10 Tips to Increase the Security of Your Small Business Computer Network

Trevor Winge

3/2/20243 min read

red padlock on black computer keyboard
red padlock on black computer keyboard

Small businesses are increasingly reliant on computer networks to store and manage their valuable data. With cyber threats on the rise, it is crucial for small business owners to prioritize the security of their computer networks. A breach in network security can have devastating consequences, including loss of sensitive information, financial damage, and a damaged reputation.

To help you protect your small business computer network, here are 10 essential tips:

1. Implement Strong Password Policies

One of the simplest yet most effective ways to enhance network security is by implementing strong password policies. Encourage your employees to create unique, complex passwords that include a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. Additionally, enforce regular password changes and discourage the use of easily guessable passwords.

The challenge today is that it is nearly impossible to remember secure passwords on your own. This is why we highly suggest using a password manager to do that work for you. There are many options when it comes to password managers, but luckily companies have done the work of evaluating a few here: Forbes and PCMag.

2. Enable Two-Factor Authentication

Two-factor authentication adds an extra layer of security to your network by requiring users to provide two forms of identification. This can include something they know (such as a password) and something they have (such as a unique code sent to their mobile device). Enabling two-factor authentication can significantly reduce the risk of unauthorized access to your network.

3. Keep Software and Operating Systems Up to Date

Regularly updating your software and operating systems is crucial for network security. Software updates often include patches and fixes for known vulnerabilities, making it harder for hackers to exploit weaknesses in your network. Enable automatic updates whenever possible to ensure that your systems are always up to date.

4. Use a Firewall

A firewall acts as a barrier between your network and the outside world, monitoring and controlling incoming and outgoing network traffic. Implementing a firewall can help prevent unauthorized access to your network and protect your sensitive data. Additionally, firewalls are great for segmenting your network into different zones. This will empower you to keep your business network separated. Many small businesses depend on their home internet access to conduct business and segmenting your network will ensure that a compromise on your home laptop does not easily impact your business data.

5. Install Antivirus and Anti-Malware Software

Protect your network from malicious software by installing reputable antivirus and anti-malware software. These programs can detect and remove viruses, malware, and other threats that could compromise the security of your network. Ensure that your antivirus software is regularly updated to stay ahead of emerging threats.

6. Regularly Back Up Your Data

Backing up your data is essential in case of a security breach or system failure. Regularly schedule automatic backups of your important files and store them securely offsite or in the cloud. This ensures that you can recover your data in the event of a cyber attack or hardware failure. One of the most impactful attacks on a small business is ransomware. This malware encrypts your precious data and disables your computer at times. Replacing a computer is much cheaper than replacing your data. Backups mitigate the worst impacts of ransomware attacks.

7. Educate Employees on Security Best Practices

Human error is one of the leading causes of network security breaches. Educate your employees on security best practices, such as identifying phishing emails, avoiding suspicious websites, and being cautious when sharing sensitive information. Regularly remind and train your employees on the importance of network security.

8. Limit Access to Sensitive Data

Not all employees need access to all data. Implement strict access controls and limit employee access to sensitive information. Assign access privileges based on the principle of least privilege, granting employees only the access necessary for their roles. Regularly review and update access permissions as employees change roles or leave the company.

9. Monitor Network Activity

Implement network monitoring tools to keep an eye on your network activity. This allows you to detect any unusual or suspicious behavior that may indicate a security breach. Regularly review logs and alerts to identify potential threats and take appropriate action to mitigate them.

10. Create a Security Incident Response Plan

Prepare for the worst-case scenario by creating a security incident response plan. This plan should outline the steps to be taken in the event of a security breach, including who to contact, how to isolate affected systems, and how to communicate with stakeholders. Regularly test and update the plan to ensure its effectiveness.

By implementing these 10 tips, you can significantly enhance the security of your small business computer network. Protecting your network from cyber threats should be a top priority for every small business owner, as the consequences of a breach can be severe. Stay vigilant, stay informed, and invest in the necessary security measures to safeguard your business.