The age of information opens up business opportunities unparalleled throughout history. We can now conduct business with anyone, anywhere in the world, instantly.
But as we move our data and business transactions online, we’re more subject to cyber theft, cyber vandalism, and data destruction than ever before.
Here are the instruments you need to put in place to keep secure when doing business in an online world.
Keep Anti-Malware Updated
Malware is a catch-all term to describe viruses, spam, spyware, and other evils inherent in working online. It is imperative to choose anti-malware carefully, but it is equally important to assure this software is updated on a regular basis. New threats hit the Internet every day. Make sure your malware protection software is automated to update at least once per day. Automating the process frees up IT staff for other assignments, and assures the process is never forgotten.
Set Up for Monitoring and Managing Applications Logins
Both internal and external threats can be kept at bay with a good login process. Make sure your system keeps a log of who accesses each application, when, and why. You can also set up different security levels, so only the people who need access to information can get to it using their password. With proper login logs in place, you’ll be able to quickly identify unauthorized or threatening activities and put a stop to them before real damage is done.
Set Up DoS Defense
One of the go-to acts of cyber criminals and hackers are DoS attacks. Also called Denial of Service attacks, DoS attacks usually involve the criminals overloading the server with requests so that legitimate customers are unable to access the website. These attacks can cost businesses thousands of dollars, as customers are unable to make purchases and IT racks up overtime charges fixing the problem. There are other methods for conducting a DoS attack aside from overloading the server with bogus requests, but all can be thwarted if there is a DoS defense system in place.
Use Firewalls and Routers
Firewalls can be software or hardware. A router can also act as a firewall. It acts to control the network traffic, both outgoing and incoming. It uses preset rules to determine if a packet of information is okay to allow through or not. Firewalls and anti-malware together make up your first line of defense against intrusion.
Set Up VPN
VPNs extend a private network across the Internet. It uses encryption or a dedicated connection to transfer the private network with all its features, functions, and security to a remote server. This is the most secure way to do business across the Internet, such as between your company and your vendors or among your branch offices. It’s like extending the intranet across the Internet.
Use Image and Content Controls
Content controls are another way to combat both internal and external threats. These controls help identify potential threats before they come in. It’s also an excellent way to prevent problems in the workplace, such as employees viewing pornography at work. However, content and image controls also help stop viruses, malware, and other threats before they can damage the system. You can control how stringent the image and content controls are, so employees can get work done without threatening the system.
Set Up Intrusion Detection and Prevention
Intrusion detection and prevention software constantly monitors the system for suspicious activities. The software generates reports for the IT staff or management to view so problems can be identified easily and quickly. It can also help the company identify security procedures that need to be revisited.
Use a Proxy Service
A proxy service is another layer of protection between your servers and the Internet. It mediates requests between your workers and the Internet and can protect your servers from malicious websites and other threats. When using a proxy service, your computers will be anonymous online. Intruders such as cyber criminals and hackers can’t see who or where you are. It can also stop multiple downloads of the same file, which preserves bandwidth usage and storage space.
Employ a Unified Threat Management System
All of the precautions listed above can be incorporated into a unified threat management system. This defense solution was introduced in 2004, but has developed as the threats on the Internet have grown and become more prevalent. A unified management system allows your IT staff to put all of the security measures under one umbrella, which is much easy to monitor, manage, and keep updated.
How to Choose a Data Defense System
There are a number of factors to consider when choosing what software and hardware to invest in for security, including:
- The size of the business
- The type of data you hold
- The company’s budget
- How many people know about your company
- How many employees you have
- Whether your business or industry is a target for cyber criminals and hackers
Large, high-profile companies need greater security measures (and generally have larger budgets) than small to medium sized businesses. However, don’t assume you’re immune to cyber threats just because you’re a relatively unknown mom and pop shop. Experts warn any unprotected server will be identified and pillaged within 45 minutes of connecting to the Internet.
Companies which hold sensitive information on large groups of people are also common targets. This includes data such as social security or banking information, health information, credit reports, birthdays, and other information which can be used in identity theft. Most cyber criminals are after just this type of information.
Certain businesses, no matter their size, are often targeted by activists to prove a point. For example, large retailers come under attack from anti-capitalists, meat and seafood producers are often attacked by animal rights groups, and all businesses in the United States are under threat from government sanctioned cyber terrorists in China and North Korea.
What can you do?
- Set a budget for your data defense
- Consult with your IT department about the treats they’re seeing and expecting
- Select a vendor offering a wide range of products and services for a reasonable price
- After the security system is installed, be sure to automate regular updates to keep the system secure
- Revisit security software and protocol each business quarter to make sure the system is protecting your company
When it comes to doing business online, there’s no such thing as too much security.
Image via Flickr by Dev.Arka