Surefire Steps for Complete Network Security

Your business network is an essential part of your day-to-day operations. Think about how often you access your network to keep your business running. It contains your everyday business applications, stores sensitive data and keeps you connected to manage relationships and deliver results.

A single breach or network security threat has the power to shut down your entire business for days. Without dedicated network protection, hackers and other unauthorized individuals have more opportunity to steal precious information, manipulate your systems and bring your organization to a standstill.

At Hill Country, we want to ensure your business can handle and overcome all the latest security threats. With the right security solutions and services to watch your back and back you up, you can work with greater flexibility, confidence and productivity.

Begin with a Security Risk Assessment

Network security threats are at an all-time high, and they show no signs of stopping. Yet industry data concerning the skills shortage in network and cybersecurity continues to present challenges in multiple areas. A 2016 Security Report by Cipher Brief illustrates these problematic shortages of skills:

Private data (including Social Security numbers, account details, medical records and more) is precious to cyber criminals, which is why phishing schemes and hacking-related ploys are becoming more sophisticated and cunning.

To determine how best to protect your business from devious hackers and intruders, you can first undergo a complete security risk assessment that reveals and pinpoints any system leaks, threats, or vulnerabilities.

1. Identify Important Business Assets

Prioritize the importance of all the information your organization handles. This includes personal information, Social Security numbers, payment data, patient records, HR details, company financials and the like. Make a list of everything that needs to be protected.

2. Locate Your Assets

Find out exactly where each piece of information is stored within your organization (i.e., laptops, servers, mobile devices, databases) and where those devices are located.

3. Classify and Organize Your Assets

Classify your assets into individual categories by source or usage, such as:

  • Public data – contact information, marketing campaigns, sales lists
  • Internal data –  office policies, manuals, workflow charts, customer communications
  • Private internal data –  business plans, financial reports, strategies, nondisclosure agreements, payroll
  • Regulated data – patient information, classified documents

4. Consult with Your MSP or Other Third-party Consultant

A third-party consultant will help you lay the foundation for a solid security plan. They will conduct a risk assessment exercise to analyze threats that your high-priority business assets face and work with you to build strategic, protective solutions to keep these assets safely out of harm’s way.

Educate Your Employees on the Practice of Network Security

Did you know human error is to blame for most data breaches?

Every year, as companies implement stronger security solutions and take extra security measures, hackers develop new methods to combat these technologies. While investing in modern security technology is essential to your overall defense strategy, the truth is that most data breaches can be traced back to human error.

The most common error that resulted in a breach involved data being sent to the wrong person. According to statistics from the ICO, 17% of data breaches attributed to data being posted or faxed to the wrong recipient.

The loss or theft of paperwork accounted for another 17% of breaches, while data being emailed to the wrong recipient accounted for 9%.

Why Employee Education is Key to Breach Prevention

As your network security specialists, our mission is to keep your company’s private information fully protected through proactive monitoring, employee awareness and education, as well as through regular assessments.

Here are a few tips to help keep your employees, customers and network data fully secure:

  • Update your IDs and passwords frequently and keep your personal information as private as possible
  • Keep your firewall updated and active at all times
  • Ensure only authorized users have access to sensitive data and hold employee education sessions on security best practices
  • Encrypt all sensitive data on all corporate devices to keep external threats from disrupting your business
  • Carry out regularly scheduled backups to a secure, offsite data center in the event of hardware failure or a cyber attack
  • Work with your managed service provider (MSP) to conduct regular malware scans and security risk assessments to detect and remediate security gaps

 

Implement Protective Measures and Security Monitoring

Many businesses are moving away from the hourly-rate billing model of IT services and moving to proactive, managed IT services through monthly program or project fees. When you move beyond reactive support to proactive service, you’re able to work more efficiently and consistently, with technology helping you boost your performance rather than hindering it.

Truly proactive network maintenance and protection has the potential to improve employee productivity, increase system reliability, improve customer satisfaction and even help you minimize IT support costs.

