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Set Up a Secure Office Network

Business Tips

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Businesses do a lot of work online, which is both convenient and risky. Online security has become a major concern for consumers and in turn is becoming a priority for businesses. There are a lot of things businesses can do to keep their network secure for their consumers and their employees.

Here are a few ways employers can set up a secure server and develop some best practices to get their office started on the path to secure operations.

Lock Your Server and Internet Access

Web security in the office starts with the server itself. There is a lot that goes into the initial set up, starting with server locations. If you are using a local area network (LAN) connection, use a demilitarized zone (DMZ) or collocations facility. While it might seem better to run your own local web server, doing so opens you up to a number of security risks. Blending into the fray of other servers helps keep your network anonymous.

Once your server is set, use a virtual private network (VPN) to access your LAN or remote web server. This offers added privacy protection. Also, encrypt your wireless access points (AP). WPA2 encryption is far better than other methods that are more easily broken into.

When it comes to network security, businesses should make their server anonymous as well as autonomous. In your router management interface, disable access from outside networks and change the admin default password. Make sure you hide your service set identifier (SSID) or, at the very least, make it generic. Never divulge your location, business name or product. Disable file and print sharing on any device, other than the file server. This especially applies to laptops that get taken to airports or other locations where other users can easily access open network shares.

Finally, businesses should scan their server regularly for software designed to take advantage of network vulnerabilities, know as exploits. Exploits can be a piece of software, chuck of data or sequence of commands that looks for bugs, glitches or vulnerabilities in order to gain control of a computer system. These dangerous exploits can take advantage of your server at any time so it’s important to regularly monitor business servers.

Encryption

It’s important to encrypt anything with sensitive company information but, for laptops that leave the office, use whole disk encryption. Encryption is the process of encoding messages or information so that only authorized persons can read it. Furthermore, whole disk encryption encodes the entire laptop so even if someone intercepts the device, the information will be inaccessible. If a business laptop gets lost or stolen, you don’t want anyone having access to even the smallest bits of information about your company’s inner workings so whole disk encryption is a must.

Password Protection

Make sure employees are required to change passwords regularly and require passwords include numbers and special characters. Also, enforce that work passwords should never be used for personal accounts. Employee passwords for their work email and Cloud accounts should never match their passwords for social media, banking or other personal accounts. This adds an extra layer of protection for businesses, preventing personal hacks on Facebook or Gmail, for example, from allowing predators to access work information.

Remind employees to always lock their PC when away from their desk. You wouldn’t leave your car unlocked with your wallet in the front seat; the same goes for office computers.

Software, Browsers and Backups

To create the most secure office network employers should install antivirus and antispyware software on every office device. This will provide the basic protection your company needs to maintain a secure network. After installing the software, make sure to update all software regularly. Computers and security software programs should be set up to automatically install the latest versions of software as updates become available and IT departments should regularly monitor computer software to make sure it’s up-to-date.

Employee monitoring software can be installed so employers can see where their employees go online. These programs range from simply viewing the web pages employees access at work, to analyzing their use of “unproductive” web pages, blocking objectionable websites and reviewing email history. Even when an email has been deleted or a browser history erased, the information remains on the server and can legally be obtained by an employer.

To aid in separating personal accounts from work accounts, employees should use separate browsers. That keeps passwords and personal information from overlapping and becoming more accessible to hackers. Companies should also regularly perform off-site backups to ensure that information is secure incase a device gets wiped or the network needs to reboot because of a security issue.

Office Best Practices

It’s important to educate employees on secure web browsing. Regularly updating software, encrypting information, using strong passwords and never clicking on foreign links can aid in protecting your network. As an employer, always install antivirus software and build a secure network from the server up. Depending on the nature of your business, using employee monitoring software can assist in increasing employee productivity and accountability.

Creating a secure server and teaching employees how to safely navigate the web will help employees and consumers feel more comfortable with your business and keep predators out of your network. Work with the IT department to make a game plan for fortifying your network. No matter the size of your business, office web security should be a priority.

Image by Brent Hensarling via Flickr

Frontier Business

Frontier Communications offers voice, broadband, satellite video, wireless Internet data access, data security solutions, bundled offerings, specialized bundles for small businesses and home offices, and advanced business communications for medium and large businesses in 28 states and with approximately 18,600 employees based entirely in the United States.