The IT network is the backbone of nearly every business and is often crucial in running a successful organisation. After all, a business’ website is likely to be one of their biggest assets in the digital era we live in today. With that in mind, your IT network can be vulnerable, and your business could be at stake if you aren’t prepared for any network risks that you may face. Often you might not notice a network risk until it’s too late, so it’s important to be aware of what the potential risks are.
Here, we take you through some of the most common network risks you could be facing as a business, and how you can prepare for them.
Viruses and Malware
Viruses and malware issues are a huge problem for a business of any size, especially in regard to email scams which are rife for infiltrating a business’ network. As a business, you and your staff will receive hundreds of emails a day, usually from people outside of your network. It’s important that you learn to recognise when something doesn’t look quite right.
While having anti-virus software is necessary and a must for any business, it isn’t always enough. Your staff need to be able to identify potential threats and know who to notify when something happens.
If you’ve ever received an email from someone you know but then opened the email only to see that the email address isn’t quite right, you’ve probably been a phishing target. Phishing attempts to bait the victim into clicking a link in an email or an attachment. This then leads to malware that infects your device or a phony page that the user enters their username and password or other sensitive information into. Most of us know not to open messages from unknown senders – the problem arises when we don’t realise the sender is, in fact, unknown.
Most phishing attempts are carried out en masse, but you may have heard of phishing’s even more sinister counterpart, spear phishing, in which the attacker researches a person or a company using social media or other websites to gain information about them and then targets them specifically. Using social engineering they can unwittingly get users to give up credentials, transfer money or hand over sensitive information.
Using third party software installed on your network could pose a risk to your business. Even downloading a game to play on your lunch break could create a vulnerability that’s open to hackers and malware. Any third party vendor can increase your risk, but they can be crucial to the running of your business.
Software-based vulnerabilities should be reduced through patch management to make sure your network remains protected.
In the mobile world, many employees will work from a personal laptop, tablet or smartphone. With staff working in remote locations and working flexible hours, BYOD policies in businesses seems like a reasonable way to ensure work is still completed - after all, it means employees can bring in their own device to start a piece of work, and finish it on the train to a meeting. However, BYOD can present network security risks to your business.
It’s unlikely that a personal laptop will carry the same level of security as a business computer, making it easier to compromise. It’s important that if you offer a BYOD policy that you ensure your staff only access company networks through a VPN and ensure that two-factor authentication is implemented on accounts. Creating risk reports can help you to identify if your network is at risk from things like personal computers or smartphones.
Lack of Understanding
By far the biggest risk to your network is your staff, and not intentionally. Any member of staff that works on your network needs to understand the risks, what to look out for, and what to do if they encounter a problem. Training your staff on cybersecurity risks and network vulnerabilities is crucial, as this can decrease the chance of someone clicking on a dodgy email or accessing the network on an unsecured connection.
To make sure your network is safe, request a free IT network risk assessment and receive a vast range of reports and analyses.