Every. Single. Time.
Every single time I open a news website or publication, I learn about yet another cyber-attack. Based on this, I’m not surprised that a recent Symantec study found that 40% of cyber-attacks are against organizations with fewer than 500 employees.
And, according to the National Cyber Security Alliance, one in five small businesses falls victim to cybercrime each year.
Of those, some 60% go out of business within six months after an attack. Education and prevention are key to thwarting this epidemic.
Below we’ll walk through three easy ways to improve your organization’s network security and make you less susceptible to attacks.
How to improve your network security
- Check Your Firewall: A firewall provides protection for your network by blocking unauthorized access while still permitting approved communications. Make sure that you have one and that it is current, meaning that everything is being automatically patched and updated on a consistent basis. While you are at it, check that these updates are being applied regularly to your firmware as well.
- Emphasize Password Strength and Best Practices: Cybercriminals often gain access to networks through hacking employees’ passwords. To combat this, make sure your employees know the ins and outs of creating strong passwords (ones that are lengthy, use multiple characters, and are unique to that account). A little education can go a long way in securing one of cybercriminals’ easiest access points.
- Ensure Remote Access Mechanisms are Secure: Your employees need to be able to work remotely. We get it. But remote access is a gateway drug to a serious data sprawl problem. If your employees are accessing your network from multiple devices on connections that are not secure and sharing files to other users doing the same things, you are offering access to your network up on a silver platter to cybercriminals. The three safest ways to access your network remotely are through a remote login solution, a virtual private network or a terminal server/citrix (basically a cloud environment that securely delivers your desktop to you wherever you are). Although this might take a bit of work to get right up front, the encryption/security features will be inherent to the solution, once implemented. A robust solution will also eliminate the need for employees to use personal Dropbox accounts or email documents to themselves which, in turn, eliminates the risk of data sprawl.
Above all else, talk about these issues. Be aware of them and educate your employees about them.
By taking care of the three issues mentioned above and creating regular, security training sessions for employees that cover topics including safe web surfing, suspicious email links, scanning downloads, strong passwords, network access, device use, and more, you will construct a strong defense against cybercriminals.