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How to Keep Your Company's Network Secure

How to Keep Your Company’s Network Secure

How secure is your company’s network? Protecting your information assets is one of the most important steps you can take toward long-term stability. Smart companies take a multifaceted approach to IT security, building layers of defense between themselves and hackers.

Here are four steps you can take to safeguard your company’s most important assets.

Network firewall

The most basic line of defense against network intruders is the firewall. Consumer-grade routers use Network Address Translation (NAT) to address the problem of limited IPv4 routable addresses. Companies have several options for implementing firewalls.

DMZs (demilitarized zones) are a popular choice these days. In this setup, Internet-facing servers are placed within the DMZ so that they are encumbered by fewer restrictions and less monitoring than the internal corporate network.

At a minimum, an effective firewall should offer packet filter technology, which allows or denies data packets based on established rules that relate to the type of data packet and its source and destination address.

Malware detection

The next line of defense to check off your list should be a solid program for malware detection. Performing a malware scan on client devices relies on the processing capabilities of individual devices to check for threats. But, business-centric versions feature some form of central management used to push out new definition updates and implement security policies.

Most malware problems result from user action, so the typical anti-malware package has evolved into comprehensive suites that offer protection against multiple threat vectors. These packages may include a component to scrutinize a URL link prior to launching it, or a browser plug-in that checks file attachments prior to opening them.

Virtual Private Network

In today’s mobile world, employees need to access company resources from remote locations that may not be secure (for example, public Wi-Fi hotspots). These workers can benefit from a virtual private network (VPN) connection to protect their network access. VPNs channel all network traffic through an encrypted tunnel back to the safe corporate network.

However, a VPN can be complex to deploy, and it is costly to support due to the overheads of processing and bandwidth. And, stolen or lost company laptops with preconfigured VPN settings can serve as potential gateways for intruders.

IDS and IPS

Finally, a thorough security strategy requires both an intrusion detection system (IDS) and an intrusion prevention system (IPS). An IDS involves monitoring traffic for suspicious activities that show that the company network has been compromised. For example, an IDS may detect port scans originating from within the network of multiple failed attempts to log into a server.

An IPS is typically deployed in-line to actively prevent or block intrusions as they are detected. For example, a specific IP address can be automatically blocked, with an alarm sent to the administrator when an attempt is made.

These are just some of the steps you can take to safeguard your company’s network. Other security options for businesses exist, but the previous four measures are a good starting point for keeping your network secure.