With all the cybercrime reported in the news, you already know that your company needs strong network security. But what does that really mean?

Cybercriminals will target any weakness in network security that they can. As the saying goes, your company’s network security is only as strong as its weakest link. Which means you have to cover any number of bases to keep your network safe. To help, here’s a checklist of some of the main areas to address.

1—Tighten Up Your Software

By the time the WannaCry ransomware attack hit, Microsoft had already released a patch to update Windows against attacks. Yet many companies hadn’t updated their network software with the patch, and some of them paid the price for it.

The simplest and best way to prevent network attacks is to update your company’s network software as soon as the updates come out. If that means someone in IT is constantly monitoring the latest threats and patches, it’s well worth it.

2—Secure All of Your Hardware

Again, a network is only as strong as the weakest link, so every piece of hardware your company uses to access the network needs to be rock-solid. That means servers, desktop machines, laptops and mobile devices.

Consistency is key here. When your IT department makes a change to one device, it should also make the change to corresponding devices.

3—Establish Processes to Ensure Consistency

Without processes in place, your company’s devices may be secure for a while, but eventually they will become vulnerable. It’s important to use best practices that enable your IT department to adapt to changes and periodically beef up security.

When an employee leaves the company, you will want to change the passwords to the devices they used. If that employee has administrator access, you will also want to change the network passwords. In fact, you will want to change network passwords periodically just for security. You will also want to use different passwords for different devices.

4—Educate Employees About Hacker Tactics

While cybercriminals have high-tech methods for hacking into and either disabling or taking over a network, much of their success depends on human nature and social engineering.

Employees need to know what to do and not do when they are on the network. Phishing, either through email or over the phone, is still a primary tool for hackers, and your employees need to be able to recognize the signs of a phishing campaign and react accordingly.

Educating your employees on how to recognize and thwart a phishing campaign is as important to your network security as anything else. Remember, employees that give out information or click in links in emails are, unwittingly, a weak link.

5—Back Up All Data

Not all of the companies caught out by ransomware attacks get their hijacked data back. During the WannaCry ransomware attacks, many companies didn’t get any response at all from the hackers even when they paid the ransom. Whether that was because of the sheer number of companies affected or because the hackers wanted to lay low after their work garnered worldwide attention, only the hackers know.

However, disaster recovery best practices ensure that your company’s data is always backed up in a safe place, in case something like this happens. With a full backup, your company is not reliant upon cybercriminals to keep functioning. In other words: worst-case scenario, you still have access to all of your data.

Network Security Checklist

To help prevent cyber attacks on your company’s network (successful ones, anyway), you need to tighten up your company’s software, secure all your hardware, establish consistent best practices, educate employees on cybercrime and make sure you have disaster-recovery processes in place.

Rock-solid defense against hackers requires expertise and a lot of work. This checklist is just a high-level overview to get you started. Once you start drilling down, there’s a whole lot more there.

Network security is not easy, so if you would like some expert advice, please give us a call. Our IT professionals are more than happy to provide you with some guidance or take network security out of your hands entirely, for peace of mind.

 

By Charlie Smith