The most serious threat facing small businesses in this day and age comes from cyber-attacks, and your business network is the target of these attackers.
What’s at risk from these attacks is your money, reputation, and information, and there’s never been a more important time than now to start securing your network
How do you secure a business network to prevent attacks though?
There are a number of methods used by small businesses including firewall protection, malware and antivirus blocking, and multi-factor authentication, all of which can make your business network security stronger. In addition to software and hardware solutions, education and training in cybersecurity for you and your employees are the key to keeping everything safe.
If you own a small business you might not even understand the risks that face you from cyber-attacks. It’s estimated that nearly half of all cyber-attacks are targeted at small businesses, so it’s actually more common than you might think.
With an understanding of your own business network and the potential threats that face it, you’ll be one step ahead of the attackers and prevent anyone from doing harm to your company.
- 1 What Exactly Is A Business Network?
- 2 What Are Common Vulnerabilities That Business Networks Have?
- 3 Why Do Hackers Want To Access A Business Network?
- 4 Who Could Be A Threat To My Small Business Network Security?
- 5 The Best Ways To Secure A Business Network
- 6 How Safe Are Cloud Storage Systems?
- 7 Signs That Your Business Network Has Been Hacked
- 8 Tips For Small Business Network Security
- 9 Related Questions
What Exactly Is A Business Network?
A business network is the computer network that your organization uses to do business, as well as all of the resources attached to it.
Regardless of the size of your business, you likely operate on one of these networks, and they can include even the smallest devices like smartphones to your everyday work computers and laptops.
On your business network, all of your data is stored, and this can include sensitive customer information, business plans, financial records, product design, and intellectual properties.
Therefore, protecting it should be a top priority, with even smaller companies not being exempt from these potential attacks and breaches of security.
Business network security is a term used to describe the measures that a business takes to protect this network from these threats. A common security threat could be a hacker gaining access to your company information or a virus being installed on your computer, and many other things in between.
The inclusion of the internet in businesses in the modern age has opened to the door to many new potential threats, and small businesses are particularly at risk because they are sometimes seen as easier targets.
It’s essential for every business to protect their network and educate their employees on the importance of cybersecurity, but the approach that you take will differ depending on a few factors.
The physical setting of a network, the type of operations your business undertakes, and the size of your business will all impact what type of security management works for you, but at the very least you need to have basic protection.
What Are Common Vulnerabilities That Business Networks Have?
Keeping your company’s data safe is a priority that all businesses should have, regardless of size.
This data could be the content of your work emails or marketing plans for upcoming projects, but whatever it includes, it needs to be protected. There are some common vulnerabilities that most business networks have which can compromise this data and security.
Hackers And Criminals
The most common threat to business network security comes from criminals and hackers who aim to steal your information. This is done with a number of methods including malware, ransomware, viruses, and phishing scams.
Most people fail to look inside their own business when dealing with network security, as sometimes it can be employees who are responsible for these attacks.
Human error can make your business network very vulnerable to attack. This could be from a lack of education on cybersecurity to being mindless about password protection or taking care of their devices, and it leaves you wide open for problems.
No Endpoint Protection
Endpoint protection is ensuring that all devices linked to the business network are protected and not just the main computers, including smartphones and virtual environments.
There is specific security software that can ensure this and it’s a must-have for any business, as many hackers will attack these lesser protected devices to gain easy access.
Lack Of IT Management
Larger businesses might require a dedicated IT staff member or team to protect their business network, whereas smaller ones may need ongoing training or security software updates as adequate protection.
Not having something in place for cybersecurity makes your entire network very vulnerable to attack.
Why Do Hackers Want To Access A Business Network?
One of the reasons why small businesses are common targets of hackers and criminals is because they are easier to access.
This is due to the fact that small business owners make the assumption that nobody would want to take anything from their company as it’s such a small-time operation, and so they fail to implement the correct security measures.
With access to a business network, a hacker has the potential to do a lot of damage.
They can steal sensitive data from your clients, customers, and employees, get access to the company’s data including financial records and business plans or even use your information to access a larger company that you might be linked to.
Any information that a small business has could be considered valuable, and in the case of something like ransomware, it can be used to get even more money from you.
Therefore, taking action before these attacks occur and keeping your business network secured is crucial for protecting it.
Who Could Be A Threat To My Small Business Network Security?
When an attack occurs on a business network it can be hard to identify the culprit because of the anonymous way that they work.
Most people assume that any threat to their cybersecurity must come from hackers or bots, and while that’s true sometimes, there are a number of potential offenders who could be the responsible cybercriminals.
Previous Or Current Employees
Sometimes you might have a disgruntled previous employee who is out to seek revenge for something that happened in the past or one that knows the data you have is valuable.
Likewise, a current employee could be working from the inside and trying to steal information or disrupt company operations without you even realizing it.
Any industry comes with competitors and there have been cases of other businesses being responsible for cyber attacks.
Their intent may be to slow down or disrupt your services or to steal data to use for their own gain, so you need to protect your business network from this occurring.
Cybercriminals are usually trying to access business networks for financial gain or to get sensitive information, but they could also be trying to disrupt business or do serious damage. Most security software was designed with these types of people in mind and
Clients Or Customers
Existing or previous clients or customers may want to access company information or try to get some financial gain from breaking into your business network, or they could be responsible for totally accidental breaches to security.
