The internet has brought the world to your fingertips. But it also brings all sorts of security threats.
You may be the owner of a thriving business—one that’s setting new highs, growing its customer base, and boosting revenue. But all of this will be gone in a blink if you fall victim to a well-executed cyberattack.
Therefore, you must take actionable steps to protect your data and improve network security threats. Read on as we detail a step-by-step breakdown of preventing network security threats.
Step 1: Keep Your Software Up to Date
Malicious threat actors are always attempting to exploit some security bug or flaw in company networks. It’s why software developers frequently release new updates to their software applications and programs in a bid to patch up vulnerabilities.
Unfortunately, most businesses fail to apply these free security patches. They continue using the outdated and unpatched versions, as they find using the software program on an as-needed basis easier than taking it down for some time and updating it.
There are also instances when organizations aren’t aware they can apply a patch to eliminate vulnerabilities. This is because owners don’t have an accurate inventory of the software they use on their business network.
In such cases, you should consider carrying out a security policy audit and assessment to create a map of what’s on your network, an inventory of all the software applications on there, and whether these programs are up-to-date with their security patches.
This will allow you to proactively address network security concerns as well as close any vulnerabilities before they’re exploited.
Step 2: Identify Your Biggest Network Security Issues
When running a network security audit/assessment, you must consider how crucial every risk factor is to your business. Think around the lines of how much money you would lose if your business lost all its data on a database, or if you’ll end up breaking the law if certain data gets lost.
Moreover, this figure should consider the following:
- Potential lost bill collection
- The total cost of data restoration
- Losing all records of business transactions
- Fees for missing accounts payable due dates
- Reduced productivity when trying to get business back to normal
Reviewing all aspects of various security threats will help you create a structured response. Once you know about the risks and how much of an impact each one will have on your business, you can start prioritizing them in order from most impactful to the least and then work on fixing them.
Step 3: Apply the Principle of Least Privilege for User Access
Many business founders fail to consider insider threats. This is their biggest mistake.
A Harvard Business Review study found that 60% of all attacks were carried out by insiders. Three-quarters of these attacks were done with malicious intent.
Evidently, a significant part of all cybersecurity threats originates from your own employees. Your greatest asset can quickly become one of the biggest network security concerns you face, irrespective of whether they abuse their access privileges intentionally or expose your business to risks by accident.
Using the principle of least privilege for user access restricts network access of every individual user account to only the information they need to perform their jobs. Logically speaking, every employee in your organization doesn’t need to have unrestricted access to your sensitive assets. Why should an intern have access to the personal information of the board members?
This way, even if the access is ever abused, the damage done will be kept to a minimum level.
Step 4: Create Redundancy Within the Network
Under business continuity and disaster recovery modules, there’s a concept called “single point of failure.“
“Single point of failure” is the term used to describe how an asset’s failure would affect the network, i.e, whether the network would be able to continue functioning. Interestingly, the asset can be anything on your network, including a single database, access point, server, traffic routing device, and so on. If any asset would compromise the network if it failed, that asset is a single point of failure.
The solution to single points of failure is redundancy–that is, having multiple additional assets that do the same thing the first asset does, so that if the first asset fails, the network will still be able to perform.
Your job, then, is to look for redundancies within your system and create more of them if needed.
To do this, you have to create a diagram of your network. This will give you an overall view of whether you have sufficient redundant systems to pick up slack if any part of your network fails.
When evaluating your business continue tea solutions, make sure you keep an eye out for the following:
- Recovery Point Objectives (RPOs): If you have a data backup system in place, how recent are the backups? More frequent backups can significantly minimize data loss, along with the associated disruptions to your business.
- Solution Reliability: You must implement frequent testing to ensure your business continuity solution reliably needs or exceeds its recovery point and time objectives. After all, finding out your backup doesn’t work after one of the databases explodes isn’t what you would call ideal.
- Recovery Time Objectives (RTOs): You’ll have to do a little test here. Find out how long it takes to restore normal function for your network when deploying a redundant resource. Of course, the duration will vary depending on the asset being replaced and the nature of the destruction, but opting for shorter RTOs is undoubtedly better.
Having redundancy in place will allow you to protect your network from all kinds of issues, especially attacks that target common single points of failure in a network.
You should also have a business continuity plan to minimize downtown in the event of a disaster, which, in turn, will reduce the overall impact of the data breach on your business.
Step 5: Implementing Network Segmentation With Strong Internal Security Layers
Network segmentation is an excellent way to keep a check on network security issues and restrict their impact.
