Your network security needs to be as adaptable as your business. After all, networks—and businesses—are not static. And though most folks know to cover their bases with firewalls and anti-virus software, there’s more to keeping malicious traffic, hackers, and other security threats out of your network.

Threats to your business are ongoing, and your security measures should be too. It’s wise to continuously monitor your infrastructure so you can adjust to changes in your company's business, technology, and employee behavior.

Because small businesses are dynamic, you probably implement new technologies on an as-needed basis. For instance, an employee might bring in a laptop and decide your company needs wireless access, so you install a wireless access point. Now the wireless access point needs to be secured, along with the laptop and any other wireless devices. With every network change—from hardware to software to the cloud—you must also adapt your security measures.

Staying on top of your network security is a daily job, but it's important to take the long view. Follow these six steps to ensure your network is protected:

  1. Monitor the traffic coming in through your firewall and read the reports carefully. Don't simply rely on alerts to flag dangerous activity. Make sure someone on your team understands the data and is prepared to take the necessary action.
  2. Keep an eye on new threats as they're discovered and posted online. For example, Trend Micro's TrendWatch tracks current threat activity. Also, you can have the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT, a division of Homeland Security) send you alerts about recently confirmed software vulnerabilities and exploits.
  3. Enable regular updates for your firewall and anti-virus software. Look for software that updates automatically and around the clock, whenever a new threat arises.
  4. Train employees so they understand any changes to your acceptable-use policy. Also, encourage a “neighborhood watch” approach to security. If an employee notices anything suspicious, he or she should notify the appropriate person immediately.
  5. Install a data protection solution. A network attached storage (NAS) device can protect your business from data loss if security is breached.
  6. Consider additional security solutions that will further protect your network as well as expand your company's capabilities. For example, an intrusion prevention system (IPS) lets you block peer-to-peer traffic, such as instant messaging, while a secure wireless network lets users stay productive anywhere in the building.

If there's one thing you can count on, it's the ever-morphing nature of security. New hacks are tried and thwarted, and technologies are always on the counter-attack. So it's important to continually evaluate new security technologies as they're released and determine if they're appropriate for your small business.

About the Author(s)

Diana Wong

Diana specializes in marketing and social media related to helping small businesses grow and succeed. Facebook | | More from Diana         

Marketing Team, Cisco Systems

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