There’s never a bad time to prioritize network security Dallas, but with the end of the year coming up, you’re probably entering review mode. Even if you didn’t experience any data security hacks or theft this time, you still want to take even further precautions for next year. What are some ways you can fortify your company’s network?
To secure your network and reduce vulnerabilities, following these 7 tips:
- Back up everything, especially key data and systems
- Rely on SSL certification for online transactions
- Change administrator passwords so each one is unique
- Update the company network name
- Use two-factor authentication if you’re not already doing so
- Encrypt with VPN
- Scan often for vulnerabilities
Ahead, we’ll expound on each tip above so your Dallas company can create a rock-solid network that’s much less likely to be hacked or attacked. You’re not going to want to miss it!
Follow These 7 Tips for a Stronger Network with Fewer Vulnerabilities
Create Secure Backups of Everything, Especially Key Data and Systems
Your company had a banner year, and as a result, you’ve been busier than ever. Although you or another staff member used to regularly take the time to back up pertinent data and systems, it’s admittedly been a long time since you’ve done it. Like, a really long time.
Failing to back up data creates a glaring vulnerability as obvious as a gaping chasm. You only have one copy of said data, maybe two because hey, you emailed a few documents to another employee. What if said employee deletes old emails after a month? Then you’re the only one with the original files.
Let’s add a second layer of what-ifs. What if you arrive to work one day, turn your computer on, and it doesn’t want to work? What if you accidentally delete the file, don’t realize it for a while, and your trash bin automatically dumps it?
You can see there are many scenarios in which this original data would be gone forever. How damaging the data loss could be to your company would depend on what disappeared. If it’s a big report, that’s fairly detrimental, but not as much so as if you happened to wipe key systems data.
Backing up your data must be a priority going forward to bolster your company against vulnerabilities. Here are some options you might consider for backups:
- Cloud backups: From Dropbox to Carbonite or Barracuda or even our own services, you have plenty of options for saving your data to the cloud. Cloud servers back up data automatically so you don’t have to remember to do so.
- External hard drive: Copying your documents and systems to an external hard drive plugged into your computer is another good option. Do make sure you keep the hard drive somewhere accessible though, because if you lose it, it’s like having no backup at all.
- USB stick: Admittedly, saving data to a small USB drive isn’t the best choice, but it’s better than nothing. USB sticks are more easily lost than external hard drives though!
Add SSL Certification for Online Transactions
Does your company sell a product or service to customers? If so, then you have hundreds if not thousands of people making online transactions through your website each and every day. A vulnerability in this area may not impact the company and its employees immediately, but the trickle-down effect would be horrendous.
If your customers experience a data vulnerability when using your online store, that onus will fall on you. Your company name will be dragged through the mud–and rightfully so–for allowing data loss or even a data breach to occur.
To prevent such a regrettable outcome, add SSL certification to your online transactions. If you’re not familiar, Secure Sockets Layer or SSL is an online certificate that encrypts server data.
Each SSL certificate is unique, containing such data as the name and public key of the certificate holder, the certificate authority’s digital signature, and the expiration date and serial number of the certificate itself.
When your company adds an SSL certificate to your web server, as your customers use their browser to access the site, their session is secure. To tell whether your website has an SSL certificate or not, the application protocol will be HTTPS, not HTTP.
Make Every Administrator Password Unique
Here’s a change you can make to your internal company network that’s simple and fast yet very powerful. Both Windows and Mac operating systems have administrator passwords. You typically select the password when first getting started on your office computer network.
If you skipped this step or set up your administrator account in a different way, there exists a chance that the password is the same across all admin accounts. That’s especially true if you have domain-joined computers, which is common in offices.
This is quite dangerous, as we’re sure you can imagine. Now if a data thief wanted to access your computer network, rather than guess seven or 10 different admin passwords to get into everyone’s computers, they only have to successfully guess one to access the same number of computers. Then they’re free to do whatever they want with your data once they’re in.