For those who aren’t aware, this is a “defense-in-depth strategy” that divides a large computer network into smaller subnetworks. Each of these subnetworks is then isolated from one another using internal firewalls and other security measures.
When you isolate every search network, it becomes harder for attackers—even ones who are already in the organization—to break out of one system and into the rest of the network.
Instead of having to bypass one set of perimeter defenses, cybercriminals will have to work their way through every individual sub-networks defense. Not only will this slow them down, but it’ll also make it easier for your IT security team to spot and neutralize a breach before any substantial damage is done.
Full Disclosure: Implementing strong network segmentation can be time-consuming and challenging. But considering how significantly it can blunt future attacks, it’s well worth the effort.
Step 6: Train Your Employees in Network Security Best Practices
Your employees should be aware of the increasing cyberattack risks. To make them aware of how significantly they affect the organization’s security, you must provide the proper training and encourage them to take part in awareness programs.
Training every staff member adequately will help reduce the threats and hassles and your business, which, in turn, will prevent security attacks.
Educate them about some advanced methods and how they can safeguard against external threats. Here are a few other things you can teach them:
- Implement multi-factor authentication
- Familiarize employees with various cybersecurity attacks
- Ask employees to use strong, unique passwords and never share them
- Issue strict instructions to not install unapproved software
- Use encryption for giving and exchanging sensitive data
Another good tactic is to install antivirus software to detect and prevent malware infections on the network and boost email security. These programs are designed to detect malicious software, helping eliminate difficulties.
Common Problems When Preventing Network Security Threats
Let’s review some of the most common network security problems you may face when implementing security measures.
Problem 1: Inadequate IT Security Management
Your IT security team is a crucial part of your network protection plan. But how are you supposed to implement the best cybersecurity solutions if you don’t have enough people to properly manage them?
Inadequate IT security teams may lead to missed cybersecurity alerts and extensive damage from the cybersecurity attacks because of slow response. Naturally, what you need to focus on is building a large IT security team to efficiently manage all your requirements.
But you’ll have to factor in specific challenges, especially how expensive and time-consuming the whole process can get.
To build your IT security staff quickly, you can consider using the services of trained cybersecurity specialists. This way, you’ll have access to a full team of experienced cybersecurity professionals without having to break the bank.
Problem 2: Time-Consuming and Tedious Methods
Most businesses have an open network structure. This gives an attacker unrestricted access to the network as a whole. Once they gain access to a database, they enjoy unfettered entry to all your systems on the network.
Your job is to create an in-depth defense and structure your network with strong segmentation (we discussed this above) to separate all discrete parts. The problem with this strategy is that it’s a lot of tedious, repetitive work–and so a lot of companies (and IT departments) don’t want to do it.
As harsh as it might sound, too bad. Think about what’s actually worse for your company: your IT staff having some tedious work to do for a few days or weeks, or the company network going down due to a preventable cyberattack. That’s a no-brainer.
Be prepared for the amount of effort and time implementing this system will take. You may want to incentivize your IT staff to do the work well despite how dull it is, and/or to help them understand the importance of what they’re doing. But the work needs to get done, considering it spells the difference between a secure network and a vulnerable one.
Problem 3: Rogue Security Software
The whole point of installing security software is to improve your defenses against computer viruses. But what can you do if the very tool that‘s supposed to save you ends up going rogue?
You see, cybercriminals have found a new way to commit internet fraud: rogue security software. This is a type of malicious software designed to mislead you into believing you have network security issues, that there’s a computer virus installed on your computer, or that your security measures aren’t up-to-date.
These programs try to manipulate the user into installing or updating user security settings by asking them to either download a program to remove the alleged viruses or shell out money to purchase the tool. Both cases can lead to actual malware getting installed on your computer.
Problem 4: Emerging Cybersecurity Threats
Today, we have access to some amazing cutting-edge technology and tools that can seriously enhance your network security and keep threat actors at bay.
At the same time, however, even cybercriminals are coming up with more advanced and sophisticated methods of attack to make our lives difficult.
Gone are the days of simple computer viruses. Now you have to stay on top of ransomware, IoT-based attacks, and new types of cyberattacks. You need to ensure your company stays on top of these emerging cybersecurity trends and simultaneously update your security policies and systems to evade these attacks.
How to Protect Your Data with Real-time Access Control
Nira is a real-time access control system that provides visibility and management over who has access to company documents in Google Workspace, with more integrations coming soon.
Contact us to request a demo: we’ll help you review your current setup, implement new access controls, or answer any additional questions you may have about keeping your data safe.