Endpoints across an IT network lay the foundation of every modern-day enterprise. These endpoints, comprising of laptops, desktops, and mobile devices that connect to the business’s network are seen by malicious actors as potential gateways for data breaches and malware intrusions.
According to a study released by Quantitative, the average cost of a data breach for an organization is $3.9 million and $150 per record. This value includes the cost of remediation/compensation and fines that are paid to regulatory agencies for failing to follow compliance policies.
Apart from just the endpoints, the network by itself can be infiltrated and malicious code can be injected into it. In this article, we’ll talk about six ways you can safeguard your network and its endpoints from cybercriminals.
6 Ways You Can Secure Your Business’ Network in 2021
1. Secure your Wi-Fi network
Depending on how large your enterprise is, you may have one or more different Wi-Fi networks operating parallel to each other. Your first step towards protecting these networks is using passwords that are long and unique, so that they are much more difficult for malicious actors to guess. You should also consider incorporating both uppercase and lowercase characters in your passwords.
Another aspect of your network that needs securing is your network Service Set Identifier (SSID). This is the name of your Wi-Fi network. You can hide your SSID in your network configuration settings to make it harder for cybercriminals to find your network.
2. Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN)
Back in the day, VPNs were used primarily in large business settings and by governments to protect data while connecting to the public internet. Today, VPN use is more widespread; VPNs are used by consumers and small to medium sized businesses to protect their information like personal identities, banking credentials, and location in an increasingly transparent online world.
VPNs use proxy servers and tunnel networks to hide users’ locations and IP addresses, and encrypt data transfers, thus allowing users to surf the web anonymously. These network tunnels make it hard for attackers to steal data, which helps secure your business’ internal network.
3. Use digital signatures
Digital signatures are used to ensure privacy while data is transferred between two entities/users. This works with the help of a Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) framework, which is a type of two-key asymmetric cryptography. PKIs use elements including a digital signature, digest, hashing algorithm, and key pair comprised of public and private keys when transferring a sensitive file. These elements help ensure that attackers cannot intercept the data transfer; however, if a transfer is intercepted, the data will be encrypted, adding another layer of security to these types of transfers.
4. Implement Active Directory (AD) security groups for users and workstations
Large business networks often use AD to manage users and systems in real-time. Smaller businesses often opt for AD as well while scaling up or during expansion. Within AD, groups can be created and assigned different levels of security in order to match the company’s policy.
To maximize security in AD:
- Clearly define AD security groups—one for laptops/desktops and one for users such as IT admins, users, and guests. You can create any number of groups to gain more granular control over your organization’s security policies.
- Document your company’s security policies. It is essential to document all security policies, so admins can easily designate the right permissions/privileges to the right users. This documentation must contain the security settings given to each type of laptop/desktop user both on-premises and remote.
5. Ensure antivirus solutions are up to date on all your network endpoints
Depending on the number of endpoints in your network, you may be able to do this manually. If you have a larger network, it may be in your best interest to utilize a solution that can automate distribution of antivirus definition updates to all systems.
Some best practices involving your antivirus solution are:
- Scan all your systems each week: This scan should be scheduled at a time that complies with your company’s policies (if any) and doesn’t interfere with user productivity. Also, a full scan should be initiated any time a device connects to the network.
- Scan all removable devices: Removable devices should always be scanned for viruses when they connect to your endpoints.
- Timely distribution of antivirus (AV) definition updates: Since new threats and malware pop up almost daily, it is essential to distribute AV definition updates systematically. AV definitions ensure that computers will be able to scan, detect, and remove new viruses that are added to the antivirus solution’s database.
6. Create awareness among your employees
Conduct regular seminars and workshops to help your employees remain safe online. User awareness can make a huge difference in the security of your enterprise. Users should be educated on the risks of downloading/opening files and executables from unknown sources. If users come across suspicious files, they should know to forward them to the IT department where they can be quarantined and safely expelled. This small initiative can go a long way in preventing threats against your business.
Vulnerability Manager Plus is a security solution from ManageEngine that has the right set of tools to scan and identify vulnerabilities lurking within your enterprise endpoints. It comes with a built-in security configuration manager and software vulnerability tabs so that IT admins can always keep an eye on the systems added to the network.
This solution also manages antivirus definition updates and can distribute software patches to target systems. Learn more about Vulnerability Manager Plus.