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Multi-Layer Network Security for Small Businesses

Jun 10th, 2014 | Posted by | Filed under Indianapolis IT support



In terms of securing anything it is important to make sure that all bases are covered; this remains especially true for networks in the business setting and elsewhere.

When it comes to “attacks” on networks there are several different aspects that need to be considered; Malware, Viruses, Spyware, and Phishing, all things that we have spoken of before as they relate to network “attacks.”

Just as you would not take one medicine to cure everything that ails you, it is important to use more than one technique to secure a network, thus adding multiple layers of security. Each aspect of network security relies heavily on known information, and often refer to databases of information that have been documented as harmful, malicious material. It is because of this that it is often possible to see certain harmful programs slip through the cracks of a single network security solution, as each database is different and each method of security has its own pro’s and con’s.

–          Anti-Malware tools

Malware is an all-encompassing term for nearly everything that can infect and harm your computer. Malware includes Viruses, spyware, adware, things of that nature. That being said it is important to realize that each of the different forms of malware are different from each other and are even different from other items within their own sub group. Because malware is a blanket statement for all things that can infect and harm your computer, the software labeled anti-malware is generally a broad and vague service that does a decent job of cleaning up most of the annoying problems, as opposed to the more dangerous and harmful ones. Because antimalware tools are tasked with being the jack of all trades when it comes to dealing with malicious content, their databases are often are geared toward the broadest and most general forms of pc infections, i.e. adware and spyware which most people pick up from downloads from email or the internet which can leave some problems largely unhandled. Malware tools do a good job of policing these general problems, but have been known to really lack the power to deal with some of the online world’s more heavy hitters and thus often require the aid of other solutions to effectively protect and secure a network or device.

–          Anti-Virus software

Similar to Biological viruses that infect living things; computer viruses come with varying methods of infection and affects, but their intent is still the same; replicate and spread. Because each virus is different, it is impossible to rely on a single layer of security provided by a single piece of software to properly reduce and eliminate the risk of computer infection or data loss/theft. Most if not all antivirus software requires a database of virus signatures that can be referenced when scanning files and network traffic. Databases must be maintained and updated and the only true way to update a list of malicious software is for someone to first experience its effects, making relying on a single service a dangerous game. The point being that just as viruses are each different, the measures taken to prevent and eliminate them should be as well.

–          Email filtering

Email is a powerful tool in the business world, and without it many small businesses would not have a quick and effective means of communication; unfortunately, Viruses can also use this tool to quickly and effectively spread themselves across numerous machines and networks. This makes email an important place for another layer of network security. Email filtering allows us to keep this risk as minimal as possible by prevent emails with certain keywords and known associations to malicious content from being released onto the network, by essentially stopping them at the door. There are varying levels of protection when discussing Email filtering and the implementation holds the same variance, but the end result is generally the same. Emails that are suspected of malicious content, are from unrecognized senders, or are known to be linked to spam, phishing, or virus software will not be carried to their intended recipient without first being analyzed, changed, and/or redirected.

–          Firewall services

Even with the best Antivirus software on the market and the strictest of email filters, it is still possible to see certain infections from the depths of the internet rooting themselves in network machines. A firewall can be put in place either at a hardware level, software level, or a combination of the two to even further limit the traffic of malicious software onto the network by blocking traffic from areas of the internet which are known to contain software that could be potentially harmful to your machine, network, and business as a whole. Good practice is to ensure that the firewall is set to monitor traffic from websites that contain things such as chat components, gambling, pornography, and even some online gaming websites to name a few. Generally speaking the viruses that will be handled by the firewall will be coming from what many might consider obvious places, though it can be a powerful tool in minimizing the security risk on the network as a whole if implemented properly. Working as a filter that keeps known harmful information from making its way from these sources onto the network by at times even limiting the ability of machines on the network to communicate with or visit sites of a certain category altogether.

Implementing one of these solutions is never a bad idea, but it is best to take a more multi-faceted approach when it comes to securing a network to ensure that there are overlapping levels of security working together. Each level of security only reduces the risk of data loss and potential disaster, as well as reducing the points of entry for malicious software onto the network as a whole.

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