Believe it or not, your business network is everything to your business. Sensitive information, like customer payment data and industry secrets, flow freely between employees on your network — so when someone you don’t know gains access to your network, you have a serious problem. However, if you aren’t careful about establishing security on your network, you might never know when your network is infiltrated by unsavory users or software.
Businesses are risky enough without adding in the uncertainly of unknown devices on the office network. Here’s how you can identify the devices on your network and enhance security to prevent attacks and other losses to productivity and profits.
The first step to building security into your network is understanding what endpoints are and how you can protect them. Simply enough, an endpoint is any usable device that connects to your network. At the office, desktop and laptop computers are likely the most common endpoints, but routers and modems (which connect your internal network to the internet) also count. Plus, you might also have smartphones and smart devices like printers, speakers or toasters that use your Wi-Fi and communicate with other devices on your network.
Endpoints are the only way users can access your business network — which means they are the most in need of security. Endpoint protection software allows you to monitor all the endpoints on your network, so you can be certain that none are unfamiliar or permitting threats onto the network. Obtaining access to the endpoints on your network is the first step to regaining control over your network, so endpoint tools shouldn’t be overlooked.
Most endpoints have some sort of security built into them — but your employees don’t. In fact, your employees, who utilize your endpoints and network every day, are easily the weakest points in your network security. Humans are lazy and make mistakes, and this type of behavior often leads to insecurity. Thus, it is imperative that you train your employees in network security and instill in them the importance of developing secure habits.
Some of the simplest practices will keep your network secure. For instance, your network will be better protected if your employees:
- Log out of user accounts when they are not working.
- Use stronger passwords or rely on a password manager to generate strong codes.
- Recognize scams, phishing messages and corrupted files before they click, communicate or download.
You should have regular security awareness meetings to make your employees develop security as second nature.
It’s popular now for workplaces to offer guests free Wi-Fi, but that doesn’t mean you need to open up your network to any passer-by. In fact, the network on which you store and send sensitive data should be locked down tight with encryption. Enabling encryption forces endpoints to have a special key before they can access your network, meaning you have more control over who connects to your network and what they can see.
If you still want to offer some guests free Wi-Fi, you can do so by setting up an unencrypted guest network. You should cherry pick the permissions of guests on this network; for example, you might prohibit them from visiting certain sites, limit their bandwidth or restrict usage in other ways to keep other guests and your network safe.
Consider a VPN
A virtual private network (VPN) allows you to mask your IP address and encrypt all your network data by routing your data through a service provider’s servers. While a VPN might not be ideal for in-office use, it is an incredibly powerful tool if you often have employees logging in from home or abroad. Regardless of the security of the network they are using, a VPN will keep their passwords, business files and other data safe while your employees are on-the-go, and doing so will in turn keep your network tightly secure.
Your network is among your most vital business assets, which means you should go above and beyond to protect it. Through endpoint security, employee training, encryption and more, you can regain control over your network and fend off threats to your business.