Is your network bandwidth used properly?
Nowadays we hear a lot “I don’t know why it’s taking so long to load the webpage”, “what’s happening to my connection” and the list can be infinite. In most cases, when users complain that their network is slow, there is a high chance the network bandwidth is overloaded. The key is to know how is being used and by whom. But when SMBs are facing the same situation, then have to take into consideration another possibility – an unauthorized use of the network or cyber-attacks. Those 2 possibilities can have a huge impact on the company’s information security.
One of the reasons there might be a high traffic on your available bandwidth can be the non-work employees’ activities. According to IDC Research, an estimated 30-40 percent of employee Internet use is not related to work. Another statistic from Pew Internet and American Life Project shows us that 28 percent of individuals are making gift purchases from their offices. According to Websense Inc., the Workplace Internet misuse costs U.S. businesses $63 billion in lost productivity annually.
Beside the loss of potential revenue, the impact of using the internet bandwidth for personal use is much higher. There are critical applications that have to run within the network and those can be slow down by the bandwidth overload, and even worse, employees’ workstations are exposed to viruses and malware.
Even though things changed in the last decade and most companies have policies in place that regulate non-work related internet activities, like all rules, these are made to be violated. Based on a survey that was conducted by Pew Research Center on 2,003 subjects, 77 percent of them report using social media regardless of whether their employer has such a policy in place. So, what should companies do to reduce the time their employees spend on non-work related activities? To mitigate the internet usage for these types of activities, every company should have a policy enforcement in place and the staff should be educated about the new changes they are required to undergo. Examples of basic content filters that can used to enforce the policies are:
- Preventing the posting of brand names to social media sites;
- Blocking of incoming or outgoing file types over social media (e.g. Excel spreadsheets or databases);
- Blocking access to dangerous websites, such as gambling sites.
Possible threats of the network bandwidth misuse
As internet misuse leads to a network slowdown, in most cases, but tracking down the root cause of this latency is easier said than done. Any delay on your network can quickly escalate into a serious problem. Network administrators are tasked with troubleshooting and they usually have to follow a three-step process:
- Latency confirmation;
- Area location where latency is occurring;
- Identifying and eliminating the source.
With a limited number of tools such as speed tests, network pings and cryptic log files, network admins are usually in the dark. It can go worse if we think about the possibility of being hacked by allowing unauthorized use of the network.
The below statistic shows the number of data breaches in the United States from 2014 to the first half of 2018, by industry. In the last period, the majority of the 668 data breaches affected business and medical organizations, with 309 and 181 data breaches respectively.
Most common attacks performed inside of the SMBs are placing malicious code, DoSs and data breaches. What do these cyber attacks have in common? They all exploit vulnerable points: employees and/or guests, critical data locations, unpatched servers/ workstations and social engineering. If you thought diagnosing network slowdowns is difficult, identifying potential cyber attacks is even harder. After a deep analysis and long hours of checking packet dumps and system logs, most often admins can identify the problem but it might be too late. The damage is done and attackers already took most of the valuable company information.
How can GFI help you secure and optimize your network?
So, what can you do to better manage and protect your network?
- Use GFI Languard to keep your systems up-to-date with patches and software updates, effectively preventing most common threats. Also, identify open TCP/UDP ports, network shares and software applications installed in your computer systems
- Use Exinda Network Orchestrator to monitor the usage of your network resources and to identify unwanted behavior
- Use Kerio Control to monitor the activity of users and computers and to automatically remove viruses and malware before they reach your internal computers and to prevent DoS attacks
- Use GFI EventsManager to collect and process logs from all your computers and network devices, simplifying the task of identifying and getting notified of potential threats
Here at GFI Software, Aurea SMB Solutions we are hosting a series of webinars which will go into further detail on how to secure your devices and protect your company from cyber threats. Join us in one of our FREE webinar sessions. Register here:
Who else has been using your network? – November 21, 2018
Are you in control of your network applications? – December 12, 2018