Your router is one of the most important components in your office network. In fact, if you’re signed up for business-class internet and you’re not using the features included with most business-class routers, you’re foregoing potential opportunities and could even be losing money.
Read on to learn more about business-class routers and how you can benefit from them.
What Does a Router Do?
You can think of your modem as your door to the internet and your router as the gate keeper. The most basic function your router performs is to ensure the bandwidth supplied through your modem is distributed as needed across all the computers on your network. However, your router can also serve as your first line of defense against cyberattacks and provide a secure line for employees to connect with your network when they’re out of the office.
What Should Your Router Do?
There are many business-class routers available, with several different features, but there are some convenient functions that you should expect from almost any router. Some of these features are obvious, like Wi-Fi guest access, but there are also more subtle features that can be significant time and money savers, like a network-wide spam filter.
You should expect the following features from your business router to keep your network operating at peak efficiency.
Wi-Fi Certified and Wi-Fi Guest Access
You want your router to be Wi-Fi certified. This feature has become an industry standard, and to ensure that new, Wi-Fi enabled devices always run at their peak, you’ll need a router that always operates at those same standards.
Your router should also allow you to broadcast a guest or a public Wi-Fi network access point that has separate security settings from your employees’ wireless access point. Even if you don’t have a front-facing business, this feature ensures visitors can access the internet, without forcing you to assume the risks of allowing them to access your private network.
Your router should also allow you to setup a Virtual LAN (VLAN) that has unique security settings. Every business has different levels of sensitive information, and there’s no reason why that information should be available to everyone that can connect to your network.
VLANs allows you to designate an access point for executives and managers, giving them access to your entire business network, while also setting up separate networks for other employees that won’t need access to the same resources or information.
Having antivirus and other protective software for individual devices is essential. However, a good business-class router will also afford you yet another line of defense against potential internet attacks: Unified Threat Management (UTM) gateways.
A UTM gateway is a firewall on your router that runs antivirus, anti-malware, and other protective software to prevent internet attacks from ever getting to your network.
Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) allow employees to securely connect to your office network from remote locations. Traditionally, this process has been executed by connecting one router to another, allowing two networks to have remote access to each other via an internet connection. However, newer routers with better protocols allow individuals to securely connect to networks through web browsers.
VoIP Feature Support
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is a way of sending and receiving phone calls over the internet. This service can be a cheaper alternative to traditional business phone plans and often comes with more standard features. VoIP can take up a lot of bandwidth, though, and often requires dual or even tri-band routers for efficient processing.
Business routers must provide security and scalability to keep your business’s network working effectively. You may find a lot of similar features on home routers, but home routers weren’t designed to handle increasing amounts of users or protect networks from business-level threats.
So even if you’re a small business owner getting by with a consumer-class router in your office, you may want to consider switching to a business router just for the security benefits alone.