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How to Protect Networks from End Users

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When it comes to protecting a network, there’s plenty to account for — hackers, malware, etc. But one of the biggest (and overlooked) threats to networks are actually end users. That’s right, your network’s own users can pose problems, from choosing weak passwords to using flash drives. With October being National Cyber Security Awareness month, we wanted to share some tips on how to protect networks from end users.

Choose Strong Passwords: It’s strongly recommended that passwords be a combination of uppercase letters, lowercase letters, and numbers — at the very least. Encourage your network users to even throw in some symbols! And passwords should be changed frequently. One last thing, don’t let anyone post his/her password in an easily visible spot such as a Post-It note on a desk.

Create User-Policies: Establish rules and procedures for how email is used, what websites can be accessed, and even social media usage. This is especially important if your company allows employees to bring their own devices (BYOD). Make it clear that violating such policies could lead to termination. On the flip side, reward compliance with bonuses or even raises.

Use Antivirus Programs and Firewalls: This one is kind of a no-brainer, especially because flash drives are still commonly used. Go ahead and configure automatic updates for any such software or programs, no matter if it might mean some downtime or a few minutes of sluggish performance.

Set Email Protocols: One of the main culprits of viruses is email. In addition to strong passwords, if possible, use 2-factor encryption for user email accounts. And just to be safe, require that users have to answer security questions as well — and ones that have not-easy-to-guess answers.

Put VPNs into Place: Configure a virtual private network (VPN) on any devices that could access company data. You work doesn’t end there. Train users to never connect to public Wi-Fi network unless that VPN is used.

Be Safe in the Cloud: Cloud storage is all the rage these days, and with that comes security risks as well. Before uploading data to the cloud, make sure files are encrypted. And once again, make sure the password to your cloud storage platform is tricky and changed often.

Educate, Educate, Educate: Be diligent in reminding end users about potential security risks and helping them take steps to prevent threats. At the same time, remember that not everyone is as comfortable with technology as you might be. So don’t hesitate to step in and demonstrate something a second or even third time. After all, don’t all IT pros enjoy saving the day?

What are some simple ways to help cut down on end-user threats to networks?

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