Network security is an important concern for any business. If accessed by unauthorized parties, the company may be subject to a security breach that could potentially cost the company millions if high dollar value accounts are affected by the hacking activity. Here are some things every small business needs to know about network security.

What causes network breaches?

Any time a computer connects to a network, it is at risk of being compromised by an unauthorized party if the proper safeguards aren’t in place. One of the biggest challenges to network security is employee activity. Installing certain types of software can lead to a virus, Trojan or worm problem. If a workstation is left unsecured when a person leaves temporarily, the network can be targeted by hackers. An improperly configured firewall can also expose a company to a number of threats. Routers and switches that aren’t properly configured increase chances of a network breach. Failure to change password information or the use of weak and default passwords presents another level of risk.

What are the different types of network attacks a company or home network can be vulnerable to?

Structured attacks are often executed by expert hackers and involve custom hacking tools used to breach the network. Unstructured attacks involve the use of hacking tools readily available online. Social engineering is another common form of network attack that involves using the credibility of another recognizable person or entity to phish for information. This form of attack is normally done through email. Eavesdropping is another common form of attack. A malicious user can listen to network traffic that is often unencrypted and read the information as the network is intercepted. Dos and DDos attacks create abnormal network behavior to improperly access certain services of applications. Denial of service attacks can be executed using multiple sources. Password attacks occur when a password is cracked. The whole network can be compromised if one password is cracked. IP address spoofing is commonly used to imitate an actual, legitimate machine. A man-in-the-middle attack relies on intercepted or modified information between two nodes to breach the network.

Why is a secure network important for a business?

All network activity should be carefully monitored and managed to protect against known threats. Securing the network through proper configuration is also important is preventing breaches. Remaining knowledgeable about the newest security threats such as viruses and worms are essential to preventing these threats. Applying any necessary security patches as they become available and removing unnecessary software from workstations limits exposure to network breaches. Rotating user credentials and having employees change their passwords regularly also reduces the likelihood of a data breach.

What are the most common mishaps?

One of the most common mistakes made in network security is the use of a poor password or authentication policy. Leaving server resources unsecured on the Internet poses a number of risk. Using web support solutions that have no protective security features puts a company at risk. Installing a software solution without changing the default settings and passwords makes a network vulnerable.

Network security should be actively managed by an experienced IT professional, like an Ottawa IT support expert, to ensure that potential vulnerabilities are found and dealt with effectively. Employee training can be implemented to further reduce everyday risks. A network security firm or dedicated network security professional may be necessary to protect against breaches if IT resources or expertise is limited.