Small businesses generally have an IT budget of 0, but need the best performance that money can buy.
Most small businesses rely on their little modem/router/wireless access point combination plastic box to perform all the needed tools and utilities to get the internet around their network to all their uses. But sometimes there comes a day where the little router just doesn’t have the functions required for the expanding network. (Such as complex block lists, cache, VPN functions etc). But at the same time, any left over IT budget goes into upgrading staff machines, rather than the network infrastructure.
But you don’t have to pay a lot for these extra features. If you have an old machine lying around the office, the only major upgrade that you might have to do is spend $15 on a new PCI network card and 10 cents on a CD to turn that machine into a fully fledged Firewall/Router/Proxy Server/etc.
What we are doing is turning that old Windows 98 machine into a dedicated (i.e you can’t use it for anything else) firewall and router for your small business network.
Basically all you need is a copy of either of the following operating systems:
And a machine with 2 network cards.
*Endian calls itself a Unified Threat Management & Requires better hardware than the others listed. It can perform virus and spam scans on the data in real time as it passes though the firewall. Pretty cool ey.
Check out Episode 718 of Hak5 to see how they turned a few parts they had lying around (Motherboard with a Intel Atom processor, 2GB of ram, 250GB IDE harddrive, please note they do stress that what they are using is an overkill but the process is still the same. Ed Note: The current Firewall at the office here is a simple 133Mhz processor, with 32 mb of ram & a 3 GB hard drive, it runs 24/7 and serves upto 8 users, IPCop or Smoothwall can run on almost anything) into a dedicated router and firewall.
Once you have it setup, just plug it into your network between the modem and your switch and let it go.