For businesses operating in today’s digital landscape, network security is paramount. With the scope and complexity of digital threats ever-growing, though, safeguarding your business’s valuable digital assets, and keeping them safe from unauthorised access can be complicated. The flow of sensitive information across networks and the internet means the risk of a security breach is ever present, and the integrity of a business’s data security is paramount.

Why Network Security Matters

Network security serves as the barrier guarding against a multitude of potential threats. Data is one of the most valuable assets a business has, whether it be sensitive commercial information, intellectual property or sensitive customer records.

A breach can lead to devastating consequences for businesses, from financial losses and disruption to legal liabilities and major reputational damage. Conversely, investing in a secure data framework signals to customers that they can trust the business with their information and deliver uninterrupted services. 

Common Network Security Threats

Businesses today rely heavily on digital technologies for major elements of their operations. This leaves them vulnerable to a number of cybersecurity threats at different points throughout the network. 

One of the most common security threats faced is phishing attacks, where deceptive emails and messages are employed to trick users into revealing sensitive information such as passwords, or clicking on malicious links that can then grant access to otherwise secure systems.

There has been a rise globally in the threat of ransomware attacks, which involve cybercriminals capturing and encrypting an organisation’s data and demanding a ransom for its release. Another common threat is that of malware such as viruses entering a system and stealing data or disrupting the devices on the network. Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks have been seen to impact organisations as well, overwhelming a company’s network and disrupting its online services. 

10 Tips for Enhancing Network Security:

1. Implement Strong Password Policies

Passwords are the crucial first step towards network security, yet many people fail to follow best practice with them. An easily guessed password is the quickest way for a hacker to gain access to the network, so the more complex the password the better. Aim for passwords that are at least 12 characters, using a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols. For an added level of security, ‘passphrases’ are even better. Longer combinations of multiple words can make more complex passwords easier to remember but still difficult to guess. 

Ultimately, though, storing passwords in a secure password manager so they do not need to be remembered is a far better option. It allows you to avoid the other crucial mistake so many people make: reusing the same password for multiple different logins. Common though it may be, reusing passwords puts your organisation at risk of larger-scale breaches, allowing one compromised password to open multiple entry points for an attacker. 

The final step in implementing strong password policies is to enable two-factor authentication (2FA) wherever possible. By requiring a second piece of verification alongside a password, 2FA can help prevent a security breach even if a password has been compromised. 

2. Regularly Update Software and Hardware

Keeping all the devices in your network up to date is vital for maintaining network security. Consider it as looking after the health of your network, with outdated devices more likely to become unwell or susceptible to breaches. Technology manufacturers constantly test their devices, and send out updates when a weakness is exposed.

3. Use Firewalls and Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS)

By monitoring incoming and outgoing traffic across the network, firewalls are an excellent first line of defence against untrustworthy files and sites. They are a scalable solution that can be set up to prevent unauthorised access to the network, filtering out malicious traffic and protecting against known threats such as viruses and malware. Firewalls can work in tandem with Intrusion Detection Systems, which provide real-time visibility on network traffic, allowing network administrators to quickly identify and respond to threats.

4. Educate Employees About Security

By far the most decisive factor in an organisation’s ability to maintain a secure network is its people. More often than not, a cybersecurity breach hinges on human error. Whether it be clicking on a malicious link or giving up sensitive data, many threats are designed to fool unsuspecting users. For this reason, educating employees about their role in maintaining network security is key. Every member of the network has a responsibility to engage in cybersecurity best practices such as using strong passwords and exercising vigilance around sharing information externally. 

5. Backup Data Regularly

Regular backups serve as a crucial safety net against data loss, not only from cyberattacks but also hardware failures and human error. They reduce a business’s downtime in the wake of a cyberattack or failure, enabling swift recovery of any lost data and minimising the damage done. Keeping regular backups should be part of a business’s routine, ideally across both offline storage devices such as external hard drives and encrypted cloud backup services. 

6. Employ Access Control Measures

An effective method of safeguarding a business’s information is by limiting access to it where possible. By ensuring that only authorised individuals can access specific systems and data within the network, and limiting access within the organisation to only those who need it, the risk of a breach is minimised. 

7. Monitor Network Traffic

Monitoring traffic across the network is a proactive defence mechanism that allows an organisation to detect threats as they emerge. By continuously analysing network traffic patterns, they are able to identify unauthorised access attempts, unusual data transfers, or suspicious activities that could signify cyberattacks or security breaches. This early intervention practice reduces the impact of security incidents, and therefore the potential damage to critical systems and data. 

8. Conduct Vulnerability Assessments

Just as software and technology companies continually test their products for vulnerabilities and release updates, businesses should examine their security networks for weaknesses. Automated tools can be employed to simulate various cyberattack scenarios, testing network infrastructure to see how it holds up. Once this has been done, businesses can have a much clearer picture of where their vulnerabilities lie and what must be prioritised in order to protect their networks.

9. Secure Wireless Networks

One small measure that can make a big difference is ensuring the wireless networks your business operates on are secured with a password. Unsecured networks can allow unauthorised devices to access your Wi-Fi and overrun it with traffic, or use it to gain access to other devices on the network. 

10. Create an Incident Response Plan

Ultimately, how an organisation acts immediately following a cybersecurity breach can be just as decisive as the preparation that goes into preventing them. Having an incident response plan that outlines what to do in case of an attack allows for clarity in a time of crisis. 

The incident response plan should include guidelines for identifying and classifying the severity of security breaches, with detailed, step-by-step procedures for responding to each type of incident. Depending on the incident, this could include containing the threat, recovering data from backups, addressing legal and regulatory requirements, and communicating internally and with stakeholders.

Ultimately, maintaining network security and managing the ever-present risk of cyberattacks requires constant watchfulness. As threats evolve, so too must your organisation’s security plans and capabilities. With managed security services tailored to your business, FTG can offer peace of mind in this crucial area. Our team of over 140 expert technicians offer flexible, customised solutions to the variety of security threats your business can face. 

To learn more about FTG’s end to end security services, visit our website or contact us at 131 384.

Enhancing Security for Small Business

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