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Virtual LANs Can Offer Big Benefits for Small Businesses

Wireless VLANs can boost network security and protect business assets by segmenting traffic

Small business networks don’t have to be basic. In fact, they should apply some advanced networking technologies to their networks to get the same benefits as large enterprises, such as virtual LANs (VLANs). Just like larger companies, smaller businesses can use VLANs to bolster security, increase usability, and improve network performance. And with a wireless VLAN, you can segment wireless traffic on your network into groups that keep certain types of traffic separate from the rest of the traffic on your network.

A LAN is defined as all the devices that connect to each other in the same broadcast domain, whether that’s a wired or a wireless network. A VLAN uses software to create a virtual network of devices that are assigned to a broadcast domain; a wireless VLAN is like a separate, mini network within your wireless LAN. You can set up one or more wireless VLANs to support different groups of users, depending on their needs and the risks inherent to your company.

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Ask Cisco: What’s the difference between a warranty and service contract?

February 20, 2012 at 8:00 am PST

Q: I have a business with 150 employees and am looking into upgrading some of my IT hardware. When evaluating products, the availability of a service contract is sometimes mentioned. If the hardware I’m purchasing already has a warranty, why would I need a service contract? Aren’t they the same thing?

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5 Steps for Assessing Your Wireless Network Security

Regularly checking your WLAN for vulnerabilities will help keep your network safe

Network security is a never-ending task; it requires ongoing vigilance. Securing your wireless network can be particularly tricky because unauthorized users can quietly sneak onto your network, unseen and possibly undetected. To keep your WLAN secure, it’s important to stay on top of new wireless vulnerabilities. By regularly performing a vulnerability assessment on your wireless network, you can identify and close any security holes before a hacker can slip through them.

With a WLAN vulnerability assessment, you’re figuring out what your wireless network looks like to the outside world on the Internet. Is there an easy way in to your network? Can unauthorized devices attach themselves to your network? A WLAN vulnerability assessment can answer these questions—and more.

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WAPs: More than Simple Wireless Network Access

An advanced wireless access point can bolster wireless security and improve network access

Most people have come to expect wireless network access almost everywhere they go, especially when they are at work or elsewhere. After all, if they can check their email on their smartphones from Starbucks, why shouldn’t they be able to do the same in a conference room at the office? Luckily, adding wireless access to your existing network isn’t difficult—but you must make some choices. You can opt for a basic wireless access point (WAP) for wireless network connectivity. Or, you can choose a more advanced small-business wireless router or WAP that adds sophisticated capabilities to your wireless network.

At their most basic, WAPs simply connect wireless devices to your local network through a standard wireless signal such as Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. A WAP connects to your router, which connects users’ devices (including smartphones, tablets, and laptops) to the network and the Internet. But WAPs can also bolster your network security, provide users with better network access throughout your building, and give you additional installation flexibility.

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Got a service plan? Here’s how to get the most out of it

February 3, 2012 at 8:00 am PST

Support contracts provide the ultimate peace of mind and help protect your technology investment

Running a small business without a support contract is like performing a high-wire act without a net. If you don’t have the expertise in-house to restore your failed network pronto, you could fall flat on your face with your customers. That’s why you need to be able to call on a team trained to keep your network running smoothly.

A service plan is much more than warranty. Your service contract goes above and beyond a warranty by entitling you to a variety of expert technical assistance resources and online tools to help you quickly solve problems. Certified engineers can provide advanced configuration and deployment support via telephone or online chat—or both—to get your business up and running quickly. Contracts also include ongoing upgrades so you always have the latest and most reliable software versions available.

Here are four ways to get the most out of your service contract:

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