As businesses get more and more dependent on the internet for their day-to-day functioning, one of the biggest challenges they have to struggle with is keeping their networks secure from hackers. As you grow your business and explore new innovations, cybersecurity has to be at the core of all your decisions.
While we only hear about the larger security breaches that affect big organizations, the fact is that there are a lot more cyberattacks that create havoc on businesses around the same size as ContactOut. To make things worse, hackers are using more and more sophisticated ways to break into vulnerable networks and the frequency of attacks keeps going up with every passing moment.
The only way to protect your business network is to adopt strict security policies and procedures. Here are the top 7 things you can do to secure your network against cyberattacks.
1. Use SSL certificates
This is probably the easiest and one of the most effective ways to secure data transmission over your network. SSL certificates encrypt the data being exchanged between the user’s web browser and your web server. This ensures privacy of the transmitted information even if a hacker was able to place themselves between the web server and the end user and get access to the data being exchanged. Since the channel has been secured using SSL, the data can only be decrypted by the other end and no loss of information results from such man-in-the-middle (MITM attacks).
SSL certificates have the additional benefit of boosting your SEO rankings and provide a visual security cue to your customers, increasing their confidence and thus improving your sales. For instance, if you are looking to protect multiple sub domains, consider installing a cheap SSL wildcard certificate to save money and avoid the hassle of managing and monitoring SSL certificates for all of them.
2. Install a VPN
As more and more employees use their own devices to work, installing a virtual private network helps them access their workstations over an encrypted connection even if they are on an untrusted network like a public Wi-Fi.
An additional advantage of using a good VPN service is that most come with a built-in feature called a kill switch that automatically disconnects the device from your corporate network if a loss in the protected connection is detected – this keeps your business safe from unexpected data breaches.
3. Secure your business Wi-Fi
Insecure Wi-Fi connections provide an easy way to hackers for accessing your corporate network. Secure your business Wi-Fi so only the approved employees can use it, ideally without revealing the password to them.
There are times when customers would need to access the internet, the best way of letting them do so is by providing a separate network for guest use. Ensure that no guests get the same Wi-Fi access as your employees to prevent them from accessing business data.
Also, note that network security gadgets and building control systems are frequently targeted by hackers – ensure secure Wi-Fi access for all IoT devices on your network.
4. Restrict or completely disable DHCP
Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol decides the IP addresses of all the devices in your network. It does make it easier to manage your network, but it comes with its own risks. A vulnerable DHCP server can be exploited by hackers to launch DHCP starvation attacks, DHCP spoofing that leads to MITM, and DHCP starvation incidents.
To secure your DHCP setup, place a limit on the number of IP addresses that can be allocated by DHCP. In some cases, it is not worth the risk and a lot of companies end up disabling DHCP on their network completely. This means that IP addresses need to be assigned manually for all devices connected to the network, but the extra work is worth the security.
5. Install a firewall
Install a good firewall to act as the gatekeeper of your network. Why are firewalls important, you ask? Firewalls will analyze all incoming and outgoing traffic and use the predefined rules to block attackers and malware from entering your network. Any incoming data flagged by the filters is blocked. Also, most firewalls have the ability to flag outbound network traffic for suspicious signs and alert your IT professionals about a possible security breach.
Also consider installing a WAF (Web Application Firewall) to protect your customers’ sensitive data while they purchase your company’s services and products online.
6. Keep the software on your devices updated
Regularly update your devices, including all laptops, desktops and mobile devices with the latest software. Keep up with the latest operating systems and web browsers versions. Install firmware updates on all your hardware such as scanners and printers to keep them safe from the latest security threats. Any mobile devices and security apps being used by employees to access the corporate network must be kept updated.
All network devices, including firewalls and routers should be running the latest firmware version. Ignoring software updates leaves open doors in your network, inviting attention from unwelcome hackers.
7. Train your employees on cybersecurity
A lot of employees fall prey to phishing scams when they inadvertently download malicious email attachments, thus introducing malware to their device which is on the company network. The hackers now have easy access to your network, which they can exploit to find and steal sensitive business information.
Or they connect their smartphones or removable media to their workstation not knowing it had malware on it. This malware is now a security threat to your network. Follow important security tips for remote employees.
Editor’s note: Adam is a founder of a managed IT services company in Chicago and he has seen an explosion in cybersecurity issues due to employees misusing their smartphones and removable media. It’s a small and easy solution to implement into your organization.
Make cybersecurity training a mandatory part of new employee induction. Also, have all your existing staff undergo refresher training to review the company security policies, so they keep them at the forefront while working.
At last, hackers can devastate your business. Adopt these 7 security practices to keep your networks secure from cyberattacks. Your business data is the most valuable asset you have – protect it. Train your employees in cybersecurity and keep tabs on security vulnerabilities, plug the holes before they are exploited by cybercriminals. Secure your network in time, so you do not have to deal with the aftermath of data breaches.