Easy And Common Steps To Resolve Internet Issues

Luke Gruden is a help desk technician for Tech Experts.

The Internet is key in almost all that we do on computers. A computer without Internet would have limited use — not only because of the browser, but because many programs require the connection to function.

That’s why when we are right in middle of working and we lose Internet, we can get very frustrated very quickly. Luckily, there are a few things you can try to potentially restore your Internet with minimal time and effort.

Calling your Internet service provider or your IT techs can result in an issue taking longer to resolve as someone may have to drive out to your business or you have to wait for the next available phone representative. Why wait when, most likely, you can fix your own Internet in about 15 minutes or less with minimal experience?

However, before we talk about how to bring back the Internet, we must talk about terminology and devices.

The first device that handles your Internet from the outside of your building is the Internet modem. Your modem usually has your Internet provider’s logo on it and is plugged in by a cord going outside (usually through a wall). You also need to know what a router is. A router plugs into all the computers with either wired or wireless connections. Sometimes, the modem is also a router when it’s a two-in-one device.

Finally, you should know what a firewall device is. Firewalls are usually a box that is plugged in between the router and modem, protecting your network. That said, not every business has a firewall.

Now that you have the basic terminology, we can potentially fix the Internet. First of all, if you lose your connection to the Internet, try a reboot of your workstation.

If the reboot does not work, see if anyone else has Internet. If it is just you that’s lost connection, try to see if you can push your Internet wire (Ethernet cable) into your computer. Sometimes, the connection can become loose and that’s all there is to the problem.

If you are using a wireless connection, turn off your Wi-Fi with a button on your computer and turn it back on. If your Internet is not back, you might have to contact your IT. If no one has Internet, take a look at the modem. The modem usually has lights showing the status of the Internet connection. If it shows that there is no Internet, try to unplug the power from it and wait 15 seconds and plug it back in.

The modem will take time, potentially 10 or 15 minutes, but you will see if the Internet connection comes back. If the modem does have Internet, try to unplug the firewall (if you have one), then plug it back in after 15 seconds. If the Internet still is out after 15 minutes, try to do the same thing with the router by unplugging and plugging the power back in. If the Internet is still out for everyone, you probably have to call your Internet service provider as there could be an outage in the area. Most of the time when the Internet goes out, following these steps can likely bring back the Internet connection. This is especially true if you are at home.

Hopefully, following these steps can resolve your lost Internet connection. Sometimes, your equipment essentially needs a restart to get things back into working order. Should you need further help, we at Tech Experts have you covered!

Explaining Wireless Solutions For Your Small Business

Anthony Glover is Tech Expert’s network engineer.

When it comes to wireless solutions, the average user can get overwhelmed by the terms that are often used – and, in some cases, there are devices that sound like they do exactly the same thing.

We’re here to help and give you some information on the differences between the solutions you’ll encounter.

Wireless Routers
There are several router solutions out there made by several manufactures. The wireless solution you want to approach when running your business will not only give you a wireless access point, but give you good range and the least amount of interference.

If you are running a small business, a consumer grade router may suffice for a small structure of users. It’s a good solution if you are just getting started with your network infrastructure or if you want a decent wireless radio.

This is a good solution if you are trying to cover a distance of about 2000 sq feet. Routers also provide a DHCP capability that will allow more than one user to use your Internet connection.

Most routers have up to 4 ports and open doors to direct network connectivity for your devices, such as printers, range extenders, network-attached storage devices, or even additional access points. Some wireless routers even provide VPN capabilities that will allow traffic to be routed from one location to the next, providing a gateway between sites.

Wireless Access Points
Access points are similar to routers minus the firewall and additional ports. They support port forwarding and have secure wireless capabilities. Some even support the POE function (Power On Ethernet).

This function allows powering the device using a POE device and Ethernet cable and allows placement virtually anywhere.

Not to mention, they add domain capabilities via wireless to allow a workstation to join a specific domain.

There are two types of access points available: consumer and enterprise grade access points.

