The difference between a small business and a large one isn't as big as most people might think. Many of the requirements and expectations are the same. You still need to manage your production chain, run marketing campaigns, provide customer service, and maintain your network security. The only real difference is how many people you can assign to each task. For the small business trying to do it all on their own, it's important not to let network security slip while you're keeping all your other plates spinning. Whether you handle your IT tasks with an in-house technician or outsource to someone you trust, here are our top five tips for small business network security management:
1) Password Protection and Physical Access
How secure are the computers in your office? No matter how well defended your network is from computer-based attacks, if your office computers aren't locked and password protected, there's nothing stopping an unauthorized visitor from compromising your data, computer, or network infrastructure. At a minimum, every device on your network needs to time-out to a locked screen that requires a password to reactivate. This will not only keep you safe from the potential for infiltration, it will also protect you from, say, someone's visiting nephew accidentally deleting a database while trying to get on the internet.
2) Guard Your Ports
Now that you've got the physical side of network security covered, let's talk ports. These are the doorways through which local and online activity enters and leaves your network. For proper network security, most of your ports should be closed most of the time. Those that are open should be open for a specified reason, guarded with authentication protocols, and monitored for unauthorized activity. Open unguarded ports offer you no benefit but are a welcome mat for hackers looking to sneak malware onto your network.
3) Firewalls and Virus Scanners
Speaking of malware, make sure you are fully protected through all the available software solution. You're probably at least passingly familiar with your firewall but even the best firewall software is no good if left disabled or improperly configured. Work with your IT team to ensure that your firewall and port protection are working together to only allow expected incoming and outgoing activity. On top of the firewall, you also want a comprehensive virus scanning solution. Scan every file sent to you, scan incoming emails and attachments for embedded viruses, and scan your computer systems on a regular basis to check for any viruses that may have slipped past your defenses.
4) Work Locally, Store on the Cloud
The computers in your office are valuable for their computing power and ability to connect you to everything you need, but with so many cloud storage solutions, there's no need to store your data locally. Local data can be encrypted by ransomware, corrupted by a failed software update, or damaged in a physical disaster like a fire or a rampaging hurricane. Store as much data as you can on a secure cloud server or at least keep regular backups on the cloud so you can recover your data quickly and easily should anything go wrong at the home office.
5) Stay Updated
No piece of software is perfect, but good programs are constantly updating to improve things like workflow, efficiency, and most importantly security. One great example is the Eternal Blue flaw in the Microsoft OS which was then exploited by the WannaCry ransomware program. Microsoft has since patched this security hole so no other malware can exploit it and regularly updated OS users are not protected from this particular vector of attack. By keeping all your software up to date, you ensure that you have the most current defenses available to counter the most recent wave of identified threats.
Here in the digital age, network security is no joke. We use computers for almost everything from inventory management to customer service. Keeping your computers safe from unauthorized access is the best way to defend your company, your private customer information, and all your valuable business data. For more helpful information about small business network security, contact us today!