Small Business Network Security Checklist

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Small Business Network Security Checklist

In today’s business environment, cybersecurity is a crucial concern regardless of a company’s size. The impact of a security breach might result in the destruction and closing of a smaller-sized firm if they lack the resources for considerable damage control. Because of this, every company needs to take the proper precautions to safeguard critical data from unauthorized users, no matter how small or large.

This checklist will help you to stay on top of your network security and avoid the most common mistakes. Download it now.

 

What is Network Security, and Why is it Important?

The internet is a fantastic resource for modern enterprises. Instead of a room full of old filing cabinets, a searchable database is available worldwide and across all wireless networks. Nowadays, we can even attend a video meeting and get the same results without the need to fly to another location for the same in-person meeting.

However, even though we now have a lot of new conveniences, business networks are even more exposed to vast, complex security threats. Every time a new program or a piece of hardware is put into use, there is a chance for online hackers to break in and steal sensitive data from a person or company.

Businesses must ensure they are effectively controlling their network security if they want the convenience of the internet and the much-needed security. Even though doing a network security audit can be stressful, companies should still do them if they want to keep their data as secure as possible.

We’ve created a brief security and audit checklist below to make things simpler and to help prevent cyber-attacks.

1. Use Antivirus and Anti-malware

Anti-malware and antivirus software safeguards you from any unwanted programs installed on your network, including viruses, trojans, ransomware, spyware, and worms. These may reach your system through a corrupted file or link, another infected device, or a combination of the two.

Cybercriminals create malware, or malicious software, to infect your machines for various reasons. For example, ransomware encrypts your files so that you become locked out and are forced to pay the attackers price to access your crucial business data. Malware-based cyberattacks of other kinds could even seize control of your network and use it for a DDoS (Denial of Service) attack or to harm your system directly.

Anti-malware software inspects files as they enter your network and periodically scans the files already on your machine to check for either errors or damaged files. The software will then quarantine or remove any suspicious files if they are found.

2. Regular Software Updates

Software updates are highly likely to include fixes for known security vulnerabilities and performance enhancements. Delaying these updates could prevent you from receiving the patches for known security flaws, putting your data in danger and enabling hackers to access your system.

Consider purchasing patch management software if your network consists of various devices that require updates, such as network equipment like routers or office PCs.

3. Use Strong Passwords

Did you know that weak password security is believed to be the source of 81% of data breaches? By using secure passwords, you can stop hackers from accessing your system. Make sure to change the default password to a secure one when you first receive a device or install any software.

Using default passwords makes it easy for hackers to access your system. Develop a plan to update the password frequently to ensure your devices are always protected.

Make sure your employees understand what a strong password looks like, urge them to follow your company’s password policy, and utilize two-factor authentication on their work devices to stay on the same page.

4. Firewalls

Firewalls use a set of rules to regulate the traffic entering and leaving your network. They are the barrier separating your secure internal network from the unidentified outside network. Firewalls can stop unauthorized traffic from entering your internal network by monitoring the traffic and blocking it.

Additionally, firewalls segment the network to divide traffic into smaller groups that are easier to manage. There are various kinds of firewalls, including proxy firewalls, stateful firewalls, Unified Threat Management (UTM) firewalls, packet-filtering firewalls, Next-Generation Firewalls (NGFW), and so on.

5. Data Loss Prevention (DLP)

Data Loss Prevention (DLP) software scans your network for sensitive data being transported and stored to prevent leaks. Suppose your business has a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policy. In that case, for employees who either work remotely or if you keep their data stored in the cloud, data loss prevention solutions become more critical.

DLP solutions safeguard your data by keeping an eye on the network to ensure that users aren’t flouting the rules you’ve set for sensitive data, including sending it to a risky network or making an unauthorized copy. DLP systems do this by continuously monitoring, tracking, and logging where your sensitive data are. This lowers the possibility of accidental mistakes.

6. Managing User Accounts and Remote Access

Limit account permissions to the minimum amount necessary for the user to perform their job. Only utilize administrator accounts when necessary to make changes to the administration. Ensure that only the administrator account has access and each employee has a distinct account with their login information. That remote access is only permitted through a Virtual Private Network (VPN). If at all possible, make your system’s access subject to multi-factor authentication. Also, be sure to remove a former employee’s account as soon as they exit the company.

Since remote work and BYOD policies are the standards for most firms these days, this is even more crucial. Implementing these regulations may encourage users to be more lenient with their data, which could put your company at significant risk. You must take precautions to preserve the integrity and security of your data, including developing a tight policy restricting access to only what’s required for personnel to do their duties.

