There’s a lot to think about as a business owner or executive. If network security isn’t on your mind, it should be. The first half of 2017 has seen a 223% increase in cyber-attacks over 2016 per a recent report from F Secure Labs. Business leaders need to be asking their IT team pointed questions about network security that will keep them safe and protected from harm.
- Are we protected from hacks that originate outside Australia?
This is a simple question, with a potentially simple answer. Most firewalls have the functionality to be able to block traffic completely based on the country from origin. If your business is domestic, and has no need to communicate with China or Russia, then you can completely block traffic from those countries.
In the last half of 2016 Russian hackers accounted for 44% of all hacks happening worldwide. Netherlands, Belgium, and Germany originate about 6% each of all attacks, while China was about 5%. By taking the time to set up Geo fencing on your firewall for those 5 countries, you can block 67% of all potential attacks that might affect your business.
Ask your IT personnel if they’ve taken this simple step, and encourage them to do so if they haven’t.
- Is our wireless secure, and is it possible to gain access to our network via our wireless?
Positive Technologies, a network penetration testing company recently reported that 75% of businesses tested in 2016 failed their wireless security test. The penetration testers used vulnerabilities in their wireless to connect to the local area network and gain access to servers and other resources. That’s essentially the keys to the kingdom.
With that access they can access company data, financials, and more. It can be a huge problem. Businesses should ensure that all networking equipment has strong passwords, they should change their SSID’s name, enable network encryption, set up mac address filtering, and reduce the range of the wireless signal. Wireless firmware should also be kept up to date. Central management of wireless access points can assist in ensuring the network is properly administered.
Ask your IT guy about wireless today.
- Are our windows updates current?
This may seem like a rudimentary question, but it doesn’t get asked nearly enough. The problem with windows updates is that they come out weekly, and need to be applied in a timely manner. At the same time, they should be tested before being pushed out to the network so that they don’t cause conflicts with existing software or potential downtime.
In addition to these considerations they preferably should be deployed in the middle of the night not to interrupt the workday. They also take a significant amount of time on the part of your IT staff if they are being manually applied. Add all these factors up, and you get a lot of excuses why IT staff don’t keep things current.
These patches and updates from Microsoft are critical in keeping you secure, yet 20% of businesses fail to keep them up to date. Among out of date systems, the oldest uninstalled updates were 9 years. Any systems still running windows XP, Server 2003 or older systems are a vulnerability and should be decommissioned immediately.
Business owners should have a discussion with their IT provider about what their current strategy is for patch management. To be successful patch deployment automation software is frequently necessary.
“The vast majority of attacks on corporate infrastructures involve exploitation of common vulnerabilities and flaws,” said Evgeny Gnedin, head of information security analytics at Positive Technologies. “Companies can dramatically improve their security stance and avoid falling victim to attacks by applying basic information security rules: Develop and enforce a strict password policy, minimise privileges of users and services, do not store sensitive information in cleartext, minimise the number of open network service interfaces on the network perimeter, regularly update software and install operating system security updates.”
Common sense management can help keep you safe with IT. It’s important to keep in mind that hackers are using scanning tools to blanket the web and detect common vulnerabilities. Identifying common vulnerabilities and putting systems in place to protect against them mitigates risk.
Looking forward at evolving threats can also be an important part of IT security strategy. The current trend towards more network connected devices and Internet of Things is creating evolving security vulnerabilities. Working strategically with your IT team you can stay ahead of these evolving threats, and make policies and plans that ensure the security of your network. Dialogue around this subject is important.