Preparing Your Community’s Network for the Connected Resident On-Demand Webinar

Preparing Your Community’s Network for the Connected Resident On-Demand Webinar

Learn What Questions to Ask Now

Originally recorded July 20th at 10 A.M – Watch On-Demand Now

Morefield has seen an increasing demand on the evolving network needs of senior care communities. As we work within communities, we have seen a drastic increase in the reliance on internet bandwidth trending as smart devices and IoT skyrocket into the lives of families. Video-enabled applications that offer the ability to see each other with the touch of a button, to communicate with medical professionals, alert maintenance or request transportation, are just a few of the conveniences that have become the social norm of today’s senior living community. While many older adults still hesitate to fully embrace some technologies, simple-to-use devices have made navigating the digital world easier, and the circumstances of the past few years have forced many to adapt.

What we know:

  • Smart technology use continues to trend upward and has generated a greater demand for bandwidth and expanded wireless capabilities throughout senior communities.
  • Administrators are now responsible for providing support to a variety of smart devices that are connected, accessible, and protected on the network.
  • The rising demand brings into perspective the need for future planning of the networking and Wi-Fi.


Learn what questions you should be asking now so that you can meet the needs of your residents in the upcoming years.

Jonathan Mifflin

Jonathan is an industry expert and the Cloud Carrier Services Team Lead at Morefield Communications. Mifflin is focused on helping organizations make smart technology decisions. Originally from Charlottesville, Virginia and currently living in Altoona, Mifflin works out of Morefield’s regional office. Mifflin has over 23 years of experience working in the technology industry. Since joining Morefield in 1997, he has worked in various roles including systems engineer and client innovation manager. His strong client focus and strategic thinking has been instrumental in integrating new technologies into Morefield’s practice.



Guide to Cable Modems

what are cable modems

Don’t take the inconspicuous cable modem for granted. These devices are the foundation of your business’s high-functioning communication systems, with capabilities spanning beyond being an internet gateway.

Learn the essentials of how cable modems work, plus what modem features and terminology to look for when outfitting your office or changing your internet service provider (ISP_ to save yourself from serious headaches down the line.

What Is a Cable Modem?

Cable modems are a prevalent type of hardware that connects computer devices with your ISP. Differing from other types of modems, a cable modem uses coax cable, the same infrastructure that brings television programming to our business or homes, to proxy that connection, rather than a telephone or DSL line.

In residential and commercial applications, a cable modem is able to provide multi-channel voice, internet and television access, in most cases under a single consolidated service contract.

How Does a Modem Work?

Essentially, cable modems work as digital translators. They receive data signals from your ISP’s network, then immediately translate them into a digital “language” for your routers to distribute across your local network via wired ethernet or Wi-Fi connection.

Cable modems perform that all-important conversion via coaxial cables and an Ethernet cord that connects directly into computer devices or a network router. Some modern cable modem devices, though, come with an integrated router, meaning you do not need two separate devices connected via Ethernet cords and ports to access the internet. The single machine performs both functions simultaneously. In either case — a separate cable modem and router or a dual unit — your modem relies on the same kinds of cables relaying TV signals to access the internet.

This delivery ecosystem requires national cable providers or operators to set up regional and even neighborhood hubs to transfer cable-line-based data. Within those hubs, people evenly split bandwidth, with those cable operators imposing data limits to ensure no single user (including businesses) siphons too much bandwidth.  With the wide adoption growth of the technology, cable providers have elected to segment their residential and business customers, so while the platform is still shared, business traffic is isolated from the residential neighbors.  Business services will also include a higher tier SLA (service level agreement) that assures an accelerated response and priority to disruptions or service outages.

Higher-priced tiers open your organization’s access to greater bandwidth.  Many people assume adding more bandwidth means you’re increasing your internet speeds. However, this is a misunderstanding, since bandwidth is actually the amount of data that can be sent to you in megabits per second (Mbps). Increasing bandwidth simply means you can receive more information — i.e., more megabits. This creates the impression of data-speed improvements but is actually a data-quantity improvement.

