Network security is critical for all businesses. Businesses are constantly facing threats to their network from viruses, worms, and other scams. Having a secure business will not only allow employees to work efficiently but it will also reduce the risk of data loses and security breaches. Having a secure network can also increase productivity and flexibility by allowing employees to work remotely.
The benefits of having a secure network are obvious, but now the question becomes how to get there. Before we look at how to protect your network, you need to look at why a hacker is breaking in, and how they might break in. First, think about what a hacker would want on your network. Is it company information, client information, other stored data, or are they just looking to destroy data because they find it fun. The answer to that is important because it will determine what area you need to put a lot of focus in protecting. Next, start to think about the different ways that a hacker may break in. Will they break in because it is easy? Picking a predictable password or having business equipment connected to an unsecured wireless network makes it much simpler for an intruder to gain access. Lost or stolen equipment that has not been properly secured also provides an easy path in for someone who wishes to steal or damage your data. There are much more obvious ways intruders can gain access to your network such as through spam, downloads, and popups. Determining your company’s vulnerabilities will be critical in focusing on which areas to protect.
After taking the time to think how and why a hacker may break in to your network it is time to start planning how to keep your network secure. Think about setting up your network security in the same way you would look at protecting your house. Is simply locking your door enough to keep you protected, or would a security system or a guard dog be a better fit? There is no one-size fits all answer. For most companies it makes sense to look at all of the following when setting up their network security plan.
- Physical Security- Locks on doors/Keypads
- Strong Passwords – Change regularly and never send through email
- Encryption- For Data and Email
- Anti-Virus/Spam Software
- Access Control Lists
- Real-Time Monitoring
- Firewall w/ Intrusion Detection
- Educate End Users
- AUDIT & TEST REGULARLY
The final step is CRITICAL! No matter how you decide it is best for your company to protect your network, you need to ensure that it functioning properly. As data becomes more critical, network security is a must. As you think about your network security be mindful about how important it really is.