Most small businesses grow organically, and in our experience the most technical person on the team becomes the “IT Service person”. Sometimes volunteering, sometimes not so willing, but still becomes the go to person because they are technical. The irony in this is that this person also has a fulltime job doing their regular role in the company, be it an HR manager, sales manager, or whomever it may be. So this person doing the IT work usually becomes only reactive in their IT approach. Unfortunately, they do not have the time to spend doing research on the latest malware, or malicious behavior out there. Let alone security best practices to defend their company against malicious attacks.
Defending your company’s data (one of your most valuable assets) is a bit like playing football. If you were in a football game you wouldn’t put just one lineman in front of you to protect the ball, you’d have as many as you can, to help ensure success. Protecting your business data is like that. Most people know that it’s wise to have a strong anti-virus on your computer, which is a great start. However, when you’re protecting your data, one level of defense is typically not enough to adequately protect you from all of the hackers / malicious attacks out there.
To improve the defense of your data, experts recommend having multiple levels of protection. There are many options out there for protection. Below is a list of some of the layers of network defense against malicious behavior.
The ISP modem / router – (Internet Service Provider) modem’s primary function is to translate the protocol from a cable or phone line into ethernet protocol for your computers/ tablets/ and such, so they can “talk” to the rest of the world. There is very little defense protection provided from the ISP provider equipment.
Firewall – These pieces of equipment are your best investment for Internet security. They provide Intrusion protection, App control, Web Blocker, data loss protection, gateway antivirus, spam blocker, just to mention a few of their features. Firewalls are mini computers that scan every packet of data that passes through your network looking for virus and malicious signatures, eliminating or blocking any security issues. They do all this extremely fast with no noticeable degradation to the data traffic.
Routers and WIFI routers – Beyond just supplying a wireless WIFI signal and connectivity to your home or office, these also run layers of firewall protection. They do not supply nearly as much protection as a “Firewall unit”, but is still an improvement over the ISP modem / router.
End Point Security – These are the anti-virus and malware software that are loaded on your computer. They can be considered the last point of protection for your data if an intruder got to your computer. If you are using a PC, congratulations Windows 10 comes with “Windows Defender” which is one of Microsoft’s best anti-virus tools to date. However, the malicious people out there also know windows defender is widely used and learn to get around it. Adding a second anti-virus is a good idea, as what “Windows Defender” misses the second anti-virus protection has a chance of catching. Adding a third one, is a BAD idea. Most anti-virus programs work well and complementary to “Windows Defender” a third one tends to just butt heads with the second, and become anti-productive.
So there’s your football team to defend your ball (data). When a malicious attacker is looking for a target (business network) to attack, and they run into a firewall, or multiple levels of protection to get to the data, they get deterred. They will go on to easier targets without all the layers in a network, because there are many low hanging fruits out there for them to pick from, without the add protection.