With more businesses relying on a network based system than ever, security threats come hand in hand with opening your world to the World Wide Web.
So what exactly is network security?
According to SANS network security is defined as “… the process of taking physical and software preventative measures to protect the underlying networking infrastructure from unauthorized access, misuse, malfunction, modification, destruction, or improper disclosure, thereby creating a secure platform for computers, users and programs to perform their permitted critical functions within a secure environment.”
So now we know exactly what this encompasses, how do we protect what is ours?
Here are 10 useful tips on protecting your network.
- Administrator Accounts – Minimise the use of these accounts. Make sure everybody in the business has their own user accounts to log on with and admin use is only used when necessary e.g. installing new hardware/software/ making configuration changes etc. Malware, for example, relays on admin access to work so the minimisation of this will help your security. Also renaming the “Administrator” name will certainly make it more difficult for a threat to find it and use to its advantage.
- Use Strong Passwords – See our previous blog about creating a secure password and making sure all employees follow suit.
- Upgrade Your Software – In many businesses the old rule of “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it” applies more than ever and companies are often reluctant to make changes for fear of cost repercussions, incompatibilities or the dreaded infrastructure meltdown. However, keeping up to date with upgrades such as new Windows versions etc. will help keep your network secure. Every new version takes into account known threats in its production to keep you as safe as possible. With the new Windows 365 subscription packages this should make this easier than ever. Also make sure all your operating systems and applications are patched with the latest service packs and hot fixes.
- Anti-Virus – A good, business anti virus software is an absolute must for any basic network security. There are a number of different options with various subscription/ licencing options but generally we would advise to go for an all-rounder that gives you protection such as internet defence, email protection and a firewall. Once it’s installed it needs to be configured correctly for your policies. A good idea, for example, is to block certain email attachments such as .bas, .bat, .exe, .vbs if the software doesn’t do this already.
- Security Policy – Make sure you have this is place and that ALL employees read and sign this upon starting employment with the company. Its good practise to mail out to all employees regularity about this or especially after a security breech to ensure best practises are being followed at all times.
- Make an IT Inventory – If you haven’t already, get an inventory together of all the hardware/ software/ systems that are in your business. You can then easily prioritise what needs upgrading or replacing and where there may be security weaknesses. If you have an IT person/ team this should be normal practise but if not it may seem like a lot of work but if you have a junior member of staff I’m they will relish this little project!
- System Privilege Rights – It should be standard practise to limit rights to system resources to the concept of “least privilege” to ensure that employs have access only to what they need for their daily activities and no more. Make sure file permissions are set on important/ restricted documents and files.
- Perform Your Own Testing- If you have an IT department/ person, then again this should be standard practise, but if not you can certainly employ a reputable IT company to carry out some penetration testing for you to see where your weaknesses are. For businesses which adhere to certain ISO regulations on security standards this is often essential.
- Auditing Software – Consider an auditing software. More of a post security breech tool, but this will enable you to pin point exactly where the threat/ breech came from and prevent it from occurring again.
- Use your Own Router/ WAP – Many ISP’s provide cable/DSL modems with a built in router, Wi-Fi, and Ethernet switch. Whilst convenient, these devices put the network in charge of your ISP rather than you. It an easy enough fix by getting your own router and disabling the functions on the ISP’s equipment.
We hope these tips help you and your business stay secure and should you require any more information/ advice please contact us on 01909 51 88 11.