Monday, November 07, 2005


How Safe is Your Critical Business Data on Your Computer?


This article courtesy of http://www.virtualprivatenetworkguide.com


Network security company, Internet Security Systems, recently issued a report stating that "security events" (an "event" being anything from a computer virus to a major attack on your computer network) increased by more than 80% in the first quarter of this year compared with the previous three months.

This may be alarming to any small business who works with a computer, but the number of small businesses who base their business on computers must be particularly alarmed.

Rather then being alarmed, a better course may be to become aware. To ask what measures you can take to protect the important information that you have stored on your office computers. Then what measures that you can take to shield your small office computer systems and data from harm.

All good computer data security begins with a regularly scheduled data backup plan. Your own businesses' "Backup or lose it Plan". All data critical to the running of your business on desktop PCs and notebooks must be backed up regularly. If it is daily, weekly, or monthly, depends on your business, as long as your business data is backed-up regularly.

Make sure you implement and stick with an automated backup system, where you regularly monitor the log files and run test restore jobs. Also be sure to invest in a substantial media rotation plan and rotate your backup media off site on a daily, weekly, monthly basis.

Virus Detection

To aid you in maintaining your computer, invest in a good utility software package that includes a computer virus detection utility. Both Norton and McAfee are good packages for this purpose.

If you have not installed a virus scanning utility on your computer, especially if you have a live DSL or cable Internet access -- do it A.S.A.P. Your computer system is susceptible to outsiders probing your computer files or transmitting a virus to your computer system. With one of these Internet connections, you must be even more vigilant.

Be sure to go online and update virus scanning utility on a regular bases so that you can protect your system from the latest computer virus circulating. New viruses circulate the Internet daily and you will not be fully protected unless your virus detection software is as current as possible.

Another basic virus protection tip -- most computer viruses are transmitted via email attachments. Thus, do not open email attachments from email addresses that you do not know.

If you are running under a Microsoft Windows Operating System, make sure your systems are current on the latest Microsoft patches, services packs, and hot fixes. The Microsoft Windows Update and Microsoft Office Update websites are a great starting points.

In addition, you can get a quick pulse on your PC's basic security readiness with the Microsoft Personal Security Advisor.

Disgruntled Employees

There is also another potential threat to your data -- a disgruntled employee. Employees should be included in any data security policy.

Research has shown the greatest threat to a business's security is from its own staff. Some businesses forget to ensure that policy and procedures are set up to protect against potential threats such as e-mail viruses, internet misuse and mishandling of personal and private data, which can all lead to an attack on the company's security, not to mention a mark on its reputation.

The key is to be able to protect your data without alienating your staff.

On this point, if you have not done so, include an external security audit to your security plan. The audit is an ongoing process and should be undertaken annually or biannually or following significant change within your business that may affect security (a disgruntled key employee leaving, office break-in, etc.).

Legal and Insurance

People also need to be audited as well. It is also important to make an audit of each user's authorization and privilege level so confidentiality of business information is secured and maintained. If this policy is adhered to, then security risks will be greatly reduced.

Computer and internet use policies have become popular to various businesses. Many such policies are written into the employment contract of the employee, and you may be wise to seek legal advice on this subject.

There is legislation that covers data and information security, including the Data Protection Act. The act requires you to provide adequate protection for data you hold on your computers. Every situation is different, and it's vital to get appropriate legal advice, as there are several laws that cover computer use that may be relevant to your situation.

Lastly, become aware of what is covered by your commercial business insurance. At the very least, make sure that you are in some way covered.

Whatever your business situation, data security are a complex issue the potential for disruption, to both to you and your business may be alarming.

If you're at all unsure about whether your office computer security is up the job, talk to a computer consultant or data-security consultant.



Copyright Steven Presar



About the Author


Steven Presar is a recognized small business technology coach, Internet publisher, author, speaker, and trainer. He provides personal, home, and computer security solutions at www.ProtectionConnect.com. He provides business software reviews at www.OnlineSoftwareGuide.com. In addition, he publishes articles for starting and running a small business at www.Agora-Business-Center.com. Be sure to sign-up for the SOHO newsletter at the site.



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