When it comes to protecting your computer network, is your IT Department doing all it can to keep it safe from viruses and hackers?
Your network is your organisation’s lifeblood. Although you don’t need an internet connection to send internal email messages to colleagues, if you are plumbed into the world-wide-web you need to ensure it’s as secure as possible.
The good news is that, by using some safety measures and good practice to protect your company’s network, you’ll be protecting not only your privacy and your company’s sensitive information, you’ll be lowering online threats at the same time.
So, if you don’t want an unwanted virus this Christmas, then follow this simple guide to make sure your computer network sees in 2013 with a clean bill of health.
1) Install a firewall
First on your Christmas list should be a firewall.
Essentially, a firewall is a software program or a piece of software which blocks hackers from gaining access to your network. Because a hacker send out ‘pings’ to thousands of computers, if your network returns their call you’re almost giving them a green light to attack you.
However, a firewall stops your network from returning their call… but only if it is set up properly and updated regularly.
2) Install anti-virus
Next up on your wish-list should be anti-virus software.
By installing a reputable anti-virus program and keeping it regularly updated you will be protecting your network from viruses which could slow it down, destroy your data or crash your computers.
A good anti-virus product for business will scan all incoming emails for malicious attachments and quarantine them, avoiding the risk of them being inadvertently being opened.
However, you need to ensure that your network is scanned often, so set up a time for the anti-virus to run, preferably before your employees start the working day or at the evening or weekends.
3) Install anti-spyware
Don’t forget to ask Santa for anti-spyware.
Spyware is a particular bugbear for any computer connected to the internet, because no matter how good our intentions are when browsing, you’re bound to stumble across a site with spyware.
Pop-ups are a problem – and they are pretty clever too. Although you may think you are closing the window, you could be unwittingly downloading a nasty little plug-in onto your computer.
Spyware protection is often included with the best anti-virus packages, but you can get free anti spyware too, so check your documentation for how to activate its anti-spyware features if it comes included.
4) Secure your wireless network
Many organisations nowadays have a wireless network.
Although it has made working life a lot easier, it’s also increased the chances of your network being compromised.
Encrypting your wireless network should be the first step. Choose a wireless router with an encryption feature, and make sure it’s WPA rather than WEP.
Also remember to change the default network name. When setting up your wireless network, change it to make it more difficult for hackers to find – don’t use your company name, for example. Hide secure access points to prevent internal tampering, and a secure your management ports too.
5) Password policy
The final step in protecting your network is to adopt a secure password policy for all employees. We’re not just talking about passwords that they use to log on to your company network, your main hard-drive should be password-protected too.
Make sure your IT Department puts a policy in place which requires employees to change their password every month. This should be a combination of letters, both upper and lower-case, with numbers too.
To sum up, how well you protect your company network from hackers and viruses will all depend on how well your employees stick to your guidelines. Although you can do all you can to protect your network from external threats, if you educate your employees on safe internet surfing and good practice, your network will be as safe as it can be.