Increasingly interwoven communication channels make the network perimeter ‘fuzzy’ and more susceptible to evolving threats. Spam, spyware and malware in unsolicited emails or concealed on suspect websites can bring down a business network and disrupt productivity, damage customer relationships and be costly to clean up. Yet the threat posing the greatest risk to profits is information theft.
It takes comprehensive, real-time security, embedded throughout the network, to protect a business and its critical assets. The best security strategy will decrease the complexity of your network, ease the administrative burden for your IT department and lower your total cost of ownership.
Here are five simple steps to keep in mind when securing a customer’s network:
Step 1: From policy to practice
A practical, plain-English security policy is the first step to achieving better security in practice. Your security policy needs to assess the risks to the network, and identify who is responsible for responding to those risks and ensuring compliance. All users need to know what is and what is not permitted, and how their actions or omissions can create vulnerabilities.
Step 2: Security beyond the wires
The internal wireless network brings in a revolutionary leap in access, but also creates a new layer of vulnerability to network security – and is an easy entry point for those who want to steal confidential data. Certified Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) provides the strength of encryption and authentication required by businesses of all sizes. Centralised controllers further enhance wireless security.
Step 3: Eliminating the rogues
Unwary employees can weaken the security posture of an organisation by plugging in an unauthorised access point to any cabled port in an office, often so that they can connect a wireless device from unsupported locations like a café across the road. Such rogue access points enable anyone who can detect the signal to access the corporate network with little or no difficulty. ‘War drivers’ scan business districts for just these types of chinks in network defences, hoping for free internet access or searching for information that may bring a good price on the black market.Centralised controllers can detect rogue access points and even locate them on a floorplan. intrusion prevention systems (IPS), personal firewalls and network-based logins help ensure that the only people accessing your customers’ networks are legitimate users.
Step 4: Safety in the home
Laptops taken home and then reconnected with the corporate network are agents in the spread of spyware, malware and viruses. To limit their exposure, a standard policy to secure all wireless clients must include properly configured firewalls to ensure that all traffic, not just corporate data, uses the virtual private network.
Step 5: Training… and more training
The final and essential component of a robust security system is a well-trained user. An uninformed employee can undermine the most sophisticated security policy. With the rise of ingenious social engineering techniques, end-user ignorance is one of the key security risks, both online and in physical terms. The network security policy is a critical part of employee induction, furthered by regular security training as the network develops and new categories of threats emerge.
What’s a risk worth?
Comprehensive network security involves some capital outlay, but the return on investment multiplies when it is based on assessed risk and when it is reinforced in a meaningful way to end-users.In an era where security concerns are intensifying, these five simple steps help ensure business continuity, lower the operational costs and improve network availability and control.