Are Network Switches Secure?
Certain models allow for far greater visibility and control over who gains access to your network. Managed switches are typically more secure than unmanaged versions, as the latter generally feature ‘open’ ports - meaning anyone with physical access to the switch can theoretically connect any piece Ethernet-enabled hardware, and instantly be admitted to the network via that device. Managed switches usually include options to prevent this.
Are Network Switches Plug-and-Play?
Simple unmanaged LAN switches tend to be plug-and-play and are straightforward to join or disconnect from. This can be advantageous in environments where security is not critical, such as in a domestic setting. For finer control, albeit with greater complexity when it comes to configuring and joining a network, choose a managed or smart switch.
Can You Connect Network Switches?
Yes, if the switches in question are specified as ‘stackable’. If so, they will typically function as a single switch when connected, just with the combined port count of all the switches in the array.
Can a Network Switch Get a Virus?
While the answer to this question can, in certain circumstances, be ‘technically yes’, the more helpful answer is ‘not usually’, as it comes down to what sorts of firmware the switch in question is operating, and how it’s used and updated.
As with a router, in security terms, it is more helpful to think of a switch as a simple bridging accessory, rather than a virus-vulnerable device in itself. In this sense, even if viruses don’t particularly target switches per se, they can certainly be transferred to more vulnerable devices via a network - if an infected file is shared and opened by other users, for example. It’s worth noting that hardware viruses can’t typically be transferred directly to other connected devices via a switch or router without any individual user agency. Some sort of manual end-user action, such as running a compromised programme, is almost always required for infection of a specific device to occur.
How Long Do Network Switches Last?
Previously, it was thought that a low-to-average life expectancy for switches and comparable items of networking gear should generally be somewhere in the region of five years. Today, improved hardware implementation, more advanced engineering, lower power draw and reduced heat generation can all mean that switches might well last much longer than they once did. While there is no firm answer to this question, you are likely to see considerable degradation in performance long before a network switch gives out entirely, if it ever does.
Can a Network Switch Be Wireless?
Wireless network switches do exist, but they are not widely used. Wireless access points tend to involve some degree of compromise in terms of throughput and bandwidth compared to wired versions, especially when multiple devices and users are connected simultaneously. While exceptions do exist, other practical considerations make a wired switch a better option in most scenarios.
Can a Network Switch Be Overloaded?
Yes, for several different reasons - insufficient bandwidth, too many users or devices connected at once, so-called ‘broadcast storms’ (basically an unexpected request overload), outdated hardware, or ISP throttling, to name just a few.
A managed switch makes troubleshooting much easier but if you continue to experience issues, it may be time to upgrade to a network switch that better meets the demands of your network.