Protecting business networks is a never-ending job, and one that’s grown exponentially more difficult over the last 10 years. From the uptake of cloud services and mobile devices to the sheer amount of data stored and applications used, networks are more complex and complicated than they’ve ever been.
This creates the perfect storm for attackers, who are always on the lookout for new ways to compromise key systems. This could take the form of phishing emails, ransomware threats or network infiltration via third-party services. Compromise can also happen from the inside out — employees may accidentally expose critical data, or maliciously delete or exfiltrate information.
To combat these evolving challenges, businesses need network and data security strategies that help them stay ahead of attacker efforts. Here’s what you need to know about the basics of network security and how to secure a business network against potential threats.
What Is Network Security?
Network security encompasses all processes, policies and applications used to protect the usability, integrity and functionality of your network and your data. Effective security practices are holistic —they don’t look to secure a single point or a specific application but instead, prioritize the defense of network services at scale.
Seven Tips for IT Network Security
While no techniques can provide 100% protection against security threats, these seven tips can help reduce the risk of network compromise and boost success in detecting small issues before they become significant problems.
- Identify Your Top Priorities
Up first on our list of how to secure a business network is identifying what matters most. This could be intellectual property or business financial data that could result in serious repercussions if compromised, or it could be third-party applications that are critical to line-of-business operations but may have potential security flaws. Once you know what matters, you can create a purpose-built response.
- Implement Basic Security Hygiene
One of the best ways to reduce compromise risk is by implementing basic security hygiene practices. These include requiring regular password changes and setting rules about password length and composition — for example, no sets of repeated numbers or letters.
- Stay in the Loop
With threats constantly changing, it’s worth keeping up with the latest security news. Whether this comes from security vendors directly or IT news sites, more information gives your business more time to prepare for potential attacks.
- Prioritize Security Updates
Hardware, software and network updates play a role in effective security. Left unpatched, both infrastructure and applications offer a point of entry for attackers. By implementing automatic security update practices, companies can reduce the risk of getting caught off-guard.
- Prepare for Potential Loss
Despite best efforts, compromise and data loss still happen. While there’s nothing wrong with hoping for the best, businesses should also prepare for the worst. This means creating and implementing effective backup and recovery policies that help get operations back on track even when security incidents occur.
- Educate Your Employees
Staff play a key role in network security. In part, this is due to the risk they present: Insider threats are often more common and more concerning than their external counterparts — but employee education can also help create a culture of security that encourages end-to-end responsibility. For example, regular training on how to spot and report phishing emails can give employees the skills they need to see through common phishing efforts, while the creation of easy reporting processes can provide a wealth of information for IT teams to review, in turn setting the stage for more effective security processes.
Get Extra Help
Given the sheer variety and volume of data now handled by companies of all sizes, even experienced IT teams may struggle to keep pace with changing security environments. As a result, it’s worth considering the use of managed IT services to augment existing solutions and stay ahead of attacker efforts.
Securing Your Network With CIO Tech
At CIO Tech, it’s our mission to deliver worry-free IT. When it comes to network security, this means helping your business identify, implement and maintain practices and processes that reduce the risk of compromise without impacting network performance.
From vulnerability assessments to firewall management, third-party application patch updates, advanced threat protection and complete data backups, our managed IT and network and security compliance services can help your team create customized cybersecurity frameworks that help keep your data safe.