6 Easy Steps to Boost Your Network Security
Are you a small business owner? Do you feel like you are not in danger of cyber security hacks because you may not be a large corporation? I would caution you to think again. Almost 82,000 NEW MALWARE THREATS are being released every single day and about HALF of the cyber-attacks occurring are actually aimed at small businesses in today's world. Often times you do not hear about the attacks that target small businesses. Actually, the National Cyber Security Alliance reports that 1 in 5 small businesses have been victims of cybercrime in the last year. Small businesses are utilizing more cloud applications, storing more data online, as well as using mobile devices, which can all be a huge security risk if not managed properly.
That is why we’ve put together 6 steps that can easily be adopted by any small businesses to help mitigate cyber security risks.
- The #1 security threat to any business is... YOU! Yes, I said it. As employees, we often like to browse the internet, download things we shouldn’t and sign up for spam email to get those discounts. That leads us to opening malicious emails and opening files that are infected. Talk about easy access for hackers. Once they’re in via an employee opening a suspicious email, the hacker can then gain access to other computers across the network. Even if you have great anti-virus, if you click on a phishing email, you could be in big trouble. That’s why employee training is so critical. Educating your employees on how to spot that suspicious email and avoid an online scam, can reduce a lot of your security risk. Having this type of training often and regularly is just as important because hackers find new ways every day to create convincing emails or files for you to click on. There are many training tools available and cost effective when implemented correctly.
In addition, it may not be a beneficial to implement something called an Acceptable Use Policy. Many businesses put this in place to outline how employees are permitted to use company-owned devices and access company data via their own personal devices. This can help you put safe policies around how employees access their email, what types of websites they’re allowed to visit when on the company network and what to do if an employee leaves or loses a device with company information loaded on it.
- Require strong passwords. We all know that we shouldn’t set our password as 123 or use our pet’s name but we still do it. Why? Because it’s easy for us to remember and we don’t have to worry about storing it somewhere in case we forget. Especially now, it is very important to have complex passwords. They should always be at least 8 characters and contain lowercase and uppercase letters, symbols and at least one number. This makes it much less likely that a hacker will be able to guess your password. Having a policy that’s enforced by your network administrator can make sure that your employees don’t become lazy with those simple passwords that are a security risk.
- Make sure all devices are always patched and up-to-date. We may think it’s a little annoying that there’s always new updates or new patches that need to be pushed out. But the truth is, we wouldn’t be notified of these updates if there wasn’t a new vulnerability that was detected. Often times, these updates are necessary and crucial in protecting our network. Updates and patches can be an automated process and should be setup as one if it’s not.
- Backup. Backup. Backup. Having a managed and maintained backup of your network can be a life raft for your organization. If a ransomware attack occurs, you can hopefully avoid having to pay out money to get your data back if you have an up to date and easily accessible backup. Make sure it’s an automated backup process and test regularly to ensure your data is really there.
- Only allow employees to access company data with devices managed by your IT staff. We live in a mobile world now, so it’s inevitable that employees will have a large array of personal devices that they want to bring to work. Whether it’s their personal cell phone or a tablet. The use of cloud applications is what really makes doable. Employees can access those cloud applications from whatever device and whatever network they want. This provides a big threat to not only your network, but company data. Employees may not be as safe with their personal devices as they are with work devices, which can open the door to hackers getting their hands on your company data.
If you want to allow people to use their own devices, you’re going to have a have a strong structure in place that allows your IT department to secure, monitor and maintain them. This can be done through various platforms. However, most employees may not respond well to having access to their person devices. You may want to look at what type of devices you give them, like a company cell phone. Or you’ll really need to make sure that work related files can only be accessed on those company devices and no accessible on public wi-fi.
- Invest in your firewall. Your firewall is at the forefront of hackers trying to get into your network. If you have the right one, it will block a lot of what’s trying to enter your network before you give it permission to. But just like everything else, all firewalls are not made equal and they still need to be monitored and maintain. That’s why it’s important to consult an IT professional on what your needs are and what your workforce looks like.
Did this list just overwhelm you? Not sure where to start? At Invicta Partners, we specialize in network security for your business and can help create custom solutions for you to solve your security needs. Contact us today and 423-664-8700 or firstname.lastname@example.org!