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4 Steps to secure your veterinary network

By June 22, 2021February 16th, 2024No Comments

Networks play a vital role in the day-to-day running of veterinary practices, allowing us the ability to do tasks such as accessing the internet, printing documents, sharing messages, emailing and connecting with our clients and staff. They are the backbones of our technology infrastructure that glues every technology available together.

Networks, by definition, are a group of computers or devices that are interconnected together that use a common communication protocol to share resources that are located on or provided by network nodes. The interconnection connecting these devices and computers can be wired, optical, or wireless.

Setting up a network for your practice

The choice of a network to set up on a veterinary practice depends on the size of the network required and its purpose.

The size of the network is expressed by the geographical area a network covers and the number of interconnected devices. Small and medium-sized veterinary practices can have networks that range from interconnected devices in a single room to thousands of devices spread across the world. Below are the five types of networking options that are available to veterinary practices.

LAN – Local Area Network: LAN networks are the most common and simplest types of networks available for a veterinary practice. They are used to connect groups of computers and low voltage devices across short distances, such as within a practice building or between two practice buildings that are in close proximity to each other, in order to share information and resources. LAN networks use ethernet cables and routers for interconnections.

WAN – Wide Area Network: WAN networks have no geographical limits and exist over a large-scale geographical area. These networks are used to connect different smaller networks such as Local Area Networks, Metropolitan Area Networks, making it easier for them to communicate with each other over large geographical areas. An example of WAN is the internet, which can connect devices around the world. Practice owners can set up this network through cloud services and have their websites where their clients and employees can share and access information.

WLAN – Wireless Local Area Network: WLAN functions exactly like Local Area Networks but uses wireless technology such as Wi-Fi for their connection. Unlike LAN, these types of networks are not reliant on cabling for connection.

MAN – Metropolitan Area Network: Veterinary practices with multiple locations across a town or a city can use MAN to connect.

CAN – Campus Area Network: These networks are smaller than Metropolitan Area Networks but larger than LAN and are used to interconnect devices and computers in large veterinary practices that span multiple buildings or a larger geographical area.

Securing veterinary practice networks

After setting up networks, veterinary practices need to be wary of threats posed by cybercriminals. This is because networks are honeypots to cybercriminals and provide an avenue for them to access all devices and computers, which they can use to cause havoc and paralyze normal operations of the veterinary practice. Here are some of the steps that should be taken to secure your network.

Password protection

Having your network secured by a password also ensures that cyber-criminals will have a hard time accessing the network.

Passwords can be combined with two-factor authentication, especially for Wide Area Networks such as cloud services. This adds an extra layer of complexity to your system and ensures that everyone accessing your network is fully verified before being granted data.

Antivirus and anti-malware

Having the latest antivirus and anti-malware software running on your network also helps in ensuring it is not compromised malware.

Malware encompasses a variety of cyber threats such as trojans, viruses and ransomware, which can cripple devices on your network that are expensive to repair or replace. A malware attack can also give backdoor access to your network to cyber-criminals, putting your clients and staff at risk.

Endpoint protection solutions such as anti-malware give practice owners an added layer of securing their networks and ensures that they are able to keep cyber-criminals at bay.

Safeguard Wi-Fi for your WLAN

Securing your Wi-Fi network minimizes avenues that cyber-criminals can use to compromise your Wireless Local Area Network. This can be done by implementing strategies such as having usernames and passwords for your Wi-Fi connections, enabling encryption for every device connecting to the network, implementing firewalls and hiding the network from view.

Network administrators can also use virtual private networks to obscure connections to the networks, making it harder for them to be compromised. Disabling remote network administration through the network also ensures that your network administration is only available to a select group of people.

Implement firewalls

A firewall is one of the first lines of defense that veterinary practices should use to secure their networks. Firewalls are systems that are put in place to prevent unauthorized access to or from a private network.

Veterinary practices have options to implement firewalls in either hardware or software forms or a combination of the two. Hardware firewalls use a device or a set of devices to protect individual computers or a network of computers from the threat of information data leakage by filtering out requests from unauthorized users to access data.

On the other hand, a software firewall is installed on an individual computer and it only protects that single computer from unauthorized access. If multiple computers or devices need protection, then firewall software is installed individually on all the computers that need protection.

Need help protecting your network?

Does all this sound a bit overwhelming? We are hear to help. Schedule your FREE consultation call to see how Lucca Veterinary Data Security can help keep your hospital safe.

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