Best Practices For Network Security for Small Businesses

4 Mins read
  • All small business owners have to take network security very seriously.

As a small business owner, you can’t afford to overlook the importance of network security and protecting against cyberattacks. Data breaches have become far more dangerous for businesses than ever.

Many businesses neglect cybersecurity until it is too late. Unfortunately, 60% of companies that fall victim to a data breach go out of business. You have to take measures to prevent them.

Network security is one of the utmost needs you’ll have as a business, with much of your personal and professional assets depending on the protection you give yourself. Whether that means defending your passwords, your client data, or even your reputation, network security is a crucial part of such defense.

With that in mind, read on to learn and take to heart the best practices for securing your network and avoid common cybersecurity mistakes.

Understand Your Surroundings

If you plan on having any say in how your business is run, you should also understand the way it’s set up. This means you should get to know the components that make up your network. Your hubs, your gateways, your routers, and so on are all part of the system that makes your business operable, and they’re what attackers are after. Understanding what each component and device does helps you to understand what role it might play in the weaknesses and defenses of your network as a whole. Another thing to keep in mind, though, is the types of network defenses themselves. Becoming familiar with these measures you have in place is one great way of helping yourself and your SOC team to protect your assets. By knowing whether you have a firewall, URL filters, spam filters, or even proxy servers, you empower yourself in the event of a compromise or breach. A strong strategy is to know the types of network security products, like threat detection and prevention, that are there to protect you. But even better than just knowing what’s in place, it’s important to know what each product does to protect you. From a threat detection program, to a network access control suite, to a simple web filter, each purposeful inclusion in your defenses should be known and understood by you to some extent — that way, you know if it’s serving your needs the best way possible.

Know Where Everything Is

Your devices, first and foremost, are part of what you have to monitor and keep safe, especially when it’s the network equipment that allows your business to run. Keeping this equipment on your premises, managing who is able to access it with a lock-and-key approach, is a great idea when working out how to physically secure said devices. Of course, if you’re also able to monitor which devices are accessing your network, and which users are doing so remotely, you’re even better off. The other kind of devices you should knowingly have placed are security devices, such as your firewalls — strategically located at personally owned endpoints or between network segments, for example. Knowing and planning the placement of these security devices can mean the difference between a full-blown network-wide attack and stopping a threat in its tracks.

Split Up Your Network’s Assets

Network segmentation is an extremely powerful practice. With segmentation in place, larger networks especially are able to mitigate several different risk types from accessing and damaging multiple segments, or zones, of a network — because the zones are separated based on function or the type of nodes and endpoints connected. Not only does this aid in lowering the spread of a threat, but it makes cyber attackers easier to corner and dissuade, as their ideal target has become split and made harder to fully access. Whether you’re choosing to physically or virtually segment your network, the choice to have such zones separated by gaps is useful when managing different levels of security for different aspects of a business, as well. By keeping segmented business data within certain zones with certain levels of access to protect it, data management becomes more intelligently structured to the needs of your business, with only the people in need of such data being able to access it while within the defined zone.

Always Be Monitoring

You may be compelled to divvy up the responsibilities of tracking suspicious activity from segment to segment, endpoint to endpoint, or in some other fashion that feels right for your business. However, if you instead implement centralized monitoring, you’ll be able to see patterns from all over your network, all over your connected endpoints, that may otherwise be missed. So, if you’re an IT wizard who is willing to jump between several monitoring systems, have at it. However, it’s going to be easier on you to give that job to a “single pane of glass” operation that will track network-wide activity for you — one that automatically logs and analyzes behavior such as suspicious logins and suspected attacks. By monitoring said behavior and allowing automatic analyses of such patterns, you’ll be able to establish baselines, which is yet another practice that needs to be emphasized. When you understand the activity baselines of your network’s operations, then the telltale signs of suspicious behavior will become all the clearer to you when an event deviates from the network’s general protocol.

Prevent Threats From The Inside

You can’t overlook the threat of employee negligence when it comes to security breaches. Data shows 36% of data breaches are the result of employee negligence. Whether it’s network access control with least-access protocols in place, or the relevant necessary security training that your team gets to help them make educated decisions when working, only your leadership can help to ensure that threats come from the inside of your company. Least-privilege principles make it easy to justify what’s able to be accomplished by any team member, and therefore mitigate the chance of high-level threats from the inside where those people operate — be it accidental or malicious. Additionally, by training your team on the security protocols you want emphasized and followed at your business, you’re doing your part to avoid the weakness caused by uneducated and careless users.

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About author
Ryan Kh is a big data and analytic expert, marketing digital products on Amazon's Envato. He is not just passionate about latest buzz and tech stuff but in fact he's totally into it. Follow Ryan’s daily posts on Catalyst For Business.
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