How to protect your business’s network
Ensuring that your business has top-notch cyber security is intrinsic to a successful, well-protected business. In fact, it has been said that not having solutions in place to protect your network is akin to leaving your back door open at night – you might as well be inviting criminals in to your network to view confidential data. However, with cyber criminals developing ever more sophisticated ways of infiltrating your network, it can sometimes feel that you are continuously having to play catch up to protect your online data. To help you out, here is how to protect your business’ network.
To protect your network against cyber attacks, there are three types of cyber security that you must have in place, each with its own methods of protection.
- Perimeter security
When you consider cyber security, perimeter security solutions are probably what you first think of. Perimeter security acts as a barrier between your network and the internet, preventing malware and cyber criminals from infiltrating and spreading through your entire network. Common examples of perimeter security solutions are spam protection, firewalls, and a virtual personal network (VPN).
As a business owner, you may receive spam emails on a daily basis, and while they may seem like little more than an annoying distraction, phishing attempts are becoming increasingly sophisticated and you might one day be faced with a malicious phishing email that on the surface seems to be 100% genuine. These may include adverts and links that are full of malware when clicked. Spam protection works by flagging and filtering suspicious emails and blocking adverts so that you aren’t challenged to use your own discernment.
Firewalls prevent malware such as Trojans from infiltrating your network. They work by monitoring outgoing and incoming traffic to your website and determining whether these sources can be trusted. If the source seems suspicious, the firewall blocks it from your network. Firewalls are present in most internet routers, so ensure that it is switched on!
VPNs are hugely important cyber security tools when working remotely and using an unsecured network. You may, for example, be logged on to an unsecured public Wi-Fi whilst working at a coffee shop, which leaves your network wide open to being infiltrated by malware. A VPN works by establishing a private network from an unsecured internet connection, disguising your IP address to provide complete online privacy and security. Cyber criminals are unable to locate you and infiltrate your network.
- Internet security
Internet security acts as a further barrier in the event that your network has been infiltrated, protecting individual devices from malware. The most common forms of internet security are anti-virus software and running regular updates on your devices.
Anti-virus software works by detecting, preventing, and removing any malware that is attempting to infiltrate your device and corrupt your files and network. Remember that it is not just laptops and desktop computers that require anti-virus software – other devices connected to your network, such as smart phones and iPads, also require anti-virus protection.
There are many different solutions involved in providing full perimeter and internet security; however, you can get these security measures all in one device to ensure your business network is fully protected. The WatchGuard M-series is a range of security appliances to suit any size of business. It delivers comprehensive security without sacrificing performance, leaving you safe in the knowledge that your business’ network is fully protected without slowing down your network.
As well as security solutions, another method of ensuring internet security is to make sure that you carry out regular updates on your devices. Though it can be tempting to indefinitely delay lengthy updates – especially if you have a heavy workload – this can ultimately lead to your device becoming slow and more vulnerable to malware infiltration. By regularly updating your device, you can be sure that it is working to its optimum specification and is strong enough to resist cyber attack attempts.
- Human security
When it comes to protecting your network against human intervention, it is not only at risk of infiltration by genius master hackers or a sophisticated scam artist. A majority of network security breaches occur through simple human error, without any malicious intent. Common examples include employees having weak passwords that can be easily breached, unwittingly answering a phishing email, and connecting to unsecured Wi-Fi connections without using a VPN when working remotely. The most effective way of ensuring human security for your network is to develop a cyber security policy for your business and provide your employees with comprehensive security training so that they fully understand the different types of malware and how they work, and what steps should be taken to protect the network.
For instance, establish a protocol for dealing with suspicious emails that have managed to bypass the spam protection. This should include teaching your employees how to identify phishing emails, and informing colleagues of any phishing attempts and the techniques used in them so that they can recognize any further similar attempts. For instance, a spoofed email that on the surface appears to be genuine by using the correct language and tone, and has copy and pasted official logos, may have the giveaway of a fraudulent email address. Always resist responding immediately when faced with a suspicious email.
Likewise, ensure that your business has a password policy to prevent your systems from being hacked. A password should be lengthy – eight figures or more – and contain a mix of upper- and lower-case letters, numbers, and symbols to make it more difficult to guess. The password should be time limited, requiring employees to change it every six weeks or so, and employees should be required to use different passwords for different devices and applications. Though this may seem like an inconvenience – especially if you forget a password! – it is well worth the effort to ensure that even if hackers do somehow get hold of a password, they are unable to infiltrate the entire network.