Tag Archives: Internet activity

How to Improve Internet speed at your Business

How to Improve Internet speed at your Business

If you are a Business owner or a System Administrator and the Internet connection is an important piece of your business, you probably know how difficult it is sometimes to keep a good balance between the real needs and the perfect Internet Connection.

Most of the times the first impulse is to make a connection upgrade and many times, this is the right step. Sometimes however we can improve a lot the Internet usage without upgrading. This article will show you what to do to improve the Internet speed without upgrading.

What is the Root Cause of your Slow Internet

Determine if the problem is the Internet Connection Bandwidth.
Many times the problem is the computer or the Local Area network. If your network was installed by your cousin or a friend who “New How to Do IT” it is likely that this is your problem. Check this article to learn “How to Troubleshoot a Slow Network.”(coming soon)
Use an Internet Connection Speed Test and determine if the connection performs at parameters.

Implement policies for the Internet use.

Very often companies don’t have a policy for Internet usage and employees abuse it and use it for personal use.
Educate employees about the day to day operations.
Many people don’t know what is acceptable to do and not to do on Internet. For Instance listening radio over Internet is a total waste if you don’t have huge bandwidth. Internet phones take a lot of bandwidth use whenever possible a regular phone. Video streaming are big bandwidth consumers. Users sometimes download files two or three times just because they don’t know where that file goes after the download. Many times they don’t even have the right to install or the file is already saved on an internal server. Sending files as attachments is another common mistake, especially if your mail server is hosted outside the company. Users will always prefer to send files via email than via a file server. A 15 Mb file will generate an Outlook message of around 18Mb. This 18 Mb will be uploaded to the email server which is the more painful operation on an asynchronous DSL connection (download is 3M but upload is 800K), and then will be again downloaded. If this email is sent to a few people imagine the connection bottleneck created.

Using a Caching Proxy could save you Money

If after all of the previous steps your business is still too slow you can implement a Caching Proxy. A Caching Proxy Server is an extremely useful tool to optimize Internet connection utilization and security. A Caching Proxy Server will cache the most used data and then serve it to its next client from the local copy rather than the Internet. A proxy will increase security in the company by providing an additional layer between the client and the Internet. It will help you enforce policies and control Internet Usage. It is also a great tool to log the Internet activity of your users. The downside of a proxy server is that is not easy to administrate, it needs an IT professional.

Caching Proxy Software

Two of the most used Caching Proxies are Squid and Microsoft ISA Server. Both of them are great tools extremely customizable and flexible. ISA Server is a rather expensive product but it has the advantage of a visual administration interface. On the other hand Squid is free software, but it needs command line administration. Another major advantage of Squid is that it doesn’t need too much hardware resources, and if configured properly can deliver excellent services.

A good companion for squid is a Content Filter. A content filter is a program that filters the access to Internet based on rules specified by the Administrator, public lists of known offensive websites and heuristic analysis. Two good content filtering programs are DansGuardian and SquidGuard.

Your Internet Usage Policies have to be Relaxed

As a closing paragraph I would recommend to keep a balance between business and personal use depending of the nature of your business. My experience showed that an extreme restriction would deteriorate the work climate and make your employee unhappy. On the other hand security and control of Internet Access are a very important factor and employees should understand this.

Free Protection against Computer Viruses and Other Malware

Today’s computers are under a constant assault of viruses and other malware. We all need to have up to date Antimalware software to protect our computer. Buying antivirus software and subscription could be expensive because you need to update your subscription yearly. However there are free options for your computer’s security.

What is Malware?

Computer Malware

Malware is a general term for any software designed with the intention to affect negatively a computer or to steal private information.
Malware includes computer viruses, worms, trojan horses, rootkits, spyware, adware, crimeware and other malicious software.

There is a misconception that only Windows operating systems are affected by Malware. However, this isn’t true. Mac’s and Linux machines are affected as well. There are not as many viruses written for Mac and Linux machines, but this is mainly because of their popularity as Operating Systems. Windows OS is the most popular therefore many Malware programmers exists.

