The Internet has evolved to be one of the most useful tools the world has ever seen. But, it doesn’t come without its share of complications. Properly securing your company’s network is an essential practice that simply can’t be overlooked. But, not everybody understands what it involves. Let’s take a look at everything that you should keep in mind about network security so that you can better prioritize it in the future.
What Exactly Is Network Security?
As the name implies, network security is the process of properly safeguarding your devices and associated data. In practice, this means both physically and digitally protecting your intellectual property from potential threats.
So, network security can be thought of as a blanket term that involves taking the appropriate measures to keep your company’s data safe.
Why Is It Important?
More likely than not, having your company’s data compromised by an unauthorized party could be catastrophic. Depending on the industry that you operate within, you may even run into legal complications.
For example, organizations within the healthcare industry must adhere to regulations imposed by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
Failure to remain compliant could result in fines, fees, and even having a lawsuit filed against you.
Unfortunately, researchers estimate that the cybercrime industry as a whole will be worth over $10 trillion by the beginning of 2025. As a result, it’s more important than ever before to prioritize implementing network security measures.
What Are Common Security Risks?
In order to sufficiently protect your organization’s network, you’ll need to understand the most common security risks that you face. Although these might seem intimidating, they aren’t quite as difficult to manage as you anticipate.
Let’s explore a few of the most notable.
Poor Password Management
Interestingly, an alarmingly high number of organizations fail to properly manage their passwords. Regardless of the scenario, this involves facilitating unauthorized access to this information.
A common example could involve someone writing down a list of passwords and keeping them on their desk. It’s not impossible for an employee within your organization to compromise this information and use it to access sensitive data.
Another common practice involves using passwords that are easy to guess or that contain personal information. Even simple, impersonal passwords can be relatively easy for a hacker to deduce.
As time goes on, cybercriminals develop more and more tools to help them carry out their attacks. In response, developers focus on making their software as secure as possible in an attempt to safeguard users from unauthorized access.
As such, maintaining outdated software on the devices within your organization carries significant risk. Even if you haven’t updated your primary software within the last six months, hackers could use contemporary cybercrime methods to easily find exploits.
From here, it’s not unlikely that they gain full access to data that should never fall into the wrong hands.
A Lack of Physical Security
It’s imperative that your organization considers the physical security of its devices. In order to maintain the greatest level of protection, there should be physical barriers that prevent unauthorized users from accessing certain information.
This could come in the form of keeping hard drives locked within a storage room. Or, employees might require a key card or identification badge to gain access to certain parts of your facility.
Insufficient Employee Training
Properly training your employees will go a long way when it comes to sufficiently securing your data. This practice involves conveying how to properly manage passwords, policies regarding the sharing of information, etc.
It’s also highly recommended to update your organization’s policies as new threats emerge. There’s a strong chance that your initial guidelines may not be sufficient as time goes on.
What Attacks Do I Need to Be Aware Of?
As previously mentioned, cybercriminals are working harder than ever before to develop new ways to compromise valuable information. So, it’s in your best interest to stay fully aware of the attacks that could affect your organization.
Otherwise, you will not be able to develop a comprehensive response plan to accommodate one.
A scenario like this could easily lead to prolonged downtime, something that could cost your organization tens of thousands of dollars (or even more).
Listed below are some of the most important to consider.
It should come as no surprise that malware infection is one of the most significant risks that your organization faces. Unlike a conventional situation where an average computer user encounters a virus, malware that is used to attack businesses is often highly developed.
This means that it is both more difficult to detect and get rid of.
Hackers often make use of ransomware to fund their future attacks. For those who are unfamiliar with this term, ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts crucial business information and prevents employees from accessing it.
The hacker then demands that the victim pay a ransom in cryptocurrency.
In the event that the victim does not satisfy the hacker’s demands, the hacker will then delete the encrypted data. In many cases, this could be a highly difficult scenario to recover from.
Those who find themselves affected by a ransomware attack should remember the following:
- Immediately contact the FBI
- Never pay the ransom the hacker demands
By paying the ransom, you will only help facilitate future attacks. So, it’s best to avoid doing so at all costs.
Other malware attacks include more conventional computer viruses, such as a Trojan horse.
This type of attack can be deceptively effective.
