11 Network Security Tips for Your Small Business

cyber security for small business

Network security is one of the most important aspects of running a small business, but it often goes overlooked.  

A business needs to be prepared to protect itself from hackers, viruses, malware, and other threats. There are many common mistakes people make when it comes to security that can put you, your company, and your employees at risk.  

Our IT team has constructed this list of 11 Network Security Tips to help you make the right decisions for your business’s security. 

What is Network Security?

“Network security” describes the business’s ability to protect its business network and data from outside threats.  

The goal is to protect business data—whether it be customer information or financial records—from unauthorized users.  

Why is Network Security Important?

Network security is important to business owners because a breach can cause a drastic drop in their client base. The business also has the problem of dealing with potential lawsuits for negligence. Not only can network security be difficult, but it is also time-consuming.

One example of the importance of network security is the valuable information on its systems. This information can be customer credit card numbers or personal information. Businesses need network security to protect this valuable information from unauthorized access.

A business owner needs always to be thinking about how to keep their business safe and what can happen if their business falls victim to an attack. One step they can take is investing in network monitoring software or contract a network monitoring service provider– both work by scanning for any vulnerabilities in the businesses.  

What are possible threats to my network?

Cyber security threats to small businesses are common, but owners often do not take the steps needed to protect their businesses.  

The main goal of network security is to protect business data from unauthorized users. Hackers, business competitors, and even employees can pose a threat to your company’s network if you don’t take proper precautions.  

It’s important to keep your business safe and thinking about what could happen if it falls victim to an attack.  

Malware and viruses are another common threat to a business’s network. They can often infect the system without detection and wreak havoc on a network.  

11 network security tips

11 Network Security Tips for Small Businesses

1) Change business passwords every 3 months. 

This is a must for anyone, but especially for business owners who are responsible for the data held on their networks. This includes employees with access to sensitive information and third parties you work with, such as web developers.  

2) Install a firewall and make sure it’s always on. 

For business owners who are using their business networks, installing a firewall is the first thing to do. An enterprise-grade firewall manages the in-and-out traffic on your network. This is more than any other option available to small business owners, so it pays for itself in decreased downtime.  

3) Don’t allow guest or public wireless access in your business. 

Guest wireless access in business environments is a major security concern.  

A common mistake business owners make is creating an environment where guests can connect to the business network.  

This may seem harmless, but it’s one of the easiest ways for hackers to gain access and steal business data or otherwise do damage. Once they’ve hacked into your network, they will then have free reign over your entire business system.  

These intruders could use guest wireless access as a way of getting inside your business premises undetected. They can go about their work unimpeded while you’re none the wiser due to no firewall being set up to detect them. 

It’s best practice for business owners not to allow guest or public wireless access in their business. We recommend using a business-class connection, reserved only for your staff (such as Ethernet). This will be one of the most important small business network security tips you’ll ever learn.  

4) Don’t click on links in emails from unknown senders. 

Don’t click on links in emails from unknown senders.  

You need to make sure you can trust the sender before clicking any link or downloading an attachment, even if it appears business-related. Hackers use spoofing and phishing techniques to get information such as passwords. 

There are many business email compromise (BEC) scams that try to trick business owners into wiring money to the fraudster. These attacks use social engineering techniques, such as impersonating a business partner. 

 5) Download a web browser with a built-in malware blocker.  

Downloading a web browser with a built-in malware blocker is one of the easiest things business owners can do to prevent cyber-attacks.  

Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox have comprehensive anti-malware features integrated into their browsers.  

cyber security malware blocker

6) Make sure you have anti-virus software that is up to date and running properly.  

In business, it is very important to have reliable antivirus software. This is because business networks are being targeted by hackers who want access to your business’s sensitive data.  

When a business lacks IT security, they cannot protect themselves from these attacks. These attacks and data breaches can lead to serious business consequences. 

Updates for your antivirus software are important because they protect against new viruses. When your business network doesn’t have reliable network security, there is a constant risk of getting hacked.  

Without antivirus software updates, it won’t be able to protect you anymore. This could lead to hackers gaining access to your business’s sensitive data. 

  • Norton Antivirus  
  • Bitdefender 
  • Avast  

These are a few examples of good business antivirus software. Business infrastructure should have reliable IT security and antivirus software.  

7) Turn off the shared drives that are mapped to “everyone” by default.  