In fact, only cable modems and other network infrastructure can increase what we perceive as internet speed. How does a modem work, and what are the effects on your internet speed? These speeds are relayed in a transmission measurement known as the Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification standard, or DOCSIS for short. Every cable modem comes with a DOCSIS speed, and these speeds vary widely across modem models. Typical download speeds for older DOCSIS modem models (e.g., DOCSIS 1, 1.1 and 2) average 30-100 Mbps, while the most advanced models transmit between 1 to 10 gigabit per second (Gbps) uploads.

What Is a Cable Modem Used For?

Business cable modems are an essential piece of hardware for functioning internet and data communications systems. Finding a unit with the right capabilities is crucial to unlocking full communication capabilities, including:

  1. Accessing the ISP: The most basic function of a cable modem is to communicate with your ISP’s network. A cable modem is one of the most popular and reliable modes of ISP connectivity since it operates on an already well-established ecosystem of physical cables stretching across the country.
  2. Using and bundling services: Voice services, internet and television can all be bundled under one contract using cable modem-based delivery networks. In many cases, bundling services from one provider cuts your provider bills, saving your business money. When bundled, each service is delivered via separate physical cable lines, minimizing service disruptions and lag times. Bundling mirrors unified communications as a service (UCaaS)best practices, which often combine telecommunications technology and related infrastructure under one umbrella platform.
  3. Upgrading internet speeds: ISPs and cable companies offer a range of internet download servicing speeds, from less than 100 Mbps to up to a gigabit. Your cable modem significantly impacts the internet speeds to which you have access. Without a DOCSIS model with a corresponding speed standard, your organization may experience slower internet speeds.
what is a cable modem used for

What’s the Difference Between a Modem and a Router?

A modem and a router are both essential for getting your devices connected to the internet. Though they look nearly the same — and sometimes come together in a unit — they have different functions.

Cable Modem Connection

The modem connects your business to your ISP to make the internet accessible in your network. It has two ports — one to connect to your ISP and one to connect your device to your router. The modem translates the digital signals from your ISP to your computer for a wired internet connection. Modem features include:

  • Ethernet ports
  • Public IP address
  • Wide area network (WAN)

Router Connection

If your business wants to use a Wi-Fi network, you will also need a router. The router connects your wired and wireless devices to the Wi-Fi network, so all your devices can use the internet at once. Routing the data between your devices creates your business network. Routers also allow devices to communicate without using the internet. Router features include:

  • Many Ethernet ports to connect multiple devices to the internet
  • Private IP address
  • Local area network (LAN)

Here is how a modem and router work together to connect your business to the internet:

  1. The modem connects to your ISP to access the wider internet.
  2. The modem connects to the WAN port in the router.
  3. The router connects your devices to your business or Wi-Fi network to connect to the internet.

How to Choose the Right Cable Modem for a Business

Keep in mind these cable modem tips when upgrading or selecting your ISP or communication hardware.

1. ISP Compatibility

Modems must be compatible with your ISP. Carriers typically give you a matching unit if you sign up to rent modems and routers directly from them. However, when purchasing your own modems, you must ensure it’s compatible with both your service carrier itself and your internet bandwidth tier. Both can be done by checking the DOCSIS standard release number as well as calling your provider to hear their definitive modem list.

2. High-Speed Internet Access

Upgraded internet tiers — including packages delivering bandwidth above 100 Mbps — require new generations of DOCSIS modems, typically a DOCSIS 3 or 3.1. Older units simply won’t have the capacity to support these service speeds, meaning when you upgrade your overall internet package, you’ll likely need to purchase a new cable modem as well to utilize the connection you’re paying for.

3. Upload and Download Speeds

Many internet providers advertise packages according to their max download speeds (in Mbps). Typical download speeds depend on your service provider, geographic location, hardware condition, package tier type and other variables.

When selecting your cable modem internet package, though, it’s equally as important to consider the max upload speeds. Cable modems operate under an asynchronous delivery, meaning those upload speeds will be a fraction of the stated download speeds. Yet the nature of business operations is synchronous and relies on the constant flow of sent and received documents, data, Internet communications, cloud access and more. Each of these activities requires quick upload speeds just as much as fast retrievals and downloads. For that reason, organizational leaders must pay just as much attention to upload speed as advertised downloading ones.

