7 Bad Habits That Put Your Network & Data At Risk

Internet-connected devices have made the modern workplace dynamic and flexible. However, these advances also include risks. Network administrators and other IT staff protect the against network security risks like data loss, data theft, malware, and other malicious security breaches.

Many network vulnerabilities are caused by user error. These errors are often preventable, caused by bad habits. Here we’ll cover a few of the bad habits that put your network and data at risk.

Not Updating

Patches and updates are regularly released for much of the software you rely on. Many updates and patches take place automatically so you don’t even have to think about them. However, many enterprises utilize manual patches to keep their software up to date. Keeping your software up to date is incredibly important for the health of your network.

Many of the most pernicious malware attacks of recent years target legacy systems that haven’t been updated. For example, the WannaCry ransomware attack largely affected computers running an out of date operating system. These systems would likely have not been impacted if their operating systems were properly patched.

Regular updates and patches minimize network security risks and ensure you maintain a properly secured network.

Using Public WiFi

The modern workforce is more flexible than ever. Staff can work from just about anywhere, as long as they have an internet connection. While this can be a benefit for the productivity of your company it can also spell disaster for the security of your network and data.

Public WiFi often has no protective measures in place to secure your devices or your connection. Data thieves and hackers can exploit this weakness to gain access to information that passes between your device and the websites you visit. This could potentially give hackers access to account information, financial information, and even allow them to inject malware onto connected devices, putting your entire network at risk.

You should ensure that your staff understands best practices when accessing sensitive information away from the office. Private hotspots and VPNs allow your staff to take advantage of the flexibility of the modern workplace without commonly associated public WiFi network risks. Using public WiFi is a habit best broken.

Not Making Backups

Regular backups are one of the best insurance policies against data loss. If your IT infrastructure is compromised and you lose access or your data is compromised, a backup can ensure you minimize or eliminate costly downtime.

Your IT staff should schedule and implement regular backups of your data. Ransomware attacks like the WannaCry attack disable your ability to access your data. Regular backups could minimize data loss and other network security risks in case of such attack.

For best security, backups should be housed offsite. If backups aren’t separate from your main database, they can be susceptible to the same hacks and attacks as your main servers. Work with your IT staff to develop a reasonable backup schedule that includes regular backups, employee training, and offsite data storage to ensure data redundancy.

Using Default Settings

Most software programs utilize a series of default settings. These settings can be as benign as font sizes or can be potentially dangerous like enabling JavaScript when browsing.

Ensure the settings for the software and internet browser your enterprise utilizes don’t promote network security risks.

When JavaScript is enabled, it can put your system at risk. JavaScript can change browser settings, including security settings, when you visit a website. This can open your network to malware invasion.

Other programs like Adobe Reader can provide metadata information on your network to unauthorized users. Work with your IT department to ensure that default settings don’t put your network and data at risk, or call an expert.

Accessing Social Media

Social media is an important component of modern daily life. We communicate, share, and keep up to date with friends and family. Outside of your marketing campaigns, your staff should avoid social media on company computers.

Killing a little time by filling out a “Which Game of Thrones Character Are You” survey on your Facebook page may seem like a good way to spend a break, but those websites can pose network risks and can wreak havoc on your security protocols. Hackers and data thieves use these websites to capture username and password information and can gain access to your database while your staff figures out if they belong to House Stark.

Limit social media and outside website access on company computers to your marketing outreach. This allows your enterprise to maintain a robust online presence without compromising your network to pernicious actors.

Not Documenting Changes

Documentation is essential to the health of your network. If a configuration is altered by one employee and not documented, it can lead to breakdowns and weaknesses. All system configuration alterations, large and small, should be documented. This enables your IT staff to gain a holistic view of your network, ensuring that small changes won’t negatively impact other areas.

Not Training Staff

One of the biggest network security risks is lack of employee training. Employees must be informed of best practices when using company computers or accessing sensitive company websites.

All members of your staff, not just IT, should be trained in best practices to avoid a costly error. Ensure your staff is aware they shouldn’t use public WiFi, access unsecured websites, or open email attachments from unknown senders.

While these actions seem like obvious red flags, many employees still fall into the trap of downloading an attachment or streaming an illicit download on a company computer.

Break The Habit

Forming best employee practices and breaking bad habits can help your enterprise ensure a healthy network and a robust security system. Minimize network security risks by regularly patching and updating your system, avoiding public WiFi, scheduling and performing regular backups, configuring software to minimize footholds, properly training staff on best practices, and documenting all network changes.

Break bad habits and protect your data from bad habit network risks, and contact us at NIC for the help of an expert.

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