All right — you’ve selected and installed a networking solution for your business. The next step is keeping your network systems secure from outside interference. For better network security, follow these five steps.
- Install a firewall. This basically keeps your network users secure inside a “wall,” while keeping out hackers and others out to make mischief with unsecured networks. For a more comprehensive security solution, consider using a unified threat management appliance on your network, with related software.
- Use antivirus software for Windows-based computing. A basic antivirus package should suffice for a small business. Anti-spyware programs offer more data security protection, as well. A medium-sized business might need stronger antivirus software or full-blown Internet security software. If you’re using Apple’s Macintosh computers or MacBooks, you may not need an antivirus solution, as most malware is targeted at Windows PCs. The increasing popularity of the Mac, however, may lead to the creation of more Mac viruses.
- All accounts on your network should have passwords. Make sure these passwords are not easy to guess at, such as “password” or “1234.” Even a password based on your birthday is insecure, as birthdate information is often easy to find on the Internet. If you are using a wireless router or another wireless networking device, passwords must be especially robust — the longer the better, with combinations of letters, numbers, and punctuation marks.
- Take the time to maintain the security of your network. Once you’ve installed your networking solution, don’t think your work is done. Monitor your network on a regular basis. Check firewall or router logs to make sure there aren’t any abnormal network connections or unusual traffic to and from the Internet. For a medium-sized business that has multiple locations — a headquarters with field offices, a retail store chain with separate administrative facilities, etc. — you’ll want to have a virtual private network to make use of the Internet.
- Make sure your employees have clear, unambiguous guidelines on using your network and accessing the Internet. You may want to wall off access to certain types of Web sites to avoid the accidental downloading of viruses or the intake of unnecessary cookies that will take up storage on the hard-disk drives of your PCs. Not all cookies are bad or meant to do harm. Keep those that let you sign into useful Web sites without having to manually enter identification and passwords.
These are good first steps in keeping your network systems secure. Additional measures may be necessary depending on the size and needs of your business.