In today's business world, internet usage has become a necessity for doing business. Unfortunately, a company's use of the internet comes with considerable risk to its network and business information.
Web security threats include phishing attacks, malware, scareware, rootkits, keyloggers, viruses and spam. While many attacks occur when information is downloaded from a website, others are now possible through drive-by attacks where simply visiting a website can infect a computer. These attacks usually result in data and information leakage, loss in productivity, loss of network bandwidth and, depending on the circumstances, even liability issues for the company. In addition to all this, cleanup from malware and other types of attacks on a company's network are usually costly from both the dollar aspect as well as the time spent recovering from these web security threats.
Fortunately, there are steps a company can take to protect itself from these web security threats. Some are more effective than others, but the following suggestions should help narrow down the choices.
Employee Internet Usage Policy
The first and probably the least expensive solution would be to develop and implement an employee internet usage policy. This policy should clearly define what an employee can and cannot do when using the internet. It should also address personal usage of the internet on the business computer. The policy should identify the type of websites that can be accessed by the employee for business purposes and what, if any, type of material can be downloaded from the internet. Always make sure the information contained in the policy fits your unique business needs and environment.
Train your employees to recognize web security threats and how to lower the risk of infection. In today's business environment, laptops, smartphones, iPads, and other similar devices are not only used for business purposes, but also for personal and home use. When devices are used at home, the risk of an infection on that device is high and malware could easily be transferred to the business network. This is why employee education is so important.
Good patch management practices should also be in place and implemented using a clearly-defined patch management policy. Operating systems and applications, including browsers, should be updated regularly with the latest available security patches. The browser, whether a mobile version used on a smartphone or a full version used on a computer, is a primary vector for malware attacks and merits particular attention. Using the latest version of a browser is a must as known vulnerabilities would have been addressed
Internet Monitoring Software
Lastly, I would mention the use of internet monitoring software. Internet monitoring software should be able to protect the network against malware, scareware, viruses, phishing attacks and other malicious software. A robust internet monitoring software solution will help to enforce your company's internet usage policy by blocking connections to unacceptable websites, by monitoring downloads, and by monitoring encrypted web traffic going into and out of the network.
There is no single method that can guarantee 100% web security protection, however a well thought-out strategy is one huge step towards minimizing risk that the network could be targeted by the bad guys.
About the Writers
GFI Software provides the single best source of network security, content security and messaging software for small to medium sized businesses.
This guest post was provided by Sean McCreary on behalf of GFI Software Ltd. GFI is a leading software developer that provides a single source for network administrators to address their network security, content security and messaging needs. More information: GFI web security software .