With each passing day, the periscope of businesses is becoming more and more intricately connected. There is a whole quasi-serpentine framework for multiple connected devices. Though it has given wings to the interaction and communication among different entities of businesses, it has its glaring flip side too. The heavily interconnected wireframes have made companies vulnerable to the security threats and whims of ill-intended hackers. This can cause ripples of worries for companies, as they regularly deal with credit card numbers, social security numbers, trade secrets and other sensitive information on behalf of their customers and employees. Naturally, a slight negligence can have irrecoverable consequences. The October 2016 DDoS (distributed disruption of service) attack, which caused the outage of major sites including Amazon, Twitter, and Spotify, is a case in point here. It was stemmed from hacked devices such as security cameras and DVRs. It then explains why companies cannot wean themselves off the issue of cybersecurity and IT infrastructure services.
However, due to the increased abundance of cutting-edge technologies and methodologies such as botnets, the dark clouds of security threats will keep lingering on. And this grim scenario is enough to sap the efficiency out of companies. In fact, in 2016 only it was estimated that the average US company will lose $17 million due to cybercrime. But the real pain point is cyber-attacks aren’t just putting a severe dent on information and revenue. They can eat out the trust element too. If customers are perpetually worried about companies’ efficiency in protecting their personal and financial data, they won’t put much strain on their brains while deciding about breaking alliance with their respective companies. Clearly, network security can become a quintessential bulwark in deciding the long-term survival of your business.
Moreover, it’s important to note that network security is an umbrella term that encompasses hardware and software resources, communication, operations, and management of an enterprise network. This leaves companies with no option but to look at it through the prism of holistic totality. After pondering a lot over all these iotas, we have outlined five important ways to make your IT infrastructure services assets rather than liabilities.
A) Assessing the Risk:
It’s meaningless to try to negate a threat without having a proper clarity about it. First and foremost, you must know the possible threats that might hamper your network infrastructure. A proper risk assessment will help you to carve out potential problems in advance. The following image shows the most likely network security challenges businesses will encounter in the first 12 months.
The rationale behind this assessment is it will equip you with a 360-degree view of the preventive steps that have been already taken. You can focus on mitigating other remaining risks.
B) Consider MAC Address Filtering:
One of the major issues that have thwarted the security quotient of a wired network is the lack of quick and easy authentication and/or encryption method. On the wireless side, you have WPA2-Personal (PSK) that’s easy to deploy. Though it’s true that MAC is not too difficult a hurdle to cross for hardcore hackers, it can serve as the first layer of security. Even if it fails to stop hackers, it can prevent employees from allowing a guest to plug into the private network. Also, it lets you to have good control over the devices on your network. Despite this, it’s necessary to keep the approved MAC address list up-to-date.
C) Implement VLANs To Segregate Traffic:
Networks that haven’t been segregated into virtual LANs can think about VLANs to group Ethernet ports, wireless access points, and users among multiple virtual networks. They can also be used to separate the network by traffic type (general access, VoIP, SAN, DMZ) for performance or design reasons and/or user type (employees, management, guests) for security reasons. But before using VLANs, make sure that your router and switches support its implementation. You can look for IEEE 802.1Q support in the product specs. As far as wireless access points are concerned, you’ll likely want those that support both VLAN tagging and multiple SSIDs. SSIDs come handy in offering multiple virtual WLANs, which could be assigned to a certain VLAN.
D) Encrypt Select PCs or Servers By Using VPNs:
Encryption is by far the best way to secure your network traffic. Note that hackers can tiptoe through your network even if you have guarded it with VLANs and 802.1X authentication. They can capture unencrypted traffic that could include passwords, emails, and documents. It’s always advisable to have a map like understanding of your network and IT infrastructure services before you decide to encrypt any traffic. Sometimes it makes sense to encrypt certain uncrypted sensitive communication. You can send it through a standard VPN on the client, which could be used just during the sensitive communication or forced to be used all the time.
E) Audit Everything Diligently:
The thumb rule is If you cannot measure it, you can manage it. You should always have the real-time “measure” of your network. That’s the only way you are going to ensure that your network, as well as the aforementioned policies, are in a desirable shape. Besides, you must be crystal clear about how you are going to implement these policies when new software or hardware gets upgraded in your network. That’s where the need to train staff and users sneaks in. To keep a real tight grip over all these nitty-gritties, make security audits a routine – almost a scheduled part of your IT management and administration. It usually catapults you into a place where early detection of a potential threat becomes a tangible possibility.
In A Nutshell:
Looking at the jarring and over-complex nature of IT infrastructure services, what we have discussed is just a tip of an iceberg. A lot – and that too on a regular interval- needs to be done to ensconce your network in safety net. This is especially true in an era where new sources of threat are getting germinated within a blink of an eye. The real challenge in front of companies is to keep themselves abreast with this volatile landscape of threats and build systems that are threat-resilient. That’s precisely why securing any network is never a quick-fire sprint; it’s a grueling marathon.