Why most business routers suck (or why NERO thinks Meraki rocks!)

Why most business routers suck (or why NERO thinks Meraki rocks!)

I've been meaning to write this article for a few years now but each year I think to myself that it would be offensive to business owners (my prospective client type) who may have already made the investment into routers for their business that perhaps their "IT Guy" suggested or a "Managed Service Provider" (out-of-house IT) recommended. The last thing I want is to insult someone who just spent a couple of hundred (or thousand) bucks on a device they thought would protect them. But here we are in 2017, and cybercrime is at an all time high and DDoS attacks can be carried out by your nearest script kiddie (kids!). As an owner of an IT company that publishes PSAs (public service announcements) on safe computing habits and provider of proactive tech support services to (paying) business clients, I've given up on trying to convert prospective business clients  to see the "light" when it comes to implementing the RIGHT equipment to secure their network and be a good netizen (internet citizen). The sad reality is that most business owners simply don't care or don't want to spend more money when it comes time to invest in the right technology. But in the age of cyber warfare, this is NOT the responsible way. Thus I squarely put the blame on every business owner who does not hold themselves and their IT Guy/Provider accountable when it comes to un-patched routers - the "edge device" - that separates a computer network from the outside world.

Most cyber crime attacks are carried out by 'DDoS' which stands for distributed denial-of-service attacks which in plain english means "harnessing the internet connectivity of many hacked or misconfigured systems so that those systems are forced to simultaneously flood a target network with junk traffic. (KrebsonSecurity)" The result is legitimate websites, networks, devices, and services get overloaded and shut down preventing users to load the site or intended service.

Everytime I research how a malicious DDoS attack (or worse a hack) is carried out on a business network it always leads to the same damn device at the center of the attack - the router. The primary device on a business network that is supposed to keep "bad traffic" from coming in and out. But many IT professionals (in-house or out-of-house IT) still insist on routers that they know versus the routers they SHOULD be using and getting to know. I'm of course talking about "Old School I.T." that still use "classic" (Old Guard) brands such as Sonicwall TZ, Cisco ASA, and don't even get me started on Netgear, Linksys and other consumer grade POS routers that don't belong anywhere near an office space. These so-called I.T. professionals, stick with what they know, leaving many routers outdated and unpatched as the front line gatekeeper to a business network.

The result? Out of date firmware and definition files that simply leave the router exposed to the ever increasing and changing threat landscape. As the router is exploited and broken into, the bad guys start to control the router, or worse get inside the network. Multiply this by thousands and millions of routers and you have cyber attackers controlling a vast number of compromised devices that are then used as attack vectors against other businesses, hospitals, public utilities and nation-states. That's cyber warfare and it's happening every millisecond (http://www.digitalattackmap.com).

The reason why Nero Consulting recommends Meraki routers (now owned by Cisco by the way) is because they are cloud-based firewall routers meaning that unlike old school routers like Cisco's ASA or Sonicwall's TZ, the Meraki line of routers are ALWAYS updated in REAL-TIME by the internetz ("the cloud"). I have personally never met an IT guy or a competitor IT managed service provider that get excited about patching routers. It's a chore, a PITA, and worse it can brick the router (make it an oversized paperweight) if updated improperly. Heck, Cisco ASA routers require know how of command lines (Hello, MS-DOS) with a freakin' dongle to connected to the router to make changes. What??? And if you're a Cisco fan boy reading this and yelling out "ASDM software" that runs on Java and Java sucks for a million other reasons. So back to modern day routers, like Meraki - between an intuitive admin interface, to beautiful graphs and charts that provide important and relevant health stats about the network, to just damn good security (again, because it's cloud-based), this is the router ALL businesses should be using and router manufacturers should be mimicking. And business owners - you can rest assured that Meraki offers 24/7 telephone support, Next day warranty replacement, and automated updates (for the lazy IT in your company), so you never have to worry about your investment!

If you're a business owner and you have questions about your existing router and how it compares to Cisco Meraki or think it's time for an upgrade to a Meraki, reach out to us at Nero Consulting and we can chat!