Let us not look back in anger or forward in fear, but around in awareness. — James Thurber
Data has arguably become the most important asset for modern businesses, with 2.5 quintillion bytes of data being generated every day around the world. It is no wonder then, that network security has become one of the crucial cornerstones in a professional business setup. An unsecured network is akin to leaving the keys to your apartment in the front door – you’re just asking for unwanted visitors.
Here are 8 tips on how to secure your data, protecting your network enough to face today’s internet wilderness:
- Audit your network
Knowledge is half the battle. If you’re unsure which parts of your business are at risk or what data you need to protect, how can you secure it? Audit your entire IT infrastructure - be it computers, servers and even mobile devices – to get an idea of what you need to do in order to keep any potential hackers miles away from your network.
- Educate the staff
Having security experts within your IT department certainly helps, but nowadays it is not enough. Your non-IT staff should be briefed on the do’s and don’ts when it comes to security, as hackers will target them first. Innocent-looking invoices or password-reset emails are common tactics used to gain access to your network via malware or phishing, both of which can be easily avoided by simply educating your staff.
- pass1234 is not a great password
It might be tempting to use a simple password as it’s undoubtedly easier to remember, especially since your list of logins and passwords seems to be growing daily. Try using popular password management tools such as LastPass or KeePass to help you both by generating passwords which are harder to crack, as well as storing these passwords for you.
- Encrypted data is good data.
Encrypt all your data with tools such as BitLocker to provide yourself with an additional layer of security. Hackers who gain access to an encrypted hard disk will not be able to read its contents, and brute-force cracking an AES-256 encryption is nigh impossible.
- Backup, backup, backup.
Fine, your data is secured, but if you don’t back it up you’re playing a very dangerous game. Backing up your data provides you with peace of mind, and the opportunity to rollback in case something goes wrong. Whilst it’s advisable to backup locally, you should also look into cloud backups. We at BMIT offer fully-automated cloud backup solutions in ISO27001 and PCI-DSS certified data centres, allowing you to save your data on the cloud as well as to local storage, all with the same service.
- Security policies are your friend.
Asking your employees to work more securely is certainly a step in the right direction, however, implement concise and effective security policies in your workplace in order to drive the point home. One example would be to ask all staff members to avoid divulging sensitive information over the phone or leaving passwords with sticky notes on their monitors. Moreover, they should make sure that they have security software installed on their workstations if they want to connect to the work network. Policies of similar nature will definitely help secure your critical data and the integrity of your network.
- Mobile defense
Your sales team from 10 years ago might have had some form of mobile connectivity, but it pales in comparison to the power they have in their hands these days. With Android smartphones and iPhones quickly becoming the must-have gadgets of the century, more of your staff are now working away from your office - and away from your secured network. Make sure that their smartphones are secured, as you might soon discover that mobile devices are your network’s weak point. Encryption, remote wiping and malware protection go a long way in further reinforcing your network, both on-site as well as off-site. They should also avoid processing sensitive data on public Wi-Fi networks (in parks, coffee shops or airports for example) as these are vulnerable to packet sniffing.
- Two locks are better than one
Viruses are no longer the only security threat you have to worry about. Hacking has evolved from a hobby in the 1970s to the lucrative crime business we know today, bringing with it more sophisticated attacks. To counteract these fast-paced developments, it is crucial that you protect all devices connected to your network (desktops, mobile devices, file servers, mail servers, and network end points). Multiple-layers of security will block network attacks and/or alert the IT staff to a problem, so that they can take the necessary actions.