As more businesses digitize processes and shift their operations online, a cybersecurity plan is critical to maintaining business operations.
Cyberattacks are a growing threat to businesses of all sizes, but small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are particularly vulnerable. In this article, we'll explore the reasons why SMBs should invest in strengthening their network security and provide tips on how to approach the initiative within your unique organization.
What is Network Security?
Network security refers to the measures taken to protect an organization’s IT environment from unauthorized access, theft, or damage. A robust network security strategy typically involves developing and implementing hardware, software and end-user training to prevent, detect and respond to cyber threats.
Networks that leverage cloud applications also require robust security. Managing data stored in SaaS platforms is a complex task, especially for large companies that use hundreds of different applications.
Protecting data in SaaS applications requires careful analysis of security controls, access controls and data storage rules, but security teams may be overstretched, making SaaS data vulnerable to intentional or accidental breaches.
5 Reasons SMBs Need Strong Network Security
A secure network is a must-have for SMBs that want to protect their business, employees and customers. Here are five reasons why SMBs need to invest in network security:
1. Customer Information Responsibility
SMBs that handle confidential data, such as credit card information and personal identifying information, have a legal responsibility to protect their customer and employee data. Failing to do so can result in a severely damaged reputation and legal fines.
2. Third-Party Vulnerability Management
SMBs often work with third-party vendors or contractors who have access to their network. Any vulnerabilities in these third-party systems can put your network at risk. A secure network security system can help protect your network from these vulnerabilities.
3. Lack of Expertise & Resources
SMBs often lack the expertise and resources to implement effective cybersecurity measures. Working with a full-stack comprehensive IT solutions provider can help fill this gap by providing the necessary expertise and resources to protect your network.
4. Continuously Evolving Threats
Employees without ongoing cybersecurity training are often the weakest link in a company's cybersecurity defenses.
Combining end-user training with good network security is a smart approach to enhancing an organization's overall security. While having strong technical security measures in place is crucial, it's equally important to educate employees on security best practices and encourage them to be vigilant about potential threats.
By training end-users on how to identify and avoid common security risks such as phishing emails or weak passwords, they can become an active part of the security team and reduce the likelihood of a security breach.
Additionally, a team approach to security ensures that everyone in the organization understands their role in maintaining a secure network and can work together to identify and address potential vulnerabilities.
Ultimately, this combination of training and technical measures can help to create a more robust and secure network environment.
5. Cyber-Threat Protection
Implementation of a cybersecurity plan helps protect your business from a wide range of threats, including:
Ransomware: A type of malware that encrypts a user's files and demands payment in exchange for the decryption key.
Phishing: A type of social engineering attack where an attacker impersonates a trustworthy entity to trick a victim into revealing sensitive information. Email is a common method used by scammers to deploy phishing attacks.
Malware: Malicious software designed to damage, disrupt, or take control of a network.
How to Improve Your Organization's Network Security
Here are some tips for improving your organization's network security:
1. Create a Cybersecurity Plan
Develop a comprehensive cybersecurity plan that outlines your company's policies and procedures for protecting your network.
Cybersecurity incidents can result in significant financial losses, damaged reputations and legal penalties. By creating a comprehensive cybersecurity plan, SMBs can identify potential vulnerabilities and establish protocols for preventing, detecting, and responding to cyberattacks.
A cybersecurity plan should include policies and procedures for access control, data protection, incident response and employee training. It should also be regularly reviewed and updated to stay current with emerging threats and changes in business operations. Prioritizing the creation of a cybersecurity plan can help SMBs safeguard their operations, build trust with customers and protect their bottom line.
2. Train End Users
Employees are often the first line of defense against cyber threats, and a single mistake or oversight can lead to a security incident.
By providing regular training on cybersecurity best practices, such as identifying phishing emails, using strong passwords and avoiding public Wi-Fi, SMBs can reduce the risk of human error and improve their overall security posture. Training should also cover how to report incidents or suspicious activity and ensure employees are aware of the consequences of non-compliance with security policies.
By investing in end-user training, SMBs can create a culture of security awareness and empower their employees to play an active role in protecting the organization's data and systems.
When implementing strong password policies, SMBs can require employees to use complex passwords that include a combination of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters.
Password policies should also include requirements for regular password changes and restrictions on password reuse. Additionally, SMBs can implement multi-factor authentication to further enhance their security posture. By prioritizing strong password policies, SMBs can reduce the risk of password-related security incidents and protect their data and systems from unauthorized access.
3. Fanatically Protect Data
Data backups are crucial for SMBs to ensure business continuity in the event of a data loss or cyberattack. Without backups a business could lose critical information, resulting in significant financial losses, reputation damage and even legal penalties.
Data backups protect SMBs from a variety of risks, including hardware failures, human errors, and cybersecurity incidents such as ransomware attacks or data breaches. By regularly backing up their data, SMBs can quickly restore their systems and data in the event of a disaster, reducing downtime and minimizing the impact on their business operations.
The most successful companies test recoveries on a regular basis to maintain stakeholder expectations of the timing required.
4. Invest in Cyber Insurance
Cyber insurance policies can help SMBs manage the financial costs associated with a data breach or cyberattack, such as legal fees, data recovery costs and business interruption losses.
Additionally, cyber insurance providers often offer risk assessments and cybersecurity training to help SMBs improve their security posture and prevent incidents from occurring in the first place.
5. Bring It All Together
As excellent network security hygiene becomes more and more critical to business operations, it permeates further into organizations. SMBs need simple and elegant solutions to maintain an effective network security profile. It’s become too complex to maintain the traditional approach of employing point solutions for Next-Generation Firewall, LAN, WiFi, SASE, remote access, etc.
Loffler recommends our customers consolidate platforms with the Fortinet Security Fabric, which offers simplified integration, visibility, and automation. You can be confident in the benefits to your network security, TCO, and operational efficiency.
How Loffler Can Help SMBs with Network Security
By partnering with Loffler, SMBs can better protect their networks, data, and systems from cyber threats. Loffler's team of experts work with SMBs to understand their unique security needs and design comprehensive cybersecurity plans that incorporate industry-leading Fortinet's security and enterprise network solutions.
This can include implementing a converged, secure network where security policies can easily propagate between remote or local access, intrusion prevention systems, virtual private networks and other tools to help detect and prevent cyber-attacks. Additionally, Loffler provides ongoing support and training to ensure that SMBs are able to effectively use and manage their security systems.
With their deep knowledge of Fortinet's network security solutions and commitment to providing high-quality services, Loffler can help SMBs improve their security posture and protect their valuable assets from cyber threats.
Nick Johnson is the Practice Manager of Professional IT Services at Loffler Companies.