Cyber security, that is, maintaining the functionality and integrity of America's business and governmental computer networks, is a growing problem, and looms as one of the most pressing public policy issues we face today. Responsibility for the cyber security of government networks is currently spread out between several government agencies, but is primarily the purview of the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security. However, businesses are the ones completely responsible for maintaining their own IT security, which can be a real challenge for small and medium-sized businesses operating with limited resources.
On May 30, the White House announced several new cyber-security-related programs, including the Cybersecurity/Information Assurance program and the Electric Sector Cybersecurity Capability Maturity Model initiative. These two new programs help flesh out the Obama administration's cyber-security strategy, which involves close consultation and information sharing with private companies providing critical infrastructure such as utilities.
While the establishment of a comprehensive national cyber-security strategy is clearly much-needed (and a positive development for the country), it really does not do much to help smaller businesses deal with the network and IT security issues created by the ongoing revolution of cloud computing. Small businesses need to work with experienced information technology consultants like iCorps, a full-service IT consulting and outsourcing firm for small and medium-sized businesses, to develop strategies that enhance network integration, improve cyber security, minimize costs, and maximize productivity. Five steps you can take to keep your small business network secure are discussed below.
Five Steps to Keep Your Business Network Secure
1. Develop a set of cyber-security policies for your business - at a minimum you should include specific policies for dealing with email, websurfing, passwords, and confidentiality. Depending on the nature and size of your business, you might consider remote access policies and/or policies for insuring the integrity of backed-up data.
2. Increase network security - this might seem obvious, but there are a number of relatively easy and inexpensive steps businesses can take to harden their networks. Your firewall is your first layer of defense and having a properly configured firewall is an essential part of effective cyber security. It is also extremely important to make sure that all software updates are applied as soon as they are received. Because new vulnerabilities are identified on an almost daily basis, it is critical to keep your network updated. iCorps can make sure that your networks are updated automatically, as well as help with network integration, managed services, and other IT solutions.
3. Use top-quality anti-virus software - like most everything else in life, you get what you pay for with anti-virus software. Businesses are better off employing a professional IT consulting firm for daily virus software updates, than relying on the software to do it for you. It is absolutely essential that all of your networks are updated with the latest code daily, and preferably automatically so there is no chance of human error resulting in missed updates.
4. Secure your VPNs - virtual private networks (VPNs) are a key component of cloud computing, and making sure that all of the clients using your network are secure, can be a big challenge for small businesses. iCorps can help you set up secure socket layer (SSL) authentication to create a remote access solution that is completely client independent and therefore much more secure.
5. Get Management and employees on board with cyber security - making sure that everyone understands the importance of cyber security and is aware of their role in the process, is the only way to really guarantee a high level of cyber security for your business networks. Trainings to introduce new cyber-security policies are also important, as is strict enforcement of those policies.