Five Best Practices For Setting Up Your Business’s First Computer Network
You’ve started your own business! Congratulations! Launching a company is exciting. There are so many decisions to make. What IT to use may be daunting. If your small or medium-sized business (SMB) is growing and you are hiring employees, it’s time to plan beyond your personal laptop to create an efficient, secure IT network with some VPN best practices.
Start by talking to a managed services provider (MSP) to help you plan and implement your network. MSP professionals have the experience and are knowledgeable about best practices to build the right IT support for your company.
Here are five areas where an MSP provider can help you make the most of your IT investment.
1. Invest in reliable hardware and software to ensure a secure and stable network.
- Make the decision to commit to professional-grade computers and network equipment.
- Protect your cable or DSL connection with a professionally set up and installed firewall. Invest in multiple wireless access points to connect you and your staff to the network. Your Internet service provider’s built-in wireless network may not provide adequate coverage or security.
- Shy away from off-brand or cheap computers for you and your staff. Choose business rated computers from well-known companies. Their service and support will help you remain productive and prepared for growth.
- Printers may not be critical to your operation now. When it’s time, choose from well-known manufacturers. Avoid ink-jet printers as they are messy and expensive to maintain. Choose a good monochrome laser printer and progress to a color laser printer only if you truly need one.
2. Research the best network configuration for your needs.
The emergence of cloud computing may make you think a server is unnecessary. That does not mean that you shouldn’t consider one in your cost-to-benefit analysis. Servers still have a role to play, depending on your organization’s needs.
- What software will you need to operate your business?
- Does this software work better in a server environment, or can/will it work via the cloud?
- Who on your staff will need this software, and how will they access it?
- Are your staff remote, or all within your physical office?
- What do others in your industry use to operate their businesses?
Consult with IT professionals and document, for yourself, the pros and cons. Only then will you be able to make the right decisions for your operation.
3. Utilize strong authentication methods, such as password and encryption to protect your data and user accounts.
- Security should be a priority for your new IT network and your team. Protect your IT now by utilizing complex passwords and multifactor authentication on your email and hosted software solutions. Passwords alone are no longer safe enough.
- Are you collaborating with a remote team that’s using a VPN? VPN best practices require multifactor authentication to access the network. For instance, your email accounts, VPN connections to your data, and services must employ multifactor authentication.
- Take the time to educate your staff about cybercrime, using a Security Awareness Training or other forms of tools to help your staff recognize and defeat phishing and ransomware attacks. Hackers only must be right once to get into your data or systems. Your staff must be right all the time.
4. Regularly monitor the network for suspicious activity and update the software and hardware as needed.
- Today’s cybersecurity environment requires 24x7x365 monitoring and threat detection.
- Use security monitoring to detect threats and respond in real-time. In addition to patching, antivirus, antimalware, and spam filtering, security monitoring protects your team, your data and, your network.
- Zero Trust services will add greater levels of protection to your security. Zero Trust will only allow known applications to run on your machines and only with the bare minimum of rights.
5. Backup everything and confirm your ability to restore your data (very) frequently!
- Many SMBs are confident that they have a full, reliable backup of their data (whether in the cloud or locally). In our investigations, usually, they don’t. Small Biz Trends reports that 58% of small businesses are not prepared for a data loss.
- Regardless of how you store your data, be sure you back it up and confirm that you can restore the data.
- At a minimum, confirm backups and restoration possibilities weekly (more if possible). Our adage is that the backup doesn’t exist if someone isn’t watching.
This may seem like a lot to manage. Frankly, it is. Invest in yourself and your company by building a relationship with a qualified managed services provider (MSP) to help you plan and build a productive network for your company today and in the future.
Focus Data Solutions helps SMBs with their IT strategy, network management, and security. To learn more or to request our network assessment services, visit us at www.focusdatasolutions.com