One of the most common causes of business network breakdowns is the disruption of shared drive access. Shared drives mapped to “Everyone” or “Public” by default can be accessible to outside individuals. This gives people who are not business employees access to sensitive data.  

Administrators should change the default settings of shared drives and map them only to business employees. Employees should only have access to the drives that they need. If these precautions are not taken, sensitive data could become exposed.  

8) Ask your IT vendor for business network security best practices before signing a contract with them.  

The business owner may not know what security practices may or may not be best for the business network. The business owner should notify the IT vendor about business security and their business needs. This might help with mitigating business risks and avoiding loss of information. 

IT vendors should manage business devices and business data. If business network security needs are not managed, business data could fall into the hands of hackers.  

One example of business device management is the required use of a passcode on business devices to ensure business data remains safe. Antivirus software is a vital need for business devices to ensure business data stays secure.  

it security best practices

9) Look for suspicious devices on the business network.  

When there is a suspicious device on the business network, IT should investigate to see if it belongs to an employee within the company. The suspicious device could be a blue-tooth speaker or even a computer that no one has seen before.  

Business owners need to be vigilant about suspicious devices for many reasons. One of the main reasons is that business data could be at risk of exposure or being compromised. Another reason is that hackers might use business devices, such as printers or even mouse to eavesdrop on business activities.  

10) Perform routine audits of the business network and devices 

Business owners should audit business network security to identify potential security vulnerabilities.  

There are various ways to audit business network security. Examine all electrical outlets for unsecured wires or unsecured Bluetooth-enabled peripherals in proximity. Watch your network for any unknown devices. If there are any vulnerabilities uncovered during an audit, then the owner should take the appropriate action.  

11) Have frequent network backups you can go back to if there is a breach.  

Small business owners may not realize it, but security breaches can cost you your business. The good news is that there are simple steps every business owner can take to make their business more secure. 

Business owners don’t need to be an IT engineer or a business consultant to make their business network more secure. The first step is backing up your data frequently. Various business applications can help with this, and some of them even offer free trials for new business owners.  

Common Questions about Network Security

Does business network security protect against spam? 

Yes. Spam filtering blocks emails that contain viruses and/or spam content. This decreases business productivity and impeding business communication.   

Does business network security protect against phishing? 

Yes. Business network security protects against malware and phishing attempts. A good network security protocol detects in real-time to prevent data loss or system downtime.

What are the Business requirements for cybersecurity? 

While business network security alone is not enough to protect your business, it can help prevent data loss or system downtime.  

There are many requirements for cyber security – including IT support and business processes. Use network security protocols along with other measures to secure your network as much as possible. 

How much does it cost to keep my business safe online?  

It depends on the business. There are many affordable options available to small businesses for network security – even if you’re a startup with a limited budget. 

Do I need antivirus software and malware protection for my business computers and mobile devices too?  

The short answer is yes, but not all business computers and mobile devices need the same protection. You want to make sure that your business antivirus software is up to date, and you’ve installed any necessary patches.

It’s not as critical for business phones and tablets if they’re not used by customers. The best way to protect them from malware is to know where they go and what they do.

For computers that are for business use, we recommend keeping all software up to date. Install any necessary security updates and installing an antivirus. Pay close attention if the business computer spends time on public networks such as at a coffee shop.  

Final Thoughts on Network Security for Small business

Considering the importance of these tips, it doesn’t make sense to wait until you’ve suffered a security breach to implement them. A business could go out of business before they take their first step towards improving their cyber security. 

In business, security is a must. No matter the size of your business, these tips will help protect your business’s security. If you feel like there may be something wrong with your, contact an expert who can inspect it before anything goes awry.

Picture of Amber Briggs

Amber Briggs

Amber Briggs has served 8 years in a corporate IT role. She assists users in troubleshooting hardware and software, implementing and maintaining network hardware and software, and writes process documentation for end-users and other company members. Amber has previously worked as a Junior Systems Admin for many companies, including Doctors Making Housecalls, Carillon Assisted Living, and Custom Communications Inc. She also has experience working as a Technical Support Agent at Citrix. She holds a degree in professional writing and is currently studying computer science and information studies at Houston Community College. Amber has many hobbies outside of work, including art and graphic design, surfing, gardening, gym, video games, going to the gym, and skateboarding.

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