Today a computer without an antivirus is extremely vulnerable. Especially if the computer is connected to Internet or and exchanges files with other computers, which is the case of most of the computers today. More than that, nowadays an antivirus is not enough for avid Internet users. There are so many types of threats that an antivirus alone will not protect you entirely. All computers should have an up to date Antivirus and Antispyware as a minimum. Sometimes, websites that seem inoffensive can infect your computer with spyware, Trojans or even computer viruses.

Some websites will create deceiving pop-ups to mislead you in believing that your computer is infected. An action is requested on the next step asking you if you want to scan your computer. Many times you don’t have the choice to refuse this action as the pop-up special crafted and you cannot close it. The best thing to do in this situation is to save all of your work and logoff or reboot your computer. Advanced users can alternatively kill the task from the task manager.

Free Antimalware

There are a few good choices for people who don’t want to pay for their computer security. There are free antivirus, free antispyware, free personal firewalls, and free anti add-ware. The vast majority of them are only free for personal use. In other words, if your computer is a company computer you should buy a license.
Don’t forget that you need to have at least an antispyware, an antivirus, and a firewall to be protected, or software that combines all of them.

Firewall

Firewall

A firewall is a must for any laptop, since connecting your laptop in other networks puts a serious threat on the security of your computer. Depending on how your home firewall is configured, if you own one, you might need a firewall on all of your home computers.

A basic firewall is included with all modern operating systems so you don’t need to buy one. However, if you need a more advanced personal firewall that gives you a very granular control of all your network and Internet activity, in and out, you should consider the free Sygate Personal Firewall, or Online Armor Free, or Comodo firewall which is part of the Comodo Internet Security suite, or Sunbelt Personal Firewall.

Antispyware

Spyware is one of the most common Malware today. Spyware can range from almost inoffensive pieces of code to software that will damage your computer and make you lose data or steal private information from your computer. A computer without an antispyware protection will be, sooner or later, affected by spyware.
There are a few free Anti-spyware products on the market. I will first mention the free for anyone “Spybot-S&D!”. It is a good antispyware with a long history on the Market. You need some computer knowledge to configure it for best results. If you need a scan only free Anti-Spyware it’s one of the best choices.
Ad-aware, the known anti add-ware has evolved to an antispyware program. There is a free limited version.
Windows Defender is Microsoft’s antispyware solution. Windows Defender is now part of the operating system with Windows Vista and Windows 7. There are Free, (for Personal Use), Security Suites that include antispyware as part of the bundle. See the Security Suites for more antispyware.

Antivirus

Clamav Logo

Antivirus has always been a must for any computer that exchanges data with other computers in any way. There are viruses that can even render your computer useless. For instance the virus CIH will corrupt your computer BIOS. The BIOS chip is essential for starting your computer. Other viruses will trash all your hard drive data.

Free antivirus programs exist on the market. ClamAv is a free, open source, antivirus for both personal and commercial use. Other free for personal use Antivirus include Avira Antivir, Kaspersky Anti-Virus free edition, Norton Security Scan and eTrust EZ Antivirus as a one year trial. There are also free online scanners, many antivirus manufacturers provide an online scanner for free.

Security Suites

Security suites are sets of Anti-Malware programs designed to protect against more than one threat. They can contain an Anti-Virus, an Anti-Spyware, Anti-Phishing, a firewall, an Anti-SPAM, as well as other protections against Malware. They are the choice of most of us since they are easy to administrate and don’t require advanced computer knowledge.
Very popular Free Security Suites are AVG, Avast, Comodo Internet Security, Google Pack – a collection of software that includes an antivirus and an Anti-spyware and Microsoft’s Security Essentials.

As you see, there are a lot of free choices, so not having an up-to-date Anti-virus and Anti-spyware is free if you can’t afford to pay for one.
Share you thoughts about Internet Security and your choice of Antivirus.