Chances are that the last thought on your mind as you make your way to the office, is the question, “Are my computer systems secure?” Small and medium-sized business owners and their staff generally have far more pressing and immediate concerns demanding their attention. However, if your computer system is not secure, this issue can quickly turn into the most pressing matter. Gone are the days when simply updating your antivirus was considered “good enough.” Computer hackers are more sophisticated, and perhaps most alarming is their increasing focus on smaller businesses. In July, Symantec reported that the number of attacks targeted at small and medium-sized organizations had doubled over the previous six months to equal roughly one-third of all targeted attacks daily (http://bit.ly/MW0pNf).
So what can you do to ensure that your computers are not as vulnerable to those attacks? The answer is . . . nothing. There is absolutely nothing you can do to guarantee your systems will not be attacked, but you can reduce the risk greatly by actively making sure your systems are secured, using the right tools and the best practices.
Here are a few basic steps to help keep your computers safe:
- Make sure that all of your software is up-to-date, not just Windows updates. Get in the habit of pressing the update button often to make sure that you have the latest updates installed. In addition, check often for updates.
- Make certain that you have antivirus and that it is up-to-date, as well.
- Use a firewall on your computer. Most antivirus packages have one, but if your system does not, make sure that the Windows firewall is turned on.
- Use strong passwords to log on to your computers.
- Make sure your network has a correctly configured firewall and that the server is secured.
The last and most important measure when securing your computers and servers is to review all the measures taken on a regular basis to make sure that they have been implemented and continue to be the best prescribed methods for securing your systems.
Remember: Any program on your machine can have a security flaw just waiting to be exploited.
While the task of ensuring that your computer systems are safe may seem a bit daunting, the good news is that it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Having someone on staff with the skills and knowledge to manage IT security or working with a consultant or vendor to help you become more aware of the importance of actively engaging in computer security measures will in turn provide a level of confidence for all businesses and their employees.