There are two types of computer networks in business today. Those that were designed and installed well by competent professionals, and those that were not. Most likely your network falls into the second category because you are looking for help and reading this! Most networks that we encounter are a product of evolution. When you first set up a network, it was a simple matter of running some wire around from computer to computer until the lights started blinking. You either installed your first network yourself, or gave a deserving kid an opportunity to earn some money and gain experience while on summer vacation. Maybe it was your own kid or relative and nobody wants to criticize their work. It all seemed simple enough, but then you started adding more computers and eventually a server to share files. You added Internet and maybe some multi-user software, printers, and other devices. At some point, you added a wireless router so that your employees could use their laptops, smartphones, and tablets. Somehow it all magically worked,,,, until it didn't! This was all great until things started slowing down. Strange error messages started appearing on your screens, and some computers could not get reliably connected. Data got corrupted and you started having some real problems. You can see from the variety of types and colors of network cable lying around that different people have come through and expanded or repaired your network, spendng no more than what it takes to get by. You lost track of what goes where and what is actually being used. Employees come and go and nobody today really knows exactly what you have or understands how it all works, nor do they care. Eventually something breaks and you find out that the company, or individual who installed your network is out of business, or grew up and moved on. Now you have a mess and you want someone to come in and straighten it all out. Yes, we have seen it all before. It is time for a new network, this time professionally installed!
The “Guard Dog Security Server” is a customized stand alone server, dedicated to analyzing all your network traffic, and actively responding to security threats. Security threats are quickly shut down by Guard Dog sending firewall commands to a Tomato / DD-WRT router to immediately cut off the threat.
The server itself is based on Security Onion, a well known Open Source NSM “Network Security Monitoring” program, that runs on a customized Linux operating system. We customized Security Onion by adding some of our own programming that draws the latest threat information from various sources and effectively creates an Active Intrusion Protection System.
Good network security has several layers of protection. The first level of protection is at the firewall. The firewall, such as in our Tomato Routers, filters out a lot of unwanted traffic. We developed an America Only Internet feature that will filter out all but American (or whatever list of countries you choose) Internet IP addresses. A well set up firewall is a good first layer of network security. The firewall basically determines with whom your network is willing to communicate.
The Guard Dog Server adds another layer of protection to your overall network security. A copy of all the traffic passing through your router is sent to Security Onion. Security Onion analyzes that traffic to ultimately decide whether there is a threat or not. If a threat is detected, Security Onion will generate an alert which, using some of our own custom programming, results in a rule being sent to the firewall on the Tomato Router. The rule which is generated by the alert basically says “Drop all traffic for the offending IP address and deny further communication.” The rule effectively shuts down hackers trying to break into your network before they can do any damage.
Guard Dog monitors both incoming and outgoing traffic. If, for example, one of your computers on the network is infected with a Malware program, Guard Dog will detect that it is trying to open up suspicious connections to outside servers. These suspicious connections may be to receive further instructions or downloads. Like a real life guard dog, Guard Dog is always looking for an intruder to chew on!
Security Onion consists of an integrated set of Open Source programs that, when used by someone with the right forensic skills, can answer a lot of questions about what an infected computer is trying to do, what information it is trying to steal, and who it is trying to send it to. Security Onion keeps a history of all your router traffic for a week or two. This stored traffic can recreate suspicious activity for analysis. Security Onion is great at detecting and analyzing threats and the damage they do. Our approach is to shut down threats before any damage can be done.
Once set up, Guard Dog Server can be maintained and monitored remotely by our staff. Our servers send Guard Dog daily updates so it will know about the latest security threats.
The Guard Dog Server runs on the combination of a Server and Tomato Router. The cost is around $3000 for a small office with a dozen or so users. For medium sized offices or heavy Internet traffic, we have a more powerful Server at a cost of $5,000, which includes installation.
Typically a network install is the beginning of a long relationship with our customers. We take the care and time to plan and do the job right. We do not compromise quality on something that will wind up being so critical to the running of your business. We stick to well established wiring and installation standards and follow best practices, which will make your network reliable and easy to expand and maintain in the future. The last thing we want is for a poorly installed network to come back and haunt us.
When we build a network, we look to the future and design in the capability of expanding your network to double or triple its size. We build redundancy in all our cable runs so that if a cable fails, or gets damaged, we can quickly work around the problem while it is being fixed. We will build your network with growth in mind. We know what works well for our other customers and you will benefit from that knowledge and experience.
We have the ability to perform a full analysis of your network and find out what is going on. We can find and correct connection problems due to bad cable, connectors, or electrical interfearance. We analyze your network traffic to abnormalities, traffic restrictions, or signs of virus activity. We make sure your network is secure from attackers and hackers and that your corporate and customer data is protected. We often implement QOS or Quality of Service Policies to make sure that your Internet connection is shared in a way that nobody can hog all the Internet bandwidth. We monitor your network remotely and are alerted whenever a problem arises.
We have experience installing Point to Point networks on Dedicated T-1 Lines or Virtual Private Networks. We can bridge multiple locations and make them all work together. We understand how to set up routers and efficiently direct traffic to where it needs to go. We know how to set up Terminal Services and make your applications accessible over the Internet. Your network may no longer be Local at all. We can help you expand beyond your single location.
We have experience building and maintaining reliable networks. We understand that nothing is more critical to the operation of your business so we do not compromise on quality. When we are finished, you can concentrate on running your business rather than fighting computer and network problems.