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Yes, network security can be easy

From firewalls, to content filtering to VPNs, there’s a lot to consider, and you shouldn’t have to hire an IT expert to use it all.

Woman working on laptop

If your business has multiple locations that electronically share information with each other, you have a network. And if that network in any way connects to the internet, it’s vulnerable.

While there’s no shortage of best practices any organization can adopt to help ensure network security, including maintaining firewalls and anti-malware software, it can be hard to get all the features you need consolidated in a single suite—and even if you have that, chances are you’re so overwhelmed by a plethora of technical features you never knew you needed. Plus, you still need to figure out how to keep it all up to date on every machine, every day. The key is understanding what threats you really need to watch for and what will help mitigate them.

Advanced malware protection

Standard network-level malware protection is extremely useful. Since malware attacks are often launched via social engineering schemes, like phishing, where an employee clicks on a link in a deceitful email that takes them to a malicious website that launches the attack, network-level malware protection automatically blocks access to such sites.

But malicious websites aren’t the only way you can get malware onto your network. That’s why advanced malware protection goes several steps further, monitoring file activity across your network in order to detect and contain threats so you can then remove them.

The right kind of firewall

Do you know the difference between a stateless and a stateful firewall? That’s okay. Obviously, there are very technical explanations out there, but what you need to know is that stateless firewalls block data from entering your network primarily by examining where each data “packet” comes from and where it’s going according to pre-set rules.

Stateful firewalls, on the other hand, examine data traffic patterns, establishing from an initial inspection whether a certain traffic flow is legitimate. As a result, the firewall remembers the “state” of that flow, allowing subsequent data that’s part of that same flow to move freely within your network without having to examine each and every packet. Stateful firewalls are more modern, easier to configure and better at spotting unauthorized data than stateless firewalls.

Intrusion detection and prevention

While a firewall can block traffic from entering your network, an intrusion detection system (IDS) alerts you to an attack so you can take action. A popular analogy is that a firewall is your network’s bouncer while an IDS is its security cameras. An intrusion prevention system (IPS) is another layer of network security behind the firewall because, while a firewall can permit or block traffic, an IPS inspects the traffic based on other criteria to further assess whether it should be allowed in. Consider it your network’s frisker.

Internet content filtering

Securing your network isn’t just about mitigating explicit cyber threats like malware. Let’s say you run a café, and a customer of yours decides to look up explicit material on their laptop in plain view of your other guests. Situations like that are why you need the ability to block certain types of internet content in your workplace.

There are two common ways to control the internet content available on your network. One is called content filtering, which allows you to block certain types of content, ranging from illegal content to nudity to fraudulent content like financial scams. The other is called web search filtering, and it does exactly what its name suggests: it blocks certain search engine results based on your preferences.

VPNs

Virtual private networks (VPNs) encrypt your data and mask your IP address so you can securely send private information over the internet. Even if you have a wired private network between your business’s locations, VPNs are still important if a remote employee needs to access your network and any sensitive data on it.

Resiliency and redundancy

Even with all these protections in place, your network can still crash for a number of reasons beyond your control. For example, a truck could accidentally bump into a pole, taking down the internet for your entire neighbourhood. If something like that happened, what could you do to stay up and running?

Software-defined networking (SD-WAN) can help you by tying together several internet connections into your business. If one fails, your network automatically turns to a second connection or a third if necessary, and so on. This can even be done wirelessly using LTE.

An easy-to-use online dashboard

One of the features that seems to get the least attention from providers is the environment from which you can manage all the other features. As mentioned earlier, too many networking dashboards are difficult for the average business owner to understand and operate. While it’s necessary for large corporations to hire IT experts to manage their massive networks, there’s no reason a small chain should have to.

The bottom line is that networking dashboards should be securely accessible on any internet-enabled device at any time, easy to understand and easy to use. Whether a provider’s dashboard checks all these boxes should weigh heavily on your decision to sign up with them, just as much as the effectiveness of their other features.

Advantage SecurityTM is an all-in-one, easy-to-use network security suite available as an optional feature with select Rogers Business Internet plans. Contact a Rogers for Business representative today to learn more.