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Network Security: Top 10 Tips for Small Businesses (SMBs)

Posted by Monique Phalen | Nov 17, 2016 2:07:35 PM

Top 10 Network Security Tips for Small Businesses

Have you ever thought about the importance of knowing different network security tips for your small business (SMB)? How are you sure the network of your small business is safe and secure?

Sadly, it doesn’t matter what type of SMB you own; all businesses are always up for grabs when it comes to internet hacking and data breaches.

Are you ready for some good news? You don't need to be an expert on IT and network security tips to keep your business secure. You just need to be educated enough to understand the value of IT and know how to apply these network security tips to your small business.

One of the most common ways your business goes unprotected is due to network issues and potential dangers you aren’t even aware of. Just like anything else, the more you know about a potential problem, the more equipped you’ll be to tackle it head-on.

When it comes to network security, it’s vital to prevent potential dangers from even occurring in the first place. This helps reduce the amount of time your small business could be out of service along with eliminating the stress that comes with a cybersecurity attack.

Because of how vital network security is in today’s age, we’ve put together a list of 11 network security tips for your small business that you can use to ensure your network is protected. These tips will be sure to give you peace of mind!


1. You Need A Security Policy

Network security is too important to just “wing it.” If your small business needs to comply with government regulations, such as HIPAA (medical data privacy and security provisions), a security policy is a must to be in compliance.

Staying up to date on network security is something many forget to stay on top of. Make sure you’re making an effort to add to your network security as new technology becomes available.

Updating your network security and the security policies are also something you need to inform all of your employees about, whether they are in-house or if they work remotely.  

If needed, provide your employees with training to ensure they adhere to the network security policies. It’s essential you and all of your employees are on the same page when understanding how to keep your network secure.

And don’t forget to provide updates to your training. New employees come and go, regulations and policy change over time. Make sure to keep your staff up to date and current.


2. Compliance Does NOT Equal Security

Even though your small business is compliant with HIPAA, SOX (Sarbanes-Oxley Act, for protecting investors from the possibility of fraudulent accounting activities by corporations) regulations, or others, doesn’t mean you have a secure IT network infrastructure.

There is some overlap in the protection of customer data and security, but that overlap doesn't cover your entire business. Make sure you’re doing your research and become knowledgeable on your specific compliance regulations.

Do you know the 5 must-have component of IT Support? Click here for the free checklist


3. ANYTHING with a Hard Drive Can Be Hacked

It’s time to broaden your perspective. Too many business owners think only of their computers when it comes to security.

Anything with a hard drive is a potential security hole, and we mean anything!  Digital copiers, printers, tablets, laptops, and smartphones are all at risk. And when connected to a network, the Internet or the Cloud, you open your SMB up to even more risk.

Make sure all of these devices are included in your security policy, or you may as well not have one in the first place. At the rate at which we use these alternative devices, it should be a no-brainer for you to focus your network security policies on.

Do you want to learn even more about your network security and how your hard drives are at risk? Read our article, Data Breaches and Your Digital Copier Hard Drive – What You Need to Do.


4. SMBs Are as At-risk as Large Companies

Like we said earlier, your smaller size business won't prevent you from being a hacking target. Hackers don't discriminate, trust us.

In fact, your weak security can make you attractive to lazy or less sophisticated hackers – you're low-hanging fruit because many SMBs don't take security seriously.

We’ve also written an article, Data Security Risks: Your Small Business Can Be Hacked Too about small businesses and cyber attacks and we think this will be great for you to learn even more about this topic.


5. Anti-virus Is Only the Baseline

At the very, bare minimum, your business needs antivirus software at a minimum. However, only having anti-virus software just isn’t enough. You need more.

On top of this, anti-virus software is also something you need to make sure you are regularly checking for updates. Software companies release patches more frequently than you might think, sometimes even weekly and daily.


6. Passwords

This network security tip is one we can’t stress to you enough. And the best thing about it? It’s so simple to do!