If you’re a Windows user, we recommend downloading the Microsoft Local Administrator Password Solution or LAPS. This tool retains all your Windows admin passwords in the Active Directory, including domain-joined computer passwords and local account passwords. With ACL protection, LAPS is safeguarded against outsiders gaining this information.
Mac users can reset the admin password by restarting the Mac and holding Command + R before the Apple logo pops up. Then, access your Apple Menu, Utilities, and Terminal. That will open the Terminal window. Input “resetpassword” into the window, press enter, and reset your new password. Mac will require you to provide a hint about the password as well.
Update Your Company Network Name
While you’re at it, you might as well look at the name of your company network and determine if that’s eligible for an update too. More than likely, we’d say it is.
When you first received a network name for your company, said name was likely given to you by your Internet service provider, correct? The name might seem like a string of random numbers, but those numbers are indeed anything but. In most default company network names, the numbers are your router number.
Okay, but it’s just your router number. Is that really such a big deal? Absolutely. Your network router lets your devices–be those your office laptops, computers, tablets, or smartphones–communicate with the Internet, including online mail servers and websites. Your router also remembers IP addresses for various websites online so the sites display the way they should.
If a nefarious character were to gain your router information, they can take your router and make it automatically log on to a server of their choosing, including websites that look like the real deal but aren’t. Then it’s just a matter of time before you sign in to a website and boom, your credentials are stolen, as is possibly your data and financial information.
Don’t give data thieves a free pass into your Dallas office computer network by using your default company network name. Change it to something that doesn’t have your router number in it.
Switch to Two-Factor Authentication
Is your company website using single-factor or two-factor authentication? Yes, there is a difference. With single-factor authentication, as the name implies, someone can validate themselves using a single credential.
That credential might include something like voice recognition, retina scans, fingerprint, a PIN number, or a username/password combo. Isn’t that secure enough, you’re asking? Of course not, or we’d live in a world without data breaches.
PINs and passwords can easily be cracked if yours are simple enough to guess. Personal data can also be sold or leaked, making it easy for thieves to input the correct password and log in. Even retina scans and voice recognition can be hacked, although it’s admittedly more complicated.
That’s why many more companies than ever have begun using two-factor authentication. Now instead of that one credential to verify that indeed, it’s you, there’s a second step to the process.
The most classic example of two-factor authentication is this: you input a new password and then receive a text or email with a verification code. Only when you type in that code are you considered verified.
Two-factor authentication makes your company more hack-proof. Sure, any data thief can guess a password, but they’d need to know your password and have access to your text messages or emails to verify the password through two-factor authentication. That’s not easy to do.
Encrypt with VPN
Virtual private networks or VPNs are another great precaution to take for network security Dallas. With a VPN, you can establish your own privatized network outside of a public connection to the Internet. Your data use is encrypted with VPN, and your true IP address is replaced by a masked one.
Here’s how it works. When you download a VPN software or program, it takes your data traffic, encrypts the traffic, and then transports your data to a secure VPN server. The server will decrypt your data, which is now usable, and move it online. The VPN server then encrypts the data again, and before it reaches you, the data is decrypted a second time so you can read and access it.
The general public uses VPN for avoiding being caught while torrenting or for accessing region-locked content, but VPN is useful for more than just that. You can hide your location online, dodge questionable Wi-Fi hotspots, and be harder to find.
If your company has been the victim of data hacks before, using VPN is a smart way to secure your network.
Scan Your Network for Vulnerabilities
About once a month, you want to scan for possible cracks in the foundation of your company’s online network security. Most scans will tell you which vulnerabilities are medium-scale and high-scale. You want to fix the high-scale vulnerabilities immediately and make a plan to get to the medium-scale vulnerabilities sooner than later.
Examples of medium-scale vulnerabilities could be missed patches, system updates, or outdated software. Do keep in mind that not all vulnerabilities are necessarily so benign. By catching them early with a vulnerability scanner, your company can beef up its network security and stay safe from threats.
Dallas, network security should be at the top of your company’s priority list. The 7 tips and measures we shared in this article will allow you to detect and overcome vulnerabilities and fix everyday errors that could be undermining your company’s secure measures.