  • Insider trick: A good rule of thumb is that most package upload speeds will be around 15% of their stated download speed. For example, if your internet package’s max download advertises 200 Mbps, it’s likely the uploading rate will be around 30 Mbps.

4. Actual Employee Usage

Higher Mbps is not always better. Business owners should consider the actual internet usage of their employee user group before selecting a premium bandwidth package, categorizing the actual applications its staff uses the internet for.

  • Moderate and high usage: Employees requiring frequent access to cloud-hosted applications, continual data exchange or high amounts of VoIP or videoconferencing fall into the moderate to high usage category. At these usage levels, experts recommend a 2:1 bandwidth ratio, or 1 Mbps of bandwidth per two employees.
  • Low or casual usage: Employees utilizing the internet namely for basic internet searches and email usage fall into the low or casual usage category For this tier, experts suggest a ratio of 3-to-1, or 1 Mbps of package bandwidth for every three employees.

5. Firewall Throughput 

Upgrading your modems or internet packages is an excellent time to review your firewall throughput, or the volume of traffic that can pass through your firewall (also measured in Mbps or Gbps).

Like older DOCSIS modems, older firewall technology might not keep up with your upgraded cable speeds, lacking the RAM, CPU and other features required to do so. Make the most of your new coax service by considering upgrades to your firewalls and other similar network defenses alongside your selection of your Internet service plan to realize the most capability from your new Interner service.

Find the Right Cable Modem Solutions With Morefield

Have confidence you’re receiving the internet, telecom and data services you need — at the speeds you’re paying for — with a complimentary bill audit. Or get in touch to learn more about our unified business communications system consultations to leverage a best-fit communication suite for your needs today.


How to Choose the Right Network Firewall

How to choose the right network firewall

What Is a Network Firewall?
Main Components of Network Firewalls
Different Types of Firewalls
Hardware vs. Software Firewalls
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Firewall

Firewalls have evolved far past their old days of port-based, two-way network traffic approvals. However, with these advancements comes another pressing question: How do you know you’re choosing a firewall that will protect your small business from actual cybersecurity threats — and do you even know what those threats are?

In this guide, we’ll discuss how firewalls serve as the foundation for your organization’s internal network security, plus tips for choosing which firewall is best for your applications.

What Is a Network Firewall?

In its simplest definition, a firewall acts as the primary security barrier for incoming and outgoing traffic on your network. Firewalls are designed to perform several essential IT security functions to protect your network from security threats. They do this by reading traffic information that’s leaving or entering your network and determining whether it’s is safe, according to preprogrammed definitions.

Main Components of Network Firewalls

To execute its cybersecurity functions, firewalls will contain a series of pre-programmed security features, each taking care of a specific network defense layer.

Some of today’s top defense functions you’ll find across firewall products include:

  • Packet filtering: It’s a primary and near-ubiquitous function of both software and hardware firewalls to filter safe data packets — the individual units of data that deliver the vast gamut of internet capabilities and content.— through a tunnel according to its definition files. (REMOVE)
  • Router functionality: Many pieces of firewall hardware double as routers, which allow all your devices to connect to your wider area internet network.
  • On-premises authenticator: Many firewalls contain built-in advanced traffic monitoring with traffic rule sets that recognize and log permissible devices or IP addresses while blocking those that are unrecognizable.
  • Malware scanning: Firewalls may contain a layer of malware scanning technology to ensure attachments, links, downloadable files and web pages are not harmful before allowing them to enter your network.
  • Remote access portal: Firewalls are essential to allow remote employees to access your network, including important databases, files and applications. They work by trafficking remote users through a secure virtual private network (VPN) tunnel.
  • Website filtering: Firewalls can also have specific website filters integrated into its definition files. With this feature, you can block specific websites based on condition categories or purely on the web domain’s name.
  • Email spam filtering: Since email is one of the most targeted platforms for phishing and other social engineering schemes, some firewalls havebuilt-in email and spam filtering to ensure only safe content passes through.
  • SSL encryption: The most advanced firewalls today carry SSL encryption capabilities, which allow you to safely exchange sensitive information and data across networks. SSL encryption is a next-generation feature, ensuring your network defenses remain robust and proactive amidst new security threats.

