Many computers today have the capability of supporting dual network cards. There are several pros and cons to using this type of technology. The primary advantage of two network cards is the ability to simultaneously connect to two completely independent networks. This can increase productivity because one machine can work in two separate environments. The disadvantage is the potential security vulnerabilities that occur through sharing networks on one computer.
A computer with two network cards can connect to multiple computers. Most software developers require access to both a development environment and a separate test environment. Having two network connections enables the developer access to both networks through one computer. Without this feature, the developer is forced to use separate computers for each task.
Most large companies use training software to help employees learn the computer applications that are used by the company. These applications are typically maintained on a separate training network. A computer with two network cards can access both training and production networks. This configuration saves organizations money because the employee can use one computer for both training and production.
One of the primary issues with having dual network cards is security. A computer with two network cards can be used as a virus propagation device. If a hacker breaks into a computer with dual cards, he can send malicious software onto multiple networks.
If a computer is connected to both a production network and test network, the data from production can be easily compromised. This is because the production data will reside on a computer that is connected to a testing network. If the user accidentally sends this data over the test network, it can be seen by users who should not have access to it.
A business that requires secret network environments will not allow two network cards on a single computer. This is considered a security violation because of the vulnerability of data exposure and cyberspace infiltration concerns. Companies with secret proprietary data should refrain from using dual network cards.
Some companies use dual network cards as a method of managing overall network performance. With this configuration, one network will be connected to a slower capacity server with the other network connected to a high-bandwidth-capacity infrastructure. The computer applications can be configured to run on the appropriate network infrastructure.
Using dual network cards can be troublesome for most novice computer users. These network devices can have configuration issues when the computer is restarted. Because the dual network approach is typically an advanced configuration, it is not a default configuration for most operating systems.