CYBER SECURITY | 5 MIN READ
Expanding your company to multiple offices is an exciting development. When building new branches, you might not consider the necessary steps to set up your network to securely handle employees from multiple branches working and communicating with one another across the same network. What are the necessary steps required to secure your network across multiple offices? Keep reading to find out.
Not enough time? Jump to:
Fix Security Patches and Update Software
Simply put, firewalls keep would-be intruders where they should be – outside your network. By putting up a virtual “wall” against inbound and outbound traffic, firewalls choose whether to allow or block certain traffic through. Firewalls and anti-virus software serve as a good basis for building your network security.
While installing firewalls and anti-virus software are both great methods for securing your network, many people forget or push off updating them. While we know this process can be a nuisance, every day that you wait to update your cyber security infrastructure after new versions emerge leaves you more vulnerable to ransomware attacks.
If you are able to, enable auto-updates on your security software and schedule any updates for late at night when you're not using your computer.
Set Up VPN's
VPN's, also known as Virtual Private Networks, ensure that data is encrypted when being sent to and from a office's network.
VPN's authenticate your information with your network's firewall before allowing it through, which ensures that information is encrypted and your network is still secure when all employees are sending information, logging into programs, and communicating with each other.
VPN's are also what can be used to connect all your offices online. Each of your offices has its own network, also known as a Local Area Network (LAN).
After you install firewalls at all your offices and connect all offices via VPN's, you create what's known as a Wide Area Network (WAN).
Once your WAN is set up, if one office needs to access information on another office's server, they can access that server through the VPN connection, which allows them to go through the firewall.
Configuring VPN's for all employees ensures that your network is still secure even if employees are working remotely. Without a VPN, hackers could access sensitive information that employees are sending to each other over public WiFi.
Sometimes co-workers forward over files to you, a client, or one of your other offices. Don't mail private files, fax them in an insecure way, or email them over an un-secured server. You risk these files being accessed by the wrong person.
For instance, your fax could be intercepted by someone else standing by the machine, which could potentially break data regulations if that person reads a sensitive document.
For a more modern approach to faxing that will help you stay compliant, use email encryption software to send documents. This software will scramble the data in the file so that only the intended recipient can view it.
For instance, our comprehensive cyber security package includes a service called Mimecast which can help keep private documents secure when they're sent internally in the company or externally. Mimecast also helps prevent phishing attacks by regulating emails that come from unknown email addresses.
Your employees are your weakest link when it comes to your practice's cyber security. You could have the best cyber security tools available on the market and your entire network could be brought down because one employee clicked on a phishing link or created a password that's easy to hack.
Training employees about good cyber security practices from the day they start work will help build a company culture of cyber security awareness. Sometimes, managed service providers have cyber security seminars for their clients' employees.
For instance, they can send out fake phishing tests to employees, and then pull any employees who fall for the phishing scheme into a seminar that will teach them about cyber security best practices.
Protect Your Data
When connecting your network to multiple offices, consider where your data will be stored. Naturally, the amount of data you need to protect grows with the amount of offices and employees you have. This makes secure backups and data storage a top concern.
To secure your company's data, consider storing it in one centralized location in the cloud. Some businesses find the cloud to be more secure when it's hosted in a third party data center instead of at your office.
This is because data centers are equipped with security personnel, reinforced walls to protect from acts of nature, and an advanced fire extinguishing system, among other features.
When your data is hosted in a third party location, it will also be safe from hackers who try to break into your office and take your personal information. While bigger businesses may need to split their data among multiple data centers, SMB's can benefit from storing their data in one third-party location.
To minimize downtime and ensure access to company data at all times, consider having fail-over servers as part of your backup and disaster recovery plan. For instance, if the servers at your headquarters go down, network traffic at that office can be re-directed through another office's servers.
If your company plans for further expansions down the road, cloud-based systems can ease that transition. Cloud-based systems are dynamic, which means that they can quickly re-adjust their resources to meet client demand. Cloud scalability allows for your company to expand your network to new offices both securely and quickly.
Consider Managed IT Services
When you expand to new offices, you might not know how to accomplish this from a technological standpoint. A Managed Service Provider (MSP) can plan the necessary steps and spending required to set up your network at a new office. For instance, your MSP could set up and maintain your WAN for you.
Managed IT services goes beyond simply setting up your network for success. After layering your network with the latest hardware and software, they employ a team of experts to address any threats or issues that pop up.
In the event that a ransomware attack happens or your network goes down, they can reduce downtime by quickly recovering data due to their use of frequent and secure backups.
Don't wait until you're the victim of a ransomware attack to improve your cyber security.
Posted by Erica Kastner
Erica Kastner is a lead Marketing Specialist at Standard Office Systems as well as a University of Georgia graduate. She aims to use her passion for problem-solving to help businesses understand how to better leverage their network infrastructure.