7. Data Recovery Plan (DRP)

It’s necessary to keep your data safe from illegal and unwanted access, but it’s also crucial to have a disaster recovery plan in case your data is lost. Sometimes, rather than stealing information, the goal of a cyberattack is to just disrupt a business. Do you have a backup copy of all your crucial data in case it gets corrupted or disappears entirely?

To ensure they are not missed and that your backups contain the most recent files, backups should be encrypted and automatically scheduled. Several backup techniques, including onsite servers and cloud backup, provide an extra degree of security.

8. Phishing and Spoofing Messages

Phishing and spoofing perpetrators deceive recipients by sending false communications and other social engineering strategies. These frauds typically pose as trustworthy organizations trying to dupe victims into either downloading harmful files, clicking on dangerous links, or disclosing personal information.

Emails and SMS are two examples of text-based communication channels where spoofing and phishing are frequently used. Installing security solutions with anti-phishing features is strongly advised to help you avoid being a victim of spoofing and phishing. This function will notify you if a link or email’s sender raises any red flags.

On the rare chance that they manage to get past your anti-phishing defenses, you will still need to be vigilant when checking your email to prevent falling for a phishing scam. To enhance your employees’ awareness and attention when checking their inboxes, train your staff and have them participate in phishing scenarios.

9. Train your Workforce

The most crucial aspect of any network security plan is your end users (employees). Your users are your best line of defense, even if you have all the tools, systems, and regulations at your disposal.

When working from home, 47% of employees blamed distraction for their fallibility to phishing attacks. It’s time to train your entire crew to defend against all security threats since the average data breach cost has increased to about $4.64 million.

Ensure your end users understand the potential effects of a security breach on your business, their responsibility for securing company data, and how to protect themselves from malicious actors. To achieve this, you’ll need an excellent training program to instruct your users on how to raise their security levels and to be on alert for any suspicious activity.

10. Develop a Response for Security Breaches

A planned reaction during a breach can significantly enhance your company’s outcome. You’ll have a list of steps you need to follow to protect anything that hasn’t already been accessed rather than having to react immediately. Written instructions will guarantee you follow all the essential procedures to halt the attack from causing more harm and, if necessary, start the recovery process.

If you can act quickly and inform your clients about how it has affected their data security, it can also help you restore your reputation with them. Additionally, perform regular vulnerability audits to check your network for potential weak spots and fix them before a breach occurs.

 

Enhance Network Security with Protected Harbor

A layered strategy is required to protect your network’s security and prevent unauthorized access to sensitive data. By routinely inspecting your network security on all network devices, mobile devices, and other devices with internet access in your organization, you can be sure that you are following these security best practices.

In addition to your security system, educating your staff about daily hazards is crucial. Since remote work is the norm for most businesses these days, a more stringent training program is required to guarantee the security and protection of all company data.

Protected Harbor’s Network Engineers create a secure environment by building a network resistant to cyber-attacks and staying operational during emergencies. We use network monitoring tools to scan network performance, security, and compliance. We also troubleshoot issues, upgrade network hardware and software, and work with vendors to ensure that new products meet the company’s security requirements.

A network vulnerability assessment from Protected Harbor will help your organization identify potential weaknesses and vulnerabilities in your current network setup.

A Protected Harbor security expert can assist with a free cybersecurity assessment and vulnerability test to determine your weak points. From there, we will build a plan that includes updates, new configurations, implementation, unlimited onsite support, and live monitoring services for a flat monthly rate to safeguard your network. Ready to get started? Speak to a professional that can assist you with your network and security needs.

What Is Network Observability, And Why Is It Demanded In The Cloud And IoT Era?

What Is Network Observability, And Why Is It Demanded In The Cloud And IoT Era?

 

What Is Network ObservabilityImplementing dynamic networking infrastructure has become more critical than ever to securely connect with people, devices, applications, and data to support our evolving working environment. What can be the first thing we need to consider for this challenge? We cannot control or secure all kinds of connectivity if we don’t see what is happening in our network. By default, networks are distributed systems, and network visibility is vital in distributed systems. However, can network monitoring be good enough to better network visibility in the Cloud and IoT era? If not, what can be the solution?

Today’s enterprise digital infrastructure is comprised of hybrid cloud and on-premise solutions. Complex operational models manage these technologies, but their operational visibility continues to be a concern for most businesses. Read how large enterprises are securing their data?

The best way to gain network visibility is by leveraging network observability rather than network monitoring. This article explains what network observability is, why it’s necessary, and how it can help you manage your hybrid cloud and IoT infrastructure.

 

What Is Network Monitoring?

