8 Simple Steps To Network Security and Protecting Your Small Business

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8 Simple Steps To Network Security and Protecting Your Small Business 

When it comes to networking, a lot of small businesses aren't really doing it right. Sure, most people know how to hook up a router and maybe even turn on Wi-Fi, but you really need to know more than that in today's digital age to fend yourself from possible sabotage. Network security is about more than just purchasing a simple firewall. It's about making sure that every contact point and every single area within your local network is secured and functioning without any vulnerability to people outside, or inside, your business.
Today's security environment looks much different than it did back in the last decade. A long time ago, you were probably worried that someone would download a virus that ended up damaging a system. The attacks would probably be a nuisance, but didn't cause considerable damage. Now, you must watch your every step and lock up your systems with several layers of protection. This is largely due to how hacking has evolved in previous years.

The problem most businesses face is budget. A large-scale corporation has the experts and money to keep their enormous networks in pristine condition, but what about the small retailer who only has a server and a couple of PCs? How is that business going to incorporate high-level security on its own dime?
Perhaps a checklist will help:
  • Make sure that everyone on the local network has a very strong system password set up. You'd be surprised at how many computers I've seen (even in corporate networks) that don't even have a system password set. This is a big invitation for sabotage.
  • Set up an access control policy. Authorization through access control will reduce the risk of sabotage and it will compartmentalize the network as a whole, turning it into a fort with many rooms rather than a free-for-all. This also makes damage control easier!
  • Have a look at all your sensitive data and make sure that no unauthorized person can potentially gain access to it. Keep all that data behind lock and key. It's best if you actually keep such data as far away from the network as possible.
  • Don't use anything except WPA2 encryption in your Wi-Fi key. Anything less than that, and you're inviting people to sniff your access point.
  • If you must use a router, get something meant for small businesses, not a home router. Small business routers typically have a more advanced firewall with strong authentication features. These routers can protect your private network while managing your access to the outside world. They also set up proper VPNs that let you and your employees access your private network without having to rely on third parties.
  • Run anti-virus software on your network and devices. This will help you to stop, remove and prevent the spreading of viruses, worms or trojans that may attack your system. 
  • It never hurts to have a software firewall running in your systems. A good software firewall works well as a last line of defense. Software firewalls fill in the gaps that routers cannot.
  • Don't forget to keep computers used by guests away from your private network.
This isn't really that expensive, compared to the losses you could experience trying to control the damage caused by an attack. There's nothing fun about cleaning up a mess! With these tips, you'll have a fighting chance against any possible sabotage or hacking attempts.
Ramon Ray 10 Jul, 2013

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