The statistics are frightening. In an FBI survey about cyber security, 90 percent of those responding said they had suffered a computer security breach in the previous year. A full 80 percent admitted these breaches were directly responsible for financial losses from fraud and the theft of proprietary information.

The lack of proper computer network security is a hazard businesses cannot afford. Most businesses these days, though, are doing a constant balancing act with funds, so they need to know the ways to get the biggest bang for their network security budget.

Boost Your Security Without Breaking the Bank

Security experts have a number of ways to block or detect unwanted traffic that can be achieved without breaking the network security budget. Installing a firewall and virus protection are vital, but they are just the first of the steps you can take to avoid costly breaches. You may want to consider the following tips:

Consolidate — There likely are a number of people or departments in your organization, such as legal, IT, human resources, who have security responsibilities. Get together with them and see where areas may overlap and work on how you can partner with them.

Experts — Security technology, as we know, can be expensive, and may require expertise that your business does not have or may need to hire. Rather than spending on that plan just now, consider putting off for a budget cycle and try outsourcing the need to one of the many reputable companies that have come online to offer such specialized services and focus on what your company can do at this time.

Investigate — Any security vendor will need to be investigated to make sure it brings true value to the company. In addition, they should have enough technical depth in case your needs change as your company grows, since changing security partnerships can bring added costs in re-training and re-tooling.

Training — Consider the advantages of cross-training existing personnel as a way of boosting the value of your network security budget. Also, given staff turnover, make sure to have a defined training agenda, perhaps with regular “lunch and learn” sessions or attendance at meetings of your local Information Systems Security Association chapter meetings.

Policy — Meet with your legal adviser and security team to come up with an easily understandable, thorough security policy that matches the culture of your business. Make sure all staff members are up to speed on it and enforce it.

Educate — Teach your staff the security basics by making sure they know what constitutes a strong password, for example, or to be sure they shut down their computer when they are away from their desk. Threats of firing if security measures are not complied with may seem drastic, but they will improve compliance.

Update — Check the firewall logs and update the virus protection regularly. If any computers owned by your employees are to be added to the network, be sure they have up-to-date virus software already installed prior to making the connection. Also, if your anti-virus software is obtain via a subscription, many have handy, built-in update features that will reduce administrative time and effort.

Settings — Always change the manufacturer’s default settings on your systems when they are installed. Cheaters trying to access your system are altogether familiar with the holes the can exploit in the default settings.

Remove — Un-install and get rid of all unneeded applications and services that might still be lurking on your system. These can be an easy back door for hackers in the event of a new hole in security, because they likely will have been forgotten and not patched.

To encourage network security, remember that less is more. Less access for fewer people makes your protections easier to maintain. Also, keeping the number of applications you run to a minimum makes it easier to keep all security patches thoroughly up to date.

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