Information technology (IT) systems provide many benefits for modern businesses. They can streamline processes, improve organization, and encourage collaboration across industries and departments. However, these systems are also vulnerable to user error and unauthorized access by malicious actors. Cybercrime is becoming more common as more individuals and organizations use IT solutions to conduct their everyday operations. Practicing good network security is no longer an option to remain competitive in the 21st century, as a single data breach can cost companies thousands, if not millions, of dollars. The following are some of our top network security best practices for your business.

Audit Your Network

It’s tough to know where you’re going if you don’t know where you are. Assess the initial state of your organization’s cybersecurity by conducting a network audit. This process will help to identify any weaknesses in posture and policy by detecting security vulnerabilities, unused or outdated applications, open ports, backups, needless administrator access, and the condition of antivirus software. Consider working with a third-party vendor to perform an independent audit of your network and uncover additional security gaps. With this information in hand, you can evaluate your specific risks before adjusting accordingly.

Improve Your Infrastructure

IT infrastructures are a collection of different hardware and software systems. While the exact structure of your business network will depend on various factors, it’s a good idea to keep it as updated as possible. Outdated equipment poses a major security risk, as it tends to be easier to expose and exploit. Regularly update all critical applications such as firewalls, operating systems, and antimalware software. If your hardware no longer supports the latest security protocols, consider replacing them with newer versions. This includes peripheral devices like scanners, webcams, printers, and external hard drives which may provide hackers with easy access if left unsecured. Don’t neglect physical security either, as unlocked or unattended devices can compromise an entire network in no time. Install a robust security system which allows you to control and monitor physical access to company equipment.

Practice Password Management

You may have heard that it’s a bad idea to repeat passwords for multiple accounts. Unfortunately, this still occurs at alarming rates, even in the business world. Password management is important because weak, duplicate login credentials put an entire network at risk of breach at any moment. Strong passwords are long, complex, and fully unique, containing at least 8 characters with a mixture of letters, numbers, and symbols. Change your password at least every quarter and avoid using public information like pet names and birthdates. Add an extra layer of security to sensitive accounts by enabling two-factor authentication (2FA), which requires a separate time-sensitive code to gain access.

Control Privileged Access

Company networks and devices are interconnected to a large degree. This is done to reduce friction, improve efficiency, and allow for seamless file sharing. Employees often have access to more privileges than they need, and this is cause for concern, especially in large organizations. Granting users administrator privileges by default gives them access to sensitive data and functionality which can quickly compromise security if mismanaged. Reduce your risk by following the principle of least privilege, which states that all users and devices are assigned the minimum amount of access possible and only escalated if needed. That way if an account or device is unlocked without authorization, software won’t be changed, threats don’t spread as rapidly, and additional accounts cannot be created.

Cybersecurity should be a priority for all companies, no matter their scale. The threat landscape is expanding quickly as more operations are conducted digitally. Mitigate risk by cleaning up your cyber hygiene and training your team on important best practices like those outlined here. Feel free to give us a call if you have concerns or would like more information.