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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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Protect Mobile Devices, Protect Your Network

Reduce the risk of compromised company data by securing users’ smartphones

Once upon a time, a mobile phone was just a phone—you made and received calls on it, and that’s all. It posed zero risk to the security of your network or your business. Now, a mobile phone is so much more than just a phone. It’s a personal assistant, a portable game player, a digital camera, and most importantly, a full-fledged computer—and these smartphones definitely pose a security risk. Just like a laptop, smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices can connect to your network, which means they could compromise your company’s data or leave your network vulnerable to attack from a hacker. You wouldn’t leave employees’ laptops unsecured, so why would you take chances with their mobile devices?

For the most part, the same security measures you ascribe to the computers on your network in the office should also be applied to mobile devices that have access to your LAN. Just like desktop PCs and laptops, all mobile devices need software protection to guard against malware and other attacks. Smartphones and tablets should have a firewall as well as antispam and antivirus software installed, such as the Cisco AnyConnect Secure Mobility Solution and Norton Smartphone Security offering.

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