4 network security tips for the hybrid workplace

The best defense is a strong, proactive offense
Barry Bader 2 19
Barry Bader

While it’s mostly big businesses and high-profile hacks that make headlines, small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) and organizations are also targets for bad actors — costing them downtime, data, business and revenue.

The best network defense is a strong, proactive security offense. Here are four tips for organizations looking to shore up their cybersecurity protocols and products:

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

It’s important to select tools that frequently update to help protect against the newest threats, and cover every connected device on your network.

Anti-virus tools detect and block malicious files, but many only block malware they recognize based on signatures that have been written into the AV software. Meanwhile, firewalls allow only authorized traffic or content using configured controls, like access denial to IP addresses known to deliver malware. Even if a malicious payload is delivered, firewalls can prevent it from communicating with control-and-command servers.

  1. Manage devices and passwords for an extra layer of security:

Think about all of the connected devices on your business network. From company devices to employees’ personal phones and guest devices, each of them represents a potentially vulnerable endpoint, and each contains myriad pathways into your network through apps and systems. One weak password, bad password management, or a few errant keystrokes on a suspicious website can invite a breach.

Enact strong patch management policies or, even better, automate software updates. Not updating in a timely fashion can open you up to threats, as hackers become aware of loopholes and try to exploit them. Simultaneously, leverage a password management solution. Password management tools not only generate strong passwords, but store them for easy access. Be careful with external devices like flash drives. External devices can carry malware that’s loaded onto your device when connected. If they’re used with multiple devices on your network, infections can spread quickly.

  1. Enact strong policies, practices: Embed a proactive security stance into your company’s DNA. By codifying certain elements of your cybersecurity approach through policy and process, you can ensure that cybersecurity remains an ongoing priority.

Select threat monitoring tools that frequently update to help protect against the newest threats and cover every connected device on your network. Simultaneously, operate a zero-trust environment, where no device or user, either inside or outside an organization, should be trusted inherently.

In addition, you can use virtual private networks when accessing sensitive applications remotely, as they allow employees to access company networks and systems through a secure connection.

All businesses should also back up and encrypt any personally identifiable information they collect, as well as any other potentially sensitive information, like company financials or intellectual property. Backups are not only a best practice – they can help with recovery in the event of a breach or ransomware attack.

  1. Educate your users: Threats evolve over time, so make it a regular practice to formally train employees on online hygiene. If you don’t have anyone on staff, consider bringing in an outside trainer. Good online hygiene doesn’t just protect company information—it protects personal information, too.

It’s essential to not only mount defenses, but to also prepare a detailed plan outlining what to do if you do find yourself the victim of a cyberattack. Include contingencies such as having to resume operations from an alternative location and how to respond if the breach occurs after hours or when response team members are away. Designate cross-functional team members who should respond in the event of a breach, or have a cybersecurity consultant or contractor easily accessible to assist.

To help stay ready for what’s next, whether that might be costly malware, DDoS, ransomware, bots or a phishing attempt, organizations need to implement cybersecurity measures that include anti-virus programs, firewalls and network security solutions that proactively help protect all devices connected to your network.

Barry Bader is vice president for Comcast Business’ Greater Boston Region.

Categories: Business Resources NH