6 min read

How to Protect Your Network from Cyber Attacks

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The world is becoming more connected every day, and to stay competitive, businesses in every industry need to develop and operate complex network infrastructure. But protecting these networks from cyber attacks can be challenging and costly, especially if your business is spending more time and resources responding to data breaches rather than preventing them.

Due to bad actors and poor risk management, there are constant risks affecting network security for Oklahoma businesses and beyond. Protecting your network against cyber attacks can seem overwhelming, but it’s critical that your business takes proactive steps to prevent a major breach.

Learn how to protect your business networks from cyber attacks with a people-centric security approach that integrates cybersecurity best practices.

 

The cost of cyber attacks

Cyber attacks have become increasingly costly, making it essential that businesses invest in comprehensive network security. According to research from Ponemon Institute, data breaches cost businesses an average of $4.2 million in 2021, the highest average in 17 years.  

Not only do targeted organizations have to pay for staff hours spent identifying and remediating breaches, but cyber attacks and data exposures can also harm a business's reputation.

 

That damage can have real-world financial impacts that take years to recover.

To stay ahead of existing and emerging cybersecurity threats, businesses need to implement risk management practices. Your business needs security experts in place that can:

  • Identify potential cybersecurity risks and vulnerabilities.
  • Assess and prioritize those risks.
  • Create an action plan to mitigate risks based on their likelihood and scope of impact.
  • Plan a regular schedule for auditing, assessing, upgrading, and patching systems and networks.

But before your business can start developing and implementing a comprehensive network security strategy, you need to identify common risks and cybersecurity threats for your location, industry, and IT infrastructure.

With increased online risk management and data security, you can essentially password protect your business by engaging with a skilled team of experts to ensure the best proactive security solutions online, just like in person.

 

People-centric cybersecurity: Top threats and exploits

As cybercriminals develop new ways to gain access to protected networks, modern businesses need to account for and protect against a variety of cybersecurity threats. 

There are two main types of cyber attacks you need to understand.

Social Engineering Attacks

These attacks rely on deception to gain access to protected networks and protected information, instead of just computer skills alone.

Social engineering attacks frequently take the form of phishing emails, which bait authorized users to share credentials with offered rewards or click links that install malware on the device. 

Social engineering can also include voicemail, email, and website pop-up scams requesting sensitive data to repair or restore system functions.

 

Technical hacking

When individuals think of hacking, this may be their mental picture. 

These kinds of attacks often don’t involve internal people working at the targeted business or site. Instead, bad actors exploit system and network vulnerabilities to gain access to protect networks or disrupt ongoing work. 

Hackers use techniques like man-in-the-middle, denial of service (DoS), or a brute force attack to gain access, extract information, or hold data for ransom.

What these cyber attacks have in common

Both social engineering attacks and technical hacking pose significant threats to business networks. To combat these two categories of cyber attacks, your business needs a network security approach that covers your people, processes, and systems with the appropriate protocols, training, and security solutions.

 

Network security: Top threats and exploits

When it comes to your network, you may be facing a lot of different threats — some of which may be coming from within your organization.

Top network security threats include:

  • Undetected malware or “malicious code.” Malware can be incredibly difficult to combat once it’s breached your network security.

    IBM reported that businesses took an average of 228 days to detect breaches in 2020. In that amount of time, spyware and other types of malware can do considerable damage to your business and information systems.
  • Unsecured connections and devices. These days, practically every device can be connected to the internet. However, smart equipment like office printers and other Internet of Things (IoT) devices are often overlooked in security strategies. This provides an insecure point of entry for hackers to exploit.
  • A lack of training for non-security staff. Businesses often suffer data breaches due to risks introduced unintentionally by untrained staff. Things like walking away from workstations without logging out of accounts or clicking links from an unfamiliar email address can all put your networks at increased risk.
  • Running outdated software. Many businesses operate legacy IT infrastructure and software, which means updating their applications and operating systems can be time-consuming. However, failing to install software updates promptly leaves networks vulnerable to unpatched vulnerabilities and configuration issues, increasing the likelihood of a data breach.

Learn more about how you can improve network security from our recent blog post.

 

Best Practices for preventing cyber attacks

To protect your network from cyber attacks and prevent data breaches, your business needs an end-to-end security approach

With the right skills, training, and resources, your IT experts and non-technical staff can work together to keep your network and IT infrastructure secure.

 

1- Build a cybersecurity team with the right skillset

To effectively protect your networks, you need to have IT security experts supporting your organization. 

Whether you fill these skill gaps with in-house personnel or via managed IT services from providers like Standley Systems, you need to hire security teams and an information security leader (like a CIO) to keep your systems secure and operational so the rest of your business can focus on value-generating activities.

2- Implement layers of security and multi-factor authentication

Once you have a security team with the right skills to protect your network, your business can take steps to implement a layered security strategy. 

Control access to protected information systems, databases, and devices by using multiple methods to confirm a user’s identity (such as login information, one-time passwords, mobile apps, or email). Using multi-factor authentication software makes it more difficult for hackers and unauthorized users to gain access to sensitive information.

3- Train your security and non-security staff

In addition to having access to security experts, your business also needs non-technical staff that understands fundamental security practices. 

Make sure you train all your employees on best practices for using email, signing on to secure systems, leaving workstations and other devices unattended, how to create a strong password, and reporting security risks as soon as they are identified.

4- Conduct regular business network and system audits

Network security and risk management are essential for safely conducting business using internet-connected systems. Your network security should be proactive, consistent, and comprehensive, which means conducting regular network and system audits. 

You don't have to wait until the problem arises to start planning a solution; Standley Systems can help you conduct thorough audits that help you identify and patch vulnerabilities before they result in a major incident.

 

5- Use VPNs, firewalls, and anti-virus software

Because businesses often don’t identify that a breach has occurred until long after the actual incident, it’s important to do everything you can to implement access control using solutions like virtual private networks (VPNs) and firewalls to implement access control for protected systems. And if a breach does occur, you can use antivirus software to routinely scan your systems.

6- Install operating system and other software updates promptly

Finally, make sure that all your software updates are installed as soon as possible. Unsupported and unpatched software makes cyber attacks and data breaches more likely to occur, so work with your cybersecurity team to develop a consistent update schedule to stay on top of updates and plan them around business operations.

 

Work with Standley Systems to protect your corporate network

Data breaches happen to even the best companies, but preparation can help you avoid the worst of them. Failing to proactively protect your network and IT infrastructure will cost your business more in the long run. Get your risk management on track by partnering with Standley Systems.

Learn how our team of cybersecurity experts can act as your first line of defense and prevent bad actors from gaining access to your systems and computer networks — contact us today.

Kali Mogg

Written by Kali Mogg

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