Consumer grade access points are access points that are typically designed for the home user while enterprise access points are for users that need additional features that are designed for business use, such as manageability, and offer a better solution for security.

Today’s wireless access points provide support for Wireless AC, which have speeds of up to 1200 mbps and are compatible with older Wireless B, G, and N.

Most provide a single Ethernet port to provide connectivity to the network. supporting 10/100/1000 gbps.

Configuration GUI can be accessed by utilizing any browser that’s connected to the network. Some can even be used both indoors and outdoors, providing placement flexibility.

Network-Attached Storage (NAS)
Network-attached storage (NAS) can be an essential form of storage for any small business that needs to access data and share it amongst many.

The device provides a central location that users can access and allows storage data to be copied and saved. NAS devices also have room for more than one drive for additional storage options. Several manufactures have NAS devices available, so remember to read hardware reviews to make sure you are selecting the ideal NAS device and make sure to review the features to make sure it is within your business needs.

Why It’s Important To Change Your Router’s Default Log-in

Mike Simonelli is a network technician for Tech Experts.

It’s a pretty common scenario: a small business wishes to add Wi-Fi to its existing network infrastructure. A quick trip to the nearest big-box store reveals several Wi-Fi capable routers or access points to choose from. Grabbing up the mid-priced model, the business owner heads back to the shop and uses the included Ethernet cable to plug the new device into an existing switch and, just like that, instant Wi-Fi.

There are a couple of concerns regarding the above scenario that the savvy business owner should be having. The first and most obvious: “I plugged it in and now everyone with a laptop has unrestricted access to my network.” How do you control who can connect to your Wi-Fi?

The answer is to enable a wireless security protocol on the router or access point. WEP is an acronym for Wired Equivalent Privacy (or Wireless Encryption Protocol) and it was designed to provide the same level of security as that of a hard-wired Ethernet connection.

Because wireless networks broadcast messages using radio waves, they are subject to eavesdropping. WEP provides security by encrypting the data to protect it as it is transmitted from one point to another. Almost all wireless devices will support WEP and instructions for enabling it on a particular device should be readily found in the documentation.

Enabling WEP will keep people without the correct password off your Wi-Fi and also prevent unauthorized eavesdropping of network traffic.

Another often overlooked concern is changing the default credentials that are needed to login and administer the new wireless device.

I can’t tell you how many times that I’ve connected to a wireless network and browsed to the default gateway I was assigned (normally something like and typed in “admin” and “password” on the login form that is presented and gained access to the router’s configuration.

The username “Admin” and the password “password” are typically the default credentials as they come pre-configured on Linksys routers, as well as some other brands.

If these credentials work, then potentially anyone can have unrestricted access to your router’s configuration. At this point, no wireless security protocol such as WEP will protect you since it can simply be turned off in the router’s administration interface.

Worse yet, an intruder can set his/her own password and change the admin password to something else. Once this happens, usually the only way to regain access to your own Wi-Fi network is to factory reset the device, which removes all of your configurations.

The bottom line – never leave a wireless device at its default settings when you connect it to your network. By taking the time to follow these simple guidelines, you will make your wireless device a worthwhile addition to your infrastructure, as well as making your network that much more secure.

If you have any questions during your router set-up or if you’d like to find out how to increase your office’s security using your current router, give Tech Experts a call at (734) 457-5000, or email support@mytechexperts.com. We’d be happy to help.

Network Security: Top Tips For A Secure Network

by Michael Menor, Network Technician
As the first layer of defense in your network, it is important to take a step back and review the design of your perimeter security.

To ensure a sound architecture, you want to start with what ultimately must be protected and then design your perimeter security so it can scale as your needs grow/change. Since the threats you know about and face today may not be the ones you face tomorrow, you want to be sure your design is flexible enough to meet future needs.

Think of your network perimeter like a castle during medieval times, which has multiple layers of defense – a moat, high walls, big gate, guards, etc. Even in medieval times, people understood the importance of having layers of security and the concept is no different today in information security. Here are four tips:

Build layers of security around your castle
No defense is 100% effective. That’s why defense-in-depth is so important when it comes to building out your security. The traditional first line of defense against attacks is typically the firewall, which is configured to allow/deny traffic by source/destination IP, port or protocol.

