The fear of a network security breach looms large, especially when the stakes are as high as they are today. Disturbingly, IBM has flagged the average cost of a data breach at a staggering $4.35 million, an unprecedented peak. The impact of such breaches extends beyond immediate financial damage, encompassing potential lawsuits and reputational harm.
Hence, how to secure a network is the question on the minds of many, especially those who may not have dedicated IT security teams. The complexities of network security can be intimidating, but they needn’t be insurmountable.
That’s why we’re here to demystify the topic and give you practical advice you can use right away. From securing your Wi-Fi network to leveraging VPNs for remote access, this article will guide you through the essential practices you need to employ. Let’s get started on a path to a more secure network.
How to Secure a Network: 10 Steps You Can Take
Your digital domain is your biggest concern when it comes to network security. The digital landscape is rampant with potential threats, and you need to take proactive measures to secure it. Here are 10 ways to fortify your network.
Set Up a Firewall
There’s no network security without a robust firewall. A firewall acts as a vigilant gatekeeper, filtering both incoming and outgoing network traffic. Next-generation firewalls (NGFW) and cloud-based firewalls offer a bunch of features, so you can tailor protection to fit your needs.
A firewall must be protected with meticulous steps, like regular updates, user account management, and password strengthening. Your firewall configuration needs to be effective, so identify firewall zones, build an Access Control List (ACL), and test it thoroughly.
Encrypt Your Data
End-to-End Encryption (E2EE) is your ally in securing data transmission. This encryption method ensures that data, while in transit, remains secure and accessible only to authorized users. However, before diving into encryption, identifying security holes through assessments like vulnerability assessments and penetration testing is essential.
Choosing the right encryption type depends on the specific needs of your business. It can be Triple Data Encryption Standard (3DES), Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), or Rivest-Shamir-Adlemon (RSA). Implementing encryption tools like VeraCrypt, Trend Micro Endpoint Encryption, or AxCrypt Premium adds an extra layer of protection.
Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN)
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) works like a shield against potential threats when traversing the virtual world. It encrypts Wi-Fi, internet connections, and data transfers, especially crucial for remote or traveling employees. Currently, 93% of businesses use a VPN.
Setting up a VPN involves
- Choosing the right client, server, and router
- Prepping network devices
- Downloading and installing the VPN
- Configuring login information
The right VPN protocol, troubleshooting connection issues, and ensuring the VPN’s security are essential. Well-configured VPNs protect your network and also mask sensitive data to improve your security.
Ensure Consistent Network Monitoring
Network security starts with constant monitoring of your network’s configuration, performance, and availability. This three-pronged approach identifies and addresses abnormalities, making sure your network is protected.
While adding new software tools to your network, continuous monitoring becomes even more critical. It serves as an early warning system, allowing your security team to detect and resolve issues before they escalate into major cyber threats.
Update Software Often
Security software is only as good as its latest update. It’s imperative to regularly update antivirus software, firmware, and other protective apps. These updates improve performance but also fix security flaws. A 2016 poll by Voke Media found that 80% of companies that had a data breach or a failed audit could have avoided it. All they needed to do was apply patches on time or change the way things were set up.
Frequent software updates prevent cybercriminals from exploiting known entry points. It’s not just about staying current; it’s about staying ahead in the perpetual cat-and-mouse game of cybersecurity.
Create Strong Passwords
The strength of your network often begins with the strength of your passwords. It is more important than ever to keep passwords safe. Cybersecurity Ventures said that in 2020, the world would need to protect more than 300 billion passwords.
Encourage employees to craft secure logins by avoiding easily guessable details like names, birthdates, or addresses. Strong passwords typically exceed eight characters, incorporating a mix of letters, numbers, capitalization, and symbols.
A stringent password policy, coupled with employee awareness, helps thwart cybercriminals attempting to infiltrate your network by exploiting weak passwords.
Set Up Two-factor Authentication
In the era of heightened cyber threats, relying solely on passwords is insufficient. Two-factor authentication (2FA) adds an added layer of security by demanding users provide a second form of verification. This can include personal questions, codes sent to mobile phones or emails, or even biometric data.
