By Thomas Vollrath, CEO, Webfusion
New technologies have provided small businesses with the tools to survive and thrive. The ability to remotely access email, download files and access networks through VPNs, laptops and mobile devices has increased efficiencies and productivity. In short, technology is now a crucial element of business structure.
But with these advances come pitfalls, as more devices accessing networks increase the risk of data loss and security threats. Understandably then, small businesses are increasingly concerned about hardware failure, preventing data loss, and protecting critical information.
Small businesses need to consider extra security measures to safeguard their networks and data. For some business owners though, particularly those with little resource or finances at their disposal, added layers of security may appear a time-consuming, complex and costly prospect. However in reality this need not be the case.
For any business concerned about data storage and the level of security for their network, there are some important issues to consider:
* Make sure anti-virus software is up-to-date. Keep these monitored as new security patches are released regularly. In addition, all new desktops and laptops should be fitted with the necessary anti-virus software.
* Remove infected computers from the network immediately. This will restrict the spread of viruses and lessen the impact on your network and potential data loss.
* Update browsers where possible. Web browsers can often be vulnerable to attacks, and may spread viruses across your network. Protect against this by upgrading browsers to the latest versions.
* Be mindful of physical security. Don't leave passwords or critical information written down where they can be seen, or computers and phones unintended, and shred waste documents that contain sensitive information.
* Restrict applications that have access to the network. Consider which of your staff really needs remote access onto networks through laptops or mobile devices and only grant these the authority to do so. This will limit security threats and potential for data loss through human error.
* Beware of loss or theft. Employees' laptops, mobiles and electronic storage devices may go missing or stolen containing sensitive and critical company data. Ensure missing equipment is reported as soon as possible so data breach procedures can be put into place.
* Back up your data. Hardware failure, human error or security breaches can bring down an IT system. For small businesses in particular it's critical to back up often as the costs of losing importantinformation could have huge ramifications to the future of the business. For example, accidently deleting customer data kept on just one server
would mean the loss of year's worth of precious information in one swoop.
* Use a respected back up service to provide an extra level of security. Employees of small businesses have to wear many hats and may not be IT specialists. This can increase concern over hardware failure and sensitive data being corrupted. Quality back up services can restore lost data providing peace of mind that critical information is protected, should the worst happen.
These are simple and low cost ways to protect your business data. Some may seem obvious, but many small businesses still fail because of data disaster. Adhere to pertinent procedures and failure can be averted. And always remember - back up your data.