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Methods Employees Can Use to Strengthen Your Network Security

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EmployeesIf you are a small business owner, you undoubtedly appreciate the importance of good security. Known as “shrinkage” or simply “shrink” in retail, the loss of assets through theft, fraud, administrative error, or other avenues accounts for many billions of dollars in lost revenue every year among American retailers. Minimizing shrinkage involves a necessarily multi-pronged approach to loss. It requires everything from adequate doors, windows and locks, to properly installed, maintained and operated security alarms and security surveillance systems, to undercover security personnel. Anti-shoplifting alarms may be installed in conjunction with radio-frequency (RF) or radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags placed on more expensive items. Retail theft is huge business, so it’s only natural that retail establishments should take extensive steps to minimize these types of losses. But one aspect of small-to-medium business security that may get overlooked involves network security. Most businesses store at least some amount of sensitive data on company networks. Even if your business is not involved in direct retail, chances are your data is private—and valuable. The security of your network depends on several factors. Not least is the integrity and behavior of your employees. Here are some simple steps you can take to shore up network security and reduce any vulnerabilities. Institute a Robust Password Policy Most people choose simple passwords for obvious reasons. Although they should be complex enough to deter hacking, many users prefer passwords that are all-too-easy to guess, because they’re also easy to remember. The need to remember multiple passwords is a growing problem in the digital age. While your employee may get away with “12345” as a password at home, at work a similarly simplistic password could spell disaster for your network’s security. Insist on strong passwords. They should feature a combination of letters, numbers, capitals and/or symbols. Prompt employees to change their passwords at least once every three months, if not more often. Require the use of at least nine-character combinations. Prohibit Social Networking Social networks have their benefits. They can even serve as hiring and/or recruiting tools. But they have no place at work. Never mind the potential wasted time and productivity involved in engaging in social media interactions at work. Logging on to these networks could expose your secure network to malware or viruses. Banning access at work will also avoid any opportunities for accidental leaks of sensitive company information. Encrypt Company Data Sooner or later, one of your employees is likely to lose a tablet, smartphone or computer. When that happens, your sensitive information could be at risk. Insist that employees encrypt all proprietary information to avoid this risk. Closed for Phishing The simple act of opening an email attachment can expose your network to intrusion by criminals. Implement security-awareness training for employees so they can avoid phishing and other cyberthreats.


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