As a small business owner, you face two major hurdles when it comes to network security: a lack of resources and a lack of knowledge. While the first can be difficult to address when you’re just starting out and you’re short on capital, the truth is that you need to make network security a priority if you want to protect yourself and the sensitive information your clients entrust to you (names, credit card numbers, etc.). It’s your responsibility to keep that data safe. As for a lack of knowledge, you may not even know just how much you don’t know. And while the learning curve can be steep, it is imperative that you take the time to do research and learn everything you can about preserving the integrity of your network and protecting it from malicious threats, both inside and outside your company. Here are just a few things you need to know to get started.
1. Adequate software. There is no shortage of options when it comes to protective software, but there are a couple of basics you’ll definitely need. For starters, you absolutely must have a firewall in place to block at least the most rudimentary outside threats. You don’t want just anyone to have access to your network, and the firewall confines it to those you approve, although the strength of your firewall will determine the level of potential intruder that may be denied access. You also need to use an antivirus and anti-spyware program to spot and quarantine malicious code that could slip through your other defenses. You may even want to consider protections like encryption, depending on the type of data you’re dealing with, but starting with a firewall and antivirus protection is a must.
2. Frequent updates and scans. Updating your software is an important aspect of keeping your network protected. If you ran a sizable corporation, you might have an IT staff to take care of ongoing maintenance issues for you. But since most small business owners don’t enjoy this luxury, your best bet may simply be to enable automatic updates so that you don’t have to keep track of these issues for all of the devices in your business network. Don’t forget to schedule regular (daily or weekly) scans to ensure that nothing has slipped through the cracks.
3. Password protection. One of the best ways to secure your network is through the use of passwords, but you have to do it right. Every employee should have a password, and the same goes for any clients that access your network. Further, you should implement a system that prompts users to change their passwords frequently, say on a monthly basis, for the highest level of network security.
4. Threat sources. As a small business owner you might not think that you have very many threats to your security. In truth, you may not. But you still want to be prepared for potential threats. Hackers, for example, may target small companies because they anticipate under-protection. And you don’t want to have to explain to clients that their sensitive information has been compromised because you didn’t plan for outside threats. However, you should also be aware of potential threats within your walls. Encrypting sensitive data not only protects your clients and your business, but it can also remove the temptation for employees to engage in identity theft or fraud. And don’t forget to shut down accounts when employees leave – if they are disgruntled they could become a threat.
5. Website blocking. One of your network’s biggest vulnerabilities is the worldwide web, or more specifically, the many dangerous sites that your employees might access through your system. So one of the best network security tips you can implement is blocking potentially harmful sites, including everything from adult entertainment to social media. If you’re not sure how to get it all done, consider hiring a professional like Pangea Systems to provide you with the security solutions you’re looking for. You may not know where to start with network security, but you’re not reinventing the wheel. The products and services you need are out there and a qualified provider can help you to find them.