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How do you think my network should be set up and what kind of router is necessary?

I have a small office that has a T-1 line that goes into a Vina E-link. From that point, we have a data line that connects to a 3Com 16-port hub. Then we connect our seven computers. It has been suggested that we put a router in between the Vina board and the 3com hub to protect us with a firewall. What do you think the setup should be and what kind of router is necessary?

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If your company manages the Integrated Access Device (IAD), then make sure that the default password is changed to a more complex password that includes alphanumeric characters. Next, confirm that the eLink model you have has an integrated firewall and is properly configured with only the necessary TCP/IP ports (e.g., SMTP port 25, HTTPS port 443, etc.) permitted through the firewall. The eLink-300 model comes with a firewall for LAN security; however, keep in mind that this unit basically offers enhanced IP filtering but lacks the key features of a dedicated firewall, such as intrusion detection. With that said, it's important that your company invests in a dedicated firewall with intrusion prevention and anti-spam features. Off course, make sure that the firewall is properly configured and maintained with the latest, tested security hot fixes. If your company's budget does not allow for the purchase of dedicated firewall, then setting up a router (e.g., Cisco 800 series) with Access Control List (ACL) between Vina eLink and hub will provide another layer of traffic filtering for inbound and outbound connections. However, keep in mind that adding another router will introduce another network hop and a single point of failure. From a performance standpoint, you will want to replace the 16-port hub to a switch to reduce the amount of unnecessary traffic between the seven computers.

This was first published in September 2004

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