Monitoring is a passive data collection and surveillance practice used to measure the performance against pre-set standards. Monitoring equipment has been deployed over the years depending on more static, traditional network environments without frequent changes. However, these tools can be deployed throughout the corporate network.

It offers a centralized view of the operational health of the underlying network and infrastructure. Network monitoring might give alerts based on connectivity, downtime, or service degradation but does not give deeper cause or hypothetical exploration of unknowns provided by an observability platform.

 

What Is Network Observability?

According to Gartner, Observability is the evolution of monitoring into a process that offers insight into digital business applications, speeds innovation, and enhances customer experience. So we should use observability to extend current monitoring capabilities. Network observability is intended to have a deep knowledge of network health to provide an optimal end-user experience. When teams observe networks deeply, they understand ways to solve problems, correct them, and improve network performance to prevent future errors. Here are the main differences:

Network Observability Network Monitoring
  • It focuses on network health from the end-user perspective
  • reduce administrator time to detect root cause and remediation
  • Applies a broader range of information to pinpoint the leading cause
  • provide service assurance to guarantee quality services
  • uses next-generation AI and streaming telemetry
  • less focused on network health
  • NetOps staff handle alerts manually
  • Monitors deviations and baselines traffic
  • Uses proven protocols and tools

The Current Challenges With Network Monitoring

What Is Network Observability And Why Is It Demanded

The rapid shift towards cloud technology and related trends, such as SD-WAN, has changed the concept of network monitoring. Still, the traditional network performance monitoring tools are not keeping up with advanced networking technologies. Here are some issues regarding conventional network performance monitoring tools.

  • Traditional Network Performance Monitoring (NPM) tools do not include metadata or routing policy, network security, or cloud orchestration information.
  • Basic network connectivity info such as IP/MAC and port numbers are insufficient to analyze network traffic securely.
  • The tools can’t handle cloud scalability, as cloud customers produce terabytes of VPC flow logs every month. So Typical network packet sniffer solutions do not work in the cloud environment.

 

Conclusion

As mentioned above, challenges associated with network observability can be solved by implementing a combination of network monitoring and network analytics solutions. These solutions can help you get a high-level view of network activities across your hybrid cloud and on-premise environment. – Network monitoring: Network monitoring solutions are responsible for gathering network data from all network devices. They can help you identify issues that may affect business continuity and performance. – Network analytics: Network analytics solutions can be used to gain insights into network activities, such as network anomalies, performance, and capacity issues. Additionally, the data from the network monitoring solutions can be used to build network analytics dashboards.

 

Protected Harbor Zero Trust NAC can solve the challenge.

Network observability is necessary to ensure that the networks remain secure, reliable, and scalable. It is crucial for organizations that rely on hybrid cloud and IoT architecture. A hybrid cloud architecture, cloud migration, and end-to-end digital transformation are the primary reasons for network observation being demanded. A Zero Trust network architecture is the best way to achieve network observability.

Protected Harbor’s Hybrid Cloud Network Orchestration and Security platform is powered by a Zero Trust Network Access Control (NAC) engine. This network access control engine is designed to enforce a Zero Trust architecture and help achieve network observability by – – Device identity: Identify devices and enforce access rules based on device identity and user identity. – User identity: Identify users and enforce access rules based on user identity. – Endpoint compliance: Detect and enforce endpoint compliance using agentless endpoint compliance and vulnerability assessment. – Endpoint threat detection: Detect and quarantine endpoints with malicious activities in real-time. – Session visibility: Monitor and analyze all network traffic to detect suspicious activities during a session. – Session compliance: Detect and enforce session compliance based on policies. – Session threat detection: Detect and quarantine sessions with malicious activities. – Session compliance enforcement: Ensure that all network traffic conforms to the policy. – Session visibility: Monitor and analyze all network traffic for all sessions. – Port visibility: Monitor and analyze all traffic on ports.

Protected Harbor Zero Trust Network Access Control (NAC) can log and monitor traffic coming from all branches and remote users using Cloud Gateway. The total network traffic can be observed. However, you can only watch and control unauthorized or non-compliant devices.

Most importantly, Protected Harbor Device Platform Intelligence powered by Cloud technology can enhance network visibility more contextually by correlating network connectivity info with business context (e.g., Connected devices’ EoL, EoS, manufacturer) and risk-related information like CVE. Overall, you can monitor and control all connected devices’ activities holistically without losing business performance, so you can substantially boost the success of an organization’s operations.

If you want to know more about how network observability can help your business, or if you want to see how you can simplify your network infrastructure, we’d love to talk.