It’s very binary – either traffic is allowed or it’s blocked by these variables. The evolution of these network security devices has brought the Next-Generation firewall, which can include application control, identity awareness and other capabilities such as IPS (Intrusion Prevention Systems), web filtering, advanced malware detection, and more baked into one appliance.

Whether or not it’s part of your firewall or a separate device, IPS is another important perimeter defense mechanism. Having your IPS properly optimized and monitored is a good way to catch attackers that have slipped past the first castle defense (firewall/router).

The popularity of moving more into the cloud has brought cloud-based malware detection and DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) services. Unlike appliance-based solutions these are cloud-based services that sit outside your architecture and analyze traffic before it hits your network.

Harden your device configurations, software updates and security policies
Here is where we start building those walls to prevent attackers from getting inside the castle. The first line of defense typically involves network security devices such as routers, firewalls, etc. which each act like the guards, gate, moats, etc. of long ago.

For each layer of security, you want to ensure they are running the most up-to-date software and operating systems, and that devices are configured properly.

A common misstep occurs when organizations assume they are secure because of their many layers of defense, but a misconfigured device is like giving an attacker a key to the castle. Another important practice is to tighten security policies (of course without impacting the business), so for example you don’t have a router allowing just anyone to Telnet to it from outside your network.

Enable secure network access
While firewalls, routers and other security layers are in place to prevent unauthorized access, they also enable access that is approved. So how do we let authorized personnel into the castle? The drawbridge of course! Next-generation firewalls can help here by scanning inbound and outbound user traffic, all while looking for patterns of suspicious behavior.

Password complexity also plays a big part in Secure Network Access. Ensure your users are following these common rules.

  • The password must be exactly 8 characters long.
  • It must contain at least one letter, one number, and one special character.
  • Two of the same characters sitting next to each other are considered to be a “set.” No “sets” are allowed.
  • Avoid using names, such as your name, user ID, or the name of your company or employer.
  • A new password shouldn’t be too similar to the previous password.

Another way to have secure access from the outside through the perimeter is to install a VPN (Virtual Private Network) that is configured to allow encrypted communication to your network from the outside. Utilizing two-factor authentication with a VPN contributes towards ensuring the integrity of the users making the request. This is external-facing to your network and allows users to tunnel into your LAN (Local Area Network) from the outside once the appropriate measures are taken to secure access.

Create and segment the DMZ
If firewalls, routers, web filters, etc. are the guards, moat, gate, walls of a castle, then the DMZ (De-Militarized Zone) is like the courtyard once inside the castle – another area before the private quarters.

When creating a DMZ, there should be at least a front-end firewall for the external traffic and a back-end firewall for the internal traffic. Firewall rules should be optimized and tightened on all publicly available systems to allow traffic to only the necessary ports and services in the DMZ. From an internal perspective you also want to limit who can access systems within the DMZ. One approach is creating firewall rules to only allow the source IP addresses and port to the specific server and then adding proxies in the network from which admins are allowed access to the systems.

Segmenting systems within the DMZ is also something to strongly consider so that if a system is breached in the DMZ, it can’t spread as easily. For example, you don’t want a web server passing data to an application or database server in a “public DMZ.” Configuring systems within different VLANs (with a layer 3 switch) will help you isolate and respond to incidents if a server in a DMZ is compromised.

A sound network security perimeter architecture requires multiple layers of defense, up-to-date and hardened policies and controls and segmentation. All of these things make it harder for an attacker to gain access to your crown jewels and easier for you to isolate and respond to breaches when they occur.

Common Network Problems Resolved

By Tech Experts Staff
It’s amazing how easily network problems can turn into a huge headache for businesses and home users. If you don’t have guidance when purchasing equipment, or don’t know how to properly maintain and troubleshoot issues, you could be down for hours or days.

While network problems and questions are very common, there really are simple solutions to them. This month we’ll take a look at the most common network related questions and problems and how we generally resolve them.