The Best Ways To Secure A Business Network
Cybersecurity and protecting your business network requires a multifaceted approach, as there’s no singular thing that is going to prevent these breaches and attacks from happening.
Many small business owners make the mistake of ignoring the need for cybersecurity measures because they think nobody would want to target their company, making it very easy for an attack to occur.
The first line of defense needs to come from within the system itself, which means having at least one dedicated cybersecurity software installed.
At the most basic, this should protect data, hardware, and software, which it does with virus and malware protection, real-time scanning, and endpoint protection, just to name a few.
Secondly, but just as importantly, is education on cybersecurity for the business owner and all employees.
Regular training should be provided to employees about potential risks and best practices to ensure your business network is protected at all times, and there should be a strict company policy on what’s expected of them.
If you’re unable to detect where your vulnerabilities are, you might want to call in the experts for professional help.
A cybersecurity specialist can work with you to highlight software and hardware weaknesses that can be strengthened, and give you an outside view of what these potential hackers might be looking for when they’re planning an attack.
How Safe Are Cloud Storage Systems?
Cloud storage systems and cloud-based internet security are common methods for storing data these days, and one that many small businesses rely on.
This refers to accessing files that are stored remotely and not on your personal business network, or it may be entire processes or applications that are accessed remotely.
The invention of the cloud storage system has been a major convenience for many of us, but it also comes with security risks that never had to be considered before.
Having cloud storage can cut significant costs for small businesses and make things easier to operate, but without the right protection in place, they can also expose your business network.
Using an advanced cloud system, whether for storage or for entire business processes, is usually a safe option because of the methods these providers use to protect your data.
This includes things like advanced firewalls, internal firewalls, encryption, logging of events, and intrusion detection that gives real-time updates.
In order for a cloud system to be secure though, it also requires the employees using it to take the correct safety measures.
Security breaches to could systems usually occur because of human error which can be reduced with things like authentication processes, education on best practices, regular breach drills, and awareness and education on the cloud technology.
When a security system and informed employees are used in conjunction with each other, implementing a cloud-based storage system has many benefits for a small business.
You’re getting an extra level of security from a third party and somewhere reliable to store your data, but without the right measures in place, it can require more work and protection that having your information stored on your own network.
Signs That Your Business Network Has Been Hacked
Prevention is the most important thing when it comes to securing your business network, but just as crucial is knowing how to detect when a security breach has occurred.
The sooner you can rectify the problem the less damage it will be able to do, so being educated on the possible signs of a breach and educating your employees of the same could be hugely beneficial.
Keep an eye out for these signs that might indicate a compromise to your cybersecurity.
If you notice that your company websites are redirecting traffic to unknown websites, or employees using the internet are being sent to random websites, this is likely due to a redirect virus.
They may look identical to the website you’re trying to reach which can be hard to determine, and if you follow the links on the redirected site it could install further viruses.
Ransomware occurs when a hacker tries to request a ransom in order to hand over sensitive data or stop restricting the company’s operations that they’ve stopped.
An obvious message will usually be shown indicating a ransomware attack with instructions from the culprit about money to be paid or actions that have to be taken.
If you notice that certain files start becoming encrypted, this could be another sign of a ransomware attack.
Sometimes, the culprit won’t make it so obvious that they are after a ransom but will instead start blocking access to important content which makes it hard for your business to operate.
External Control Of Computers
If a hacker is able to gain access to your business network you may see signs of this coming from an external entity being able to control your computers.
Remote desktop hacks like this could be a sign, with a mouse moving on its own or files being accessed, moved, or deleted without you ever doing the task yourself.
Compromised Email Accounts
Customers and clients might start mentioning that they received unusual emails from you, or you could see that unauthorized messages are being sent.
Hackers use this type of tactic to get others to click on links or input data, like in phishing schemes and hope that your contacts will follow the prompts because it’s come from a reliable source that they trust.
Tips For Small Business Network Security
IT and cybersecurity risks are common occurrences and thanks to the internet, they will only become more common in the future.
As a small business owner, there are some simple tips you can follow to keep your business network protected as best you can, and they’re relatively easy to implement.
- Make sure you can monitor all employee’s personal devices if they’re using them for work-related tasks. Endpoint protection can cover everything from computers to smartphones and make sure everything is secure.
- Educate your staff on cybersecurity and hold regular training and updates about advancements in this area. Password protection, use of cybersecurity software, and proper protocol are all subjects that should be covered.
- Have a basic level of security in place on your business network in the form of cybersecurity software. These can be as basic as virus scanners and firewall protection or a lot more detailed depending on what your needs are.
- Have an independent company perform an audit on your network to see where your strengths and weaknesses are, and find out what you can do to improve them.
Business network security should be a top priority for business owners and it’s something that all companies need to remain vigilant with.
These are some frequently asked questions about business networks and potential threats to give you more information on why it matters.
How Much Does Cybercrime Cost?
According to estimates by the software provider McAfee in a 2018 report, cybercrimes cost the US public an estimated $600 billion a year.
With small businesses being one of the majority victims of cybersecurity attacks, it’s obvious that a lot of money is lost without the right protection in place.
What Is A Cybersecurity Plan?
A cybersecurity plan is something that all businesses should have, large and small, in order to outline their approach to security.
This could include measures they take to protect their data, software, and hardware, as well as areas of potential weaknesses and future threats.
A plan can be created internally if you have the knowledge or with the assistance of a cybersecurity professional.