Network Penetration Testing 101

Network Penetration Testing 101

Network-Penetration-TestingIn an ever-changing cybersecurity landscape, new threats develop regularly. Regular network penetration testing is the most effective technique to prevent thieves from accessing your mission-critical data and systems. Protected Harbor’s penetration testing services simulate a cyber attack on your current infrastructure, identifying vulnerabilities and revealing holes or entry points that hackers could exploit during a cyber attack.

Our network penetration testing services don’t only tell you where and how cybercriminals might get into your network; it also tells you how they might act or behave once they are in. Penetration testing is necessary to ensure that you are on the same page as malicious actors. Condition Zebra’s network penetration testing services put you inside the heads of cybercriminals, so you are one step ahead of them. Let’s first discuss network penetration testing.

What is network penetration testing?

Network penetration testing is a way to stimulate the processes cybercriminals use to attack your business network, network applications, and attached devices. This simulation is used to identify security issues before attackers can find and exploit them. Penetration tests go beyond stopping malicious actors from unlawful access to an organization’s data and network. It helps create real-world scenarios to show organizations how efficiently their current security defenses would face cyber-attacks. Read why cybersecurity awareness for employees is important.

Network penetration testing is generally used to:

  • understand the network baseline
  • prevent network and data breaches
  • test your security controls and postures
  • ensure system and network security

A network penetration test is generally performed when an organization has a mature security posture or effective security measures.

Three steps of a network penetration testing

Planning or Pre-attack phase

  • Define the intruder model (internal or external), enabled rights, and privileges.
  • Determine the scope of the targeted environment.
  • Define the goals, scope of work, source data, and testing targets.
  • Define interaction and communication procedures.
  • Develop the testing methodology.

Network-Penetration-TestingTesting or attack phase

  • Fieldwork and service identification.
  • Intrusion tools and custom scanning are developed if required.
  • Vulnerabilities scanning and detection, and elimination of false positives.
  • Utilization of compromised systems as a starting line for further intrusions.
  • Exploit vulnerabilities and gain unauthorized access.

Reporting or post-attack phase

  • Result analysis and reporting with the recommendations to reduce risks.
  • Visual demonstration of damage an intruder can inflict on the system.

Types of network penetration testing

Network penetration testing can be performed from two perspectives, inside and outside your company’s network perimeter/

Internal network penetration testing

An internal network penetration testing is performed to help simulate what a hacker could get with the initial access to a network. It can mirror inside threats, such as workers intentionally or unintentionally performing malicious actions. Internal pen testing is an authorized hacking attempt used to identify and exploit vulnerabilities within an organization’s perimeter defenses. Onsite access is given to testers via an ethernet cable. They then gain access to critical information.

Benefits of internal penetration testing

  • Minimize risks to business continuity and the cost of being non-compliant.
  • Harden the network against information leakage using current or terminated employees or online data.
  • Ensure compliance with PCI DSS and other security standards.
  • Provide management with exploit proof outlining the assets that an attack can compromise.
  • Detects installations that are non-compliant with an organization’s internal policies. It may act as a pivot for external attackers.
  • Do not add unnecessary security layers before getting an independent attestation on the effectiveness of current systems.
  • Audit security monitoring processes and test your incident response tactics.
  • Detects vulnerabilities that may be exploited to access privileged information.

External network penetration testing

An external penetration testing is performed to test the effectiveness of the perimeter security controls to detect and prevent attacks and identify the weaknesses in the Internet-facing assets, such as mail, web, and FTP servers. It’s an authorized hacking attempt that aims at hardening the external-facing network against hackers attempting to compromise the vulnerable hosts from outside the company’s perimeter.

Benefits of external penetration testing

  • Reduce the risk to business continuity and non-compliant costs.
  • Avoid the cost of adding extra security layers before getting an independent attestation of current systems.
  • Provide management with exploitation proof that outlines the assets compromised by an attack.
  • Detects vulnerabilities that can be exploited to access privileged information.
  • Detects installations that are non-compliant with your internal policy.
  • Audit external security monitoring procedures and test incident response tactics.
  • Get independent security verification of your company’s internet-facing presence.
  • Harden network and systems against host compromise.

Penetration testing methods

  1. Black box testing_ We work in life-like scenarios having limited knowledge of your network and no information on the network structure, security policies, and network protection.
  2. Gray box testing_ We analyze your system with some knowledge of your networks, such as architecture diagrams, user login details, or the network overview.
  3. White box testing_ We detect the potential points of weakness by leveraging admin rights and access to database encryption principles, server configuration files, architecture documentation, or architecture documentation.

Final words

Cybercriminals can target your internal and external network through various sites, ranging from systems and hosts to multiple networking devices. Protected Harbor’s audits identify your current network architecture’s noticeable strengths and weaknesses. Our penetration testing report explains how your security mechanisms respond to various cyberattacks.

