Your network is only as secure as the least secure device connected to it. Whether that is a laptop, tablet, smartphone, or other Internet of Things device that you may overlook. Hackers have the skills necessary to use a device to access your network as a whole. This allows them to steal information, install malware, create a ransomware attack, or cause another type of harm. To avoid these potential problems, ensure you follow these best practices to secure your network devices.
How to Secure Your Network Devices
Change the Passwords
The first step toward securing your network devices should be to change all of the default passwords. Many people do not realize how easy it is to get the default username and password for devices. There are actually many websites that have extensive listings of all the default passwords. Hackers and cybercriminals are highly familiar with these pages and use the information to their advantage. Many people forget to change the default password, so hackers can just determine the specific device, do a quick online search, and find the password. In a matter of minutes, they have access to your network.
Ensure you have a process in place to change the default password of any equipment. No matter what new piece of equipment you install in your company, you must change the default password during the installation. Always be sure to use a strong password. This is particularly important for any device that connects to the network. But it does not hurt to do the same even with technology that remains thoroughly offline. This will ensure your company has good habits in place.
Require Two-Factor Authentication
During the setup of your network devices, make sure to do more than just change the default password. You should also take this time to set up two-factor authentication. So even if a cybercriminal discovers the password, they will not be able to access the network via the device.
Two-factor authentication can use a smartphone application, an email address, or a phone number that receives an SMS. Those who want to login to the account must enter the code sent to the two-factor authentication system, email, or phone in order to gain access. This adds another layer of security to prevent unwanted access to the network. It also minimizes the risk of access to the data on those devices.
Physically Secure Devices
Do not just rely on passwords when it comes to securing your networking devices. Take steps to physically secure the devices as well. Not all malware or damaging software requires full access to a device. Sometimes, physical access is enough. At the very least, placing the devices in a non-secure area poses the risk of theft. This gives the cybercriminals time to figure out how to access information on the device. Or a cybercriminal can simply stop a network device from functioning. If that is a crucial piece of your system, like the router, your company will come to a standstill.
To physically secure devices, place major components that drive the network, such as routers, in locked areas with limited access. Complement this by implementing a security policy for storing other devices with network access. This includes requiring employees to put their mobile devices in locked filing cabinets or offices at the end of the day.
Minimize Access to Resources
As with any other access to your network, you should ensure that the various network devices have no more access than they need. The typical smart device will begin with limited requirements in terms of resources but will ask for additional permissions, with or without upgrades. As a general rule of thumb, do not grant that additional access unless the device actually needs it. When more devices have access to sensitive information, it becomes easier for cybercriminals to reach that data. This is because there are more wireless access points.
Research the Device Before Purchase
Most companies will do some research on the manufacturer behind a device before making the purchase. This is a way to confirm the quality of the product. Doing your research should also be part of your security policy. You want to ensure that the manufacturer is established and has a strong reputation. Some savvy cybercriminals hide behind company names, offering network devices that claim to be secure but secretly have hidden vulnerabilities. You can typically confirm this is not the case with just a few minutes of research. Never connect a device to your network without first confirming that the manufacturer is reputable.
Manage the Devices and Restrict Additions
A key element of network security is ensuring that your IT team is aware of all devices connected to the network. You should have a master list of all network devices and keep it updated. Ensure that all members of your team know not to add any device to the network without first getting approval and taking the proper security measures. You should have a policy in place for employees to follow when using a new network device. This ensures the device has the proper security configurations and that all the above steps have been taken.
The manufacturer behind your devices takes care of some elements of security for you. This is in the form of regular updates or patches. These updates typically incorporate changes that can eliminate known security vulnerabilities, making them a crucial part of network device security best practices. Cybercriminals know many individuals and companies put off updates until a more convenient time and may end up forgetting about them. These cybercriminals will take advantage of this knowledge and exploit the known vulnerabilities that the update in question fixes. You are at risk of attacks if you do not have the latest software running on your network devices.
With these best practices in place, you should have minimal concerns about securing your network devices. You can use your network with confidence, knowing that your risk of a cyberattack has been reduced.