance at your business.

1. Apply Hybrid VPN Technologies

VPN technologies use network authorization—and sometimes data encryption—to create secure sessions to and from remote users of a network.

Common VPN technologies include ones that use strong encryption, such as IP Security (IPsec) and Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), and ones that do not, such as Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP), Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol (L2TP), Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS).

The advantage of hybrid VPN technologies is flexibility. For example, you could use:

  • IPsec VPN to set up a site-to-site tunnel from your business’s central network to another of your site’s neworks, enabling that network to use your whole network as if it was physically connected (this requires that client software be installed). You can also use IPsec to give employees remote access.
  • SSL VPN to create secure sessions from a PC browser to one of your application servers, enabling your suppliers, other business partners, and customers to use specific applications on your network. SSL VPNs do not need client software; the sessions use HTTPS.

The Cisco RV220W provides 25 IPsec VPN tunnels and 5 SSL VPN tunnels. It also includes 25 Cisco QuickVPN client licenses, which simplify the setup of an IPsec VPN for employees working from home or traveling (they can connect by entering a user name and password).

2. Increase Throughput and Performance

To speed up users’ file transfers and access to apps, you could use:

  • Gigabit Ethernet on all ports. The Cisco RV220W includes a Gigabit WAN port and four 10/100/1000 Mbps LAN switch ports; its WAN-to-LAN throughput is 800 Mbps.
  • IPsec VPNs for higher throughput (because SSL VPNs require more complex encryption). The Cisco RV220W delivers VPN throughput of up to 90 Mbps with IPsec, up to 25 Mbps with SSL.
  • Wireless-N (802.11n) to use the 5-GHz band to reduce interference for streaming video, voice, and other apps. With the dual-band access point built into the Cisco RV220W, you can select either the 2.4-GHz band or 5-GHz band.

3. Protect Against Web Threats

A router can safeguard your network against web threats by connecting to a cloud-based security service. Unlike local software, software intelligence in the cloud is continuously updated and tuned by the service provider.

An example is the cloud-based Cisco ProtectLink Web solution for equipment such as the Cisco RV220W. You could use it to:

  • Filter URLs to block or allow employee use of websites in more than 80 categories
  • Block access to websites that currently have a reputation for being unsafe
  • Simplify your web protection with integrated software that operates transparently at the router level and offers you browser-based system administration and real-time reports

The Cisco RV220W is easy to set up with an intuitive browser-based device manager. Or you can ask a Cisco Certified Partner to pinpoint the multilayer security your business needs.

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