We develop a comprehensive and tailored remediation strategy to mitigate cyber threats using these findings. Our skilled staff is ready to execute a network penetration test for your firm, whether you wish to optimize your security processes following a data breach or structural changes or fulfill tight information security compliance standards. Contact us today for a free IT Audit.

Log4j vulnerability puts the internet at risk.

Log4j vulnerability puts the internet at risk.

Various cybersecurity organizations around the globe reported about the discovery of critical vulnerability of Apache Log4j library. The reports of attacks exploiting this vulnerability are already on the internet. Some researchers say this could be one of the worst attacks of all time, so how bad is the risk, and what needs to be done now?

Highlights

  • Log4j is an open-source Apache logging framework used by developers to record activities within an application.
  • Log4j’s security vulnerability allows hackers to execute remote commands on a target system, putting countless services at risk of an attack by hackers.
  • Researchers rated this critical java-based library vulnerability 10 out of 10 in CVSS (Common Vulnerability Scoring System).
  • Amazon, Cisco, Apple iCloud, Twitter, Red Hat, Steam, Tesla, and more software companies and services use the Log4j library.

What is Log4j, and Why you’re at risk?

Log4j or Log4shell is a Java-based logging utility, one of several java logging frameworks developed by Apache software foundation. Any modern-day software you use keeps track of errors and other events in the form of logs. Instead of creating a logging system for storing records and additional information, the Log4j shell comes in handy for the developers as it’s an open-source platform. That’s why the Log4j library is a widely used and most popular logging package.

Hackers can take control of any software using Log4j, exploiting the newfound vulnerability, to run malicious code against the network firewall by forcing it to store a log entry. Hackers are in action looking for the systems which might be vulnerable. The attackers have already developed automated attacking tools that exploit the bugs and worms present on the system. And if the conditions are adequate, these can act independently and spread to more systems and servers.

On Friday, December 10, The United States Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency reported the Log4j vulnerability, as did CERT Australia. New Zealand’s NCSC supported the statements adding that the vulnerability is actively being exploited. Here’s a tweet by the United States Department of Homeland Security, just in case if you think we’re kidding.


Is cPanel plugin also vulnerable?

cPanel hosting, in simple words, is a control panel dashboard built on a Linux-based model. Website developers use it to manage the hosting environment, backups, FTP, emails, etc. cPanel web hosting allows developers to integrate the websites with a GUI (graphical user interface), similar to looking like a desktop interface. With it, you can update the version of PHP used on websites, control the firewall, and add a security certificate, among other things. BuiltWith, a leading web profiler company, estimates that there are more than three million users of cPanel, and all are at risk of Log4j shell vulnerability.

 

So what happens now?

Apache has already rushed to develop a solution. Thousands of IT teams from companies around the globe are rushing to update to the most recent Log4j version 2.15.0, which is the most effective solution as of now. While patches and updates will soon be delivered, applying them to all the systems would still be a cumbersome task. Because the web servers and computing mechanisms are not that simple now, layered with multiple code levels and customized according to needs, on an estimate, it could take months from now to get them upgraded.

It’s not the first time we have encountered a vulnerability like this, and this isn’t the last time either. So, in the long run, you are constantly exposed to these critical loopholes, especially on the popularly used tools and plugins. There are only two roads from here; you stay on the already existing vulnerable system or upgrade to a proactive service provider who takes care of it all.

 

Get secured

Technology is getting better and faster every day, which means there are enough loopholes, attacks, and inevitable vulnerabilities. At Protected Harbor, customers’ safety and security is the utmost priority, and we satisfy our customers at all cost.

“What makes us different is we expect attacks,” commented Protected Harbor CEO Richard Luna. “We assume at any point a system can be compromised and plan for it by limiting the extent of data loss.  We prepare for failure at every hardware and software level, from multiple failover firewalls and multiple redundancy resilient databases to web servers and everything in between.  We protect our clients. After all, our name is Protected Harbor.”

Protective Harbor’s proactive security is one of the most powerful shields to these attacks. The company’s remote servers and air-gapped data backup add to the level of security and functionality. Also, rapid mitigation and resolution are faster than the industry standard because our clients are not limited to a network.

While regular MSPs have used cloud backups, we use a direct 10 GB pipe to our house. These other MSPs have to wait for the restore to download the image from the cloud. That could be a very long time. Our servers and solutions are all in-house. In the case of an emergency, we can switch data between servers and immediately upload a restored image instantly.

There’s a lot more to it, Click here to check how secured you are.