Wide Area Network (WAN)

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A Wide Area Network (WAN) is a large computer network that connects groups of computers over large distances. WANs are often used by large businesses to connect their office networks, where each office has its own Local Area Network (LAN), and these LANs connect through a WAN. WANs can be vital for international businesses, but they are also essential for everyday use, as the internet is considered the largest WAN in the world.

These networks are often established by service providers that lease their WAN to businesses, schools, governments, or the public. Customers can use the network to relay and store data or communicate with other users, no matter their location, as long as they have access to the established WAN. Access can be granted through different avenues, such as Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), wireless networks, cellular networks, or the Internet itself.

For organizations that aren’t geographically close to each other, WANs can allow them to carry out their essential daily functions without delay while enhancing security. WANs can keep company data off the Internet through encryption allowing better collaboration on projects amongst geographically dispersed individuals. Employees from anywhere can use a business’s WAN to share data, communicate with coworkers, or simply stay connected to the greater data resource center for that organization.

What does this mean for an SMB?

Your small to medium-sized business likely does not need a WAN, unless your company is spread across the country (or world) and needs to communicate and share information with co-workers frequently. Leveraging a Local Area Network (LAN) to segment your network may be the best bet if you’re looking to bolster your network security. When a company is connecting remote locations together via a WAN, it is important not to create a flat network that passes all traffic of any kind between all locations. CyberHoot has unfortunately participated in incidents where a compromise in one location spread across the WAN to all other locations encrypting everything accessible. Not good!
Using network segmentation is an important tool that helps you improve your network security and resilience. Network segmentation helps limit the spread of malware, viruses, or even hackers because the internal trusted network is no longer flat and open. VLANs and PVLANs can help you establish a zero-trust network framework that hides various network segments from each other preventing much of the damage from a single host compromise.
For example, if a hacker gained access to your network through someone on your Finance team, the hacker would not be able to move laterally to another part of the network without compromising a host on that network and even then, only if the hacker can see or communicate with a host in the other isolated network because the network was segmented. Dropping routes between these networks make it even harder for hackers to do their damage.

Firewalls are commonly deployed in SMB’s with Wireless Network capabilities that allow you to physically and logically segregate guest Wi-Fi networks from trusted Wi-Fi networks. Make sure you tie your Trusted Wi-Fi network into your Active Directory user accounts (using Radius) instead of a static password. This eliminates a common risk of terminated employees sitting on your trusted Wi-Fi network in the Parking lot to siphon off sensitive data or cause additional harm to your company. 

Additional Cybersecurity Recommendations

Additionally, these recommendations below will help you and your business stay secure with the various threats you may face on a day-to-day basis. All of the suggestions listed below can be gained by hiring CyberHoot’s vCISO Program development services.

  1. Govern employees with policies and procedures. You need a password policy, an acceptable use policy, an information handling policy, and a written information security program (WISP) at a minimum.
  2. Train employees on how to spot and avoid phishing attacks. Adopt a Learning Management system like CyberHoot to teach employees the skills they need to be more confident, productive, and secure.
  3. Test employees with Phishing attacks to practice. CyberHoot’s Phish testing allows businesses to test employees with believable phishing attacks and put those that fail into remedial phish training.
  4. Deploy critical cybersecurity technology including two-factor authentication on all critical accounts. Enable email SPAM filtering, validate backups, deploy DNS protection, antivirus, and anti-malware on all your endpoints.
  5. In the modern Work-from-Home era, make sure you’re managing personal devices connecting to your network by validating their security (patching, antivirus, DNS protections, etc) or prohibiting their use entirely.
  6. If you haven’t had a risk assessment by a 3rd party in the last 2 years, you should have one now. Establishing a risk management framework in your organization is critical to addressing your most egregious risks with your finite time and money.
  7. Buy Cyber-Insurance to protect you in a catastrophic failure situation. Cyber-Insurance is no different than Car, Fire, Flood, or Life insurance. It’s there when you need it most.

All of these recommendations are built into CyberHoot the product or CyberHoot’s vCISO Services. With CyberHoot you can govern, train, assess, and test your employees. Visit CyberHoot.com and sign up for our services today. At the very least continue to learn by enrolling in our monthly Cybersecurity newsletters to stay on top of current cybersecurity updates.

To learn more about Wide Area Networks (WANs), watch this short 2-minute video:

CyberHoot does have some other resources available for your use. Below are links to all of our resources, feel free to check them out whenever you like: 

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