Hackers are constantly looking for ways to crack into computer networks. Some do it for the sheer thrill of circumventing security systems in companies, while others are paid to hack into computer networks for vital data. Hacking takes many forms, from password cracking and Trojan viruses to social engineering where the network administrator is compromised. Though it is a challenge to completely safeguard your system from expert hacking teams, implementing security measures can significantly reduce the possibility of a system being hacked into.

Make Use of Passwords

As commonplace as passwords are, they remain some of the most effective ways to prevent hacking. A company should start by implementing strong password policies. Passwords should typically be of eight secure characters at minimum, a mix of alpha and numeric character combinations and upper- and lower-case letters. As a safety measure, passwords should be changed several times in a year. Keep a copy of all passwords in another secure place, like the company safe, just in case the administrator is unavailable or incapacitated.

Managing Computer Networks

Most hackers take advantage of loopholes in the company's network. Even with good technology, a poorly managed computer network will still be vulnerable to attacks. Companies should establish information security departments to oversee all activities related to securing company networks and data. This department should be involved in all company activities in order to cover all possible breaches. Security is not a product but a philosophy, and all company employees should be educated on the vulnerabilities of networks so that they exercise vigilance any time they handle company data or use Internet-connected resources.

Hiring “White Hat” Hackers to Test the System

“White hat” hackers are very useful when a company wants to prevent sophisticated attacks. Such hackers perform high-level attacks and penetration tests with the company's consent. The purpose of these tests is to identify weak points in the system so that they can be sealed to prevent external attacks. Some companies routinely conduct in-house tests, however these may not be as efficiently and exhaustively performed as those by white hat hackers.

System Hardening

This can also be referred to as lockdown or security tightening, and involves activities such as configuring software for optimum use, deactivating unnecessary software that can form the basis of some simple attacks, and configuring the operating system for optimum security. Usually the system-hardening process is carried out in a phased approach to iteratively increase the number of defensive layers and reduce the exposed attack surfaces.

Other Measures

Whether you are operating a small business or large company, data loss can be a major setback. There are several other measures that can be implemented at the network administrator level for enhanced security. These include configuring the firewall to deter safe passage for likely intruders; the use of VPN (virtual private network) or SSH (secure shell) keys for authentication procedures; using smart cards and other advanced technologies; and patching all systems. You may also opt to follow hacker forums. There are a number of hacker forums online that inform about advances in hacking technology. By participating in such forums, you will be able to keep track of their activities and discover any newly identified methods. This will in turn help you keep your systems safe.