Switches are used to connect multiple devices on the same network. In a properly designed network, LAN switches are responsible for directing and controlling the data flow at the access layer to networked resources.
Cisco switches are self-configuring and no additional configurations are necessary for them to function out of the box. However, Cisco switches run Cisco IOS, and can be manually configured to better meet the needs of the network. This includes adjusting port speed and bandwidth, as well as implementing security requirements.
Additionally, Cisco switches can be managed both locally and remotely. To remotely manage a switch, it needs to have an IP address and default gateway configured. These are just two of the configurations discussed in this chapter.
Switches operate at the access layer where client network devices connect directly to the network and IT departments want uncomplicated network access for the users. The access layer is one of the most vulnerable areas of the network because it is so exposed to the user. Switches need to be configured to be resilient to attacks of all types while they are protecting user data and allowing for high speed connections. Port security is one of the security features Cisco managed switches provide.
This chapter examines some of the basic switch configuration settings required to maintain a secure, available, switched LAN environment.