Online security is something everybody should take seriously but it’s especially crucial for businesses. Falling victim to an online scam or having systems infected with a virus could not only affect your ability to get work done, it could cost money and impact your company’s reputation. But this doesn’t need to be complicated or expensive. Here are five easy steps you can take right away to improve the IT security of your small business.
Simple, but very important. Updating operating systems, applications and hardware firmware can protect against the latest threats. It’s also important to keep browser plugins like Flash and Java up to date as they are a common attack vector.
Most software will have an automatic update option so you don’t even need to do anything. If this isn’t available there is usually, at, at least, a way to receive an alert when a new update is available to download.
Weak passwords are a major vulnerability. Passwords should be long and near impossible to guess, and they should also be unique. Never reuse passwords.
A password manager tool is recommended. This will securely store your logins (and provide other useful features like password generation) so you can have unique, strong passwords but never have to worry about remembering them.
Some password managers also offer business features to help manage logins with group policies. This can also be helpful if you need to grant access to employees but don’t want to give away the password.
Anti-virus software is a basic requirement to help block dangerous software and clear out infections. This does not have to cost money as the free options like Microsoft Defender, Avast! Antivirus and Panda Free Antivirus are perfectly capable though the licensing terms may not permit business use. If you need to buy a license look for a small business package to keep costs down.
For additional protection, a tool like Malwarebytes Anti-Malware can sit alongside your anti-virus to protect against other threats. These are particularly useful for clearing out spyware and trojans.
Other useful software includes encryption tools such as VeraCrypt for password protecting files, web browser protection like the NoScript add-on and a wiping utility like the open source Eraser to securely delete sensitive data.
Losing a laptop or smartphone could have devastating consequences if it contains sensitive data about your customers or business.
All devices should be locked with passwords so a thief cannot immediately gain access. Additionally, disk encryption can be used to block access to the files and software until the correct password is supplied. This feature is built into Android and Apple mobile hardware, and can be achieved on desktop or laptop computers with third party software or bundled utilities like Apple’s FileVault.
Tracking software can be used to locate and remotely wipe lost devices. Again this is a feature you’ll find integrated with smartphones and tablets. For desktop and laptop computers there’s software like Prey which offers similar capabilities.
Taking the time to save copies of important files is incredibly important for a business. Data you don’t have backed up is data you don’t need.
Use the 3-2-1 rule. That means you should have 3 copies of any important files on 2 different types of storage devices, 1 of which should be in a different location. So as well as saving copies to an external hard drive you keep nearby, also save data to a CD/DVD (or another storage medium) and have a further backup that’s stored elsewhere just in case the local copies are stolen or destroyed. Cloud storage is handy for this though you can also use a physical storage device like a hard drive or optical disc which is safely stashed with a friend or colleague.
We would like to thank Matt Powell for writing this article for Westtek, which we are sure, will help many small business owners address these important points with their existing IT Support companies. Should you need any advice on the above points, please do contact us.
Editor at Broadband Genie