Why Do You Need a Network Security Checklist?
Security experts are fond of saying that data is most at risk when it’s on the move, according to the Federal Communications Commission, so no wonder you continually work with your team to produce the ultimate network security checklist. Since data is mobile and shareable in modern business, perhaps primarily to users, it is your duty and challenge as a dedicated IT leader to constantly keep everything safely in check.
A network security checklist is the best way to help you feel comfortable that everything is battened down and locked up, safe from the prying eyes of cybercriminals. It is critical to remember, however, that no matter how thorough your checklist at any time, you need to plan for regular updates to keep up with the wildly rapid advances in technology that constantly keep your organization’s information privacy and protection goalposts moving.
Key Factors When Building Your Network Security Checklist
Since nearly all businesses rely on the fluidity of data, as well as its ironclad protection while traveling through the cybersphere, you must find a solution that satisfies both needs equally. And of course, there isn’t just one single answer; instead, it is an intricate and full-scale process.
With all the complexities involved with network security amid so much continual change and advancement in technology, it might help you to focus on a few key factors before beginning work on your network security checklist:
Modern Networks Are Large, Inter-connected, and Vulnerable.
By desire and design, networks have become behemoth information portals that feature ubiquitous protocols, such as IPs, and proprietary protocols. The former is where most vulnerabilities lie, since determined and savvy hackers can easily find in-roads to your system via IP breaches over the internet and heavily connected networks.
Related article: 6 Ways to Segment Networks for Better Protection.
Computer Systems and Applications Are Complex.
As computer systems become more sophisticated — handling more processes and data at greater speeds and power levels — they also become more challenging to manage. Add in the advent and increasing adoption of virtualization, and it is easy to understand why computing risks continue to soar.
Even with all the challenges involved with network security, if you and your IT team, as well as your entire staff, remember the importance of confidentiality, integrity, and the consistent availability of your system and all its data, your carefully constructed network security checklist will serve as an effective guide and safeguard.
Related article: Penetration Testing for Web Applications.
Build Your Organization’s Network Security Checklist
You probably already have a list of areas you want to cover for network security, but you might wonder how to manage it all without feeling like you are chasing your tail. It may help you and your team to build a solid network security foundation by building a checklist under which you can monitor and adapt specific aspects of security, as necessary.
Breaking your security duties down into the following manageable sections and by creating actionable checklists will help you and your team feel confident that you have not missed any issues and that your system is constantly running safely and seamlessly:
Administrative Controls and Prevention Measures
Have you updated your technology user manual and made sure everyone understands their terms of usage? Since user error is often the weakest link in any network chain, it is critical that you make sure all staff network users — including employees, management and the executive team — understand the need to understand and comply with the basic safety precautions when using your organization’s computing system, including the following for a solid start:
Write a Contingency Plan: Have plans in place for if/when there is a data breach or security breach; it should cover disaster recovery and business continuity.
Set Training Schedules: Set up training sessions that teach all users precautions to keep data safe, such as creating unique passwords, safely sharing data outside the company, email use, and guarding access their systems.
Create a Comprehensive User Manual: Give everyone who uses company technology a copy of your comprehensive guide to the rules of usage, and require everyone to return a signed agreement before beginning active use on their own account. This includes all outside vendors and contractors working in your environment.
Ensure Use of Two Factor Authentication (2FA): Require multi-factor authentication to keep entry to your system safe. Ask staff to choose an extra piece of identifying information in addition to their username and password for an extra layer of system protection.
Policy Controls to Protect Your Network
With some overlap of administrative controls, policy controls are essential to getting your staff, management and executives on board to make your job easier. Protecting your network security system is truly best as a company-wide effort. It is far easier for you and your IT team to plan and enforce internal policies than missing a detail that makes it possible for an employee to inadvertently invite an intrusion. The ramifications of a cyber invasion, on any scale, far outweigh your preventive measures, which include:
Network Security Policy – that lists the rights and responsibilities of all staff, employees, and consultants.
Internet Usage Policy – Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) for all staff and visitors.
Acceptable Use Policy
Remote Access Policy
Email and Communications Policy
Along with managing policies and user agreements, tending to your servers is a key ingredient for any network security checklist. Create and maintain a running list of servers that your organization uses, including the name of each, its purpose, the IP address, date of service, service tag and rack location. Make sure that your server checklist is easily adjustable to allow for new entries and other malleable information. Other information to add to your server checklist includes:
- The party responsible knows the reason for a particular server.
- Note naming conventions to identify irregular traffic from familiar names on the network.
Additional items to add to your checklist include the following:
Network Equipment Security
Mobile Device Security
Firewall & Antivirus Security
What Is the Purpose of a Network Security Audit?
A network security audit examines all your network systems to ensure that any security concerns are addressed. Servers, routers, workstations, and gateways must all be verified to ensure that they are secure and safe, and that no sensitive data is being shared. There are also personnel concerns to consider because users are linked to the network. Users are frequently the most dangerous threat to a network’s security, whether purposefully or inadvertently.
Many factors must be considered during a network security audit, and it is common to overlook or overlook procedures. As a result, it’s critical to have not just frequent network security audits but also a checklist to guarantee that all Network Security procedures are covered each time an Audit is performed.
Consider Outside Assistance to Check Network Security
Depending on the size of your organization and the sensitivity of your data, it may help you to enlist a professional team of network security specialists who continually monitor the industry for vulnerabilities that may affect you. I.S. Partners, LLC. can help you create, or update, a solid network security checklist that gives you and your IT unprecedented system confidence.