Small Business Computer Security

March 1, 2006

If you are serious about data security for your desktops and laptops, you must do three things: Keep your software up to date, protect against viruses and set up a firewall. Here are some more steps to keep intruders—both human and digital—away.

Keep your data safe. Implementing a regular backup procedure is a simple way to safeguard critical business data. Setting permissions and using encryption also help.

Use the Internet safely. Unscrupulous Web sites, as well as pop-ups and animations, can be dangerous. Set rules about Internet usage to protect your business—and your employees.

Protect your network. Remote access to your network may be a business necessity, but it is also a security risk you need to closely monitor. Use strong passwords and be especially cautious about wireless networks.

Protect your servers. Make sure the software that’s critical to your business operations is fully secure around the clock. Internal and external vulnerabilities can lead to lost productivity—or worse.

Manage desktops and laptops from the server. Without stringent administrative procedures in place, the security measures you take to safeguard your business may be unintentionally jeopardized by users.

Test your security IQ with this quiz:
1. Which of the following is an example of a strong password?
A) Password
B) J*p2le04>F
C) Your user name or company name

2. True or false: If you have a firewall on your network, you don’t need to turn on Windows Firewall.
A) True
B) False

3. True or false: Small businesses are not targets for hackers.
A) True
B) False

4. What is “phishing”?
A) E-mails and fraudulent Web sites designed to fool recipients into divulging personal financial data such as credit card numbers, account usernames and passwords
B) A type of computer virus
C) An example of a strong password
D) None of the above

5. What method(s) can be used to protect sensitive data from prying eyes?
A) Passwords
B) File permissions
C) Encryption
D) All of the above

6. How often should you perform an incremental backup?
A) Daily
B) Every other day
C) Weekly
D) Monthly

(Answers: 1B, 2B, 3B, 4A, 5D, 6A)

Source: Microsoft Small Business Center, www.microsoft.com/smallbusiness/support/checklist/default.mspx .

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