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The Basics of Computer Networking

May 17, 2019
41m 27s

Networks are as different as the people and organizations that use them. Despite those differences, there are some foundational components that all networks share. This session will explore different types of networks and the common components that must exist in these networks.

Daniel Cummins

Daniel Cummins is a CompTIA Certified Technical Trainer (CTT+) and has been CompTIA certified since 2010, having passed all of the Core and Cybersecurity exams. Including recertification, Daniel has taken and passed more than a dozen CompTIA exams. In addition, Daniel holds the Cisco CCNA certification.

We will look at TCP/IP, the protocol suite that connects the whole world together and look at the ways in which we connect to the world via the Internet.

In this webinar, attendees will learn:

  • Network Components
  • Network Types
  • Network Protocols
  • Internet Access Technologies


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Q & A with Daniel Cummins: The Basics of Computer Networking


Q: When should we use a switch for layer 3 vs a router? 
A: Typically, an organization would use an L3 switch to switch between VLANs in an internal network. Routers are used with more traditional subnets and to route to external entities. 

Q: How do you know if you have firewall installed? 
A: This is a complicated question depending on context. If you are in a business, an authorized administrator could conduct a series of network scans to see if any ports are being blocked through a gateway. WARNING: Do not conduct network scans if you have not been explicitly authorized to do so. This is likely a major breach of security policy. If ports are being blocked, a firewall is likely responsible. If you are in a small office home office (SOHO) network, your gateway device likely does include a firewall. Check the manufacturer’s documentation to see if it includes a firewall function. You could also consult with your ISP if you are renting the device. 

Q: How does my home have a firewall?  I have a router from the provider, but I did not install a firewall.  How am I protected? 
A: A vast majority of home routers provided by an ISP contain a firewall function. It may only be a simple packet filter, but there’s something. However, it is not always enabled and configured. If you have the basic skills to access the management port of the device (usually by connecting a laptop directly to the back of the device and entering the management IP of the device in your browser), then you can check to see. If you’re unsure how to do this, contact your provider or review the user manual of your device. 

Q: Can you speak a bit more to 5G? 
A: 5G is not a fully ratified standard yet. The process is underway so, naturally, telecommunications providers are trying to get ahead of the game to be ready when it does officially enter the industry. Currently, much of the development and testing is around “terrestrial” networks, meaning stationary infrastructure for homes and businesses. Cellular 5G is many, many years away. But in theory, 5G networks should be able to push networks speeds beyond 1 Gbps for most customers, and in some cases up to 10 Gbps. 

Q: What certifications would you suggest for networking (beginner, Int, advanced)? 
A: If networking is going to be your career, you have to be Cisco certified. To that end, Cisco is a challenging certification if you don’t already have a foundation in networking theory. In my professional experience, acquiring a Network+ certification from CompTIA prepares you with foundational networking theory, terminology and technology. Then you can go on to the CCNA Routing and Switching where you can apply that theory to actual configuration skills. I would be remiss if I did not also mention the importance of security training for all networking professionals. Security+ is a great choice to establish a strong foundation in security. 
Moving into the intermediate and advanced space really depends on what you want to do with your networking skills. If Network Administration is your goal, continue down the Cisco path with CCNP. If network security is your goal, consider getting certified as a CND (Certified Network Defender) from EC-CouncilCompTIA also offers an intermediate network security certification called 
CySA+ (CyberSecurity Analyst+)For the ultimate advanced networking certification, the CCIE from Cisco is a challenge but proves that you are an expert in the field of Cisco networking. 

Q: What is the best courses to take to get a great baseline to networking? Is it CCNA or is there something else you'd advise?  
A: If you are solely looking for baseline knowledge, I don’t recommend a certification course. Certification prep courses are very fast-paced and demanding since we are preparing you to pass an exam, not develop skills. Locating quality knowledge and skills-based training is important. Global Knowledge has a series of foundational networking training courses that can prepare you with the knowledge of networking without the pressure of passing an exam. The pathway starts with the Understanding Networking Fundamentals course where we cover physical infrastructure, local area and wide area networking technology and introduce you to some common network protocols. TCP/IP Networking is a course that focuses in on the details of the TCP/IP suite of protocols, using Wireshark to explore the details of how these protocols work. Tie up that training with our Cybersecurity Foundations course where you can learn more about securing your networks and systems. Once you complete these training courses, you will have a strong foundational set of knowledge that will prepare you to start a networking career. 

Q: What is the difference between CSMA/CD and CSMA/CA? 
A: CSMA/CD is the Ethernet mechanism to discover and recover from network collisions. The mechanism allows the various hosts on a shared network to detect when a collision occurs and retransmit the datagram to avoid another collision. On a switched network, we don’t need Collision Detection so CSMA/CD is unnecessary. CSMA/CA is a wireless mechanism to avoid collisions altogether. Before sending a datagram over wireless, CSMA/CA will essentially jam all other devices from transmitting until the datagram is received by the WAP. Once received by the WAP, another device can take their turn. By doing this, a collision is impossible. This is still being used by Wi-Fi Access Points today. 

Q: You mentioned that current OS must be designed for networking. At what point in the past did that become standard? 
A: There was no exact date where companies starting integrating the NIC into the motherboard that I could find. But throughout the 1980’s, networking was becoming more popular. There were computers coming out in the 80’s that had built in modems and could connect to networks. When the Internet became a public commodity in the 90’s, networking by default was becoming quite ubiquitous.  

Q: From the network types slide, what did CAN stand for? 
A: In the presentation, CAN stands for Campus Area Network. 

Q: How are the customers in rural areas getting access to wireless networking? 
A: The term “wireless” is very broad and includes a number of different technologies and standards. Wi-Fi is a local standard and can be implemented in any network that has access to traditional wired internet connections. More and more rural areas are being given access to DSL, cable and fiber internet through government grants and private donations, making Wi-Fi in the home much easier to implement. 
Cellular technology is another wireless option and is available anywhere a tower has been installed. In the United States, the cellular network backbone is extremely robust and is widely available in some form in nearly all populated areas (except for remote areas like mountains and deserts).
Satellite is a wireless technology that brings internet access to even the remotest locations, as long as they have visibility to the sky. Communications satellites have been installed in sufficient enough quantity to provide satellite internet to almost any area in North America with only a few exceptions.

Q: Did I hear laptops are being replaced. With what? 
A: You did not hear this – in fact, laptops are more popular than desktops. One could argue that there is a greater market for lighter, thinner laptops, such as netbooks that weigh less than 5 pounds and tablets that function like laptops (e.g. Surface Pro). But laptops aren’t going anywhere any time soon. They are too important to business travelers and students. 

Q: What type of security is in place for wireless? 
A: Wi-Fi security depends on two protocols: Encryption and Authentication. Authentication can be one of two options. Personal mode utilizes a shared key or password that you must enter to connect. All users of that network use the exact same password. This is called Personal Mode because it’s most common in homes and small businesses. The other mode is called Enterprise Mode and is designed for businesses with a more robust authentication infrastructure. Enterprise mode uses a central authentication server (like RADIUS) requiring that each wireless user have their own unique login credentials. 
Wi-Fi encryption follows the WPA standard as defined by the IEEE 802.11i amendment. The current version is WPA3 and is supported by only the newest wireless access points and wireless clients. For older clients, we recommend WPA2, which is still relatively secure, despite the recent discovery of the potential KRACK attack. WPA2 and WPA3 use the strong AES-CCMP cipher and works with either personal or enterprise authentication modes.