Not all these features will be available in every type of firewall. When picking a network firewall for your small business, it’s essential to consider your main threat vectors — the attack surfaces or digital domains most at-risk for outside threats. From there, you can inquire with OEMs about the specific affordances included in their products, then select the best-fit solution for your needs.

Different Types of Firewalls

Today, there are four general categories of firewalls, each with their own distinguishing architecture and cyber-defense specialties. These options include:

1.  Packet filterers: Packet-filtering firewalls filter incoming and outgoing data packets against pre-programmed criteria to determine whether they are safe or not. Packet filterers may or may not have built-in routers to direct that data packet appropriately once safely scanned. They do, however, operate at the same traffic junctions as hardware, like routers and switches, and are subsequently conflated with the two.

2.  Circuit-level firewalls: Circuit-level firewalls do their work at the initial networking level, or right as two separate devices attempt to communicate with one another. They monitor variables like IP sources and transmission control protocols (TCPs) to deem if the devices wanting to communicate are trustworthy. Note that this type of firewall technology does not scan the data packets exchanged during communication.

3.  Stateful and proxy firewalls: Stateful, or state-aware, and proxy firewalls perform both the functions of packet filterers and circuit-level firewalls. While it’s a comprehensive firewall option for businesses of any size or field, stateful and proxy firewalls have been known to strain network performance, namely your bandwidth speeds, which can generate inconvenient lag times for your team.

4.  Next-generation firewalls: Next-gen firewalls maintain the widest array of traffic inspection and threat mitigation layers. They offer extra features such as antivirus, malware and email spam scanning, as well as advanced monitoring capabilities, such as deep packet inspection, which allows you to continually monitor all internet browsing sessions and communications occurring on your network.

Hardware vs. Software Firewalls

In addition to the four main types of network firewalls, your organization must consider if hardware or software firewall technology is a best-fit:

  • Hardware firewalls: As the name suggests, a hardware firewall is a physical piece of equipment. Hardware firewalls are typically installed and connected via cables with your cable modems and routers and offer protection across your entire network from one single piece of IT equipment.
  • Software firewalls: Software firewalls, by contrast, are installed on individual devices. For example, a smartphone, laptop and tablet will all contain their own firewall software pre-programmed within.

In many cases, the best solution is to combine hardware and software firewalls. Each option makes up for the other’s weaknesses, resulting in a robust, comprehensive barrier of security.

Pros and Cons of Hardware Firewalls

There are a few advantages and disadvantages surrounding hardware firewalls. Some of the benefits to consider include:

  • Simplicity: A hardware firewall is meant to protect your whole network., which can simplify things. When you make updates, they’ll automatically apply to every user. This centralized model may ultimately cost a company less than installing software on individual devices.
  • Scalability: Because a hardware firewall is a single solution, it’s able to handle more users that are added to your network without needing to make any changes or install software on these new devices.
  • Speed: Hardware firewalls are a dedicated network device, meaning they scan inbound and outbound data packet patterns much quicker than most other firewalls. It shouldn’t negatively affect your organization’s bandwidth performance.
  • Strength: A hardware firewall tends to be a more difficult target for malicious software than software firewalls, which can mean stronger protection.

The disadvantages to a hardware firewall are:

  • Cost: One deterrent some companies face when purchasing a hardware firewall is the cost. Hardware firewalls tend to cost more than software solutions, but they are still relatively affordable compared to other types of technology you likely have at your business.
  • Configuration: If you’re installing your firewall yourself, a hardware firewall may seem more complicated to configure than a software firewall. However, if you opt for a professional installation, this isn’t a problem.
  • Capabilities: The majority of hardware firewalls cannot inspect the actual data content being trafficked on your network — and cannot inspect encrypted traffic like ever-prevalent HTTPS sources. It can only note the request for initial network access, permitting access so long as the packet pattern isn’t on its programmed blacklist.