The first question we regularly hear, most often from home users, is “How do I know what kind of equipment to purchase?”

That isn’t that hard of a question. Generally, with network equipment, it comes down to the old saying “You get what you pay for.”

When you buy networking equipment, whether it’s a switch to expand the number of available connections on your network, or a router, don’t buy the lowest priced one you can find.

There’s a reason one piece of equipment is more expensive than another. Generally, the price difference means drastic differences in the speed of the unit, number of available ports, range, and in some cases security features.

So, when buying network equipment, don’t scrimp – you’ll end up with a slow network lacking in features.

Even when you have good equipment in place you can still run into network problems. The most common issue on a network tends to be a malfunctioning device.

It is normally much less expensive to try replacing a device as a first step to resolving a problem than it would be to have a tech go around and test every device on the network.

For example, if your network is having issues with slower than normal connections, high latency, etc. it is entirely possible that your switch or router has begun to fail.

With consumer grade network equipment, routers and switches can fail as much as once per year depending on the quality of the device and how well you’ve protected it from power surges.

If you’ve replaced your router and/or switch, and you continue to have high latency and strange issues, the next step is to check your network cables.

The cables you’ve been moving around over the years and putting stress on may have faults that are causing problems.

At this point, a tech would need to go through and test the cabling to make sure there are no issues with them.

A cable that is either wired improperly or is starting to fail can cause problems that will affect a network in many ways.

Sometimes, depending on the severity of the fault, it can cause intermittent failures resulting in spotty connections. If a cable fails altogether it can prevent a user from being able to connect to the network entirely.

Once all of the cabling issues are straightened out and we know our devices are good, you may still have a computer acting up on the network.

In that case, it is possible that the network interface card (NIC) is failing. Sometimes this can be a hardware problem where the NIC fails, but sometimes it is possible that the software on your computer is causing problems with it.

For instance, a NIC takes drivers for the operating system to allow it to communicate on the network. If you have the wrong driver installed, or the driver is corrupt, it can cause a lot of network problems.

Another possibility is a virus or other malicious software installed on the computer.

Depending on what the virus is designed to do it could be causing the problem with your computer’s ability to connect to the Internet.

Depending on the severity of the infection and what it was designed to do, it is possible that a virus could cause the entire network to run slowly.

What it all comes down to is that it is really best to have a professional diagnose network issues and work with you directly when trying to get equipment for your network.

With the number of variables involved, if you don’t deal with networking on a regular basis it’s fairly easy to be confused.

Feel free to contact us anytime for advice on network upgrades and help diagnosing problems with your network, firewall, switches or routers.

Networking Equipment: What’s It All Do?

There are many times when explaining to clients what piece of hardware needs rebooted or reset that they do not know what we are talking about when we reference the piece of networking equipment by name.

Even if you do know what is meant by router, modem, switch, hub, etc., you might not know what the equipment does, and why you need it.

Today is your lucky day! Below is a brief explanation of what the various types of networking equipment is, what it does, and why you need it.

Let’s start from your Internet service providers (ISP) main line into your house or business and work our way up to your computer. It all begins with your modem – this is how you initially connect to your ISP’s main line into your building.

The modem is what connects you to your Internet provider, and secures an IP address for your computer or network to connect to the Internet.

The next piece of hardware in line is normally your router.

Some network installations don’t have a router, usually because the modem supplied by the Internet provider has one built in, or the computer connects directly to  the modem.

A router allows you to have your own network IP scheme and communicate from your network to your ISP’s network.

Routers allow you to expand your network beyond the one device that most ISP’s modems allow by creating a larger subset of IP addresses for your computers to connect to which is then “routed” to your ISP’s IP address and out to the Internet.

This is why they are called routers, they route network traffic. Some routers also offer the ability to connect wirelessly to your network.

These connections act exactly the same way except for the fact that they do not have an Ethernet cable plugged into the computer you are using to connect with and there is increased security on the wireless connection to prevent unauthorized connections to your network. Some routers also offer a high grade built in firewall.

