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Securing Your Digital Work Environment

It’s pretty incredible to think about how much sensitive material I keep on my personal devices and home network. In the wrong hands, that information could be used to drain my bank account, learn about my family’s medical history, and countless other problems I’d rather not need to deal with. Of course, all of that pales in comparison to the information accessible on the network we use at the office.

There are lots of reasons that securing your digital work environment should be on your mind, some of which are more obvious than others. As more and more business operations become dependent on our office networks, the more imperative that network’s security becomes — and to be frank, which aspects of modern business aren’t in some way connected to computers and the Internet in some way?  Not only do I have my own personal information and the information of my employees, but all of my client and vendor information is accessed through there as well. And with more and more high-profile hacks occurring every year, there is no question that securing your digital work environment is an imperative that everyone needs to pay attention to — not just IT professionals.

The following are a few steps you should take right now to secure your digital work environment:

Know what you’re downloading

It’s no longer acceptable to accidentally download malware onto your computer. Gone are the days of clicking unknown email attachments or ad-serving search bars for Internet Explorer. Today, it should be expected from you (and the rest of your office) that any programs or files downloaded onto a device on the local network should be known ahead of time. The last thing you need to do is give hackers a backdoor into your otherwise-secured digital work environment.

Keep up with the latest malware headlines

You should make it a point to keep up with malware and other network security news. If tech news isn’t something that you particularly enjoy, it is still worthwhile to at least read the headlines from a website like Ars Technica or CNET, or even sign up for one of their newsletters so you can hear about any major hacks or network vulnerabilities.

Keep all of your software and services up-to-date

Technology and software companies spend millions upon millions of dollars making sure their programs are protected against malicious actors. Of course, any updates they make will only work if you have the latest versions of their software available. You should take advantage of the hard work they are doing by always downloading the latest version of your software. Even better, you can use cloud-based services which are able to automatically push updates in almost real-time.

Use encryption on all of your Wireless Access Points

It’s easier than ever to use state-of-the-art encryption on all of your office’s Wireless Access Points. Every modern router worth owning has the ability to use encryption, but it’s up to you to make sure that the encryption is actually enabled!

Use state-of-the-art secured cloud services as much as possible

Many of the problems associated with securing your work environment stem from the fact that you are (most likely) not a multi-billion dollar company or government agency with access to the latest cutting edge network security tools; however, you can still take advantage of many of those tools — even if you are a startup with just two employees — thanks to the wonders of the Cloud! Through the use of managed services, you can leverage the massive R&D budgets of companies like Microsoft who have departments dedicated to network security. That’s why I highly recommend that companies both large and small transition over to a managed service environment for as much of their storage and services capability as is realistic and practical. Doing so will dramatically reduce the risk that your information will be compromised.

Train your team, and anyone else with access to your network

As any successful military leader throughout history would tell you, it isn’t enough to have a plan — you need the rest of your team to actually execute that plan for it to be successful. The same is true when securing your network; it doesn’t matter if you follow all of the steps described above if one or more of your employees (or even a visiting client or vendor) compromises the network by downloading a virus accidentally. This means that regular training should take place, as well as an expectation that your team will stay up-to-date on the latest security headlines and best practices.

As far as visitors to the office are concerned, it’s important to give them access to what they need, but restrict their permissions if at all possible to minimize the risk of them inadvertently downloading something that could jeopardize your entire office.

The true cost of an unsecured network

While compromised data is certainly a reason to secure your network, there is another, more financially-based reason for securing your digital work environment: productivity. It (almost) goes without saying that a network that is compromised, or shut down altogether, isn’t a productive one. At best, your office won’t be able to conduct the day-to-day operations for clients that ultimately drive revenue (and client satisfaction). Even worse, you could find yourself with a permanent loss or compromise of data, which could temporarily or permanently shut your doors.

In a future post, I’ll go into more detail about just how expensive network downtime can be. But for now, make sure to secure your digital work environment as soon as possible, and leverage the growing number of tools that companies like Microsoft are providing to combat hackers and other malicious actors.

As always, I encourage you to reach out to me with questions, comments, or concerns you have about anything I mentioned above, or managed services in general. Also, if you have other suggestions on how others can easily secure their digital networks, be sure to leave a comment!

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For more information about managed services in Los Angeles, California, or for general questions about cloud services, including how a managed service provider can ensure a seamless transition to an Office365 or Azure environment, please visit our website  at https://www.lastlinesolutions.com or call us at (310) 286-0111

Laurent Slutzky is the founder of Last Line Solutions Inc., a full service Managed Service Provider