Network Security 101 – How to keep your network safe now or be sorry later!

There are two extremes in network safety: absolute security and absolute open (no access controls). Absolute security can be described as unplugged from the network and all power, locked in a safe, and thrown to the bottom of the ocean. As you can tell, very secure – and not at all reasonable in today’s connected world. But there are some rules to keep in mind for network security: always keep your virus and Windows software updates “on,” always keep your firewall “on,” back up regularly, and always keep your passwords and key phrases safe.

Much has been written about password security, but you can never over-state the obvious. How many times have those of us in IT seen people using “password” as their password? Admit it – even some IT people are guilty. In fact, I know one who uses 0987654321. So, don’t use common words or phrases for passwords. Don’t keep passwords written on post-its attached to monitors. And back up, back up, back up. It’s not if you lose your data, but when.

To keep email safe, make it a policy to not open email from unknown sources. Viruses can accompany even known senders’ email addresses, so be alert. Spear-phishing is an attack that makes the sender’s email address look like it is from a legitimate sender, only it isn’t. Once something bad happens, reinstalling the operating system might be the only fix, and that will not endear anyone with members of the IT team.

Keep your data safe. Use surge protectors, safeguard against unauthorized access, create boot-up passwords, and back-up often. Don’t access data in cyber cafés – they make be harmful to your data’s health. But, if you must, turn off all file share protocols. Make absolutely certain that your software firewall and virus protection are active, and don’t leave your laptop or iPad alone on a table – even for a moment to get a quick refill. According to one security expert, 50% of unprotected computers are compromised by an intruder within 12 minutes. So, are you sure you want that coffee refill?

Make sure that everyone within your company understands the security plan. This includes the CEO, top management, and Human Resources. Desktops, laptops, and mobile devices are all at risk. Remember, because no one works on a deserted island, it is everyone’s responsibility for safe and secure computing. The risks are just too great.

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About Allan Pratt

Technology and cybersecurity professional with focus on tech news, cybersecurity, networking, infrastructure, data protection, consumer electronics, and social media.
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