Change your passwords frequently; even more often than you think you should. When choosing a password, make sure to include a combination of letters, numbers, symbols, and uppercase letters.

Also, make sure not to use personal passwords as your business passwords. The more unique and different you make your passwords, the harder it’ll be for hackers to get into your accounts and your network.

There are many tools available today to help you manage your growing password list. For example, LastPass is a tool that not only protects your master password list, but manages it on all your devices (phones, tablets, PCs, Macs, etc.) but makes it very easy to create and all you have to remember is your master password. For more information go to LastPass.com.


7. The Enemy Within

Something you should not ignore: your employees are a security risk too. Even though it may be accidental, a lot of data loss comes from internal sources of your company.

This tip goes hand-in-hand with not just training your employees on network security but training them effectively as well.

You can’t expect your employees to know and understand the network security policies you’ve put into place without explaining it to them. They need to know just as much as you do about the security of your network for them to assist you in keeping your business safe and secure.


8. USB Ports

Believe it or not, the USB devices that you plug into your computer, laptop or printing device can easily become very infected.

The firmware of a USB stick can be infected with malware that's virtually undetectable. I don’t know about you, but that’s frightening to us.

Even though cloud file exchange is growing in use for sharing documents, portable USB sticks are still useful and common.

Be aware of the dangers of any device you plug into your computer, not just a USB stick and establish a company-wide policy for using a USB device. Check with an IT technology consultant about the latest network monitoring tools for USB ports.


9. Get Physical

Many small (and large) businesses forget the importance of actually protecting the building(s) they are working out of. Just because you are protecting your network through wireless efforts doesn’t mean you can slack in other areas.

Don't forget physical security by securing access to your company servers and your offices with key cards, locks, and even video surveillance if you're business is open late.

In our opinion, the more security you have in place, the better. You really can’t go wrong with “too much” security. Just make sure that your security protocols and tools restrict you or your staff from doing business.  


10. There's No Such Thing as 100% Security

We hate to say it, but in all honesty, there really is no such thing as 100% security, especially since security threats change weekly. There's always a race between security pros and cybercriminals.

Unfortunately, sometimes the cybercriminals are ahead in the race. Plus, new technology always creates new security concerns by the creation of new security holes available to hackers.

Security is a constant, never-ending battle, so don't ever think you're “finished.”

If you want to learn even more network security tips, read an article by Phillip Banks of Banks Technology Services he posted on LInkedin, How To Secure Your SMB Network. This article dives in deep to help address the most common security network issues along with ways to prevent them.

You probably don't have the time to do all of this yourself – even if you do have the expertise. If your business is large enough to have a good, though small IT team; they should have most of these items covered – though it never hurts to ask them.

But, even good IT teams have a hard time running and securing your network as well as serving as internal IT help desks and jack of all trades for your employees. You can outsource the headache of network security to an expert third party; a managed IT service partner.

For more information on everything to do with Managed IT Services, check out our resource page, here.

Think IT Managed Services will be a good fit for you? Click here for a free, no-obligation IT assessment.

Knowing all there is to know about IT tips for your small business  probably doesn’t sound so basic to you, and that’s perfectly ok. That’s what we are here for! At AIS, we are dedicated to helping you understand the importance of all security needs for your business. Computers, copiers, printers and office technology can be challenging to learn, which is why we want to give you the resources to do so. If you want to learn more about IT support, reach out to us here and let us know. Our job is to give you peace of mind to help you win more business.


Blog Article Updated: 7/20/18

Topics: IT Services

Written by Monique Phalen

Mo is the resident IT go-to lady at AIS. She has traveled the world, run a marathon, is a self-proclaimed crossword champion, and can do ventriloquism. She has an uncanny memory ....down to the detail. She has completed 4 half marathons and hates running. In her free time, she likes to spend time with her 7 siblings and 20 nieces and nephews.

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