The evolution of network security and protecting your business
The network security landscape never stops evolving. It’s not enough to just have the latest antivirus software or shift to a cloud-based data storage solution. Even Apple’s famously impenetrable Macs aren’t robust enough to withstand hackers and malware anymore. If you’re serious about protecting your network, you need to take some basic steps to keep up with today’s cybercriminals. If you don’t, you’re basically putting out a virtual welcome mat and asking them to come on in and help themselves to your data.
It can happen to anyone
1.5 billion is a big number. So big, in fact, that it’s five times larger than America’s current population. And yet, between 2013 and 2014 hackers compromised about that many Yahoo user accounts, creating two of the biggest breaches in internet history. The breaches were so big that Yahoo didn’t publicly disclose this information until the fall of 2016, just a few months after the tech giant announced a merger with Verizon Communications. The damages for Yahoo were threefold—loss of data, loss of reputation and loss of profits. But that was years ago. It’s old news, right? Wrong. According to IBM, “almost 1.4 billion records were exposed in 686 breaches reported between Jan. 1 and March 31 [of 2018].” Once again, we’re talking about numbers in the billions. And that’s in just a three month period. To make matters worse, network security threats aren’t exclusive to major companies. As Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam said, “We all live in an internet world; it’s not a question of if you’re going to get hacked but when you are going to get hacked.”
But even if an overwhelming number of small and mid-sized companies fall victim to cybercriminals, that doesn’t mean your business has to. In fact, the right network security strategies can put you ahead of the curve. You’ll need a strategy that’s both proactive and responsive.
Network security essentials for every business
Hackers have all kinds of tools at their disposal, including various forms of malware, social engineering techniques, free software downloads and more. Your business needs tools of its own to outpace the bad guys. We recommend a few core component, no matter what kind of business you do. These are a must if you hope to stand a chance against hackers.
- Business-grade antivirus to protect against various forms of malware
- Best-in-class email filtering to block phishing campaigns and malicious content
- Advanced network scanning to supplement your security software
- Redundant data backups to prevent ransomware from holding your data hostage
It’s easy enough to research and purchase these solutions, but we advise a bit of caution. Some cybersecurity solutions work together well, and some don’t. Rather than running out and buying what looks like the best-in-class for each category, be sure to take the time to find options that work well together.
Layers of defense
While it might be tempting to just get all your network security tools from one vendor, we recommend going the counter-intuitive route. Think of it this way. Sometimes your doctor may give you multiple medications to treat the same illness. Why? Because each medication treats a different aspect of the infection a different way. Together, they make for a powerful combo to help you get better fast. Network security vendors have their own areas of specialization. By combining different options from top vendors, focused on what each does best, you can build out a strong layer of network defense.
But even the best technology can’t protect you against threats if your employees don’t understand how to determine what is and isn’t safe. That’s why we strongly recommend training your staff, as well. According to the Association of Corporate Counsel, 24% of security breaches are a result of employee error, making it the leading cause by a high margin. Just a few simple training sessions (conducted by you or your managed IT services provider) can give your employees the information they need to play an active role in your company’s cybersecurity protection.
Your customized network security suite
There’s a simple but alarming truth everyone who works in the cybersecurity field knows well. The nature of cyberthreats is always changing. Literally—always changing. It’s entirely possible that something new has developed since you started reading this article. That’s why your network security defense has to be custom and has to be flexible. Don’t think of your cybersecurity solution as something you set and forget. Not if you want to keep your company safe. Instead, think of network security as something that will naturally evolve over time. Today’s big threats are ransomware and phishing attacks. Next year . . . or next month . . . or next week . . . the most critical threats could be completely different. The only way to guard your company data is to adapt.
Said another way, there is no out-of-the-box, cookie-cutter solution that can protect your business. If you talk to any security vendors who claim otherwise, move along. We can assure you, they don’t have the right mindset to provide adequate protection. The only way to remaining up-to-date, ready to go toe-to-toe with the latest cybersecurity threats is to evolve with those threats.