- Implement a firewall — A firewall is a barrier that keeps hackers and viruses out of computer networks. Firewalls intercept network traffic and allow only authorized data to pass through.
- Develop a corporate security policy — Establish a corporate security policy that details practices to secure the network. The policy should direct employees to choose unique passwords that are a combination of letters and numbers. Passwords should be changed every 90 days to limit hackers’ ability to gain possession of a functioning password. When someone leaves company, immediately delete the user name and password. The corporate policy should outline consequences for network tampering and unauthorized entry.
- Install anti-virus software — All computers should run the most recent version of an anti-virus protection subscription. Ideally a server should be configured to push virus updates out periodically to all client systems. Employees should be educated about viruses and discouraged from opening e-mail attachments or e-mail from unknown senders.
- Keep operating systems up to date — Upgrade operating systems frequently and regularly install the latest patches or versions of software, which are often free over the Web. If you use Microsoft Windows, checkwww.windowsupdate.com periodically for the latest patches.
- Don’t run unnecessary network services — When installing systems, any non-essential features should be disabled. If a feature is installed but not actively used, it is less likely to be updated regularly, presenting a larger security threat. Also, allow only the software employees need to do their job effectively.
- Conduct a vulnerability test — Conducting a vulnerability test is a cost-effective way to evaluate the current security program. This test highlights flaws and limitations in the program, and experts can offer suggestions for improvement. The best method for conducting a vulnerability test is to contact a computer consulting company and provide access to your system for a day or two. This will provide ample time for network appraisal and follow-up discussion and planning.
- Keep informed about network security — Numerous books, magazines and online resources offer information about effective security tools and “lessons learned.” Also, the Web provides ample and very current information about security – type in the key words “network security.”