Securing a network is an administrator’s main priority, and with good reason. Insecure networks are open to infiltration by viruses, malware, and hackers. A dedicated threat can even bring down an entire system, costing a company time and resources. As important as it is, security is not difficult to achieve. Neither is it an expensive undertaking. Here are eight simple things that can improve a network’s security.
1) Migrate to Linux
The fact that Linux experiences fewer security issues than Windows is very well-known. Migrating some desktops from Windows to Linux is an easy yet effective way of improving network security. Users who do not rely on proprietary Windows applications can migrate first. But to ensure that they continue accessing Webmail, OWA should be set up in place of Exchange.
2) Restrict the Installation of Software
Users who install software at will expose the whole network to viruses and malware. Thus, only administrators should conduct installations. And if users must install anything, it must be with their administrator’s approval. Yes, they will find this frustrating but it is necessary for network security. And it pays off dividends in the long run.
3) Update Antivirus Software
Keeping antivirus software up-to-date is the most basic way of securing a network. It might sound like an obvious thing to do but not everyone does it. Some people continue using outdated antivirus applications and virus definitions. This leaves their systems vulnerable to viruses and malicious software.
4) Use a Secure Browser
Internet Explorer is one of the least secure browsers there is out there. Using it to access the internet is bad for network security. A good alternative to use is Firefox. It may be bloated but it is still a secure browser.
5) Disable Unnecessary and Unverified Add-Ons
Add-ons increase the functionality of a browser or email client. They are handy and come with some nice features. But they also pose a security threat. Most are not secure and the few that are often affect a machine’s performance. As a result, all unnecessary add-ons are better off disabled. If users must use add-ons, they must always verify their security and validity first.
6) Use a Dedicated Firewall
An operating system’s built-in firewall only provides minimum level security. For better security, a network requires a hardware-based firewall with a single point of entry. It is more secure, flexible and easy to customize to individual specifications. Good examples of hardware-based firewalls are Cisco and Fortinet. Administrators can manage a hardware-based firewall in-house or rely on managed IT services from any Cincinnati IT services company.
7) Use Better Passwords
A strict password policy is necessary for accounts and network security. All passwords must have special characters, numbers, and both uppercase and lowercase letters. Users must also change them every month.
8) Restrict Access to Network Folders
Sharing a network folder with “everyone” makes that folder vulnerable. If certain users are having trouble accessing a folder, administrators should never give everyone full access to it. They should troubleshoot instead and figure out how to assist the users. If full access to a folder is necessary, it must be done only as a temporary measure.
Ensuring network security is not as difficult or as expensive as it seems. Simple things like enforcing a stricter password policy and updating an antivirus can do the trick. Using a secure browser, restricting software installation and access to important folders are also important. Others include migrating from Windows to Linux, using a better firewall, and disabling add-ons.