So as you can see routers can come in many different flavors and configurations.

The final piece of hardware in the chain of networking hardware is your switch.

In general switches are designed to be connected to your router and offer more Ethernet ports for you to connect devices to your network.

Most routers offer on average five Ethernet ports – a switch gives you the ability to expand on the number of available Ethernet ports that can connect to your router.

If you want to have multiple devices connected to your Internet connection while keeping your network secure give us a call and we can guide you on selecting the proper equipment as well as getting it setup properly for you.

If this kind of equipment is not configured properly you may not be able to connect to the Internet at all.

Featured Article Written By:
Tech Experts

Best Steps To Secure Your Wireless Network

Do you have a wireless router or wireless access point (WAP) set up in your home or business? If so, is it secured and locked down from hackers and snooping eyes?

There are three basic steps you can take to secure your wireless network.  I recommend performing all of them.

By default, most routers have no security set up right out of the box. This means that your neighbors or anyone close enough to pick up your wireless signal can connect to your wireless network without you knowing it.

They can freely browse the web and without the proper security in place, your router and any network device connected to it (computer, cell phone, etc.) becomes visible to anyone that can see your wireless signal.

From that point on, it is  easy for a hacker to connect to your computer and see your files or steal and delete your data. If you’re not comfortable making changes to your network, then have a trusted IT company such as Technology Experts to make those changes for you.

If you are computer savvy then follow these three basic steps to make your network more secure.

Change Your SSID
Your SSID (Service Set Identifier, which is simply the name of your wireless network) is what you connect to for Internet access.

You want to change the SSID from open security to “WPA2.” This is the most secure setting currently available on most routers. You’ll also need to assign a security key commonly called a pass phrase.

Do not use something common such as your name, child’s name, or any other name that is associated with you. Use a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and characters.

Don’t Broadcast Your SSID
Who needs to know the name of your wireless network? No one other than you. Not your neighbor next door or that guy driving down the road trying to connect to a non-secured network.

There is a setting in your router to disable the broadcast of your SSID.  Again, if you are unsure, then have a trusted IT company perform these changes.

Change Your Router’s Login Password
The last thing to do is  change your router’s management interface username and password.

All routers come with a default user name and password that is easily available on-line for anyone to find.

If you don’t change it, a hacker who gained access to your wireless network (or someone you allowed access), can simply log into your router and play havoc with your network. Be sure to change the password.

Following these three basic steps will make your wireless network much more secure from hackers and from intruders accessing your internet connection.

While a very skillful hacker can still get around even this security, they won’t bother trying.

There are too many unsecured networks out there, so hackers would not waste their time trying to break a network that is configured securely.

Remember, if you need assistance or would like a great IT company to perform these changes, give Tech Experts a call at (734) 457-5000.

Increase Your Wireless Network Signal Strength

If you’ve installed a wireless network at your home or business, you may find your goal of “less desk, more freedom” is hampered by low signal strength, interference, and dropped connections.

You may also discover that your wireless network covers only half of your business, or that the signal barely seems to penetrate into the next room.

Insufficient range is a common problem for many wireless networks, but there are ways to extend your coverage area into the places you need it most.

1. Center your router. Setting up a wireless network is all about location. Unfortunately, it’s hard to know exactly what your coverage area will be before you install the equipment.

If possible, place your wireless router in the center of the area you wish to cover. The omnidirectional antennas on most routers radiate in a doughnut-shaped pattern around the pole. If your router is located in a corner of your office building, much of that radiation pattern will fall outside your home. Also, consider mounting your router high on a wall or ceiling far away from furniture and shelving that can impede or block Wi-Fi signals.

2. Add antennas or repeaters. You can use a wireless repeater to extend your range. Repeaters receive data packets and retransmit them at full power. Repeaters can also be difficult to install, especially if you’re new to networking. Keep in mind that repeaters tend to rely on proprietary solutions that are vendor specific and work only when you use the same brand of router and repeater.

Still, a repeater can significantly increase the range of your wireless network and is well worth considering if you want to add a few rooms to your coverage area.