Enhanced Productivity

Most technical problems are revealed as warnings before causing critical damage. When servers and other IT systems are left unmonitored for prolonged periods of time, the damage that results can be far more severe than if the issue was detected early and resolved quickly.

In fact, undetected problems can become major disasters that cause unrecoverable loss to your bottom line and business reputation. With proactive security monitoring and maintenance, not only can you prevent more of these types of disasters and prepare for the unexpected, you’ll also improve your day-to-day performance.

Better Reliability

Our constant, 24/7 network monitoring services allow us to easily catch small problems early on – making sure they don’t snowball into bigger problems that slow or even stop your activity. Our proactive security services enable us to continuously check the status of your equipment, discover new devices, set up custom event notifications, and review historical system data for irregularities. When your systems are regularly monitored and maintained by experts, you’ll be able to work with less disruption and greater peace of mind.

Greater Cost Savings

Because reactive support is usually hourly-based, your small business is never able to dedicate resources or strategize your IT investment for the future. Whenever a crisis situation arises, you’ll most likely experience downtime as well as an unpredictable IT bill that needs to be paid upfront. There is no planning to address the root of the problem or mitigate mistakes or emergencies, leaving your business susceptible to the same types of problems over and over again.

With proactive security monitoring, you’re charged a flat monthly rate for around-the-clock, comprehensive support. Factor in the financial advantages of fewer disruptions, higher productivity and more strategic IT planning, and you’ll be able to justify a proactive monitoring plan as a more cost-effective solution.

Make Sure You Maintain Regulatory Compliance

Meeting and maintaining regulatory compliance requires keeping your security policies up-to-date, your staff trained to deal with confidential documents and your business prepared to pass a government audit without losing thousands of dollars in non-compliance fees.

When it comes to regulatory compliance, there are all sorts of rules and regulations to be aware of. Depending on the industry you’re in and the type of information you handle on a daily basis, there are different compliance policies and information security practices you must follow to protect against data leaks and hold employees accountable.

HIPAA

HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) deals with safeguarding medical information to uphold the privacy and confidentiality of patient data.

A violation of HIPAA compliance could cost $50,000 or more in fines, even on your first offense. All it takes is for one unhappy patient to make a phone call to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), and you could be found non-compliant without even realizing you weren’t keeping up with regulations. Not only will non-compliance result in financial fines, but your clients may also lose trust in your organization for fear their records aren’t confidential.

PCI DSS

The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) was established to ensure the security of cardholder data against unauthorized use or mishandling of personal information. Created in 2004 by four major credit card companies, PCI DSS deals with six major objectives:

  • Having a secure network for handling and processing cardholder transactions
  • Protecting cardholder information (i.e., Social Security numbers, phone numbers, birthdates, names and mailing addresses) wherever it’s stored
  • Keeping all systems up-to-date with the latest anti-virus, anti-spyware and anti-malware solutions
  • Ensuring the right people have access to the right information – every user should be assigned a unique name or number and access to information systems should be restricted and controlled.
  • Keeping a constant watch on your network to ensure everything is working properly and all security measures are in place
  • Documenting a formal information security policy that must be adhered to at all times

SOX

The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (aka SOX) was passed by the US Congress to protect against accounting errors and fraud. It also works to improve the accuracy of corporate reporting and disclosures.

While SOX has a big role in the financial side of business, it also defines how companies should store their electronic records. SOX states that all business records must be saved for “not less than five years.” The consequences for noncompliance are fines, imprisonment or both.

 

We’ve Got Your Back

Hill Country Tech Guys can assist you with employee training and proactive security monitoring, as well as meeting and maintaining compliance. We take preventative measures because we don’t believe in simply reacting to issues that could be avoided in the first place. By resolving IT problems and proactively monitoring your network, we can stop IT problems before they cause problems, allowing you to take your business to the peak of success without any unnecessary roadblocks.

Call us today for a free consultation to see how we can help you achieve your goals!