Keeping Your Network Secure: Dos And Donts

Network security is a concern to businesses of all sizes. Discover what you should, or shouldn't, be doing in a networking environment.

Whether you work for a small business, or a major corporation, you probably access most of your data through a computer network. As a result, you should be concerned about network security. Security violations cost organizations billions in lost information, data recovery, and system clean-up. Therefore, as a user, you must always be aware of the dos and don'ts when working in a networking environment.

Dos:

Do choose your passwords carefully. Make sure they're unique and include both letters and numbers. Never pick obvious ones such as "password" or "computer." And avoid using names of family members and pets. Also, passwords should be changed periodically.

Do learn about network security. This means reviewing user security documentation, and attending security awareness classes.

Do save your work-related data on the network. Network administrators usually back up information saved on the network on a regular basis (i.e., daily, weekly, or monthly).

Avoid saving data to floppy disks, which can easily be stolen.

Do encrypt data. Encryption encodes information before it travels throughout the network, and decodes it once it reaches its destination. Therefore, make sure your sensitive data is encrypted before it's transmitted. If you don't know, ask your local network administrator.

Do utilize network virus protection software. Viruses are programs whose sole purpose is to cause chaos in computer networks. Always perform a virus scan on information you receive on a floppy disk.



Do report any unauthorized use of your computer. Administrators can review security logs and track all activity performed through your PC within a given time period. They can determine which files were accessed, and what changes were made to your network account. This is called auditing.

Do lock your workstation when you step away from your computer. Otherwise, anyone who passes by your unattended PC can access your files.

Do inform administrators of employee departures. Vacant computers often have active user accounts that must be disabled.

Don'ts:

Don't reveal your password to anyone. Some people give their network account information to managers, co-workers, or even friends. Passwords are private and should be shared with no one. If you go on vacation, have administrators grant access of your files to an appropriate user. Then, after you return, have that access promptly revoked, and change your password immediately.

Don't leave passwords around your workplace. Some people tape passwords to desks or place them under keyboards. This is a definite no-no. Always take the time to memorize your security access information.

Don't save personal or sensitive information on shared network resources. For example, employees' salaries shouldn't be in a folder that can be accessed by the whole organization.

Don't open suspect e-mails. E-mails often contain viruses that can quickly spread through a large portion of computers in a network. If you think an e-mail might be dangerous, delete it immediately.

Don't leave sensitive data on your hard drive. Computer hard disks are not usually protected by passwords and can be accessed by anyone. In addition, hard drive information is not subject to the routine backups performed by administrators.

Don't use automatic login features. These will enable anyone to use your account to gain access to the network.

Network security should always be taken seriously. Frequent attacks on a network can result in a loss of data, revenue, and ultimately, jobs. Therefore, users have a responsibility to themselves, and to their fellow employees, to protect the information within their organization, and implement appropriate security measures.

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