Big businesses have long been the target of hackers and cybercriminals, but times are changing and smaller enterprises now face the threat as well. A breach could do more than mess up your network, it could damage your reputation and credibility and even expose your customers to increased risk as well. Increased awareness of current threats, proactive maintenance and a focus on commercial security solutions can help mitigate your risk and ensure your data and network stay safe.

7 Ways to Improve your Network Security in the New Year


Be Aware of Current Threats

Reading up on the latest forms of malware can help you prepare to face new threats and challenges. In the beginning of 2015, most people had never heard of ransomware, which locks users out of their own network until a hefty ransom is paid for restoration. Billions of dollars and breaches later, the FBI has identified ransomware as one of the top security risks for 2017. Being aware of this threat can help heighten your security measures and ensure that every employee checks and double checks emails and attachments before clicking on links or downloads that could be questionable.

Focus on Education

Many security threats can be averted simply by educating employees. Make sure your team understands the threat posed by social engineering, phishing and other scams and understands what they can and can’t do with your network and equipment. Educating your team and creating an office policy that covers network access, social media shares and mobile device handling can help cut your risk of a breach.

Practice Proactive Maintenance

Upgrading and maintaining your software shouldn’t only happen when you have a problem. Software patches and updates are released for a reason, and that update you’re delaying could address a recently discovered vulnerability. Update to the latest versions, conduct regular maintenance on your systems and ensure your malware and virus protection is up to date and you will be able to avoid many common security threats.

Ditch Passwords

Moving away from password use can help you mitigate the risk that comes from employees who inadvertently choose a bad password or decide that posting their log in credentials on a Post-it is a good idea. Common passwords like “123456” or “Password” are obvious security risks, but even well-chosen passwords can be exploited by a sophisticated cybercriminal.

Implementing technology that requires stronger authentication can help reduce your risk of unauthorized access and protect your network. If you have not looked at more advanced authentication measures recently, innovations in technology make this form of network security more affordable and accessible to small business than it ever has been in the past.

Stomp out Phishing

Be wary of emails and attachments, even if they seem to come from a trusted source. From your boss to your top vendors and your bank, clever scammers are using familiar, trusted addresses to trick you into opening an attachment or macro. Confirm questionable emails before opening attachments and be wary of links, photos, documents and files; download from untrusted sources and you risk exposing your entire network.

Stop Using Email to Share Files

Since the risk of phishing continues to rise, opting to share documents and other files at work in a different way can help you stay secure. Using a cloud based system that allows users to access files as needed, but does not require those files to be emailed and opened, can help cut your risk of falling prey to a phishing scam.

Vet your Cloud Provider

Your cloud service needs to be able to provide a secure environment; carefully vetting your provider before committing can help you avoid risk. You should ask about your data privacy, how data is accessed and who will actually be in charge of securing your data before settling on a provider for best results.

Being aware of the latest threats and taking steps to protect your business can help prevent a breach and the costly downtime that comes with it.

By:  Rick Delgado
Bio: I’ve been blessed to have a successful career and have recently taken a step back to pursue my passion of writing. I love to write about new technologies and how it can help us and our planet.