Network and Data Security

What is Network and Data Security?

Network security is a set of principles and practices designed to ensure the security of network traffic and to prevent unauthorized access, misuse, modification, or denial of network accessible resources.

Data security is a set of principles and practices designed to prevent unauthorized modification, destruction or disclosure of digital data.

Why is network and data security important for small businesses?

The effects of network and data attacks can be particularly devastating for a small business. Network and data attacks can come in many forms, including but not limited to: malware and denial of service attacks.

Malware can incapacitate your network in a couple of ways such as replicating and spreading itself across a network, thus consuming valuable bandwidth and slowing the system down, or by installing backdoors for later use by the attacker.

DDoS attacks are another popular method that can result in data loss, corruption of important business mechanics, as well as the slowing down (or potentially stopping of) overall network function. This is why it is so important for small businesses to take proper preventative measures against network attacks, as well as have plans in place to mitigate the attacks in the event they do occur.

List of best practices

Firewalls

Firewalls protect your computer from internet attacks from hackers in addition to threats such as malware. A firewall is an essential part of a business, as it protects your data and intellectual property. Some best practices include document rules and using comments to explain their use, alerting admins and users to upcoming changes, and starting with “deny all” before adding exceptions. You should also regularly review the firewall rules and eliminate the unused ones.

Wireless Security

Wireless networks make it incredibly easy to connect to the internet from your mobile devices without having to deal with pesky wires. Despite its convenience, there are some drawbacks to wireless networks, including the ability of others to easily access your Wi-Fi. Enabling encryption is as simple as turning on the use the strongest possible WiFi security protocol WPA2 or WPA3. Make sure to create a guest network and never share your corporate network credentials with the guests.

Encryption (At Rest)

Encryption protects the sensitive data of your company by making the contents of a disk or files unreadable without a special key. When used properly, it is impossible to access your important data without decryption. To make full use of encryption, implement a policy where you encrypt all crucial files before saving them. You can choose to do so on a file-by-file basis or via disk, folders or USB drives. Encryption is particularly crucial for any business using cloud storage.

Encryption (In Motion)

Encryption in motion hides the information within files of data as it moves through your network. As such, encryption in motion is essential for ensuring that hackers cannot access information even if they get into your network. Best practices begin only transmitting data over SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) and relying on strong security protocols such as TLS (Transport Layer Security). Make it a priority to use encryption, even with data that is in a local network and behind a firewall.

Secure your Network Devices

One of the first things a hacker check is whether the default account and password are enabled on networked devices. o reduce the risk of security breaches through default credentials which have been left configured on network devices, it’s best to implement a process to change the passwords when new equipment is installed.

Backups

In addition to authentication security, the user’s activities on the cloud should be recorded and logged and deviation from their normal (or “baseline”) activity should trigger an alert. Any manipulation of data should also be recorded.

Virtual Private Network (VPN)

A VPN, or virtual private network, is a private, secure solution within the greater internet. Essentially, it gives you the security of a private network within your business to optimize privacy. As a business, you can use a VPN to connect with a remote data center or just to ensure all data is encrypted and secured. In terms of best practices, opt for good authentication processes that involve secure passwords and two-factor authentication, as outsider access to the network nullifies its security benefits.

INTRUSION DETECTION & PREVENTION SYSTEM (IDS/IPS)

Intrusion detection and prevention systems can detect threats that attempt to access your network and even prevent that threat from completing its attack, depending on the system. These are crucial, as they are one of your first lines of defense against a cyber attack. Your solution should include real-time prevention along with analysis and logs of the attacks and provide additional protection during a patch latency period.

Update and Patch

Patches and updates are the new versions of programs that resolve minor issues from the previous version. They regularly contain new security measures, and if ignored, you leave hackers an opening to get into your system and steal your information. Your policy should include a schedule of updating and installing patches at least once a week, preferably daily. Make it your policy to never put off patches unless absolutely necessary and to include additional security measures if you do put them off.

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