Ask the Expert: How Can I Protect My Computer Network from Social Engineering?

Steve Giordano, TeamLogic IT | COSE Expert |

“Malware and related IT security threats like Social Engineering — a popular way hackers gain access to a computer network and its sensitive data — continue to increase at alarming rates. It is imperative that businesses take the proper steps to combat these increasingly stealthy threats.

“Access is often gained through personal e-mail or social networking accounts by enticing employees to click on a link or attachment with juicy tidbits on a current event or celebrity news item. Once an employee clicks on the link, it allows the hacker to load malware onto your network. Malware is malicious software that interferes with normal computer function and can send personal data about the user to unauthorized parties over the Internet.

“I recommend implementing multiple layers of defense, kind of like speed bumps, to protect your network from hackers. Anti-virus software offers great protection, but it is just as important to implement strict policies and processes for your employees. Computers are assets of your company as much as a company car or machine tool, so the same rules should apply.

“A few safeguards to consider:

  • Educate employees on social engineering tactics and defensive measures.
  • Install anti-virus software, firewalls, and e-mail filters and update them regularly.
  • Set clear protocols on employee computer and technology usage, including rules on accessing personal e-mail and social networking sites. Include protocols in all security and operations manuals.
  • Employ a strict password policy that uses a combination of numbers, characters and capitalization and implement mandatory password changes every 60 to 90 days.

“A full network security audit is also a wise investment to determine what products and processes to put in place to best reduce your vulnerability and protect your business.”

Steve Giordano is president of TeamLogic IT.

Want more expert advice? Check out COSE Expert Network, an online forum connecting business owners with creative solutions to the tough questions they face every day. 

This article originally appeared in the January 12, 2015, edition of Small Business Matters.