Thursday, July 22, 2010

Protecting Your Network from Hackers, Viruses and Malicious Software

If you have a server-based network, it’s critically important to protect your server from hackers,
viruses, and other malicious software.If your server is compromised, it can jeopardize the safety
and security of your company’s entire network and all its data. Here are some ways you
can protect your network against attack:
Your server has built-in security features. Use them. If configuring your server’s security settings is beyond 
the scope of your technical expertise, hire an expert to do it. While this will cost you a little more up front,
 the price you’ll pay to secure your network is miniscule when compared to the cost of responding to and 
recovering from a hacked server.
Firewalls are essential. Software firewalls are sufficient for small networks, but if your network is large or
 spread out, you may want to run a hardware firewall in conjunction with your server. A hardware firewall
 will control access to your network’s computers from a single point, making it easier to monitor, and 
theoretically, more secure. But at the bare minimum, your server needs a software firewall.
Software patches are vital to server and network security. When a new threat emerges, be it a virus, worm, 
or Trojan horse, antivirus software developers issue software patches, or updates, that close up the security
 hole that the malicious program has exploited. If you’re running an old version of a server operating system,
 your server could be vulnerable to attack. Not having the latest version of your server’s software installed
 is akin to not getting immunized against eradicated diseases; the cure is out there, but you just haven’t
 bothered to take your medicine.
Unrestricted server permissions and passwords should be given to as few people as possible. Use strong 
passwords, and keep them strictly confidential. (For more information on developing password protocol
for your business, check out Five Rules for Developing Safe and Sane Password Protocol for Your Small
Physical security is just as important as password security, if not more so. Protecting your servers from 
the elements — and criminals — is essential. A closet is usually perfect for one or two servers; no windows 
and a single locking door reduce the chance of your servers being damaged. Lock up the room or closet 
whenever it’s not in use, and distribute keys only to employees who absolutely need them. Also, store you
server computers up off the floor, either on special racks designed for that purpose, or in some other manner,
to keep them from being damaged by floods or leaks.