People ask us all the time – What is one thing I can do to improve my network security?  Unfortunately we have to reply that there is not one single solution to this challenge, but instead we talk about the strategy of “layering” security solutions, best practices, and technologies to reduce your risk to an acceptable level.

We believe that protecting your network and information assets is one of the most important steps you can take for the long-term stability of your company.  The challenge with this statement is that the risks to your users, network, and data are evolving every day and your IT systems need to be kept current to be relevant.  If you’re looking to improve the security of your IT systems, we recommend designing a strategy that covers you from multiple types of threats. 

Let’s take a closer look as to why so many companies are encountering cyber attacks. It is often because they haven’t installed proper security systems for their network, or they have not followed the current best practices. This means they haven’t applied the latest multi-layered digital security measures to protect their information and system. A secure company network is crucial for protecting the security and privacy of your corporate information. 

Smart companies take a multi-layered approach to network security, applying different technologies between them and the threats they would fine online like hackers, viruses, ransomware, etc.. In fact, there are many security layers and paths you can use to prevent cyber attacks. Here are some steps you can take to ensure that your company’s IT environment is up to date and secure to safeguard your business information and the company’s most important digital assets.

How To Make Your Your Business Network Secure?

Separate Your Wi-Fi Network and Enforce WPA2 Encryption

Where possible we recommend that you have a “private” and a “public” WiFi network.  Only company owned and managed devices should be allowed to join the private network.  All employee or guest owned devices should go on the public network.  This helps to ensure that ex-employees, or guests that visited your boardroom once don’t have a back door into the network, server, and any other data that might be shared.

Also, your wireless network should be setup to use WPA2 (Wi-Fi Protected Access) encryption. This offers Wi-Fi users encryption and a higher level of security, to protect their network more efficiently. 

Commercial grade firewalls and access points allow for these options to be enabled. If you’re looking for assistance in setting this up a Managed IT Services Provider like Tier 3 IT Solutions can help.

Choose A Secure Firewall & Upgrade Firmware Regularly

When it comes to the security of your company network, don’t go for a regular firewall. Choose a commercial-grade firewall that offers advanced security features, options, and management capabilities.  These firewalls are also more powerful than the “off-the shelf” options and provide fast, secure connections for end-users.

In addition, make sure you update firmware for your firewall regularly for better security. This is a task that your Managed IT Provider should be doing behind the scenes on a regular basis on your behalf. These updates help protect your network from known vulnerabilities, updates security protocols, and improves stability. Tier 3 IT Solutions employs a team of Network Security Experts who regularly review the state of their client’s firewalls and would be happy to talk to you about this service.

Use a VPN For Remote Access

Employees who are working remotely and accessing your corporate systems and information should use a Virtual Private Network (VPN). A VPN generates an encrypted tunnel between their computer and your company network, making it impossible for any unauthorized person to assess the traffic or information that is being sent between the two devices. By using a VPN for remote access, you can protect your business’ IT security particularly if you have employees who work remotely and access sensitive information on unencrypted, public networks.

Ensure Password Meet Complexity Requirements and Implement Two-Factor Authentication

Avoid default passwords or expressions like “123456” passwords and birth dates. In addition use passwords that include symbols, letters, numbers, and uppercase letters for additional security. The general consensus is that a longer password is more secure than a short but complex one. Therefore we recommend using a “passphrase” that is at least 18 characters in length.  A safe and secure company network begins with having strong passwords, along with two-factor authentication (2FA). Two-factor authentication uses a password accompanied by a second method of authentication, such as a special code generated by an authentication app to sign in to a network, application, data, or any additional services. If you are unsure about how you can implement this security measure, you can engage a trusted Managed IT Services Provider like Tier 3 IT Solutions to strengthen your network security.

Patch Operating Systems

Patching operating systems is a cyber security strategy that helps you reduce the risk of cyber attacks, as well as limits the level of damage caused by incidents. Software vendors release patches to fix vulnerabilities identified after the release of an application or software. Quick and prompt responses to patch updates would decrease the chance of data breaches that can occur due to unpatched software. Tier 3 IT Solutions can offer effective and scalable patch management solutions and strategies to secure your business endpoints with the latest patch updates.

Use a Corporate Grade Antivirus Software

Antivirus software plays a most important role in securing your systems and network by detecting real-time threats and viruses to ensure your data is safe. The free, consumer grade solutions are often limited in their effectiveness and scanning capabilities. You also need the ability to manage this security across all your business devices – this can only be done with a commercial grade solution that includes a centralized management console. With regular updates, you can further protect your machine from the new viruses that appear every day. Alternatively, you can hire Tier 3 IT Solution that will help you to stay ahead by using the most advanced versions of antivirus software.

Implementing Content Filtering

Your computers are tools to perform a job, therefore you need to make sure your staff are not visiting dangerous websites that could introduce virus infections to your network. Internet content filtering solutions are designed to categorize all websites on the internet and then restrict access to those sites that could be problematic. Internet content filtering can prevent network users from accessing websites infected with malware, ransomware downloads, and websites created with the sole purpose of performing a phishing attack.

Backup Your Data

Despite your best efforts there is always a threat of data loss. It could be from a disgruntled employee who deletes files off the network, or a new threat (virus, ransomware, hack, etc.) that is not yet known. Therefore, it is crucial to back up your data regularly to more than one device in more than one location. We recommend having a Disaster Recovery solution as well as a file level backup that sends a copy of your critical data to the cloud. Tier 3 IT Solutions have been leaders in Cloud Backup Services since 2002 and would be happy to help you implement this solution on your network.

Conclusion

The average cost to a business to recover from a breach or cyber attack is around $6.75 million, as reported by Javelin Strategy & Research. It certainly pays to be proactive about cyber security and help prevent cyber attacks by engaging a trusted Managed IT Services provider like Tier 3 IT Solutions that offers world-class IT support services to safeguard your network effectively.