Your bot­tom line depends on a secure net­work.

4 min read

Opin­ions expressed by Entre­pre­neur con­trib­u­tors are their own.

Nowa­days, a large por­tion your work is like­ly done online. From keep­ing accounts and oth­er records to inter­act­ing with your cus­tomers and mar­ket­ing to get new ones, you’re going to be rely­ing a whole lot on your office’s net­work. And when it comes to effi­cient data stor­age and pro­cess­ing, as well as lead gen­er­a­tion, sales and gen­er­al­ly increased prof­its, the most impor­tant thing you can do is secure that net­work. Here are a few tips to help.

1.Encrypt all access points with complex passwords.

The very worst thing you can do is leave devices run­ning on the man­u­fac­tur­ers’ default pass­words, which are wide­ly known to hack­ers. Cre­ate new, com­plex pass­words for all your access points by using phras­es that have no con­nec­tion to your busi­ness. If you’re wor­ried about for­get­ting them, you can use pass­word man­agers such as Last­Pass. In addi­tion, be sure to train your staff on pass­word secu­ri­ty and how to rec­og­nize phish­ing attempts.

Relat­ed: 4 Signs Your Site Traf­fic is Being Hijacked

2. Ensure your antivirus software is up to date.

There’s no point hav­ing antivirus soft­ware if its abil­i­ties to rec­og­nize and tack­le mal­ware aren’t up to date. New virus­es are con­stant­ly being unleas­ged, and it’s essen­tial that your net­work is safe­guard­ed. Depend­ing on which par­tic­u­lar devices and soft­ware you are using, the process will be slight­ly dif­fer­ent, but check for new def­i­n­i­tions and update them reg­u­lar­ly.

While you’re at it, go through your antivirus’ set­tings rou­tine­ly to see if every­thing is opti­mized. Set a sched­ule for scans, and be sure to check the results for any files that might be pos­ing prob­lems.

3. Confine file-sharing to a single server.

The more devices that have file shar­ing enabled on your net­work, the more vul­ner­a­ble it’ll be to intrud­ers. The best solu­tion is have a sin­gle, secure serv­er for that pur­pose. That way, You can eas­i­ly mon­i­tor for unau­tho­rized access. It might be nec­es­sary to con­nect oth­er com­put­ers to your file serv­er direct­ly at some point, or you might need to host some files on anoth­er com­put­er in the short term. In either case, make sure it’s only tem­po­rary and that a pro­fes­sion­al guides you on how to do it safe­ly.

Relat­ed: For the Aver­age Hack­er, Your Small Busi­ness is an Ide­al Tar­get

4. Have multiple backups and update them regularly.

Real­iz­ing that you’ve lost impor­tant data is one of the worst feel­ings you can have as a busi­ness own­er. In my expe­ri­ence, I’ve learned that ade­quate doc­u­men­ta­tion is one of the most cru­cial aspects of man­age­ment. Hav­ing to start over with­out records, con­tracts and oth­er impor­tant files will put your busi­ness at a seri­ous dis­ad­van­tage. But with the right back up sys­tem in place — i.e. a com­bi­na­tion of phys­i­cal back­up and cloud solu­tion via Drop­box, Google Dri­ve, Ama­zon or any sim­i­lar prod­uct — you’ll be able to pre­vent that from occur­ring. Be sure that you set up the per­mis­sions in your cloud stor­age well, giv­ing read/write per­mis­sions on spe­cif­ic sets of doc­u­ments only to those who need them. That way, you’ll reduce the risk of uni­lat­er­al tam­per­ing.

5. Obtain private IP addresses.

If your busi­ness uses Dynam­ic Host Con­fig­u­ra­tion Pro­to­col, or DHCP, con­sid­er mak­ing the shift to pri­vate IP address­es. The change will secure your net­work by assign­ing spe­cif­ic IP address­es to devices and mak­ing it easy to iden­ti­fy when an unau­tho­rized device has con­nect­ed to your net­work by check­ing your router logs.

Being able to imme­di­ate­ly iden­ti­fy and tack­le any mali­cious net­work intru­sion can mean the dif­fer­ence between pre­vent­ing a major breach and hav­ing your cus­tomer data sold on the dark web. And one wants to have their entire busi­ness held cap­tive by the next Wan­naCry.

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