As a small business owner, you might think you’re less likely to have any network security risks.
Many businesses believe that they’re data is unique and not of any interest to cybercriminals, but they couldn’t be more wrong.
The truth is, nearly half of all network attacks are geared directly towards small and medium-sized businesses.
Even worse, 60% of these businesses are forced to close their doors as a direct result!
Do your customers send through orders using a credit card or PayPal account on your website?
A client placed a quick order.. they sent their credit card or bank account info in an email?
Retailers - is your Square/Shopify reader, or Moneris debit machine connected to your store’s wifi?
A customer’s debit card number and PIN have to travel through your network before it gets to the Internet - are you sure its secure?
The good news: there are many network security options to address your business’ network security vulnerabilities.
They protect your organization from network security threats, minimizing network vulnerabilities, preventing security breaches, and keeping your software and hardware from becoming another cyber security statistic.
Here’s what you need to know:
Network Attacks: What Are They?
A network attack occurs when a cyber criminal attempts to gain unauthorized access to an organization’s network, with malicious intent.
For most every business, there are two types of network attack to watch out for:
Attackers gain access to a business’s network with the intention of stealing company information but do not compromise the data in any way.
Examples: Monitoring your voice data (telephone conversations), a wifi network, or wired equivalents… like checking out your emails that go out from the network to the Internet.
After using security vulnerabilities to gain access to a network, attackers can compromise company information by encrypting it, deleting it, or changing the data completely.
Examples: Think of a time when you received an email that looked like it was from someone you knew… but it had a virus attached to it inside of a PDF or Microsoft Excel file.
Now that we have a starting point for understanding things - here are 6 of the most common network security threats.
6 Most Common Network Security Threats
Network Attack #1: Unauthorized Access
Attackers access a network without permission (usually as a result of weak passwords, social engineering, insider threats, etc.).
Network Attack #2. Man In The Middle
Attackers stopping communications between two parties (i.e. between your small business network and external locations for the purpose of secretly watching and/or changing network traffic as it travels between the two.
Network Attack #3. Denial of Service (DoS)
Attackers shut down a network, making it unavailable to users. DoS attacks generally happen when computer criminals flood a network with illegal traffic, causing it to crash.
Network Attack #4. Privilege Escalation
“Privilege escalation” exploits a weak point in an organization’s security defences.
Once attackers get into a network, they use privilege escalation to get further permissions until they can steal information, send out and use harmful programs or apps, or run commands related to managing and running a company!
Network Attack #5. Code and SQL Injection
A web security weakness that enables attackers to interfere with computer programs, operating systems, and application queries.
In the end, this will allow them to view and access data they shouldn’t be able to see… like credit card numbers, or IP addresses.
Network Attack #6. Insider Threats
An organization’s network sometimes is at risk from unhappy or uneducated workers, contractors or technicians… any kind of internal user who already has special access to data and systems.
This doesn’t just mean secure applications like Quickbooks or CRM software. It could be something even more simple, like a web browser or wireless network.
8 Best Practices For Keeping Your Small Business Secure
1. Routinely Monitor Your Network
Network watching software will help you automatically detect threats by regularly checking for unexpected differences, missing things, or mistakes in your system as well as your firewalls and virus scanner to make sure they’re working correctly.
2. Regulate Online Access
Control network user access by making sure all requests to the Internet pass through a proxy server. Using this method can help you monitor and control user behaviour).
3. Isolate Your Network
Make sure your network is divided into zones called subnetworks. Usually, it’s a good idea to use more than two in your system, but it’s not necessary to get carried away with too many of them.
Another common isolation strategy: using Virtual Local Area Networks (VLANs).
4. Install Internal Firewalls
A firewall will block cyber criminals from getting access to your small business’ important data - it’s a physical piece of equipment connected to your network.
If you make sure you’ve installed firewalls at every connecting point of the network zones, (i.e. the subnetworks and VLANs talked about above, or a wi-fi network) it provides a stronger level of security for all data behind the firewall.
5. Implement Stronger Passwords
Enforce a safe password policy that makes sure your passwords are changed every 2-3 months.
Also include using different combinations of upper and lower-case characters, numbers, symbols, and two-factor authentication. (aka “2FA”)
Interested in more details on passwords? Check out our blog post on tips for stronger passwords.
6. Educate Staff
Think of the internal threats above: it may come as a surprise that angry employees aren’t the biggest risk to a businesses internal network security… it’s uneducated ones.
Create and communicate your company’s best practices for computer security today!
With no real costs involved, training employees on best practices is the cheapest way to stay safe... and you can start doing it NOW.
Check out our blog post for some education and policy tips for small businesses.
7. Install Anti-Malware Software
Protect workers and your network from phishing emails and other threats by installing anti-malware software on all devices and your network.
This will keep harmful programs or apps away, or at least make sure they get cleaned out, automatically.
8. Back Up Your Data
Protect your valuable information at all times with regular backups. Period.
You can go even further for your business with secure and private cloud backups. Your businesses’ important data will be safe and easy to get to, no matter what.
For small businesses, cybersecurity and network protection simply aren’t a choice. Every business deals with important, private data - we’ve pointed that out here. You’ve worked hard to establish and grow your business, so protect it!
How Can I Protect My Business?
If you’re looking for a reliable, affordable, fully comprehensive solution for protecting your small business, enlist the help of a managed IT services provider. In addition to IT network services and security, your provider has a variety of other services to help you both defend and grow your operations, including:
- Cloud Solutions
- Strategic Consulting
- vCIO Services
- Disaster Recovery
- And much more!