Business people gathered around computer

4 ways to improve your WAN security

The internet, remote workforces, mobile devices, and cloud services have combined to create new opportunities for growing companies – and new challenges for CIOs. Companies are struggling to meet regulations around protected information, maintain appropriate privacy for proprietary information, and manage the addition of mobile devices to their network. While these devices offer new and exciting ways to do business, they also introduce risk into the computing environment. 

Wide area networks (WAN) enable businesses to create a cohesive network that connects people and locations to the resources they need. A WAN facilitates communication and eases the challenges of a dispersed workforce. But it can also be difficult to set up and requires regular infrastructure updates as well as proactive monitoring and protection to maintain company security.

Here are a few of the ways that businesses of all sizes can improve their WAN security. 

1. Virtual private networks

A virtual private network is a way to connect a single computer or a group of computers to a private network across a public network while keeping a secure connection. However not all VPNs are created equal. To enhance your team’s productivity, it is essential that you set up a VPN that supports good connectivity, speed, and premium data security. A company can choose to set up a VPN on its own, or it can choose a managed IT provider to assist in VPN planning, implementation and management. 

2. Software-defined wide area networks (SD-WAN)

Think of SD-WAN as a software overlay that runs on top of all your hardware, expanding its capability. Some of the primary benefits include:

  • Enhanced monitoring and visibility
  • Centralized management
  • Increased options for connectivity type such as MPLS, cable, cellular, fiber, etc.
  • Lower total cost of ownership vs. expensive routing equipment

Overall SD-WAN can make your wide area network connections much more flexible, efficient and dynamic than managing WAN connections directly using your routing hardware. An investment in this technology should be considered if you have multiple locations and/or heavy traffic on your WAN connections.

3. Managing mobile devices

Mobile device management is “probably the biggest problem that businesses face today” according to TechTarget. As mobile devices, including laptops, mobile phones, and tablets, become a more common way of doing business, a whole new world of network insecurity opens up. This is especially true if those devices belong to employees and not your business.

The key to managing mobile device security is to work with a cybersecurity expert and make sure you have the right policies and protocols in place to protect your network. If the mobile devices are company-owned, make sure the software is kept up-to-date and your employees are trained on best practices such as keeping devices locked and not connecting to public Wi-Fi. It is also important to create and enforce a bring your own device (BYOD) policy that governs how and when employees can use personal devices.

4. Keeping everything updated

One of the most critical policies for any business to keep its employees and data secure is to consistently maintain software updates for all network devices. From operating systems to antivirus to encryption software, businesses cannot afford to defer software updates, patches and fixes. Employees often minimize the notifications when it’s time to update, so it is essential employers have policies in place to ensure everyone’s up to date.

It’s also important to recognize the signs of malware invading your business network. Noticeable slowdowns, overheating hardware, connection lapses and application crashes are all red flags that require extra attention. To keep the company safe, it is essential that employees are regularly trained to  look out for and counteract these sorts of threats and issues.

Related: How your employees can be your greatest cybersecurity asset

For businesses looking to ease the burden of creating, updating, or maintaining their WAN, Network Support Co is ready to put their more than 20 years of experience managing geographically dispersed locations to work for you. The right support can help boost your productivity, security, and technology ROI.