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7 Network security tools every small business owner must have

If a big business has a security breach in the computer network, they may end up dealing with a public relations nightmare. They will have to work hard to convince their customers that they have taken steps to correct any problems caused by the security breach and that they have made sure that it does not happen again.

Large businesses can survive a security breach because they have the resources to fix the problem. They can launch a campaign informing customers about how they have handled the situation and they can invest in the hardware and software to fix the problem. The deep pockets of a big business make this possible.

Small businesses do not always have such deep pockets, the in-house IT department or the access to what they need to fix security breaches.

Protection and Prevention is the Key

If a small business wants to survive a security breach, the best thing they can do is to prevent one from occurring. They need to take steps to protect their network and they need to make sure that all of the employees involved in the business are aware of how to prevent possible security breaches and network problems.

While small businesses may not have an IT department, that does not mean they cannot find the tools needed to protect their network. There are several ways that a small business can accomplish this goal. It is possible to find the security they need within their budget. When a business has the right combination of tools, they will have a much smaller chance of having to deal with a security breach in their network.

The Tools

There are good tools and bad tools that are available to protect the network of a small business. Some of the choices of tools depend on the needs of the business, but these are the most common tools being used by small businesses.

1. Up to Date Firewall: Firewalls are not new to computers. It has long been known that a basic line of defence is to make sure that the firewall on a computer is turned on. Like all other technology, the technology of firewalls has improved over the years. A small business should have the latest generation of firewalls available to protect their network. These firewalls focus on the source and destination of an IP address, the source and destination of ports and attention is paid to a specific protocol and its destination.

2. Up to Date Antivirus Software: Another basic of computer and network security that has been around for many years is the use of antivirus software. This software is designed to constantly scan the computers in a network for any suspicious or potentially harmful software that is trying to find its way onto it. The software should always be kept updated to protect from new threats. It should be able to not only detect any viruses or malware; it should also be able to remove it safely.

3. Intrusion prevention: A newer idea for protecting networks is the idea of the use of an intrusion prevention system. The goal of these systems is to maintain a database of the known ways that networks are being attacked and be able to recognise these attacks to stop employees or any network user from making a mistake that allows an attack to occur. These systems are a great way to prevent an intrusion from happening by accident.

4. Web Filters: One of the biggest threats that a small business has to face is when someone using the network decides not to follow the rules. If one person decides to download or access content that they should not be using, they could be opening up the network to possible problems. Web filtering is a good way for the small business to control what is accessed by anyone on the business’s network. A filter can block users from accessing different kinds of content on the web and can be used to filter email content as well.

5. VPN: Virtual private networks are another great tool for small business. The VPN essentially creates a private network within the public network. It is a good way to keep the information on a public network more secure.

6. Denial of Service System: This is similar to the web filters and the IPS systems, but it is on a higher level. It is possible for the filters or the IPS to miss the signs of a malicious software or possible attack. The denial of service system is able to recognise more attacks and can also block rate-based or protocol threats.

7. Prevention of Data Loss: There are many different kinds of data that are stored by small businesses. Some of the data is more sensitive than others. Private information for the customers of a small business needs to be protected better than other less sensitive information. There are tools available that can prevent the more sensitive information from being attacked or stolen from the outside. By preventing private information from being stolen, the small business is able to focus on building their business instead of recovering from the data loss.

These are seven of the tools that a small business can turn to to protect their network. Some of what a business decides to use will depend on what type of information is stored on the computers in their network and how securely it needs to be kept. No matter what industry a small business is in, if they are using computers, they need to make sure that protection of their network is a priority.

The cost of the protection will pale in comparison to the cost of dealing with the damage of an attack. Businesses should look at this protection as another form of insurance for their business. When it works, it may seem like it is money that is being wasted, but it is actually better to spend the money now than to figure out how to declare bankruptcy later.

What do you think a small business’s role is in network protection? What are the business’s responsibilities in this area? Feel free to share any thoughts, ideas or suggestions you have with us.

Image source: Shutterstock/Maksim Kabakou