Stories by Greg Schaffer

Project Management for Networking Geeks

Network professionals are typically well versed in the technical aspects of networking: router and switch configuration, server deployment and management, and so on. They are rarely trained on how to manage projects, however. This is unfortunate, because many of the problems that networking pros face in projects can be mitigated with just a few project management skills and techniques.

7 mistakes to avoid when applying for that tech job

My eyes are blurry from reviewing over 40 résumés for a network administrator position, and for good reason. More than half of the résumés did not make it past my initial review. While I had to reject some candidates because of lack of experience (or, rather, lack of clearly demonstrated required experience), others had errors in their application packages that lowered their ranking -- errors that could have been easily corrected.

Reader favorites: 10 great free network tools

Ten great free network management tools were recently showcased. Readers responded with some of their own favorites, so I'm going to take a look at those tools and report on their capabilities and usage from my perspective as an experienced network manager.

NAC: Now or later?

Many network and security administrators have implemented or are considering network access control (NAC) to support corporate security policies, but doubts remain about the technology.

Real Life: Earning the CISSP

Recently, I became an International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium (ISC2) Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP). The pursuit was difficult, but that was to be expected, as the certification is one of the most sought-after information security credentials. Like many certifications, it can add significant bargaining weight when changing positions or jockeying for a raise.

Building a cheap, powerful intrusion-detection system

Network-based intrusion-detection systems (IDS) are an integral component of a layered IT security strategy. As October is National Cyber Awareness Month, if your overall security system doesn't include network-based intrusion detection, now is an excellent time to consider implementing an IDS package.

How to land that first network job

I am often asked for career advice on how to break into the networking job market. While my answers have changed somewhat over the years as the market has changed, generally my responses have remained the same. This is because the core of networking has remained the same; it's still about getting two devices to talk with each other.

Open-source NAC with PacketFence ZEN

While there are many commercial vendors of NAC systems, turning to an open-source product can often be a cost-effective functional alternative.

What you need to know about NAC

In today's world of data theft, worm and virus threats, and the need to comply with federal mandates, incorporating network access control (NAC) technology into your network infrastructure isn't an option but rather a critical necessity.

Dealing with 'technically challenged' tech techs

The call forwarded to me seemed simple enough. A vendor's technician was at a client's site to install a card access system, and he was having issues connecting to the application running on a Windows Server 2003 over the corporate LAN. He requested that the network be checked to ensure there were no network issues. I proceeded to the site with my tool kit and a laptop with a sniffer program installed.

Dealing with a rogue ISP

The IEEE 802.3 standards exist to ensure interoperability between Ethernet devices. But what happens when different interpretations of the standards leads to interoperability issues between networks that use standards-compliant equipment? Usually a lot of finger-pointing, and unless the different network administrators work together to find an acceptable solution, connectivity will not happen.

The nightmare network installation

Network administrators frequently find themselves deeply engrossed in the command-line world of configuring routers and switches. However, properly installing a network goes far beyond creating VLANs and such. Construction, power, pathways, spaces and interfacing with other organizations are just a few of the issues to consider when designing a properly functioning network. The following illustrates some things that can go wrong if little attention is given to variables beyond the network configuration.

Linux primer for networkers: Using the sniffer

A few years back, I used an old 486 running Red Hat Linux and tcpdump to easily diagnose a client's denial-of-service attack, illustrating the benefits of creating a powerful network analysis tool from "scrap" parts. There are plenty of tools to build a similar Windows-based network analyzer, but Linux can run on machines that can't efficiently run Windows.