Cyber attacks can cripple your computer network - bringing your entire organization to a standstill. For example, if hackers are able to knock your servers and network devices offline, then employees won't be able to their jobs and your company won't be able to do business with anyone. It doesn't matter if your enterprise is big or small, hackers can target you either way. Data theft from cyber attacks often costs large companies millions of dollars, while putting smaller companies out of business. That's why it's critical to take the necessary steps to secure your computer network from cyber threats that could shut down your entire business.
Train Employees on Cybersecurity Threats
Cybersecurity threats to businesses aren't new; however, many employees still engage in online behavior that puts enterprise networks at risk. For example, opening unsafe email attachments, browsing websites infected with viruses, and opening links that can infect their computer (and the entire network) with malware. Therefore, you need to train your employees to follow safe online practices. You can find online video tutorials and webinars for your employees to watch that will explain all of the major cybersecurity threats to them.
Enforce Strict Network Usage Guidelines
The only way you can keep your computer network safe is if your users follow guidelines that will keep your enterprise network safe from hackers. After you provide your employees with training, you need to hold them accountable for following your network usage guidelines. Many organizations actually have policies that outline repercussions for violating computer usage policies.
Limit Access to Data
Most likely, you won't need to grant every employee access to all of your network's data. You can keep your enterprise's most valuable asset - its data - safe by limiting employee access to it. For example, if someone works in sales, they don't need access to all of your firm's financial information. Employees in HR don't need access to highly-sensitive trade secrets. Just allow each employee access to only the data that they need to complete his or her job.
Encrypt Sensitive Data
Another way to keep your company's critical information secure is to use data encryption. Encryption makes it extremely difficult for hackers to access your data. Many popular video messaging apps like Zoom don't encrypt calls, so your company should also use encrypted communication channels when conducting online meetings and video conferencing calls between employees. That way, no one from the outside - like a competitor - can listen in on meetings and conversations. An IT security expert can help your enterprise encrypt its data and communications.
Install Software Updates
Unfortunately, software is not made perfect. Hackers are often able to exploit security holes to gain access to operating systems, network servers, and computer programs. Your IT staff must regularly install software updates and security patches to keep your computer network safe. You can set all Windows-based devices to automatically download and install new updates when they become available. However, you will likely want to schedule software updates during times when your employees aren't using their computers. Also, make sure that your internet security software is kept up-to-date as well.
Protect Your Enterprise Network with Firewalls
Firewalls are one of your best defenses against cyber attacks. A firewall will prevent hackers from gaining access to your network's internal servers and computers. All Windows-based computers, laptops, and tablets come with the Windows Firewall already installed. If you use non-Windows devices, you will need to find internet security software that includes a firewall. Your network routers and servers will need firewalls as well.
Secure Wireless Networks
Wireless access points are often a weak point in computer networks. That's because when data is transmitted through the air, it's much easier for hackers to intercept it. Therefore, all of your wireless devices should be secured through a virtual private network. Oftentimes, internet security software packages include a VPN that you can install on your wireless devices.
Install Web Filters
You can warn your network users not to visit unsafe websites, but one of the best ways to keep them from browsing potentially dangerous sites is to install web filters. Web filters can be programmed to block specific websites - like Facebook - as well as sites that can't be verified as safe by your internet security software. An IT security specialist could install web filters on your network.
Install Email Filters
Email filters are another important line of defense against cyber attacks. Email filters will scan every email sent to your network users. They will also remove potentially dangerous email attachments that contain viruses which could shutdown your entire network. Most filters will also block spam messages that are of no value to your employees. Email filters are often included with internet security software.
Properly Dispose Old Computers and Media Storage
Not all data theft occurs from hacking and cyber attacks. Old computers and media devices (like flash drives) often contain sensitive data--data that your organization doesn't want to fall into the wrong hands. You should never discard any data storage devices without first having them erased.
In short, proper employee training and clear computer usage guidelines are essential to securing your network from cyber attacks. Furthermore, you should restrict access to data, as well as have it encrypted. Regularly install software updates to patch security holes. You can prevent hackers from gaining access to your internal network by installing firewalls. Make sure that all of your wireless devices are secured with a VPN. For further online security, install email and web filters. Lastly, don't forget to erase data before discarding old computer equipment.