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Three “Must Do’s” To Securing Your Networks

 

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Many organizations get bogged down in the litany of requirements related to protecting their data networks. The overwhelming feeling many executives face drives them to the point of inaction.

Ignorance will not adequately defend sensitive corporate and customer information. Moreover, businesses will create unnecessary risk by simply hoping for the best. If nothing else, companies should at least employ these three “must do’s” that will build the foundation for protecting their networks.

Outline roles and responsibilities

Identify specific individuals by roles, job duties and the equipment they manage. This also helps manage how data will flow through the network. Go a step further by empowering your team to take ownership of particular aspects of the network and incentivize their efforts to keep it operating in a highly efficient and protected environment.

No matter if the organization consists of five or 500 people, developing and maintaining a network security plan that spells out roles and responsibilities should take priority.

Evaluate how your network currently PROTECTS and ENABLES

Regardless of industry — finance, healthcare, energy, construction, fitness, fast food or any other market — identifying what and how your network currently protects and enables your operations will provide the framework for improving your infrastructure for today as well as in the future.

The art of this initiative lies in the ability to perform two seemingly conflicting tasks. Your data network needs to ensure that hackers are thwarted in their efforts, while, at the same time, enabling staff to accomplish mission-critical tasks in the most effective and efficient way. Anything less puts a drain on productivity and profits. Understanding how your network performs both these tasks will help identify current and future cybersecurity needs.

Data and network protection seek to balance several divergent, yet business critical, objectives simultaneously. Determining how the different technologies and processes within your system are working to this end will allow your organization to promote operational efficiency and ensure business continuance in the event of a disaster. At the same time, evaluating your network’s current efforts along these lines will help minimize both operational and capital expenditures in addition to proactively identifying and remedying security issues before they become catastrophic.

View cybersecurity differently

Most organizations label cybersecurity expenses as overhead. Reality shows us otherwise, though. Placing appropriate emphasis on establishing effective protocols and investing in employee training on safe practices will reduce liability risk while, at the same time, increasing productivity. This perspective considers cyber security initiatives as business drivers; not something to simply check off on a list.

Given that data is the cornerstone of your business, your company cannot afford to ignore security. Without proper plans and understanding as to what your networks do in both protecting and enabling your operations, both you and your customers take on greater risk. Creating a solid plan that aligns with your organization and ensuring protections are integrated into your IT infrastructure is key. Do that if nothing else to get started on creating the fundamental foundation to a workable, secure network platform.

About the Author: Efrem Gonzales is the Founder and CEO of Tec-Refresh, a nationwide provider of IT infrastructure, cyber security, data and networking solutions and support services. He can be reached at efrem.gonzales@tec-refresh.com.

 

 

The Right IT Segmentation Can Save Your Network

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It’s not uncommon for an organization’s IT network’s topography to be relatively flat. By this, I mean a company’s data infrastructure has many ways for someone to access it from the outside.

At first glance, it would appear that such configurations would be clean, efficient and easy to manage. The opposite is true. These types of systems are easily infiltrated, hard to maintain and a great risk to business operations.

Hackers will find that there are plenty of opportunities to trick an employee into providing them a conduit to their company’s mission critical data in a flat IT architecture environment. They are sophisticated in their outreach and effective in making the team member believe their request for personal and corporate information is a legitimate one. Before you know it, your network is breached and a large operational, legal and financial headache is on your shoulders.

If the network I described sounds remarkably similar to yours, it might be a good idea to develop a plan to segment duties across multiple networks. Should a hacker infiltrate one area, it is far less likely their disruption will spread across your entire landscape. Believe it or not, segmenting the network can also make it easier to maintain your IT infrastructure. You’ll detect abnormalities, such as an unusually high level of activity or traffic at odd hours, faster and create fixes for them in quicker fashion.

As important, though, is how your organization segments its IT assets. Don’t arbitrarily decide what equipment and data are housed in one area versus the other. Keep servers and workstations separate. Doing otherwise defeats the purpose of segmentation. Otherwise, a user who takes a phishing bait will allow the perpetrator to bypass all protective firewalls and access to the entire server farm in short order.

Be sure to also set up processes to upgrade equipment systematically. Don’t “blanket” accept updates or set your gear to download modifications automatically. Formalize stated policies and procedures that look at the updates and their potential impacts to your network. Prioritize which ones are necessary as opposed to “nice to haves.” Set up a “proof of concept,” or test environment, before going live with any updates. It will be important to ensure no downtime occurs when upgrading your network.

Segmenting your IT infrastructure is becoming a more common practice, as it should be. For a network to be as secure as it can be, it’s vital to have the right segmentation scheme. In this day and age where employees have access to critical company data 24/7 and from multiple devices, there is no other recourse. The time period of granting access only through a desktop computer during normal working hours is long gone. Businesses fully appreciate that employees, customers, partners and other stakeholders need access to information around the clock and through many different ways. Properly segmenting your network is no longer a nice to have, but a “must do.”

About the Author: Efrem Gonzales is the Founder and CEO of Tec-Refresh, a nationwide provider of IT infrastructure, cyber security, data and networking solutions and support services. He can be reached at efrem.gonzales@tec-refresh.com.