Pros and Cons of Software Firewalls

Like its hardware cousin, software firewalls have unique benefits and a few limitations. Some of the benefits include:

  • Personalization: Software firewalls allow more granular traffic controls. You can prevent entire websites from entering your network, as well as specific web content. You can also create restricted user access across network programs and devices themselves. For example, only a handful of employees can use the wireless printer or log into a cloud database housing private customer information.
  • Price: Software firewalls cost much less than hardware firewalls, which can make them a more economical choice in some instances. For example, if your office only consists of a few people using devices, then software installations on each device may add up to less than a hardware firewall router.
  • Portability: One main advantage of software firewalls is that they continue to work on a device, no matter where that device is located — this means telecommuting employees can continue to use their laptops and enjoy the same level of protection as if they were at the office.

Software firewalls also come with some disadvantages, including:

  • Lag: Since software firewalls are installed on devices, they draw on the resources of those devices to operate. That means part of your memory and disk space is going to the firewall, which can slow down your system and cause some lag.
  • Lack of scalability: When you’re looking for a solution for a large network of devices, or you want to be prepared for your business to grow, choosing software firewalls means you’ll have to install software on every single device and update each separately over time.
  • Limitations: Because software is usually installed on the very device it’s trying to protect, it’s limited in the level of protection it can offer. By the time the firewall reads traffic that comes in, it has already entered your system to an extent.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Firewall

Deciding what to look for when choosing a network firewall for your small business is one of the most important IT decisions you’ll make. Ask yourself these questions when picking the right network firewall to fit your organization’s unique security risks, current business scale, maintenance capabilities, budget and more:

1. What Are Your Top Security Threats?

All types of firewalls serve a similar defensive function: to monitor network traffic, ensuring only code it reads as well-intentioned can pass through for employees using the internet at your workplace.

Today’s top security threats for small businesses require firewalls that do more than follow perfunctory “good” or “bad” definitions, though. At a minimum, consider different types of firewalls designed to boost the security of specific workplace applications — often ones that are business-critical, such as:

  • Email spam filtering, with firewalls able to look at the entire string of packets involved in an incoming or outbound email exchange rather than just approving based on source and destination ports or IP addresses.
  • SSL encryption, particularly if your organization stores sensitive customer or client information, as well as meets certain industry regulations around personally identifiable information (PII).
  • Virtual private network protections, or firewalls with specific, dedicated tunnel layers managing devices on your network in remote locations.
  • Web-domain blocking, for security as well as general workplace productivity — but with the transparency and the consent of your employees.

You’ll also need to note the degree of advanced features truly necessary for your operations. For example, next-generation firewalls are frequently installing sandboxing defenses to meet today’s increasingly complex malware hidden in hyperlinks.

When you or an employee clicks a link, a sandboxed-enabled firewall triggers a warning allowing you to open the link in a test virtual environment. There, the firewall analyzes its packet behavior to determine its safety and authenticity before allowing you to move forward in your link interaction.

2. What’s Your Interconnected Network Ecosystem Like?

Take inventory of your complete IT ecosystem by performing an infrastructure audit. Account for your full array of devices operating on your network in a typical workday, including:

  • Desktops
  • Laptops (personal and work-provided)
  • Smartphones (personal and work-provided)
  • Tablets (personal and work-provided)
  • VoIP phones and teleconferencing equipment
  • Printers and copiers (traditional and wireless)
  • Current operating systems
  • Database management systems
  • Servers, switches, routers and other core computing hardware

These equipment audits are an enterprise best-practice as well as an essential preliminary step towards choosing a firewall for your small business network — they can help you distinguish between a manageable suite of software and hardware firewall types.

Keep in mind, software firewalls are built into individual devices and cannot integrate with other operating systems or OEM applications — this means each device must be configured and updated manually. Likewise, the growing reality of an omnipresent Internet of Things (IoT) presses organizations to get serious about wireless internet access controls in its devices as well as its wireless access points (WAPs), both of which a firewall can mitigate.

3. Do You Plan to Scale?

Even if you have a limited IT ecosystem right now, you should consider whether you plan to grow as a business. If you plan to add several more devices, then you’ll likely want a centralized solution in a hardware firewall.

Most software firewalls are not universally compatible with operating systems and manufactured devices, like Mac, Windows, Android, iOS and Chrome OS. In other words, every device, program and operating system contain its own isolated software firewalls, meaning you must individually program, configure and manage all the firewalls on all your devices. If your office will soon or eventually have dozens — if not hundreds or thousands — of such technology, software firewalls can easily become time-consuming and cumbersome.

