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How can I provide Web services to the public but not allow unauthorized access to the internal netwo

I have four networked computers running in my auto shop connected to a hub and am looking to purchase two more. I use a separate computer to access the Internet.

I would like to set up a Web site to provide information on services. To do this, I plan to set up one of the computers as a Web server for customers, while the rest of the internal computers will be able to view the Web site as well as the Internet to search for new parts.

Is there a way that I can let all of these computers have access to the internal networked file system and Internet and stop viewers from the Internet connecting to the internal network file server?

Providing Web services to the public from your private network is very common these days. Your needs are very specific and easy to satisfy.

To help keep things simple, you'll be setting up one PC as a Web server and the public (Internet) will only be able to access this single service via your Internet connection. The rest of the PC's will be able to view the internal Web server, while also access the Internet for the aforementioned purposes.

So what's required?

You'll need to purchase a simple switch to which your Web server, cable modem and possibly other internal PC's will connect to. The switch will ensure your network runs as smooth as possible when transferring data between these computers and the Internet.

You'll obviously need to set up the web server and also allow everyone to access it by allowing all connections to its http port, that is, port number 80.

All that's left now is to get that cable modem installed (make sure you request a static IP address since you'll be providing a service to the Internet) and depending on the brand/model, configure the cable modem to 'Port Forward' port 80 to the internal Web server.

"Port forwarding" is required so that people from the public (Internet) are able to access the service(s) you're providing in your internal network. Since this is very simple, as all cable modems now have these capabilities built-in.

You should be able to access and configure your cable modem without much trouble – simply check the user's manual.

Finally, to test the setup, connect to the Internet using a dialup or someone else's connection, open your Web browser and hit your static IP address 'http://your.ip.address/' – you should get your Web site loading if everything has been configured properly.

This was last published in October 2005

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