Network Security: What Every Business Owner Must Know

Today, networks are literally running the world. Every bank transaction you make nowadays goes through a network cable. The reliability and stability of digital products sometimes lulls people into an unhealthy sense of security, and the consequences can be catastrophic especially for businesses.

While network security in your home might consist of getting your hands on a firewall, a business needs to cover more areas within this domain:

Access Control

When sharing files within the network, you might want to make sure that only the people you intend to share the files with have access to them. The first thing you should do when sharing a file in your local network is modify its properties to make it readable and modifiable only to those who should have these privileges. You don’t need to concern yourself with this if you don’t share any resources within your LAN.

Hardware Firewalls

While a software firewall might be sufficient enough to protect a home network, a small business might have trouble defending itself against certain attacks this way. One particular attack has grown rather popular: The distributed denial of service (DDoS). A DDoS is an effective way of taking down an Internet connection by flooding it with packets from multiple computers. It’s sort of like how filling your kitchen sink’s drain with grease will clog it. Hardware firewalls are usually more effective at fighting off attacks, since the packets are stopped before they ever reach a computer. With a software firewall, packets first arrive at your computer before being filtered.

You can easily get a hardware firewall by buying business-oriented routers. Don’t use consumer routers for your network.

Got Telecommuters? Use a VPN!

To protect your business and employees, your telecommuters should use a virtual private network (VPN) to access sensitive information. A VPN lets two remote computers communicate without needing to be in the same local area network. The VPN assigns an address to each computer and lets them talk as if they were next to each other, across the Internet. Data sent across a VPN is usually encrypted.

Single Sign-On

This is probably one of the most essential parts of any business. Single sign-on (SSO) is the practice of consolidating someone’s identity on the Web to one single account. In other words: Instead of logging in to 10 accounts, you place all of the account credentials into a central application that will sign you in. By eliminating the need to remember more than one password, SSO allows you to make different complex passwords for each online account. Two very highly-reliable services for SSO are SmartSignin and Okta. We’ve recently covered this topic here, if you want more.

Teach Employees Proper Security Etiquette

Aside from your own Internet habits, you also need to make sure that your employees have the street smarts necessary to prevent any data breach. Have a conference with your employees about network security, teaching them best practices such as being wary of email attachments and regularly updating the software on their personal devices. It’s best if you get a network security professional to speak at the conference.

Planning on opening a Wi-Fi hotspot? Don’t connect your computer to it.

This is particularly popular with cafes and restaurants. If you’re planning on offering free Wi-Fi to your customers, be aware that this adds an enormous security liability in your network. Make sure that your computer isn’t hooked up to the same router that the Wi-Fi network is in. Otherwise, anyone can sniff out the data coming in and out of the network adapter.

While You’re At It, Look Into Unified Threat Management

If you think you’re up to shelling out the bucks, get yourself a unified threat management (UTM) router rather than a normal one. These hunks of metal offer gigantic benefits! Besides acting as a hardware firewall, they also prevent viruses, intruders, and spam. They also participate in load balancing, which is useful if you have more computers that download bulky amounts of data. If “UTM” is attached to the router’s name, you should really spare the cash for it. They’re an excellent investment.

We’re Done, Folks!

If you follow this small checklist and adopt all of the solutions, you’ll have a very well-armed fortress protecting your data, your employees, and your customers. Nothing feels better than knowing you’re operating a squeaky clean network with no worries.

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Miguel Leiva-Gomez is the owner of The Tech Guy, a blog that presents futuristic and current news about technology with a light touch of humor, catering to the average consumer and prospective investor. Miguel has been working with computers and gadgets for more than a decade, working together with people to help them solve their problems and breaking down complex concepts into simple bite-sized pieces that the average Joe can chew.

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