Basic Network Security Tips
Many small business owners believe that their companies are too small to become targets for hackers. And yet, statistics paint a totally different picture. Symantec has recently published a report which highlights the fact that email-based malware has significantly impacted small and medium-sized businesses. About 1 in 100 employees open an infected email attachment, according to the report, and once these they are activated, most viruses are clever enough to spread over the entire network.
So, what are some basic, and yet effective network security tips? George Hardesty, CEO of Data Alliance, states that you should begin by educating your employees. According to him, human error is one of the biggest cyber security threats. Many employees tend to give away precious company information due to phishing attacks, download malicious files without knowing about it, utilize weak passwords, and so on.
Therefore, the first step of the process is to train your staff. Teach them how to spot an email that may carry a malware attachment or includes links that may point to an infected website. Teach them how to create strong passwords, and then ask your employees to update them regularly.
Ensure that your hardware equipment is physically secured. A stolen laptop can cause a lot of trouble, because criminals may expose or sell sensitive company information, customer data, and more.
Work with your admin to enforce strong network security policies. Then, help your employees understand them. Keep the hardware and software properly patched. Older software applications are often easier to hack, because cyber criminals have had enough time at their disposal to discover the existing loopholes.
Install applications that protect your devices against viruses and other pieces of malware. Most business owners will install antivirus applications on their desktop computers and laptops, but will not do the same for mobile devices. It's a pity, because the number of viruses that target smart phones is constantly growing. In fact, some viruses are smart enough to determine the operating system of the device, and then install the appropriate piece of malware.
Don't forget to harden the security of your wireless network as well. Many cyber criminals will try to get access to your company data by connecting to its Wi-Fi network. So, always use a hardware-based firewall and encrypt the network using the most recent security standard. If you really need to have a public hotspot, create a totally different network that can be accessed by your customers. It is really easy to do so by purchasing an inexpensive router.
If your employees travel a lot, teach them to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) service to connect to the company servers. By doing this, you will minimize the risk of having the company data and passwords intercepted by hackers.
Utilize a two-factor authentication system for all the sites that support it. With 2FA, your employees will only be able to log into a certain account by providing a password and a numerical code that is sent to their mobile phones, while people who don't have access to both security elements will be denied access. Another option is to set up a system that generates one-time password tokens.
Some company owners are strong supporters of the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) initiative, allowing employees to bring their devices at work, and then use them to get access to company applications, or simply use them to do business-related work. While this trend is growing in popularity, you should examine your company's specifics, and then set appropriate policies to address it.
These are some basic, and yet very effective tips that should help keep your network secure. Don't forget to train your employees first, and then start applying these security methods; by doing this, you will be able to successfully fight cyber criminals.