How do I keep my company's network safe?
This is one of the most frequent questions we hear from customers. It’s a simple one, but it has big implications.
Most businesses simply wouldn't be able to function in the event of a major breach. Your data is too important to leave to chance, and it's easy to keep yourself safe.
Of course, the best way to solve a problem is to never experience the problem in the first place, which is why putting proper safeguards in place is so crucial. Let's go through some of the most basic but effective methods of network security.
Antivirus is the most recognized term in computer security for good reason. It's the primary means by which your data can be corrupted. You may have experienced this with your home computer at some point – it can be extremely frustrating and worry-some when you encounter a virus.
Fortunately, most professional antivirus solutions will give you all the protection you need. Not only will they scan your computer regularly for viruses, but they'll update themselves so the program always knows the latest threats, and what to look for.
If you already have professional antivirus software installed, there's no need to do anything else.
If you don't, we recommend & install Trend Micro security products for our customers. Trend Micro's products, including antivirus, are cutting edge, and are more than sufficient for most business users.
If you have a managed services agreement with BMS then this is done for you via our automated anti-virus procedures.
Malware can be more confusing than viruses, mostly because the term is so generic. Malware is short for "malicious software," and encompasses a wide variety of threats. Think of the toolbars that mysteriously appear in your web browser, or the pop-up ads that never seem to go away.
Exposure to malware takes many forms, but it often installs itself as an add-on to other software, or via downloading sketchy files or programs. The intent of malware is often to expose you to a product against your will, or to force you to use that product (like the toolbars). While it is irritating, it can also be quite harmful.
If you run Windows, you can use Microsoft's own "Malicious Software Removal Tool" to keep your computers protected. It will regularly scan your PC for threats and inform you if it finds anything suspicious.
Again, if you have a managed services agreement with BMS then we look after this for you to ensure your system is always up to date and clean.
If you run Windows 8, this tool is already installed on your PC, so there's no need to do anything. If you run Windows 7, Vista, or XP, you can download and install it by clicking here.
Antivirus and malware protection guard your network from incoming threats. Whereas a firewall is a piece of software that regulates what gets passed to and from network computers. Think of it as a set of rules: if information flowing to or from your network breaks one of these rules, then it's not allowed to pass. As you might imagine, setting these rules can be a tricky process. The good news is that firewall configuration is usually set-and-forget. Once it's configured, it should only need a minimal amount of maintenance in the future.
In large organizations, the network administrator will handle firewall configuration. In smaller businesses, the responsibility belongs to the in-house IT team. Every Windows version since Windows XP SP2 includes a built-in firewall, which is turned on by default. For most small businesses, the default configuration will suffice.
Encryption is often misunderstood, but it's very simple: encryption makes it impossible for anyone but you and your message's intended recipient to view your data. Think of it as a code, like those used for transmitting war-time messages. Unless you know the code, the data is useless.
Everything you do on your computer can be encrypted. You can encrypt your hard drive, internet traffic, removable media like USB drives, even data stored in the cloud.
Microsoft makes its own encryption software for your hard drive called BitLocker, which will run on certain versions of Windows. BitLocker Go is a specialized version of BitLocker designed to encrypt removable media. Cloud storage providers (like Dropbox for example) handle encryption on your behalf.
Because encryption is such a fundamental part of your security plan, you should be using it wherever possible. At a minimum, though, we recommend encrypting all of your local files and all internet traffic. For this we also recommend Trend Micro products.
It’s important to note that you are not encrypting information by simply password protecting it. Passwords are required to view information in the first place. Encryption ensures that, even if the information is available, it's unreadable without the encryption software. To encrypt your data, you'll need dedicated encryption software. Ideally, that software will protect information that passes from your network to the internet, plus the information stored locally on your computers or servers.
Maintaining your security
As office technology becomes more sophisticated, network security becomes more and more important for the overall health of your business. Using the information and techniques listed here is a great first step to ensure your network is secure.
Remember, though, that security is an ongoing process, and should be integrated into your day-to-day operations.