Because it’s Cyber Security Month, security has been top of mind for me, I’ve realized that network security plays a silent role in almost everything we do.

Last week our power went out. This is pretty rare where I live, because I’m on the same power grid as Disney World; which means that there are two major power sources sending electricity our way (imagine the cost of a power outage to Disney World!). I really never thought it would happen. Even the year that Central Florida was hit by three hurricanes the power never falterd here. But, a little transformer blew in town and knocked the lights out. No power, no network. So, I picked up my laptop and scooted out to the local Starbucks without giving it a second thought.

My job requires travel. I log in from customer sites, hotels, airports, restaurants and really anyplace I can find WIFI all the time. No matter where I am I can access my company network and do my job. Actually I’m a full time telecommuter so remotely accessing the network is the norm for me. I have a Cisco phone on my desk that has a San Jose number and people only know I’m in Florida when I tell them (which is usually when they want to schedule a meeting at 8:00 p.m. my time). No matter where I am I can work. Which is great. I can’t imagine how hard it would be to return from a business trip without having access to the network. The amount of potentially lost time is staggering.

And I’m not alone. I recently Tweeted an article in the New York Times about a small business CEO setting up an office in her home with direct connections to her business to give her the flexibility she needs to juggle being a CEO and a new mom! As our society has evolved to the point where dual income households are the norm and business requires travel being able to work remotely is the key to ensuring that your employees are productive (and happy)

The unsung hero at the center of remote working is a good VPN solution. Without it working remotely wouldn’t be possible, and tying people to their desks seems a little draconian in this day and age. A VPN can also make it easier to expand your business because new location can share network resources and information.

So, how do you select a small business network security solution? How do you determine your needs?

Here’s a list of considerations:

Would being able to work from outside the office increase productivity and job satisfaction?

Do your growth plans include opening another location?

Do any of your vendors or customers need to access your network?

Do you need to provide wireless access at your facility?

Do you want to provide guest wireless access?

Do you have information that only some of your employees should be able to access? (such as Financial or HR data)

Once you’ve answered these questions I recommend finding a Certified Partner. Security is a journey, not a destination and the environment constantly changes as the bad guys invent new ways to be bad.

Dawn Brister, Editorial Director of Cisco Innovators Forum, and her team of guest bloggers interviews experts, entrepreneurs and authors on how to run a small business better. To learn more about small business best practices and the technologies behind them, visit