The Internet, distributed workforces, mobile devices, and cloud service have all combined to create new opportunities for companies – and new challenges for CIOs. Companies are struggling to meet regulations around protected information, to maintain appropriate privacy for any proprietary information, and to manage the addition of mobile devices to their network. At the same time that these devices offer new and exciting ways to do business, they introduce risk into a computer environment.
WANs, small and interconnected networks, are an important way of making sure that all the disparate pieces of a company can access necessary resources. They facilitate communication and ease the necessity of having everyone on a particular site. But they also need careful protection to maintain company security. Here are a few of the important ways that small- and medium-sized businesses can improve their WAN security today.
Virtual private networks
A virtual private network is a way to connect to a single computer or group of computers to a network while keeping the connection encrypted. This protects the computers from information either coming into or going out of a network. A company can choose to purchase a VPN on its own, or it can be part of choosing a managed IT provider.
For many years, companies assumed that relying on their Internet provider to encrypt networks would be sufficient to protect their information. As security threats have increased, companies have realized that relying on service providers simply isn’t safe. There’s no way to guarantee that service providers are staying updated with the kind of robust technology necessary to protect valuable company information, whether it’s related to FERPA, HIPAA, or other PII. Many VPNs include WAN encryption, but either way, companies should make sure their data is protected. At the same time, companies should ensure that firewalls and web filters are built into their networks at all levels.
Managing mobile devices
Kevin Beaver told TechTarget that mobile device management is “probably the biggest problem that businesses face today.” Mobile devices are rapidly expanding and penetrating the market; laptops, mobile phones, and tablets are becoming a bigger and more important part of doing business. More companies are embracing Bring-Your-Own-Device policies to save on company payroll and employee confusion. Unfortunately, this opens up a whole new world of network insecurity. When companies allow employees to use their own devices, they need to accept that those employees can install other apps on those devices.
There isn’t a single answer for how companies monitor and manage their mobile devices. If companies are choosing a secure WAN provider, they should question how mobile devices can be kept secure as they enter the company network.
Keep everything up to date
One of the most critical things any business can do to keep its company secure and protected is to keep all of its software up to date. From anti-virus to encryption software, businesses need to make sure that they’re not deferring updates or putting off necessary technology upgrades. Employees often minimize the notifications that it’s time to update; employers need a plan to make sure that all tech is upgraded anyway.
It’s also important for companies to recognize the signs of malware invading a system. Slowdowns may be noticeable; computers and hardware may begin to overheat; the classic signs are pop-up ads and strange browser behavior.
Training employees to look out for these sorts of issues can help keep the entire company safer.
For businesses that are looking to ease the burden of creating, updating, or maintaining their WAN, contact BECA. We want to help you manage your IT needs.