Josh Holmes, Product Manager, Managed Security Services
Always “on.” Wi-Fi everywhere, work from anywhere. Today’s connected world allows for worker flexibility while maintaining productivity gains, sales and growth. Businesses that are embracing the mobile and connected world are realizing new ways to engage current and potential clients as well as allowing employees to reach a new level of work-life balance.
This flexibility and the gains obtained through mobility come with a challenge, however. Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and the emerging Internet of Things (IoT) challenge you to protect your data while maintaining mobility. As you grow more connected, so too grows the risk that someone will attempt to gain unauthorized access, through seemingly innocuous avenues, to the data stored on your LAN servers.
Do your employees work remotely from home offices or coffee shops through unsecured Wi-Fi networks? Do you store client purchase information for loyalty programs? Then you have a point of vulnerability into your network—and to data that is valuable to hackers. Or, if your business works with larger companies that have valuable data, you could be targeted as a vulnerability access point for that larger business. That’s what happened with the Target data breach. In any case, if your business does not have proper security to protect sensitive data, it could cost you tens, or even hundreds of thousands of dollars, in penalties and remediation costs.
With limited budgets for IT projects and issues, where do you begin?
- Consider using a Managed Service Provider (MSP). For a monthly fee you’ll get an extended IT staff that is dedicated to keeping your network secure while you and your employees focus on growing your core strengths. The MSP will work to mitigate inbound attacks and ensure that your firewall is always current with security subscriptions.
- Use a capable Unified Threat Management (UTM) firewall device. This is that castle gate that controls access to your LAN, and even segments traffic or user access to protect the most sensitive portions of your network.
- Ensure that mobile workers have proper security applications built into their devices. All laptops, tablets, phones, etc., should have anti-malware and VPN capabilities to ensure that traffic bound for the LAN is private and protected. With security applications and the UTM, the traffic can be designated as clean.
- Plan your mobility access and use with security in mind. With “wearables” in retail stores and shoppers’ mobile devices able to access in-store Wi-Fi systems, your business needs to limit that public traffic access to a very small portion of the system to protect your LAN.
So embrace the mobility that you need for continued business growth, but do so with an eye towards security and caution. Because even though your employees and clients expect mobile access, they will bite the hand that feeds them if your LAN is compromised and their data stolen. To you as the business owner, that might mean a huge financial penalty—or even end of your business.
Josh has product management responsibility for managed network services at Spectrum Enterprise. He has more than 15 years of experience in the telecommunications industry and holds a MEF 2.0 CECP certification.