01.15.2016

Network Security Tips

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Tanner’s Information Security practice analyzed the security breaches from 2015 and compiled a list of the most effective network security tips and ways to secure a network and mitigate threats presented by cyber-attacks.  This will not completely mitigate all threats, but it is an excellent starting point to increasing network security. The individual who oversees your Information Technology should be able to make these modifications to your system.

1. Disable Unused Services

Uninstall any unused software and disable unnecessary network services.  Every service and program that runs on a server is another potential gateway for a hacker to break into the system.  Some programs and services are inherently less secure than others, and their presence on a system creates unnecessary risk when they are not being used.

2. Run Updates and Patches on all Systems

Ensure that all systems have the most current updates and patches applied.  Hackers prey on outdated and vulnerable software.  Software vendors are frequently releasing network security updates for their products, and if a system falls behind in its updates, an attacker can easily take advantage of the system.

3. Configure Firewall Properly

Enable the host firewall and security services that come with the operating system.  In addition to this, make sure that the firewall is configured appropriately.  It would be a false sense of security to believe that a firewall automatically knows which traffic to allow and which traffic to accept; the firewall must be configured to control which traffic reaches the server.

4. Use Complicated Passwords

Make passwords hard to guess and make sure they are guarded safely.  A secure password will have at least 8 characters and will have a mix of lowercase and uppercase letters as well as numbers or special characters.  It is important to not use password trends such as names of loved ones or birth dates, as they are much easier to guess.  Try to pick something abstract and never tell anyone your password.  Change the password if you ever believe it may have been compromised.

5. Perform Ongoing Network Security Tests

Even after security precautions have been implemented, it is important to test the network on a routine schedule.  A Network Security Test or Network Vulnerability Assessment helps identify technical vulnerabilities from the perspective of a hacker.  Some of these vulnerabilities might originate from problems such as outdated software, insecure host settings and improper guest/anonymous system access.

John Pohlman
Director of Network Security Services
Tanner LLC

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