Network security involves securing endpoints and connections to reduce the risk of unauthorized network entry. Companies need a robust network security foundation to avoid damaging data breaches and cyberattacks. But how should you improve your security posture and keep endpoints safe?
This blog will explain how to improve network security by carrying out a proactive audit of connectivity points. Covering every access point gives businesses visibility and reassurance. Following these tips will lock down the network edge and make intrusions much more difficult.
10 ways to improve Network Security
There are many ways for a business to improve its network security. Bringing them all together in a network security strategy is a best practice. When you create a security strategy, here are the main areas to include:
1. Make staff training a priority
If you want to make networks more secure, focus on knowledge and skills first. Most network breaches are the result of human error. Employees could use unapproved devices that are infected with malware. Or they might click on dangerous links in phishing emails.
Staff training is the best way to minimize these security risks. On-board all new hires with comprehensive cybersecurity training, including passwords, phishing awareness, and device usage. Refresh this knowledge with regular email reminders. Annual training sessions will also help to keep staff skills up to date.
Training materials must evolve to reflect new security threats and company policies. Schedule periodic training audits to ensure documents and procedures meet current needs.
Pay attention to user communities as well. Are third-party network users included in security training? Have users migrated from on-premises settings to working from home?
2. Enforce a strict password policy
Passwords are at the front line of network security. Users must know how to create and use strong passwords and why simple passwords should be avoided.
As a rule, passwords should have over 10 characters and feature a mix of alphabetic characters, numbers, and symbols. Using dictionary words is inadvisable. And passwords based on personal information are completely unacceptable.
Passwords need to be changed regularly as well. Decide a universal expiry date for employee passwords and include this in your security policies. Additionally, train staff to avoid saving passwords in apps and browsers.
Leaving users to manage passwords on their own is a bad idea. Employees may store passwords insecurely or use weak passwords that are easy to crack. A network-wide password management system like NordPass provides a solution.
Password managers store credentials in secure locations, while features like autofill make it easy to use complex passwords without writing them down or saving them locally. x
3. Only use approved, properly sourced devices
Every device connected to the network could be a source of malware infection. Security managers must approve all devices before they are used. And employees should know that adding endpoints without informing security staff is prohibited.
Be aware of criminal strategies that leverage free devices to deliver malware. In previous instances, attackers trying to steal business data have provided complementary USB drives to targets. When connected, these drives upload malware automatically, instantly compromising network assets.
4. Drive home an anti-phishing message
Employees can easily compromise a company network by clicking infected email attachments or following embedded links to dangerous sites. Constantly emphasize the risks posed by attachments from unknown addresses. Every worker using the network should know the penalties for careless email usage.
Phishing awareness extends to internal emails as well. Spear phishing mimics messages from colleagues or partners. Employees need to check every address line and link to screen out suspicious content.
5. Use network security tools to neutralize vulnerabilities
Audit all endpoints and map out potential network vulnerabilities. When managers have an accurate picture of network architecture, implement security controls at the edge that guard against intrusions.
Network Access Control (NAC) tools scan network devices and authenticate users. Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) encrypt network traffic and anonymize users, hiding data from outsiders. Identity and Access Management (IAM) systems demand multiple credentials and apply privileges for every user.
With the right tools, you can implement Zero Trust principles. Users will have access to the resources they need, but attackers will find themselves confined if they breach the perimeter.
6. Physically separate critical resources
In some cases, companies separate data centers and storage equipment from the wider network. Creating a physical gap between data and the network makes a damaging data breach far less likely.
Companies can also protect hardware against external scanners with the use of Faraday cages. This is an extreme information security solution, as routers or drives confined in Faraday cages cannot receive wireless signals. But it provides total protection in high-security situations.
7. Be aware of insider threats
It’s not an everyday occurrence, but employees can decide to harm the interests of their company. For instance, workers may steal client data or sabotage infrastructure.
Create systems that monitor your network traffic and detect insider threats before they cause disruption. Scan network activity for suspicious behavior and flag unusual data access requests for HR teams to investigate.
8. Back up your data and prepare for disaster recovery
Network security measures limit the risk of successful cyberattacks but do not completely remove that risk. Companies must also have recovery plans in place to handle emergencies and network encryption to protect data within network boundaries.
Third-party data security specialists can deliver backup plans. Take care to choose a partner you can trust, with a strong record of assisting during recovery processes. And plan your backup needs. What qualifies as critical data? How do backups fit in with compliance strategies?
On-premises data backups should be encrypted and stored in a safe location without direct network access. It makes sense to have a centralized system to manage backups, with clear pathways to follow when attacks occur.
Network encryption applies strong encryption to data passing through the network. By combining backups and encryption, you can lock down data inside the perimeter and have a fall-back in place should emergencies arise.
9. Keep security software updated
Updating security software, operating systems, and critical applications is essential. Any unpatched software will be vulnerable to exploits – potentially providing a point of entry for attackers.
Security teams can automate software updates, removing the danger of human error. But staff should remain proactive. Stay informed about the latest vulnerabilities, exploits, and malware variants. You may need to abandon compromised apps or cloud solutions as new information comes to light.
10. Focus on mobile security
In a world of BYOD and remote working, employees regularly use mobile devices to access network resources. But connections from mobile devices may be insecure. Devices may lack encryption or be stolen. Workers may use insecure public wifi without realizing their mistake.
Inform staff about safe remote working practices and the need to use secure connections. All work devices should have agents installed to scan for malware and suspicious access requests if possible. And make sure employees cannot plug unapproved devices into on-premises networks. Every endpoint matters in network security.
How can NordLayer help improve your Network Security?
Following these ten guidelines will help you improve the security of your network. But if you want to put your security on a stable foundation, NordLayer is here to help.
NordLayer offers a range of security solutions based around Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) technology. Our tools are hardware-free and cloud-hosted. They provide a lightweight, secure option for remote work that's tailored to business needs.
Encrypt data, implement access controls, and carry out network monitoring from a centralized control panel. Integrate network security tools with cloud services like AWS or Google Drive, and set up MFA to authenticate every user.
Network security is within the reach of every company. To find out more, contact NordLayer today.