Network Security — A First Line of Defense that Might Surprise You

“Employee Security Awareness is a very important part of the overall Security Policy and Information Technology Compliance program of any business.”

network-security-defenseAlthough there are numerous network security options that substantially reduce network threats, he contends that the first line of defense to most cyber-attacks is the end-user.

Network Security is Important for Everyone

These monthly briefs provide OTELCO staff with valuable information and resources in the interest of our network security.  In the interest of your network security, you can expect to see excerpts from Jason’s monthly briefs right here.

Ransomware is this month’s topic. Ransomware infiltrates a computer and denies access to the user unless a ransom is paid.  Consequently, these attacks can be costly in many ways.

Firewalls, system back-ups, software security patches, and network maintenance are a few of the steps that an IT administrator can take to ensure that ransomware doesn’t compromise network security. In addition, there is some first-line defense and end-user can provide.

The System Administration, Audit, Network, and Security Institute (SANS), is a worldwide organization specializing in IT and cyber-security.  A recent SANS newsletter emphasized 2 things that an employee or end-user can do to help the cause.

1.   Be Smart About Your Personal Information

network-security-dont-talk-to-strangersAttackers know the easiest way to bypass advanced security technology is by attacking end-users. Compromising your information can devastate you personally as well as your employer’s network security.  Please remember, the easiest way for cyber attackers to get your personal information is to trick you into giving it to them. Have you ever experienced:

  • A caller pretending to be tech support claiming that your computer is infected
  • An email claiming that a package couldn’t be delivered and asking you to click a link to confirm your address

These are just 2 of many scams. Don’t be taken in!

By employing the same common sense we learned as children – don’t talk to strangers – we can be the first line of defense toward a secure network.  If a stranger came to your door and said one of you appliances was malfunctioning, your wouldn’t just open the door and let the person in to fix it, right?  The same philosophy applies in today’s digital space.

2.   Passwords

SANS emphasizes STRONG and UNIQUE as the keys to a secure password.  Serious hackers use serious software to steal your password information; don’t make it easy for them.  Therefore, each device and application should have s different password, and while that can be confusing and hard to remember, SANS has some suggestions:

  • Instead of a traditional password, use an easy to remember pass-phrase like “I love Chocolate!”
  • Consider an encrypted password manager application.

Finally, although this may seem like a nuisance, when the option is available, ALWAYS enable  two-step  authentication  – including for your password manager.  According to SANS, two-step authentication is probably the single most important step you can take to protect yourself,  and it’s much easier than you think.

If you are interested in discovering new business solutions for your organization, check out OTELCO’s technology guide.

Download OTELCO's Guide to Managed Services and IT Outsourcing