Is your security up to speed?

In a recent small business survey conducted by the Small Business Authority they asked 1,200 small businesses if they ever had their computer and data system tested by a third party to ensure they are hacker proof.  Nearly three quarters responded that they have never had that type of testing done.

Now the survey does not indicate if these are home based businesses or those with a brick and mortar store front but that percentage should be alarming to those of us who work in any computer related business or field.

How many times have you ever been asked by a friend or family member to take a look at their computer system because it is running slow or will not respond at all?  What do you typically find when you take a look at that system?  Usually out of date anti-virus protection which came on the system with a limited anti-virus signature period that has not been updated in sometime.  That and poor computing habits can result in significant infections on the system which cause it to run poorly. 

In a sense, these survey results are not surprising if you think about it.  A small business has limited resources and likely takes care of their own IT services to save costs and help the bottom line.  That is just fine if you have the skills and knowledge to take care of the IT side of things however, it can be disastrous to your business data if you have a breach or crash on a system.

So what steps can you take to mitigate these risks?

  1. Install a free anti-virus/anti-malware program that gets free signatures update on a regular basis.  The two I use the most is Microsoft Security Essentials and AVG Free.
  2. Create a backup plan and keep a copy offsite in case of any disasters – man-made or natural.  Make sure all if your systems are clean and free of viruses, etc. though so your backups are clean as well.  Microsoft Windows has built in backup tools that can do the job.  Your other option is to invest in a Windows Home Server setup for up to 10 individual systems.  Windows Home Server will back up your systems daily to protect your data and makes system restoral easy in case of a hardware crash on a client PC.
  3. If your background is not in IT then seriously consider having someone come in to take a look at your setup and test everything to make sure you are hacker proof.  It may cost some money to make this happen but consider the loss of critical business data or computer systems and the cost will probably balance out in the long run.

You could also apply the above rules to your own home setup because security is just as important for home users.