Optimizing cybersecurity for small businesses is critical in today’s highly connected marketplace. As the number of users, devices, and applications grows, so too does the threat of cyberattacks and data breaches. With this in mind, ignoring the importance of sound network security policies and procedures is something few small businesses can afford.
As a small business owner or operations manager, you can hardly afford to neglect your security protocols or, worse, fail to implement them all. To help you better combat criminal hackers and ensure optimal protection against the latest online threats, we have compiled this list of the five best security practices that will help you strengthen your network’s security right away.
Once implemented, you can rest assured that your business network is safe. But, first, let’s explore what network security means for your small business and how it can benefit you.
What is network security?
Network security is the process of protecting the integrity and usability of your computer networks. Implementing this measure to ensure that the data transmitted and held within networks are secure is essential. Organizations typically optimize their security with some combination of both hardware and software solutions.
Hardware technologies include firewalls and antivirus software. Both are installed on your networks to hunt for threats and protect your digital environment from malicious attacks. Each can detect and block unauthorized individuals from connecting to the network, preventing threat actors from gaining access to your networks. In addition to this, encrypting- and password-protecting sensitive data on the network will prevent access to confidential information by unauthorized parties.
Cybersecurity software protects networks from viruses, worms, and ransomware. Any effective malware protection will include both signature scanning and heuristic scanning. Signature scanning describes the process of an individual defining malicious code based on its characteristics.
Heuristic scanning, on the other hand, uses artificial intelligence to identify malicious code based on its behavior. Patch management plans can also help to build stronger networks, as they aim to prevent malicious code from invading your systems in the first place by shuttering your network’s entry points.
What are the primary advantages of network security?
Robust network security benefits small businesses in several ways. Maintaining a secure network essential to assuring the usability and integrity of your network and data. This often includes some combination of both hardware and software technologies. A reliable network security solution seeks to control access to your network, prohibiting unauthorized personnel from accessing sensitive information.
Your network security also identifies and blocks potential threats before they cause damage. This layered approach allows security measures to target a variety of individual threats and stop them from entering or disseminating throughout your network.
With the right measures in place, network security will safeguard your essential operating data and sensitive customer info while protecting your organization from an increasingly sophisticated threat environment.
Now, let’s take a look at the five steps you can take to immediately secure your networks:
1. Conduct a network audit
The first step to securing your networks is to execute a thorough network assessment. The audit will uncover any potential security vulnerabilities, as well as single points of failure and opportunities for simplification.
An in-depth analysis of your network, this assessment will help you develop an effective security strategy that resists exploitation and protects you from hostile activities. With the information gathered in the assessment, you can craft an effective security system that suits your organizational needs.
2. Implement a cyber-awareness training program
Modern companies regularly take action to secure their networks through email documents and policies dedicated to stopping cybercriminals. But oftentimes, these efforts result in little improvement in employee behaviors. Even though these documents provide critical guidelines, the vast majority of users only give them a cursory review -if any at all. This is why companies must take further measures to inform their staff of the protocols and standards required to protect their sensitive information.
One of the best ways you can test employee knowledge of your cybersecurity policies is through interactive events and training. Fake phishing emails are a long-time favorite in cyber security training because they instruct your team on how to recognize dangerous links.
Should a staff member fail one of these tests, the user is less likely to repeat the mistake. The fear of being phished again should be enough motivation to follow security policies correctly. Your team will understand how the error can impact the company and be more inclined to keep malicious actors at bay.
3. Disable file sharing
Encouraging employees to disable file sharing on all devices, except file servers, is equally vital for sustaining your company’s network security. Without this precaution, anyone on the same public Wi-Fi network as company laptops could access sensitive corporate data without authorization. By taking this step, businesses can guarantee their company data remains safe, ensuring confidential information is only available to authorized users.
4. Update your router’s firmware
Small businesses are uniquely prone to outdated router firmware, which can cause serious issues if left unaddressed. To ensure optimal security, it is critical to update your router firmware every year.
Doing so ensures the latest bug fixes, security patches, and other updates are installed, giving your business the best chance of avoiding potential threats. Failure to adhere to a regular firmware update schedule leaves your business vulnerable, potentially contributing to expensive damage and irretrievably lost data.
5. Take advantage of private IP addresses
Locking down IP addresses by opting for manually assigning them rather than relying on dynamic host configuration protocol (DHCP) can drastically reduce your vulnerability to random malicious users attempting to connect. This is precise because DHCP allows unknown users to access your network, acting almost like an open gateway to hostile outsiders.
Another benefit of taking the time to assign each IP address to identifiable network devices, since all allocated IPs can be tracked in your router logs, is the ability to identify suspicious activity almost immediately.
Looking for an expert network engineer?
PCH Technologies network assessments provide small businesses like yours with a comprehensive network analysis. Our skilled and highly experienced engineers will document vulnerabilities, single points of failure, and opportunities for simplification to maximize the efficiency of your network.
In the initial discovery call, we’ll start by identifying areas for improvement and ensuring our solutions can meet all your business requirements. Have a discussion with one of our network engineers now by dialing (856) 754-7500. We’ll let you know how you can get started with a comprehensive risk assessment.