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Practicing Good Network Hygiene

If your small business has machines connected to the Internet, they're constantly under attack. Every day, possibly every hour, they receive data requests looking for a weakness to exploit. The vast majority will fail if you have any security measures in place, but the attackers keep trying, hoping to discover a weakness.

It's like bacteria and your body. There are nasty germs all around that would like to take up residence in your body. Your natural defenses stop most of them, but if you get cut or eat some bad food, they take advantage of the opportunity. You practice regular hygiene and tend to your injuries to stop that from happening. Similarly, you have to practice good network hygiene to keep your systems from being infected.

Your body has more than one defense against disease organisms. If one layer fails, the next may stop them. If you get sick in spite of all its efforts, your body works on eliminating the condition and making you healthy again. Likewise, a computer network needs multiple defenses to stay safe.

Preventing entry

The first line of defense tries to keep bad stuff from getting in at all. Your skin keeps disease organisms out. You keep it clean and healthy so it can do its job. Similarly, a network firewall and access restrictions keep malicious data packets out. Only someone with a password can access sensitive data.

You need to make sure that the firewall is well-configured and protects all your devices. Passwords need to be hard to guess and well protected. Services that serve no purpose shouldn't be running. These measures will stop the large majority of attacks on your network.

You're careful about what you eat. If food smells spoiled, you won't put it into your mouth. On the network, you need to be careful about the email you accept and the links that you're asked to click. If they look suspicious, you shouldn't touch them. Mail filters will reduce your chances of letting malware in, just as shopping at trustworthy stores makes it less likely you'll eat tainted food.

The immune system

Sometimes germs get through, and then your immune system has to hold them off. This happens more often than we notice. On the network, the "immune system" is software security updates and anti-malware software.

A lot of malware exploits bugs in old software versions. If you fail to keep your system software and applications updated, attackers may get access to your confidential data or run unauthorized software on your computer. Updating software is like getting a vaccination to strengthen your immunities. A secure network will catch hostile attempts and kick malware off your machines before it can do any harm.

Recovery and recuperation

A good security perimeter and software protection will keep almost all attacks from doing any damage, but sometimes they'll fail. There are new kinds of malware every day. People sometimes make mistakes and click on dangerous links. Patches don't always get installed in time. It's like what happens when your body gets sick. You have to diagnose the condition and fight it off.

Network monitoring and examination of system logs are valuable tools when checking your network's health. Unusual readings, such as large amounts of traffic during non-working hours, can indicate a problem. Treatment is sometimes difficult; you may have to restore files from backups and re-install software. When you're done, you have to make sure that the cause is really gone, so that you don't have a relapse.

An infected system, like a sick body, results in lost time, makes you uncomfortable, and may require unpleasant treatments. With good security practices, you can make those events rare and be prepared to cure them quickly when they happen. IronLogix provides managed IT services that keep your systems running smoothly. Contact us and find out how we can keep your network healthy.

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