5 Network Security Tips Every Small Business Should Consider
Staying on top of IT security best practices is tough to do. It seems like every month, a new vulnerability that could potentially affect your business comes out. To make matters worse, cloud computing and network services may be backing your data up to servers around the globe. With increasing complexity comes ever-higher security risks.
While there's no single "silver bullet" for securing your network, there are a number of things you should do regularly to ensure that your sensitive data stays safe and secure behind your firewall.
These are our top business IT security tips for December 2017.
1: Prioritize Sensitive Data
An unfortunate reality in the world of data security is that, with growing systems complexity and cloud services, there is more potential for breaches than ever before.
Some experts argue that data leaks and breaches are actually inevitable.
Following their logic, the solution is to prioritize data security based on the potential cost of its compromise.
Calculating the risk associated with leaking data is relatively simple. The difficult part is setting up your data logistics to protect the most sensitive data. That's where a solid data compartmentalization strategy comes in.
2: Data Access Levels: Walls Behind the Firewall
A network breach is, without a doubt, a worst-case scenario. There is a lot you can do, however, to minimize the damage of a potential breach.
If you think of your internal network as a building, a breach is dangerous because the malicious party (like a burglar) has gotten into the building. An easy way to access the building is to find an easy entry point (vulnerability) just to get in. Once inside, the burglar can make her way to the valuable data.
The dangerous difference between a physical burglary and a data breach is the fact that unauthorized access to your network isn't always obvious. From within your network, an intruder can potentially leak data silently for weeks or months.
With this analogy, think of internal access levels as putting your sensitive data inside a vault. This protects your most sensitive data in the case of a network breach. This data should only be available to those who need it, and accessing it must require multiple forms of authentication and decoding (read on!)
3: Multi-Factor Authentication
You're probably familiar with two-factor authentication. It's the process of using two identifiers to pass a firewall. These two factors could be a username/password combination and an authentication code sent to a unique email address or cell phone with a text message.
Additional authentication factors are now available, like biometric readings, fingerprint detection, and even facial recognition software.
While it's hugely effective for protecting sensitive data, internal work functions and flow sometimes suffer from slowdowns associated with constantly passing multiple-factor authentication checkpoints. This results in workarounds or abandonment of authentication procedures, which sacrifices all of the benefits.
A great practical solution to this issue ties in with the previously discussed ideas of prioritizing sensitive data and creating data access levels: Enforce multi-factor authentication only for the most sensitive data. This enables your staff to do day-to-day tasks working with less sensitive data without going through all the authentication hoops. When more sensitive data is needed, require the extra authentication levels. This is a fantastic compromise that works well for many.
4: Encrypt Top-Priority Data
Encryption is the best measure you can take to secure your sensitive data. However, it can be inconvenient and requires a bit of technical knowledge to put into proper use.
Take the time to encrypt your highest security priority data and make sure that any copies of that data on your cloud network are encrypted.
Protect your encryption keys! When you rely on encryption for IT security, the encryption keys become as important as the data itself. Make sure the keys go only to those who need to decode the sensitive data, along with a clear briefing on the level of care with which the keys must be handled.
5: Ditch the Memo
It's a good idea to write an internal memo about IT security every month and send it to out to your staff. The value of this monthly habit is that it allows you to dedicate some time to focus on IT security, do some research and talk with your IT staff about recent security developments.
Beyond that, the monthly security memo is supposed to help keep the staff on board with initiatives, strategies, and policy updates. The problem here is that the memo is likely to be ignored, or very lightly skimmed, by a lot of employees. Especially when important changes or updates are made, this simply won't do.
Work instead on distributing important IT security updates with a trickle-down security meeting schedule. Plan to meet regularly with leadership and network security experts. Leadership meets with middle management for a focused discussion, and team leaders, in turn, meet with their staffs to talk about this information. This ensures that the concepts reach receptive ears, and provides the added benefit of generating discussions about issues and policy updates. This opens an additional channel for internal feedback around IT security issues.
The most important thing about IT security today is understanding and managing the risks of data vulnerabilities.
Take the time to handle these risks with the above advice, and you can rest assured that your most sensitive information is protected.
For additional IT security support, contact us! At IronLogix we are experts in the field and are happy to discuss your network security concerns with you.