The Solid Six: Best Practices for Remotely Managing Your Small Business Network
Remote access to your small business network is no longer the luxury it was a decade ago. It’s no longer a cutting-edge tool that delivers a competitive advantage. Remote access is now a necessity. Your customers expect it, and so do your workers. So, if you want to maintain and grow your customer base, while retaining your best workers, your small business must have remote network access that is functional and secure.
Security is key, because that’s what keeps you up and running, and helps you avoid liability for data breaches. The cyber-attacks that make headlines usually involve billion-dollar corporations, but that doesn’t mean hackers only go after the big fish. Small businesses account for almost one third of damaging cyber-attacks. This is because many small business don’t plan for security or don’t properly train their employees in security protocols.
To help you strengthen your defenses, so you can continue to benefit from your remote network, we present The Solid Six Best Practices for Small Business Cyber Security:
- Stock up on tools — Secure network tools can be hardware, services, and protocols. Among the hardware, there are routers with WPA2 or WPA3 encryption that prevent outsiders from reading information passing through your network. Your remote workers should have encryption routers in their home to protect any data they send to the company network. Of course, some of your workers might have to rely on public Wi-Fi. In that case, a personal VPN is an essential service to encrypt traffic between their devices and the Internet. Essential security practices include adopting unique, complex passwords, and requiring multi-factor authentication for admission to the network. Of course, complex passwords are a double-edged sword. They often frustrate and impede workers who simply can’t recall what they updated their password to the last time they couldn’t get in. For this common dilemma, your workers will appreciate having a password manager that encrypts and stores their passwords across every application they use. They only have one master password to remember, which triggers the autofill for their remaining logins. If you have reasons to allow guests to access your office wi-fi, you want to segregate your on-premises guest wi-fi from your business wi-fi.
- Manage devices — The devices that connect to your network should meet your security specifications. If you have the budget, you can provide company laptops, desktops and smartphones for business use. If workers are using their own equipment, you must insist on current antivirus software. All workers using smartphones to connect to the Internet should change their settings to stop connecting automatically to public Wi-Fi.
- Splurge on security software — There are several essential software programs that bolster your network defenses, such as firewalls, intrusion detection systems, network access controls, anti-malware, email filtering, and web filtering. These tools can monitor network traffic to block suspicious activity, restrict access to your network, neutralize computer viruses and other malicious programs, separate out scam emails, and prevent your workers from accessing malware-infested websites.
- Train your workers — Human error can torpedo the best-laid plans for cyber defense. Because of the way movies and TV depict hackers as mathematical super geniuses, most folks think these crooks are capable of deciphering the most enigmatic codes that programmers can devise. Not so. The majority of damaging breaches come from con jobs, like phishing emails. These are shoddy, cut-and-pasted facsimiles of corporate communications, loaded with malware. But these message can catch a worker at a weak moment, when his defenses are down, and so he clicks reflexively. To keep your network secure, you’ve got to take your people, who might be your greatest vulnerability, and coach them up until they are your greatest strength.
- Update regularly — Not every hacker is Lex Luthor, but as a class of criminals, they are persistent, opportunistic, and constantly refining their tactics. As the bad guys evolve, the good guys must adapt to stay a step ahead. Don’t get complacent about your defenses, because that’s when disaster will strike.
- Call in the pros — Network security requires specialized, current knowledge. Sure, you can educate yourself on the basics, and that’s certainly going to help you manage risks. But you’ve got a business to run, and you can’t keep on top of every trend in equipment, protocols, or criminal behavior. An IT professional, like KMF Technologies, is on the front lines of cyber defense every day. We see what works and what doesn’t, so we’re constantly updating our best practices and keeping our clients informed. If you want to make the best decisions for your company, find an IT professional whose advice you can trust.
If you want a reliable assessment of the state of your current network, give KMF Technologies a call. We can help tailor a plan to your situation, so you can take advantage of remote access, while keeping your network secure.