Network security

4 network security tips for the hybrid workplace

Barry bader

If 2020 was the year of the pandemic, 2021 could arguably be considered the year of the cyberattack. Gasoline suppliers, insurance companies, municipal water treatment plants, school districts, and even the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority have all fallen victim to data breaches or ransomware attacks this year.

While it is mostly large companies and high-profile hacks that grab the headlines, small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) and organizations are also targeted by bad actors, costing them downtime. data, activities and income.

The best defense of the network is a strong and proactive security breach. Here are four tips for organizations looking to strengthen their cybersecurity protocols and products:

1. Implement a mix of threat monitoring, firewalls, and anti-virus solutions: Threat monitoring, firewalls, and antivirus solutions are all valuable cybersecurity measures, but they should be used in tandem and alongside smart online hygiene practices, which are basic measures that users of the network must follow to maintain the overall health and security of the network and its data.

It is important to select tools that update frequently to protect you against the latest threats and to cover all connected devices on your network. Threat monitoring tools actively intervene to block malicious threats such as malware, Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS), ransomware, phishing, and botnet infections. They also prevent employees and guests from accessing compromised websites and infected links.

Antivirus tools detect and block malicious files, but many only block malware that they recognize based on signatures that have been written into the AV software. During this time, firewalls only allow authorized traffic or content using configured controls, such as denying access to IP addresses known to distribute malware. Even if a malicious payload is delivered, firewalls can prevent it from communicating with command and control servers.

2. Manage devices and passwords for an added layer of security:

Think about all the connected devices on your corporate network. From corporate devices to employee home phones and guest devices, each represents a potentially vulnerable endpoint, and each contains a myriad of pathways to your network through applications and systems. A weak password, poor password management, or a few wrong keystrokes on a suspicious website can cause a breach.

Adopt strong patch management policies or, better yet, automate software updates. Not updating in a timely manner can expose you to threats as hackers become aware of the vulnerabilities and attempt to exploit them. At the same time, take advantage of a password management solution. Password management tools not only generate strong passwords, but store them for easy access. Be careful with external devices such as flash drives. External devices can carry malware that is loaded on your device when they are connected. If used with multiple devices on your network, infections can spread quickly.

3. Adopt sound policies and practices: Integrate a proactive security stance into your business DNA. By codifying certain elements of your cybersecurity approach through policies and processes, you can ensure that cybersecurity remains an ongoing priority.

Select threat monitoring tools that update frequently to protect against the latest threats and cover all connected devices on your network. At the same time, operate a zero-trust environment, in which no device or user, inside or outside an organization, needs to be inherently trusted.

Additionally, you can use VPNs to access sensitive applications remotely, as they allow employees to access corporate networks and systems through a secure connection.

All businesses should also safeguard and encrypt any personally identifiable information they collect, as well as any other potentially sensitive information, such as company financial data or intellectual property. Backups are not only good practice, they can aid in recovery from breaches or ransomware attacks.

4. Educate your users: When hackers are successful, it is often because they are targeting unsuspecting end users. In fact, well over half of violations that occur in the United States involve company insiders, intentionally or accidentally.

Threats evolve over time, so make it a regular practice to formally train employees on online hygiene. If you don’t have anyone on your team, consider bringing in an outside coach. Good online hygiene not only protects company information, it also protects personal information.

It is essential not only to set up defenses, but also to prepare a detailed plan outlining what to do if you find yourself the victim of a cyber attack. Your plan should be detailed and clear in its prescribed steps for recovery. Include contingencies such as having to resume operations from a different location and how to respond if the violation occurs after hours or when members of the response team are absent.

Designate cross-functional team members to respond to a breach, or have a cybersecurity consultant or contractor readily available to assist you. For an internal response team, make sure each member is aware of their role and responsibilities in the event of a breach, and that they have the access and authority to carry out their responsibilities. Tasks would include identifying and isolating affected systems and devices, diagnosing the extent of the spread of infection, etc.

To stay prepared for the future, whether it’s expensive malware, DDoS, ransomware, bots, or a phishing attempt, companies need to implement cybersecurity measures that include anti-virus programs, firewalls and network security solutions that help proactively protect all connected devices. to your network.

Barry Bader is Vice President of the Greater Boston Area of ​​Comcast Business.

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