Network security is the protection of data across your network. From the moment anyone sends data to the moment that data is deleted permanently, it must be kept safe from anyone not intended to have access to it. This involves the use of credentials for every employee, every vendor, every client and every freelancer your company works with. Data is precious, so allowing access selectively is important and allowing read-only access is often beneficial.
Network security takes on several types. Firstly, there is physical security, where potential vandals, thieves, and other nefarious types are kept away from the servers. Secondly, there is data security during storage, where data is kept on the cloud and access is severely restricted on personal devices by practices such as automatically logging out after a certain amount of idle time. As well, there is network security during data transfer, such as by using encryption and virtual private network access across less secure networks, with public wifi being the most extreme example.
As well, network security is intended to keep networks functioning. This can be protected from natural disasters, power failures, or malicious cyber attacks.
Network security can protect against a lot of problems. The first is the loss of important data that could be compromised due to data corruption. The second is that data can be stolen by malicious third parties and used in unintended ways, such as using a client's account to make fraudulent purchases. The third problem that network security is supposed to protect against is the loss of your network's overall functionality.
To an extent, protecting data is a training issue that should be covered with all employees and freelancers on the inside. As well, all clients should be informed that it is their responsibility to keep their username and password from prying eyes. However, most network security issues arise due to breaches within the server architecture, many of which are completely preventable with foresight.
Every company should have an individual who is responsible for network security, if not an entire team. If you handle your own servers and network in-house, having your IT staff be trained in network security is vital. Even when the bulk of your network including its security is outsourced, someone needs to handle the training process inside your company. Someone also needs to ensure that you and your outsourcing partners are on the same page when it comes to your security setup.
To an extent, you can outsource your network security needs. Particularly if you outsource your server management, much of the security is going to be handled by default. However, this is not something you can completely turn over because many security issues can be handled through effective training and some basic safeguards. Your outsourcing partner may have little power to help you if data is compromised due to employee or outside staffer carelessness, which are the most frequent breaching points.
Every managed IT services company is well-versed in network security if the company itself is operated as it should be. Naturally, you want to vet your outsourcing partner thoroughly before entrusting your data to them. If their systems are up to the task of handling your data and your legal department is satisfied with the management company's contract stipulations about data handling, you can be reasonably confident in your overall network security. It cannot be stressed thoroughly enough that at least one member of your inside team.
Establishing trust is an important aspect of working with any third party, and data is a serious issue. Read reviews, speak to the company's existing clients, and make a determination based on what you can find. If you suspect anything that is not above board, question it and use the answers you receive to make your decision. Considering that there can be sizable legal ramifications for a third party IT company that does not handle network security properly, nearly all of these types of companies are quite careful.
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