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Network Security, the Internet, and How To Keep Your Business Safe

Overview: We all know how important security is to businesses – security cameras, locked doors, keycards, guards and layered access should be all common features for any well protected business. But there's an aspect to business security that many either overlook, or don't even know exists – network and IT security. In this blog we'll take a look at network security for businesses, some examples of past security breaches, and show what you can do to keep you and your data safe.

Before the Internet came along, IT security operated on a much smaller scale and preventing access to sensitive computer information required less effort. In general, especially for smaller businesses, the data from these machines was either stored in hard drives or printed out and stored as paperwork and so security involved password protecting the computer and physical security, such as making sure the door was locked and monitoring employee access. There were still more advanced threats, such as the use of phone lines to breach systems, known as “phreaking,” and malicious software, such as viruses, but scale of these attacks was a lot lower due to the lack of the worldwide connection between computers that we have now.

But when the Internet came along, things began to change dramatically. Since the early nineties, the use of extensive intranet and internet systems created a whole new dimension for hackers and cyber criminals to exploit.

Examples of Security Data Breaches

One of the reasons that the growth of the internet has made IT and data security so important is because it has become so powerful and convenient. The more technology advanced, the more it was used to deal with our money, finances and personal data and so a breach in network security suddenly developed the potential to be catastrophic, rather than just inconvenient.

An example of such a catastrophic security breach was last Christmas when Target suffered an attack that caused the loss of credit card information from over 1,700 U.S. stores. Hackers gained access to the sensitive information after malware was installed via the computer of an HVAC contractor. It is impossible to measure the exact cost of this particular breach but it is thought to be in the billions. This case highlights the importance of never underestimating the vulnerability of your system, as while Target's internal security may have been tight, they had given access to an external contractor whose computer had been unknowingly infected by malware. It is also important to mention that another reason this attack was so harmful was a failure to report the breach – the company had installed software to detect such an attack but human error prevailed and the alert fell through the cracks.

What Can You Do To Prevent Network Security Failures?

In some ways, Internet and Network security can be a lot like regular building security. One of the key similarities between these two mediums is the need for a layered protection system. Once an employee enters the front door of a business, does he then have access to every room in the building? No, certainly not with the same key. Perhaps he is a high level employee and has been given access to some extra rooms in the building, but only those that are necessary. Likewise, once someone is granted basic access to a network, they should not be given free reign unless absolutely necessary. To go back to the business building example, once you have entered a specially secured floor, say Level 10, you will most likely need further access to enter a particular office and even then you may have difficulty opening a draw or filing cabinet! Network security should be the same, with different layers of access being granted to users with different levels of clearance. In the Target example, the HVAC contractor's login details should not have been a gateway to credit card information.

Another important step to take in order to maximize your company's data security is to stay vigilant. This is a very simple yet crucial step and one that many companies continue to neglect. Even if you have a solid security system set up you can never get complacent and presume you're untouchable. The more vigilant you are, the quicker you will notice any potential security flaws and or even the start of an attack.

Bottom Line: If you run a business with an internet network, then it's essential that you make network security a priority. The developments in technology have meant that more and more sensitive information is being transmitted across networks and this calls for tighter security and increased vigilance. By looking at examples such as the 2013 Target incident, companies can learn from past mistakes and ensure they're doing everything they can to protect their systems.

To find out more about Network Installations, Network Security, Cat 5 Cabling, and how you can make your business communications more secure, contact Alberta Pro Group today on 1-855-333-1223.

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