Improve your business network security in 5 easy steps
You might think that being a small business means you won’t be targeted by hackers. In fact, it’s the opposite. In 2016, Symantec’s Internet Security Threat Report revealed that small businesses are a huge target for phishers, and last year, phishing campaigns targeted small businesses 43 percent of the time.
With these kinds of statistics, the security of your network is of paramount importance. If you haven’t considered it before, now is the time to look at what you’re doing and how you can protect your businesses more thoroughly against cyber attacks. Here are five easy steps to improve your network security.
1. Keep software updated
Outdated software is one of the biggest threats to businesses, whether it is your content management system which you've delayed installing the latest version or anti-virus solutions or financial of inventory tracking software.
Keep software updated (don’t snooze those annoying reminders) and you’ll be in a much more secure position. Old versions of software are always easier for cyber thieves to hack as they’ve had time to understand where loopholes exist. When software is updated the creators have identified possible securities and patched them to make sure the end user is more protected. If your computer is very old, it is sometimes the case that new software updates aren’t available as they won’t work on older hardware. In this case, you’ll need to consider upgrading your computers or devices to make sure you can stay up to date.
2. Safeguard your WIFI
Your WIFI network is an excellent way for cyber criminals to attack you and your business. But you can protect your WIFI network with just a couple of tweaks. Ensure you have a firewall up and running and that the data that passes through your system is encrypted. Plus, you'll want to make sure that you password protect your router so that your network name isn't broadcasted to others.
3. Use 2-factor authentication
Whenever you are asked for have the opportunity to use 2-factor authentication you should use it. Cloud databases, in particular, are hijacked on a regular basis. especially when outdated versions are left running or when authentication hasn't been switched on. A 2017 report by Symantec on the Internet security threat discovered that vulnerabilities in the cloud infrastructure were a serious threat to businesses. The security of your data in the cloud is both yours and your cloud providers, but some providers have terms and conditions that will limit their liability, so check the terms of your contract.
If you're thinking about cloud solutions for your company, our article How to make your move to the cloud a breeze, goes through all the details and helps you make the right choice.
4. Use a VPN
Virtual Private Networks (or VPNs) can give you an additional level of security when you are browsing the web. They're particularly useful when you are trying to access business files over public networks or ones that are unsecured. A VPN works by routing your data through their servers in the first instance. They mask your Internet Protocol (IP) address then encrypt data. This gives you another level of protection against hackers.
If you have a team of staff and you have them work through VPNs you will further reduce your risk of having files and passwords stolen. Large organisations may be able to create their own VPNs, but this isn't necessarily possible for small businesses. In this case, there are a number of different services to choose from, you'll want to stick with the paid ones as the free ones are notoriously unreliable.
5. Educate employees
We've left this till last, but actually, it’s one the most crucial points to consider for small business IT security. The majority of cyber security threats to SMEs is human error. Mistakes as small as not updating passwords on a regular basis, accidentally downloading malicious files, staying signed in to accounts on shared computers, or clicking on a dodgy email, can jeopardise your company.
Teaching employees about proper cyber security can prevent some of the larger errors from occurring. Regular training on how to know if an email is a phishing scam, what to do if they accidentally click on something they shouldn't, and why they should update software and change passwords often, will all help to keep you and your business safe.
Get your web security policies and processes in place and make sure everyone understands them.