Networks for business
Protecting your business information means securing the computers or mobile devices it’s stored on, and ensuring that it stays secure as it moves between computers. This means taking steps to secure your network.
Tip: Securing remote access to a network requires some technical knowledge. If remote access isn’t an important part of your business, don’t allow it. If it is, seek advice from a computer expert to make sure it’s set up securely.
Protect your network
Securing a network means protecting it from unauthorised access and use:
- Use a firewall to keep out unwanted connections and review the firewall logs for unusual activity on your network. For example, you may notice something that suggests an intrusion.
- Stop staff from installing software, in particular, any programs that may allow remote access to the network, unless they are authorised to do so and are responsible for network security.
- If you allow staff to connect to your business network using personal equipment, including home computers and mobile phones, ensure they have installed the latest software updates, have up-to-date security software and have received security awareness training.
- If you use a wireless network you may need to take extra steps to secure it from unauthorised access. Learn how to secure a wireless network.
- Prevent unauthorised access to your network by limiting physical access to network hardware, and disable network outlets in publicly accessible areas of your business if they are not required.
- As with your computers, you need to ensure your network devices are regularly updated with security patches. This includes devices such as switches, routers, firewalls and wireless access points.
- Ensure you replace the default management passwords on your network devices with strong and unique passwords.
- Consider separating sensitive systems such as security and Point of Sale (POS) onto a separate network. By keeping these systems on a separate network from your other systems, you can minimise the risk that they will be accessed from less secure systems. Learn more about network segmentation and segregation from the Australian Signals Directorate and seek reputable technical assistance if required.
Secure remote access to your networks
Accessing the office while travelling can provide increased productivity and flexibility. It’s important to ensure your equipment and connections are secure so that your network isn't vulnerable and your business information isn't exposed.
Before you implement remote access for your business, consider first whether you really need it. If you do need it, complete a risk assessment to identify the risks to your business and the controls needed to reduce those risks to an acceptable level. You may also assess risk for individual staff, taking into account their specific circumstances, including where they will use the access (home or travelling, from a work or home PC) and if anyone else will be using the computer (eg family members).
Consider taking the following measures to reduce risk to your network when enabling remote connections:
- Restrict access to the minimum services and functions necessary for staff to carry out their role.
- Ensure that all staff use strong passwords on their mobile devices. Learn how to create strong passwords.
- Make sure that staff using laptops do not set their computer to log in automatically and that they don't store their password on their laptop.
- Use strong authentication that requires both a password and a token-based or two-factor authentication.
- Delete remote access privileges for staff once they are not needed. For example, do not let someone who has left the company retain access to your network.
- Use Virtual Private Network (VPN) software to provide a high level of encryption for access to your network remotely.
Learn how to protect your business in five minutes with our Small Business Guide.