Network security is important for any business, no matter how large or small, so it's vital you do everything you can to ensure that security is strong. The results of poor network security can be devastating. An information hack — even just one — can tarnish your company’s name, lose you customers and revenue, and cause intellectual property damage. It could, in fact, literally put your company out of business.
Today, a business’ network is more than just its networked computer system. It’s now made up of users, devices, applications and more. And the more of these you add, the more vulnerable the network.
While having a recurring network security audit is an essential cornerstone to maintaining a secure network, following these five steps will help you start to think about planning so you can stay ahead of changes in security and technology.
A network-use policy outlines your company’s security procedures step by step. It designates network responsibilities. This is the business’ first defense in preparing for and mitigating a cyber attack. It keeps all your employees vigilant and aligned.
The policy should cover employees’ proper email use, confidentiality, social media, web browsing, personal computer use, and how they should report security incidents. It must include procedures for IT and employees to follow for device passwords, logs, firewalls, networked hardware, and security testing. A policy should also outline the tasks administrators, end users, and software developers can perform.
Assess Your Security Technology
Assessing the cybersecurity technology already in place can help you find the security shortcomings. Do you have security in place to control access to cloud data, for instance? Do you have the proper firewall protections in place to segment your network and limit access between network computers and between those computers and the internet?
By finding vulnerabilities and threats, you can then identify the means to close them. This inventory helps you identify potential threats and vulnerabilities, predict the impact of threats, and provide threat recover options.
Control Access to Data
By controlling access to computer networks, system files, and data, you control security threats to the network. First, ensure employees have access to only the level of information needed to do their job. A bank teller shouldn’t be able to see the bank’s pertinent financial or customer information, of course. Other examples might not be so clear-cut and could be outlined within the user policy. Executives have greater access than engineers, who have more access than draftspeople, and on down the line. There are several types of access controls including role-based access control, which restricts access to information based on individuals or groups with defined functions.
Secure Remote Access
Security risks are created when those outside the company need network access including contractors, suppliers, marketers, and others. Virtual private networks (VPNs) have long been used as a means to connect remotely to a private network. But, they’re not enough. Encryption is the name of the game here. Other appliances that authenticate the identity of a user and creates and an encrypted tunnel are available. Also, a security solution must give you real-time monitoring of network traffic and the ability to instantly address potential threats. Ensure intrusion detection and prevention tools are in place to monitor your network for malicious activity.
Think About Future Needs
As time progresses, your company will grow, and the information you store will change and need to be more protected than it is today. Employees’ need for access to information may increase or decrease. Your security needs will grow with it. The IT department should work in tandem with executives or higher-level officials who have access to plans for the company’s growth. This way, IT can identify those needs and predict where and at what point additional security measures will need to be put into place.
You don’t have to do all this on your own, of course. You can partner with a technology success provider, who can bring their specialized skills, analytics, and intelligence capabilities to the job. A TSP can create a network security audit, identify where your systems are at risk, and talk to company leaders about changes and best practices for network security going forward. And, if company leaders advise, a TSP can update security measures and implement new ones.
Network security issues can’t be ignored. Don’t assume your network is secure. Your company’s future depends upon it.