Keep Your Company’s Network Safe: 5 Fundamentals of Network Security

Almost every business no matter how big or small uses the internet in some capacity. Network security is one of the most important aspects of operating your business. A well-managed network security system reduces the chances that your company will fall prey to malicious hackers, cyberattacks, and harmful spyware. This is your guide to the 5 fundamentals of network security that companies should keep in mind when managing their network’s infrastructure.

Staying on Top of Patches and Updates

Two IT professionals discussing cyber security while reviewing data

A patch is exactly as its name implies, a patch released by the company to fix a security issue. An update involves minor changes to software and systems including securing patches, bug fixes, and support for new hardware. Updates and patches help to protect your business’s data and sensitive information. Importance of staying on top of patches
and updates includes:

  • Reducing the risk of cyber attacks
  • Avoiding loss of productivity due to system downtime
  • Protecting sensitive company data and information
  • Reducing the risk of customer data getting in the wrong hands

There are certain tips that you should keep in mind as you put a strategy in place to keep current on security patches and updates:

  • System downtime can be costly
  • The large number of security patches that get released each year can make it hard to stay current
  • Patches and updates can affect the functionality of the system – Due to the urgency of fixing security issues, it is difficult to test every patch with every system configuration.

An effective strategy will allow your IT team to ensure security patches and updates are compatible with your company’s network. Updates and patches typically come out much faster than hackers have an opportunity to exploit vulnerabilities…that is if users install them as soon as possible. Implementing the use of strong passwords will add another layer of protection to your network system.

Make Use of Strong Passwords

For most businesses, a password is the primary barrier between a malicious hacker being able to access your company’s network, data, and information. A simple password is a weak one and leaves your network vulnerable to hackers just looking for an opportunity to steal valuable information. These are the best practices you should keep in mind when creating strong passwords:

  • Use a minimum of 8 characters
  • Incorporate both upper and lowercase letters
  • Use at least one number and a symbol
  • Be creative – Use an acronym, not just the company’s name or street address

Not every access point on your company’s network should be the same password. Using the same password for every access point means that if a hacker manages to break one password, they will have access to all of your company’s software, data, and information. Lastly, make sure that your passwords are changed and updated on a
regular basis.

Secure Your VPN (Virtual Private Network)

Naturally, the more people who have access to your VPN, the more vulnerable it becomes, and the harder it is to keep secure. Your company may have in-house employees, remote workers, and contractors, on the company’s network VPN. Each access point is also a vulnerability that cyber attackers can take advantage of. Here’s what you should keep in mind when securing your VPN:

  • Implement the strongest possible authentication method. The strongest method for your business will depend on your network’s infrastructure. You can also refer to your VPN’s system specifics to determine what your authentication options are.
  • Use the most robust encryption method possible with your VPN.
  • Restrict VPN use to absolute necessities. For instance, have a way for employees to access email and harmless files without going through a VPN.
  • Be sure to vet all new devices and users thoroughly before allowing full access to your company’s VPN. Securing your company’s VPN is the first step in managing user privileges.

Manage User Access Privileges

User access determines which employees have access to what information with the company network. Controlling and monitoring network access reduces the chances of sensitive information and data getting into the wrong hands. If a security breach does occur, it is much easier and quicker to determine the origin. Considerations you should keep in mind when managing user access:

  • Initially set up each account with the least number of privileges possible. Then you can add or take-away depending on the employee’s job role. This ensures that the team member only has access to what he or she needs.
  • Minimize the instances of employees having complete access. If full-access is needed, only allow it for the time period needed. do not grant complete access for the long-term.
  • If a team member needs a higher level of access, make sure a formal request is submitted and thoroughly vetted before being granted.
  • Use a password manager that logs in on behalf of the team member without showing the employee the password. This reduces the instances of password sharing.

Companies should review user access on a regular basis, to make sure that every employee’s access privileges align with their job description. You can also take this opportunity to clean up inactive accounts

Tend to Inactive Accounts

You may think that inactive accounts are just sitting there, not doing any harm, other than taking up space. This is far from true. An inactive account is a perfect door for cyberattacks, malware, hackers, and much more. Those with malicious intent can take advantage of inactive accounts because any activity will go undetected. The same is true for angry employees who were either terminated or quit. They may be tempted to use their login information to misuse their account. These are the benchmarks when
inactive accounts should be checked:

  • When an employee leaves (either by choice or terminated)
  • When an employee is on a long-term leave
  • When a new employee comes on board

Reduce your network’s vulnerabilities by creating a strategy to disable and delete inactive accounts.

Stay on Top of Network Security With a Trusted IT Partner

In this digital age, network security has never been more important than it is now. A breach in network security can not only cause a loss in profit but break consumer trust and loyalty in your brand, which is hard to recover from. Focusing on the 5 fundamentals of network security will decrease your risk of becoming a victim of a cyberattack.

You have more important things to do than manage network security on a daily basis. Partnering with a trusted IT partner can give you the best of both worlds. Your company gets the expert IT solutions it needs to keep your company at the forefront of its industry, while your team focuses on other aspects of running the business. Get in touch with one of Provato’s network security professionals and set up a network security consultation!

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