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November 18, 2014

Seven Tips to Secure Your Small Business Computers

Every business relies on computer technology, and all computer technology is vulnerable to cyber-crime. A security breach in your small to mid-size business can lead to significant loss and serious compliance issues. Here are seven tips to help you secure your business’s computers.

• Determine Your Security Needs and Risks.
Take an inventory of your computer hardware, data and possible exposure. Where are your desktops, laptops, tablets, and Smartphones? Who is using them and how? Who is able to access the data you collect, store or share? A security breach could cause extended downtime, fines or lawsuits. How would these affect your company?

• Take the First Steps
Company computers and devices should be set up with strong passwords which are changed regularly. Protect your technology with anti-virus, anti-spam and anti-spyware software. Use encryption technology to protect wireless networks and email traffic. Use firewalls to prevent intrusions. Install security technology on all the mobile devices you and your employees use. Install updated security technology, encrypt data and use virtual private networks (VPNs) to enable secure remote access.

• Update Your System
Download and install updates and patches for your operating systems and software immediately when they become available to fix or prevent security problems.

• Back Up Your Files
Backing up the files you are working on has become a cliché, but the same thing applies to all of the data you produce, collect and share. Security breaches can cause you to lose everything you need to keep your business running. Backing up data to hard drives in your office is an excellent strategy, but offsite backup can save your business in the event of a fire or other catastrophe.

• Train Your Employees

Human error can thwart even the most sophisticated computer security system. Employees must be educated on the necessity of using strong passwords and protecting them. Stress the importance of using strong passwords and protecting them. Point out the danger involved with opening texts or attachments from unknown senders, or clicking on questionable links in emails.

A recent problem is the habit of employees using social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. Sharing private company information on these websites can expose your business to security exploits. Remind employees to be aware of who may be watching them when they enter passwords or view confidential data outside the office.

• Secure Your Devices.
Hackers and viruses are a constant threat, but the most common path to breaching company data is through the loss or theft of laptops and mobile devices. Employees need to be aware of their surroundings and be cautious not to leave company laptops, tablets or cellphones unattended, or exposed in a vehicle. If a device is lost or stolen, they should immediately report it.

• Keep Family and Business Separate.
Business computers and devices should never be used by family members for games or email, especially not by children. This puts your company’s data at risk. It is also important for employees to be restricted in what they can use company computers for in the office. Consider restricting access to certain websites or prohibiting use of those computers for personal business.


Brian Kaminsky is the president of InHouse Techies Inc.