How to Safeguard Your Computer Network

Steps for improving security measures

Would you ask a salesperson to hold onto your wallet or pocketbook while you go shopping in their store? Of course not. Yet, in effect, some small-business owners are doing virtually the same thing with their computer networks when they conduct business online. It is almost like giving hackers a license to steal your money.

What are the potential dangers? There are several ways outsiders may be able to gain access to a company’s network. One possibility is to use a password-guessing program that seeks and identifies Internet addresses. Another type of program allows users to scan multiple host computers for vulnerabilities. Also, be aware that hacking may occur from “inside” sources, such as your own employees or others who have access to the business premises or your computer network.

What’s more, certain sophisticated computer programs originally designed as theft deterrents may be used for illicit means. In many cases, the hackers are more innovative than the creators. And that is bad news for business owners.

How can you try to stop online thieves in their tracks or, at the very least, slow them down? Consider implementing the following safety measures as part of a comprehensive security program:

  • Maintain physical security. Is it possible for someone to walk up to your network and shut the entire system down with one flip of a switch? The network server should be kept in an area that is off-limits to most personnel. You might even install security software that limits access to the keyboard and screen.
  • Install a firewall. A firewall simply separates the Internet from your company’s computer network. In effect, it screens or blocks outside intrusions that look suspicious. Firewalls can also be used to partition one department of your company from another.
  • Review your list of network users. Make sure that passwords are changed on a regular basis. Instruct your employees to use nonsensical passwords rather than common words or family names. In addition, supervisory privileges should be limited to a select group of high-ranking employees or officers. Is file sharing rampant? This may give outsiders easy access to sensitive data.
  • Seek protection against computer viruses. The most common method is to install software that can help protect you against the type of viruses that could infect your network. Keep current with the latest updates. Also, keep an eye out for new innovations and improvements.

Naturally, there are no absolute guarantees that these precautions will provide the security you need in all cases. At a minimum, however, taking these steps can result in a good first line of defense. If you don’t have the necessary expertise to address these issues yourself, assign responsibility to a qualified staff member or third party.

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