Setting up 2FA involves specific steps depending on the platforms used, such as Microsoft 365, Google Workspace, or Apple ID. This additional authentication step significantly enhances network security, mitigating the risk of unauthorized network access.
Install Malware Protection
Malware remains a persistent threat to network security. Installing robust malware protection, including antivirus software, is paramount. Choose reputable antivirus software like McAfee MVISION, Kaspersky, or CrowdStrike Falcon, tailored to your business’s needs.
Installing the software involves downloading, following installation instructions, and scanning thoroughly. Updates and scheduled scans keep your network protected against evolving malware threats.
Educate Your Employees
The human factor is often the weakest link in network security. 36 percent of ransomware infections happen because companies in all types of industries do not have enough cybersecurity training. Hence, educating employees about cybersecurity threats, safe practices, and the importance of their role in maintaining a secure network is critical. Begin by incorporating cybersecurity into onboarding processes, making it an integral part of an employee’s initiation into the company.
Employees should be trained on various types of cybersecurity threats, including
- Phishing attacks
- Social engineering
Maintenance updates and ongoing training keep them aware of what to expect.
Employ Advanced Endpoint Detection
In the dynamic landscape of cyber threats, advanced endpoint detection and response (EDR) technology stands as a sentinel. Going beyond traditional antivirus software, EDR utilizes artificial intelligence to detect and respond swiftly to indications of compromise.
This technology collects and analyzes information from network devices, endpoint logs, and threat intelligence feeds. Automating helps identify and respond to security incidents quickly. It’s a proactive way to protect yourself from cyber threats that keep changing.
What Are Some Common Challenges of Securing a Network?
Network security is a dynamic landscape, and implementing security best practices and tools is essential. However, several challenges persist in safeguarding networks effectively.
The ever-evolving nature of cyber threats poses a significant challenge to network security. Malware, phishing, and social engineering tactics continually adapt, exploiting vulnerabilities and gaining unauthorized access to networks. Organizations must employ robust security measures to detect and mitigate these threats effectively.
Insider threats, arising from individuals within an organization misusing access privileges, present a diverse range of security risks. IBM says that people are responsible for about 23% of data breaches. These threats can result from unintentional mistakes or intentional compromises of network security. Mitigating insider threats requires strict access controls, regular security training, and continuous monitoring of user activities.
Networks comprise various hardware and software components, each with its own vulnerabilities. Tracking these vulnerabilities and promptly applying patches is crucial. The complexity of modern networks, coupled with the multitude of devices and applications, makes vulnerability management challenging. Organizations need to stay vigilant for patch updates from vendors and apply them promptly.
Network security demands investments in technology, personnel, training, and ongoing maintenance. Allocating sufficient funds for these initiatives can be challenging, especially for smaller organizations or those with competing priorities. When budgets are tight, it may not be possible to put in place strong security measures like advanced threat detection systems or security information event management (SIEM) solutions.
Despite budget constraints, security measures remain non-negotiable in any modern organization. Choosing partners who can work within current budget constraints is crucial while offering scalability options as the organization grows.
Lack of Security Awareness
Human error continues to contribute significantly to network security breaches. Insufficient security awareness among employees can lead to unintentional data breaches, falling victim to phishing attacks, or neglecting basic security practices. Comprehensive security awareness training programs are vital to educating employees about potential risks and promoting responsible digital behavior.
Securing a network demands vigilance and adherence to best practices. Cyber threats, insider risks, vulnerabilities, resource constraints, and the need for heightened security awareness are challenges to navigate. However, knowledge empowers; with awareness and strategic measures, anyone can fortify their network against potential threats.
At Crown Computers, we understand the nuances of network security. Our expert team stands prepared to assist you in implementing robust security measures tailored to your needs. From managed IT services to advanced technology support, we ensure our Peace of Mind Plan covers every aspect. Safeguard your network effectively – trust Crown Computers for comprehensive and reliable IT solutions.