How to keep your business safe online


The dependency on technology for most businesses has changed the way we think about security. Previously the biggest potential threat on a security level would be a physical break in and entry into a company’s property; the main things a criminal could steal would be the equipment left laying around. 

Nowadays, however, a criminal does not even have to set foot onto a property to cause untold damages to a business. Through nefarious means it is possible for a company to have much of its data, information and knowledge tampered with and even stolen via security breaches that could occur miles away. 

One of the reasons for this change in environment is the continuing growth and mainstream adoption of IT that is used at the heart of most businesses; to find a company which operates on an entirely analogue platform in the 21st century would be incredibly rare. There are many explanations for this; ease of storage, the ability to operate from a centralised database and an increase in performance all contribute to the widespread adoption of computers in business. However, the bonuses associated with adoption of IT should be met equally with precautions that need to be undertaken to protect utilization of such working methods. 

Having IT as a central component in work operations means that almost all of the sensitive information that is used by the business, be they employee’s bank details or client’s personal data, is easily accessible by the business themselves and, potentially, anybody who is able to hack into this database. Inability to securely maintain this database could cost a company thousands through theft and perhaps even more so through loss of customers or legal action brought forward. 

The main areas that can be used to protect a computer operating system include using a firewall and antivirus software; this however, does not ensure impenetrable protection and should be considered a company’s first steps in the right direction rather than an ends in and of itself. Firewalls, whilst important, are penetrable by clever programming which can sidestep any attempts to assess whether the data is safe. Similarly antivirus software will only notice viruses and Trojans once they have already penetrated their target and are thus not an ideal means of protection if used without any other applications. 

The best way to ensure safety at your company is to research what your biggest potential weaknesses are and then work up from there. So, for example, if you believe the biggest potential risk in your security system stems from having outdated IT systems then it would be of optimum importance to start there and build up systems from around this point. 

For many businesses it may actually be their employees who, regardless of intent or not, may prove the biggest threat to a company’s IT security. It is possible, however, to set up different levels of access within a company to ensure such a risk is decreased; part time and less experienced staff can be allocated far less access to company details than a member of staff in a more senior position. Similarly it is possible to remove access levels for members of staff who leave the company or who have their position terminated and Non Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) should be put in place for all employees. 

Staff should also be provided with basic security training including teaching them not to plump for easy to guess or obvious passwords such as surnames, family member’s names or dates of birth. The best passwords are usually random combinations of upper and lower case letters as well as numbers. Each member of staff should also be informed that they should never open suspicious looking emails as these could prove to be fatal in regards to the company’s security measures. Small steps like this can go some distance in ensuring optimum protection for a business’s security. 

How to keep your business safe online How to keep your business safe online Reviewed by Sandipan Chakraborty on June 13, 2011 Rating: 5

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