At first, a social engineering attack can seem relatively unintimidating. In practice, however, hackers have become highly efficient at disguising themselves as trustworthy sources and individuals.
In some cases, hackers are even able to fully spoof an email to appear as though it is from an official sender.
In practice, the hacker may send a fraudulent email to the employee of an organization and ask for sensitive information. During this interaction, the hacker will often pose as an executive or other reputable party (such as a member of the IT team).
When this attack is pulled off correctly, the victim may not realize that any wrongdoing has occurred until long after the information has been compromised.
Not all types of attacks are as dramatic as the use of ransomware. Sometimes, cybercriminals simply want to access certain information without being detected.
Most commonly, hackers will utilize stolen login credentials in order to carry out this type of attack.
Depending on the type of information that the hacker procures, the data breach could be relatively inconsequential. But, there’s also a significant chance that that comes with a large number of adverse consequences.
Although relatively uncomplicated compared to other types of cyberattacks, the threat of password theft is still something that your organization needs to acknowledge. As the name suggests, criminals will do what they can in order to gain access to this information.
Although simply guessing a password is always a possible method, hackers typically utilize a method known as a brute-force attack.
The strategy involves using a specialized device or software to systematically guess every possible combination of characters that could comprise the password. Longer, more complicated passwords are more difficult to crack in this manner, which is why it is always recommended to avoid using simple passwords.
What Are the Available Solutions?
Fortunately, there are a number of solutions that you can take advantage of in order to protect your network. When implemented correctly, the following solutions can drastically improve the overall security of your network.
Let’s dive in.
In order to sufficiently protect sensitive data within your network, you will need to implement additional layers of security. Multifactor authentication requires users to provide multiple forms of identification in order to access data.
In practice, this often involves providing unique info in addition to a password.
For instance, let’s assume that an employee is attempting to log into a server within your organization. After inputting the password, they might receive an email with a temporary access code.
They must then input this code in order to be granted access.
Most of us have heard this term before, but not everybody understands what it means.
Encryption simply involves intentionally scrambling data to make it incomprehensible. In order to access this data, you will need to decrypt it.
This can be achieved through the use of a key or password. Encryption is a powerful method to implement since it prevents unauthorized access to data even if this information becomes compromised.
Of course, you can’t neglect the utility that antivirus software is able to provide. While this isn’t the only security measure that should take, this type of software can quickly discover and quarantine malicious programs on your computer.
As previously mentioned, it’s essential for you to keep this software updated so that it can perform its role appropriately.
Proper Network Segmentation
This term refers to dividing your main network into different subnetworks. These are known as segments, and this process can go a long way when it comes to optimizing your overall protection.
If one segment experiences a cyberattack, unauthorized access, etc., the other segments will remain unaffected since they operate independently.
What Else Can I Do to Protect My Organization?
In addition to the above solutions, there are also other steps that you can take to protect your network. These are similar in nature but can prove to be highly effective when implemented.
The following are some of the most notable ways you can do so.
Constantly Monitor Access
Access to sensitive information should always come from predetermined sources. So, active monitoring of this data will immediately provide insight into unauthorized access.
In many cases, this can often mean the difference between suffering from a cyberattack and mitigating one.
Properly Secure Your Devices and Servers
Under no circumstances should a device that contains sensitive information be left in a public area. This includes hard drives, laptops, computers, and servers.
In general, it’s imperative to secure these devices in locations that require multifactor authentication. This will ensure that only the appropriate parties are able to access this data.
Additionally, you should take the same precautionary measures when it comes to backup or archived data. Some organizations tend to neglect securing devices that are no longer in use.
But, the information on these devices could still be highly valuable to criminals.
Manage Your Passwords Appropriately
Passwords should always be a complex string of numbers, letters, and special characters. Although it may be more convenient to choose a simple password that is easy to remember, this comes with a significant amount of risk.
For the best results, it’s highly recommended to use a password manager. This is an application that generates a complex password and also stores it within the program itself.
In order to gain access to the passwords you store, you will need to input a master password. Since this application runs offline, you can minimize the risk that this information becomes compromised.
Proper Network Security Is Essential
So, be sure to keep the above guidelines in mind. As long as you prioritize your network security properly, you’ll be able to avoid a large number of complications in the future.
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