However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use any software firewall solutions. There are still advantages to software firewalls, but you’ll likely want to also depend on a hardware firewall that will automatically protect new devices on the network.

4. Do You Have Remote or Telecommuting Employees?

In 2016, 43 percent of employees worked remotely in some capacity, and that percentage has likely increased over the last few years. Some employees today work solely from home, while others may telecommute as needed.

Even infrequent work-from-home policies require employers to set up the right infrastructure to support safe remote connections. One simple solution is software firewalls, but there are also ways to tie in your remote workers’ firewall protection with your workplace’s firewall.

Remote users are trafficked through your business’s VPN tunnel. Robust VPNs with fully integrated firewalls manage remote authorization, reviewing the original, out-of-network data packets for approved patterns of sources, then re-encrypting them safely back through your tunneled VPN traffic gateway.

If VPN security is a top priority for your business, consider a primary or even secondary hardware firewall type with VPN gateways built into its architecture to save time and money setting up this aspect of your organization’s network.

5. Can You Stop Distributed Attacks?

Reported distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks increased by 200 percent in Q1 of 2019 alone. What’s more, DDoS attacks bombarding servers at rates over 100 GB per second increased a whopping 967 percent in the same year, with few signs of slowing down.

Due to this alarming traction, more attention is being pivoted onto firewalls with dedicated architecture against DDoS threats. Specifically, firewalls with advanced firewall monitoring features integrated into the routers can give you advanced alerts when servers first appear to be unexpectedly overwhelmed — the tell-tale sign of DDoS — then trigger appropriate mitigation steps.

6. Do You Want Firewall Alerts?

Real-time alerts identify when your firewall prevented malicious traffic — but also if an attack is currently underway. Preemptive detection assistance like this is routed immediately to network administrators and any other approved user.

With the real-time alert, you can swing into action, opening firewall and router activity history to identify the method of attack on your network then launch a quick, targeted response. Since firewalls are often one of the first layers recognizing any suspicious traffic, it makes sense to pick a firewall type with advance attack alert functions like this for the speediest-possible mitigation turnaround.

7. Will You Need Ongoing Support?

Even the savviest, most advanced internal IT personnel benefit from technical support provided by firewall OEMs.

Before picking the right network firewall, inquire about ongoing assistance from the manufacturer — ask:

  • Does their assistance go beyond initial set up or network integration?
  • What about ongoing configurations and firewall updates, particularly for software firewalls, which, in many cases, must be individually managed?
  • Will you have a go-to support specialist you can contact for miscellaneous questions and case concerns?

All these customer support perks can make a huge difference in the lifespan and functionality of your firewall decision.

8. Is Your Bandwidth at Capacity?

Software firewalls — as well as more advanced firewall types, such as stateful and proxy firewalls — can cause choke points in your network. These chokepoints are directly responsible for slow internet upload and download speeds, transaction lags and even server unreliability during important work activities and transactions.

These bandwidth lags are further complicated when running too many devices in the office, or if you’re not using the bandwidth system requirements recommended by your firewall manufacturer. Therefore, if your bandwidth can’t afford any more drain or if speed is important for your business, you’ll want to choose an option that won’t slow down your system.

9. How Much Access Should People Get?

Consider your network’s actual users — namely, your employees and your customers across client-facing portals or applications.

Firewalls with more granular access controls and authentication rules may be attractive here. The ability to tailor specific access boundaries through your firewalls ensures only the right people can find and use the right work applications at the right time, in the right locations.

In some cases, firewalls can even create access rules where users can interact with certain parts of an application but not the whole, creating logical case-by-case security and more administrative peace of mind.

10. What Does Your Budget Allow?

Finally, you’ll want to consider the cost. The most affordable option for individual users is a software firewall, but a hardware solution tends to be more cost-effective, as long as you have more than a few devices on your network.

Keep in mind that equipping your business with the right firewall is an investment that can easily save you significant amounts of money if it prevents expensive data breaches. In this way, a firewall can pay for itself, so it’s shortsighted to settle for sub-par protection for the sake of your budget.

