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5 ways to boost your network security right now

Network security does more than protect your business’s private information. It can also make your organization more efficient, more productive and, ultimately, more profitable.

According to the National Cyber Security Alliance, at least 20 percent of small businesses become victims of cyberattacks each year. Perhaps more importantly, 60 percent of small companies that get attacked go out of business within six months.

Luckily, there are several things that you can do to improve your network security today. Follow these five tips to boost your network security right now.

Require stronger passwords

Your system administrator has the ability to require stronger passwords on all accounts. By requiring stronger passwords, you’ll make it more difficult for hackers to infiltrate your network through an employee or client account.

Unfortunately, many people don’t know how to create strong passwords that hackers can’t crack easily. For genuinely secure passwords, you should make sure passwords meet the following criteria.

  • Contain at least 12 characters.
  • Use a mixture of lowercase letters, uppercase letters, symbols and numbers.
  • Avoid patterns that are easy to guess.

The best passwords are completely random. Since random strings are nearly impossible for humans to remember, do your best by requiring specific standards that will improve your network security immediately.

If your employees find it impossible to remember strong passwords, you may want to use a password manager that does the job for them. Make sure you read several reviews before you choose a password manager. You want to select one that works well and uses the highest level of security.

Start filtering MAC addresses

During the process of reviewing your network security, you may discover that literally any device can access your network—as long as it has the right login information. While that’s convenient for some companies, it also creates a security risk.

MAC filtering lets you choose which devices have access to your network. You can create a whitelist of known devices that your employees and clients use. Later, you can create a blacklist of suspicious devices that you don’t belong on your network.

Update your software and firmware

Keep your eyes open for signs that your IT network isn’t working well. If your network transfers information slower than normal or needs to get rebooted often, then you may need to update your software and firmware.

Using the latest software and firmware will also patch vulnerabilities that hackers can use to infiltrate your network. Since hackers are always searching for weaknesses, software developers have to release patches frequently. Make sure you stay updated to keep your information safe.

Store duplicate data in the cloud

No matter what you do, a great hacker can find a way into your system. While you build stronger walls of defense, hackers are working on more effective ways to bypass security measures. You should still use the best network security possible, of course, but you can’t rely on it to work all of the time.

Since you always have to worry about vulnerabilities, anything that lowers your risk is a plus. For example, consider storing backups of your data in the cloud. Duplicating data in the cloud will counter ransomware techniques, making it much harder for cybercriminals to hold your information hostage.

Instead of giving into the hacker’s demands, you can just retrieve your data from the cloud backup.

Adopting cloud solutions will also make your business more agile by letting employees access data and applications remotely. Cloud solutions can also relieve some of your network’s burden. Instead of keeping all of your applications on your in-house network, you can let someone else’s system handle the work.

Train your employees to identify phishing attempts

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Even the most secure network can be breached when employees don’t know how to recognize phishing attempts and suspicious websites. Remember, it only takes one mistake for an employee to introduce malware to your network.

The good news is that you can train your employees to recognize the signs of phishing attempts. Some of the most successful training techniques that you can use today include the following.

  • Showing your employees real examples of phishing emails.
  • Pointing out features that make emails look suspicious.
  • Teaching them to always check the sender’s email address for accuracy.
  • Forbidding them from opening attachments that don’t come from trusted senders.

Most people will pick up on the warning signs pretty quickly. You can test their knowledge by sending fake phishing emails to employees throughout the week.

If someone fails the test, give that person more training. You don’t need to berate or punish someone for making a mistake. You just need to make sure that the issue doesn’t happen again.

You can also create a program that rewards employees for reporting suspicious emails. Someone who identifies a phishing scam might get an extra 15-minute break that day or receive a gift card to a local coffee shop.

While most of these network security tips are easy to implement, some require assistance from an IT professional. Contact your IT support provider for expert assistance securing your network.

In the process, you may also learn about advanced techniques that can make your network even more secure.

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