Did you know that a cyber attack occurs every 39 seconds? It’s true! But contrary to some people’s belief, it’s not just large businesses at risk—quite the opposite.
Nowadays, small to medium-sized organisations are becoming the most typical target for hackers—involving 43% of all data breaches—because they frequently have weak protections in place.
In this article, we’re sharing our network security best practices checklist for small Australian businesses (like yours).
Here are our top 7 ways to provide better network security for your small business
1) Set up a Firewall for your Internet Connection
A network firewall helps to lock down the “ports” that hackers use to infiltrate your organisation and steal your data.
Think of it this way: Your firewall is the locked front door between your business’ IT network and all the hackers on the web!
So choosing a strong firewall that matches the size and scope of your business is a critical first step toward creating a secure network. But this is where a couple of issues come up.
Firstly, you need a commercial-grade firewall, as the one you got free with Telstra on your router is very easy to hack and lacks intelligence that helps identify threats. So you need to make sure you’re choosing one that is fit for purpose.
Secondly, that firewall requires updates, and somebody on your team needs to ensure they’re up to date. Because even the best firewalls have little bugs in them, and as soon as they become known, they will get exploited by opportunistic hackers, and your network will be less protected.
2) Set up a Virtual Private Network (VPN)
A VPN-secured connection encrypts your data so nobody can see the traffic or information shared between you/your team members and the office server over the internet—making your office network far more secure.
Please note: Not all businesses will need VPN because some are fully cloud-based. In that case, without a server in the office, you don’t require a VPN-secured connection.
3) Use a Password Management Tool
A password management tool is essential to a small business’s cloud security measures. Because nowadays, you must have a different password—and a strong one—for every website you access.
Hackers know full well that they will struggle to break into Gmail, but they can break into FluffySlippers.com, which you set up an account for because you were going through the checkout process. Their cybersecurity is sub-par—so hackers find your password there and go to Gmail to try it.
If you have the same password across multiple sites—or variations of it—this method will work.
However, a common complaint we hear is that having a different (and complex) password for every website is a pain. Which is why you need a password manager for your business!
A password manager will enable you and your team to use varied, strong passwords for every site—without needing to remember them or record them somewhere vulnerable. Plus, it has an extra layer of security built in, so offshore staff or contractors can log into sites using your passwords, but they won’t see the passwords when they do.
4) Set up MultiFactor Authentication
Multi-factor authentication is when a user is only granted access to an account after successfully presenting two or more pieces of evidence to an authentication mechanism.
The initial authentication method is usually a password; the second is frequently a time-sensitive code delivered to an email address or a smartphone via text message.
Multi-factor authentication is vital for maintaining account security in your business since it needs an additional degree of verification alongside a password, making it much harder to hack.
5) Activate Microsoft Defender in Office 365
There are many ways people use emails to get at your business, from malware to phishing to ransomware.
So, if you use Microsoft Office 365, one of the most straightforward network security measures you can take is to activate Microsoft Defender.
Defender is a cloud-based email filtering service that adds an extra layer of security to your email, helping prevent your Microsoft Outlook-based email accounts from being compromised and better protecting your organisation against cyber attacks.
6) Conduct Regular Updates
Downloading the most recent upgrades of applications (as well as software, driver, and server-based programs) is another helpful step in lowering the likelihood of a cybersecurity problem.
Enabling automatic application updates is a helpful option because many people put off downloading an update due to the time it takes. It’s also important to do these updates quickly (as we mentioned with firewall updates).
Because, within a few days of a vulnerability going public, cybercriminals are already working to exploit them, leaving your organisation vulnerable to being compromised.
In addition to boosting security, application upgrades can bring new functionalities and enhance performance, so it’s a win-win in every aspect!
7) Employ Cloud Protection Solutions
Lots of businesses lean heavily (or sometimes solely) on cloud computing, using software as a service (SaaS), infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and platform as a service (PaaS) as part of their operational software suite.
For example, your accounting package could be cloud-based, your Client Relationship Management platform (CRM), your line of business application or inventory system. This also needs to be considered when setting up your cybersecurity implementation plan.
Using a Password Manager and Multi-Factor Identification is a great place to start. Still, you may need extra security measures in place—contact us to get more personalised advice with a free security audit, no strings attached.
BONUS IT SECURITY TIP: Keep Control of your Internet Properties
Every six months or so, we are contacted to help a frantic business owner get their domain back from a disgruntled website designer or developer that’s gone rogue.
You don’t become a victim of that, as you can lose access to your site, domain name and email address. All of which may be central to your business marketing, your client care, your operations, and listed across the internet as ways for your client to reach you.
So, while it’s not fun to think about, and it’s not technically a threat from hackers, you must ensure you have ownership of and access to your internet properties, such as your website and the connected domain email account.
Closing note on all things cybersecurity
Of course, there’s more to cybersecurity than just Network Security.
But these steps will dramatically improve your IT and network security, and provide a solid starting point.
The best way to protect your data, client information and business systems? Outsource IT!
You’re busy and don’t necessarily have time to figure out the correct VPN and firewalls, keep them updated, or implement the best cybersecurity measures company-wide.
Not only that, but threats are constantly evolving, technology is continually evolving, and security is continuously evolving alongside both. Outsourcing your IT ensures you keep pace—and keep safe—over the long term.
At PowerbITs, we can take cybersecurity planning and implementation off your plate and ensure your business is protected far into the future. You can explore our IT & Network Security Solutions further here. We service small to medium-sized businesses (25-125 employees) across Sydney and the Central Coast.
The good news? Protecting your business doesn’t have to cost the earth. In fact, the very first step is free!
Contact us today to schedule your free security audit
During this audit, our team will assess what cybersecurity you already have in place for your business, flag vulnerabilities, and provide recommendations as to what’s required to improve your protection levels.
Your organisation can then implement those recommended security measures, or we can—there’s no pressure either way.
Regardless, our team is ready and waiting to point you in the right direction and design an efficient, cost-effective network and cybersecurity solution for your small business. So that you, the business owner or management team, can relax knowing your business systems, client information and data are safeguarded—with time-tested deterrents in place against unwanted intrusion.