If your budgetary restrictions are an obstacle to investing in the right firewall solution, you may want to consider choosing a firewall-as-a-service option. As with other software-as-a-service models, you’ll pay a subscription fee for as long as you use the service rather than incurring a large upfront cost.

Boost Your Network Security With Morefield Communications

Firewalls aren’t a bullet-proof solution to every digital security threat that, once installed, makes your network impenetrable.

They’re pretty close, though — especially when your organization vets and selects the right firewall type for your current network defense needs. With these tips for picking the right network firewall, you’ll be able to find the perfect fit for your business.

Contact Morefield Communications to learn what those network defenses are for you. We tailor cost-competitive cybersecurity suites with software and hardware recommendations specifically for our clients, including some of today’s most robust next-generation firewalls.

What is BYOD?

man using a BYOD device

Smartphones have become a regular part of everyday life for most Americans and an integral part of the workplace for many employees. In the United States, nearly 80% of senior managers and IT executives say that, without a mobile device, employees can’t do their jobs effectively.

With such an abundance of mobile phones, tablets and laptops and the tasks that require them, many companies have implemented Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) policies, which allow employees to work from their personal devices. When used correctly, it can create improvements for workers, employers and customers alike.

BYOD Explained

BYOD is a growing trend among employers looking to add flexibility and ease of access to the workplace. It involves allowing employees to work from the device of their choice. They might be able to use their smartphone or tablet to access resources, like their corporate email, files or inventory levels, among an array of other information.

Many companies have internal apps that employees can download and access with their devices. They may provide access to corporate information with added security or allow the user to log in to their email.

For the employer, a BYOD policy may require them to adopt new or improved security habits to ensure that the increased access doesn’t put the company or its clients at risk.

What Is a BYOD Allowance?

Most employers will compensate workers who use BYOD (Bring-Your-Own-Device). According to a survey from Oxford Economics and Samsung, this amount is usually between $30 and $50 each month, intended to cover part or all of the cell service plan. It can vary widely based on the amount of device usage expected. If it’s supplemental or not a large part of the workday, an employer may not provide as much of an allowance as one that works with the device for the majority of their day.

Why Are Companies Using BYOD?

BYOD is an incredibly fast-growing trend, with the BYOD market projected to reach $300 billion by 2022. As businesses adapt to the needs of the 21st century, they frequently find that BYOD policies fulfill employee desires, improve efficiency and save them money.

One analyst, Richard Absalom, posits that BYOD is an inevitable adoption for any modern business. He said that standing in the way of consumerized mobility is likely a “damaging and futile exercise.” When most people have smartphones with them that they take to work every day, it becomes simple and convenient, almost natural, for them to use those devices to get their work done.

While BYOD is becoming more and more common, small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) may face more challenges regarding security and keeping themselves out of financial and legal trouble. If they don’t have extensive IT resources, it might be difficult to put those security measures in place. Even though it requires a different approach for every organization, BYOD can still be incredibly valuable and viable for businesses of all sizes.

Before implementing this policy, organizations will need to consider the BYOD pros and cons and how they apply to the work they do.

What Are the Negatives of BYOD in the Workplace?

So, what are the risks of BYOD? Some of the difficulties that BYOD can bring with it include a lack of control over employee usage and difficulty supporting the wide variety of different device types that exist.

However, the most pressing concern is the security risk. When employees can access corporate data on their devices, that data is more vulnerable. Personal devices aren’t likely to have the heavy security that corporate devices do. They’re more open to hacking or misuse on the part of the employee. One way to mitigate this is to ensure that employees are well-trained on appropriate use and limitations.

Some of the ways that companies address security concerns include requiring devices to use:

  • Anti-malware software
  • Encryption
  • Passcodes
  • Remote wipe functionality

Employee privacy can also be a concern, as you’ll want to enable enough security features to keep your corporate data safe without overstepping access to the employee’s personal information.

Every company will need to conduct a risk assessment when looking at BYOD policies, and the concerns will vary depending on the business. Financial, medical and legal companies, for instance, can deal with more severe repercussions in the case of a breach than other businesses. The kind of corporate data being accessed will also influence how critical its security is. Encrypted corporate emails without any sensitive data might be considered safe, while important financial documents should remain on secure servers.

