Juniper Networks

7 simple steps for SMBs to improve their network security

Rising trends like BYOD have made networks more vulnerable and SMBs are increasingly falling prey to cyber attacks

By: Vinod Kumar, Managing Director, Satcom Infotech

In today’s digitally powered environment, nobody is safe from the reach of cybercriminals. Last year, we saw high-end data breaches in large companies, with data, personal records and financial information stolen and sold in a matter of days. Although it is mainly the high-profile attacks such as Anthem Attack, Primera Blue Cross, the Target or J.P. Morgan that get reported but experts point out that even small and midsize businesses (SMBs) are quite prone to such security breaches.
Over the years, cyber-attacks have morphed and become more prevalent among smaller businesses. The threats that exist today are different from the ones we saw 10 years ago. This poses a new burden for IT service providers dealing with small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). Interestingly, around one-third of all cyber-attacks target SMBs and they are more prone to attacks as they lack the resources and technical expertise to maintain strong security systems. Besides they have to deal with emerging trends like BYOD and multi-vendor networks.
How can these small companies build a secure network to avoid such vulnerabilities? Apart from the traditional antivirus or firewalls, what more can SMBs do to improve their network security and enhance protection against new malware.
Here are some simple steps they can follow to ensure better security in a multi-vendor network:
People, Process & Technology
Security technologies alone can never solve any security problem completely. A true security solution calls for a well-blended combination of people, process, and technology. It’s necessary to ensure that you have a good team with IT leaders and security managers who can deploy the resources judiciously. They should have the capabilities to assess and remove the vulnerabilities before they cause any severe damage to your assets or hamper your business reputation.
Multi-Purpose Security Solution

Find a security solution that not only performs vulnerability assessment, but also provides capability for a broader array of related security functions, such as patch management, asset and application management. An advanced set of vulnerability tools can also be used to identify changes to computers such as patching status and configuration.

Network Visibility for BYOD

Analyzing the entire network and all its components such as operating systems, applications, and devices, including remote and mobile employees plays a key role in protecting against malicious attacks. Recent network security issues like advanced attackers and BYOD have demonstrated that certain devices that IT is not aware about are the perfect targets for hackers. Therefore, to minimize risk and gain better visibility, your security systems must analyze the entire network and monitor all devices connected with it.

Appropriate Use of Access Rights

Security is not just about hardware and software – businesses must also consider the people that use them. No end user should abuse access rights and misusage of corporate data or resources. Also, employee passwords shouldn’t be too weak, too old, or already compromised. While the bigger companies are more organized with their access management systems, the smaller ones which have a more informal environment might face challenges due to lack of clearly defined access controls.

Multi-Platform Security

Today’s networks are increasingly heterogeneous, containing different types of hardware and software and running on multiple operating systems. So while considering network security, one must not just think of scanning and securing devices running on one operating system. If you protect only 90% of your systems and hackers creep in through the remaining 10% that are left vulnerable, you are still in trouble. Even if your PCs use the same operating system, it is quite likely that most of the tablets and smart phones are a mix of Windows, iOS, Android and Blackberry. So, you should possess efficient security solutions that can scan multiple operating systems and identify vulnerabilities within all of them.

Continuous Scanning & Upgrade

An automated and continuous approach to assessment is the only way to keep the network truly safe. This ensures that as soon as any vulnerability is found, adequate steps are taken to remediate it immediately. It is also important to use up-to-date software. If businesses do not accept and deploy software updates, they are leaving a backdoor open for automated hacking software that scans networks for old, unpatched software, and then automatically exploits it.

A Comprehensive Security Policy

Finally, the most important step to avoid vulnerabilities is defining a security policy. Defining a comprehensive security policy pays dividends in the long run as it helps in creating rules that dictate the proper use of vulnerability tools, ensuring they will be used and supported by IT and associated executives. It also helps if the organization sets up clear guidelines and best practices to deal with external and internal users. While many of the large enterprises have security policies in place, most SMBs do not usually bother. But considering the increasing vulnerabilities, they will have to focus on establishing the required policies and creating a strong foundation to minimize their risks, and ensure compliance with regulations.


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