Even if you run a small business, you are not immune to a cyber attack. A report by CBS shows that 80% of companies claimed that their systems had been hacked, with 85% of small corporations reporting that their private information was stolen. The best way for small businesses to protect their data is through network security.
Network security is a combination of hardware, software, practices, and policies used for the protection of a corporation’s network from security breaches. It involves measures adopted to prevent phishing, data loss, spam, and ransomware. Here are some tips to help you establish a robust network security framework for your business.
1. Install a Firewall
The first step towards securing your network is installing a firewall that matches the size and scope of your business. Businesses should be able to install routers that do more than translate network addresses but also have demilitarized zones. These zones decrease server restrictions.
Your firewall should also have packet filter technology so it can restrict data packets that do not belong to the destination address. A network firewall seals out any ports that cybercriminals may use to infiltrate your business and compromise your data. A secure firewall is the first line of defense against opportunistic hackers.
2. Disable DHCP and Use IDS and IPS
Dynamic Host Configuration Protocols define the IP addresses of devices on your network. DHCP simplifies the task of maintaining a Wi-Fi network. To make your network secure, you should reduce the number of IPs assigned by the DHCP. Alternatively, you could disable the DHCP feature and assign IP addresses manually for every device that is connected to your Wi-Fi.
Intrusion detection systems and intrusion prevention systems are useful measures for detecting and preventing security threats. Intrusion detection systems are used to spot attackers like worms or malware. Intrusion prevention systems are used to avoid the adverse impact caused by detected hackers. IDS will use cues such as failed log-in attempts to determine the source of a security threat while IPS will block suspicious IP addresses to prevent an attack.
3. Update Your Firmware and Use Password Protection
A business network may be vulnerable to cybercriminals because of outdated router firmware. According to a report by Wired, many BIOS have the same code, which means they share the same vulnerabilities. Firmware updates are typically updated once a year. However, small business owners pay little or no attention to firmware updates. Updates to router firmware will ensure you fix existing bugs and shut out hackers.
It is also crucial to protect your network router from unauthorized access. Use an encrypted protocol for passwords on your network router. The most advanced password protocol is WPA or Wi-Fi Protected Access. You should make sure this option is enabled in your router.
4. VPN and Anti-Virus Software
A VPN enables you to access your network and browse the internet using an encrypted passage that hides your IP address and activities from potential hackers. VPNs are useful for employees who work remotely since they are vulnerable to remote access risks. Some VPN services come with a built-in feature that disconnects hardware from your business network when you lose a protected connection. This keeps you safe from data leaks.
Antivirus programs are also essential for strengthening network security. These programs get rid of viruses, malware, and adware, all of which hackers use to gain access to your network. For employees who do not know how to browse safely, an antivirus program is crucial since it spots and prevents malicious programs from being installed on your computers.
5. Train Your Employees
Another network security measure is training employees. According to a study by Kaspersky, focusing on over 4,000 businesses from 25 countries, 59% of the companies experienced uninformed or careless employee actions that caused data breaches. Additionally, 56% experienced data breaches caused by social engineering and phishing, all of which are attributed to the end-user being careless or uninformed.
It is crucial to conduct regular training of your employees that focuses on current IT security best practices. You should also promote ‘a neighbor watch’ strategy to combating security threats. If an employee detects any suspicious activity, he/she should report to the appropriate person. It is also essential to promote a culture of cybersecurity awareness.
6. Disaster Recovery Plan
Backing up data should be one of the measures you employ for disaster recovery. Developing a disaster recovery plan prevents damage to your company in case of a security breach. You need to have procedures of reacting to different kinds of disasters and attacks.
The IT manager should be charged with the creation, storage, and retrieval of data during emergencies. Disaster recovery could be in the form of backing up data in removable drives or on the cloud or the use of data protection software. Generally, a disaster recovery solution should be based on the regular backing up of data and reviewing of information to ensure it is not compromised.
Summing It Up
A strong network security is essential for any business regardless of its size. With the threat of cybercriminals growing with every dawn, the best way to be safe is by strengthening your network security. Some of the means of making your network security secure are by installing firewalls, using IDS and IPS, limiting the use of DHCIP, updating firmware, and using VPN and antivirus programs. Network security can also be beefed up by training employees on cybersecurity measures and establishing a disaster recovery plan.