Tips to protect your network

Maintaining a secure small business or home network isn't easy, and even for an old hand in IT, it still takes time and energy to keep things locked down. Here are 10 of the most critical steps you can take to keep your data from ending up elsewhere, and none of them take much time or effort to accomplish.

You are a target to hackers

Don't ever say "It won't happen to me". We are all at risk and the stakes are high - to your personal and financial well-being, and to your companies standing and reputation

Keep software up to date

Installing software updates for your operating system and programs is critical. Don't forget to install the latest security updates for your mobile devices.

Be careful what you click

Avoid visiting unknown websites or downloading software from untrusted sources. These sites often host malware that will automatically, and often silently, compromise your computer.

If attachments or links in email are unexpected or suspicious for any reason, don't click on it.
Nak recommends using Click-to-Play or NoScript, browser add-on features that prevent the automatic download of plug-in content (e.g., Java, Flash) and scripts that can harbor malicious code.

Practice good password management

We all have too many passwords to manage - and it's easy to take short-cuts, like reuseing the same password. A password management program can help you to maintain strong unique passwords for all of your accounts. These programs can generate strong passwords for you, enter credentials automatically, and remind you to update your passwords periodically.

There are several online password management services that offer free versions, LastPass [] is a free application (with a premium service options) for all devices and OS's.

Use mobile devices safely

Considering how much we rely on our mobile devices, and how susceptible they are to attack, you'll want to make sure you are protected.

Never leave devices unattended

The physical security of your devices is just as important as their technical security.

Avoid Phishing scams - beware of suspicious emails and phone calls

Phishing scams are a constant threat - using various social engineering ploys, cyber criminals will attempt to trick you into divulging personal information such as your login ID and password, banking or credit card information.

Protect sensitive data

Be aware of sensitive data that you come into contact with, and associated restrictions - review the Industry Standard & Compliances to understand data protection level requirements.

Back up your data

Back up on a regular basis, automated is always preferred - if you are a victim of a security incident, the only guaranteed way to repair your computer is to erase and re-install the system.

Install anti-virus protection

Only install an anti-virus program from a known and trusted source. Keep virus definitions, engines and software up to date to ensure your anti-virus program remains effective.

For personally-owned systems and unmanaged company owned computers, there are many AV Companies offers free anti-virus software, available for Windows and Mac. Microsoft© also has a free AntiVirus application.