Security needs and concerns vary widely across different types of organizations, and an expert like those at Morefield Communications can help determine what you need.

What Are the Benefits of BYOD?

There are many advantages and disadvantages of BYOD to consider. So what are the benefits of BYOD in the workplace?

  • Better equipment: Often, personal equipment is faster and more advanced than the aging equipment provided by IT departments under tight budgets. It may work better and reduce downtime due to broken equipment.
  • Cost savings: When employees bring their own devices, you’ll have to spend less money purchasing new devices for them to use. You also don’t need to worry about paying maintenance costs or dealing with tech support if the devices stop working.
  • Employee satisfaction: Most employees are more comfortable using their own devices, speeding up the process and making their workday easier. Many see the ease of use as a perk and enjoy using their own phones or laptops to get the job done.
  • Increased productivity: With the familiarity of a personal device and fewer tech problems, employees are more productive. Smartphones themselves are a big productivity booster. A study by Frost & Sullivan found that smartphones added about 58 minutes of work to an employee’s day and improved their productivity by about 34%.
  • Easy transitions: Adding or terminating employee access can be cumbersome and difficult with corporate-provided devices. Working with a BYOD policy makes this move easier, as you can typically add and revoke user access with ease.

BYOD policies and best practices will vary from organization to organization, but an effective system can ensure that you reap as many benefits as possible.

Work With a Business Technology Expert

If you’re considering adding BYOD to your organization, you have a lot to think about. Fortunately, the experts at Morefield Communications know all about this beneficial policy and the details that come with it.

Whether you want to improve your security measures to allow BYOD, utilize unified communication with personal devices or otherwise contribute to personal device usage, Morefield Communications can help. We’ve worked with SMBs and large enterprises and can work with you to identify the distinct needs of your company, regardless of industry or size. To learn more about working with Morefield Communications, reach out to us today.

Wireless Design Steps for Success

by Rob Gratowski

Wireless connectivity for most enterprise environments has matured from a convenient mode of connectivity to a mission critical mode of connectivity. So how do we ensure that our wireless user experience is in line with the increased criticality of our wireless network?

All too often wireless networks are deployed by just picking spots and placing access-points. While this approach will most likely give you wireless coverage, it will also most likely not give your wireless user a great wireless experience. For wireless users to have a great wireless experience you need to have a wireless design not a random wireless deployment.

So, this is where most people say, “I need a wireless survey.” While a wireless survey is a component of a wireless design, by itself, it is not a complete wireless design.



Components to consider when performing a wireless design


Important wireless Design and Development Questions:

  • What applications will be used on the wireless network?
  • Will the wireless network need to support voice, video, or location?
  • How many wireless clients do you expect your wireless network to support?

These are all important questions needed to establish parameters that you will use in your wireless design.


Wireless Clients

Wireless clients come from many different manufacturers and use many different components. It is important to know what wireless client you intend to use and the capabilities of that client.

Identify the “most important, least capable” client and frame your design to support this client.


Choosing the Best Access-Points

Let’s consider this question, can you pull a horse trailer with a car? Sure, but should you? Probably not. A truck would be a much better choice for pulling a horse trailer – same applies to access-points. If you need to support enterprise activities, you should be using an enterprise grade access-point. Remember, components matter. Choose an access-point make and model that will satisfy your intended use and design using that access-point. Never design using an access-point that will not be used in the actual wireless deployment and never design using the “mythical” generic 802.11 wireless access-point.

How will you know if you met your wireless design requirements?

You will know you’ve met your wireless design requirements with validation. Every good wireless design should include an onsite validation component. Using the initial wireless design requirement as performance indicators, you should be able to validate the deployed wireless network against the wireless design requirements. This is also a good time to assure that the “most important least capable” wireless client also performs as desired.


Need Help with Your Wireless Design?

Contact Morefield Communications to learn how we can help with your wireless needs. Our team of IT experts have been providing best-in-class solutions across client networks and IT support for decades. Reach out online or give us a call at (717) 761-6170 to speak with an expert about possible solutions for your problem.

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