Posted by: Daryl & Wendy Ashby | July 20, 2011

Keeping Your Security Secure

On the heels of the latest British newspaper hacking, there is no time like the present to get a data security strategy in place to protect your valuable business information. After all, hackers and viruses won’t wait.

Consider how valuable data is to your business: where would you be without your client information, sales & inventory lists, market statistics and comparables? Yet your PC and everything on it could be under attack – and you might not know it until it’s too late. We’re all facing more complex challenges than ever when it comes to computer security, particularly in light of ever-evolving computer viruses and persistent hackers. 

In some cases, we’re even becoming more lax.

A recent Angus Reid study of Canadian small and medium-sized business owners, revealed that more than 70 per cent say it’s okay for employees to use business laptops or netbooks for non-work related activities, such as personal email and social networking. This translates into a big risk because it means important business resources and data are being potentially exposed to online threats.

No company, large or small, can afford a security breach or significant loss of data. The repercussions are staggering: loss of revenue, customer confidence, productivity and reputation can bring business to a grinding halt.

It’s frightening and even a bit overwhelming. But, even if you aren’t IT-savvy, there are steps you can take to address existing security threats and stay on top of new ones to protect your valuable assets from becoming compromised.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

1. Find out where you are vulnerable. For this, you will likely need an IT expert who can identify your exposure to today’s IT security risks, tell you how your current IT security measures compare to industry standards and help you develop a plan to safeguard your data. Don’t underestimate the importance of this step. You might be surprised to find out just how many holes there are in your PC or network.

2. Back up your data. With the countless hours that go into building your business reputation, it is critical to protect your investment by backing up your data, both on a remote hard drive and online. Be vigilant about using secure connections, anti-spy software and data backup as part of your business routine. If disaster ever strikes, you will be grateful to have your data intact.

3. Keep your notebook secure. Many of you are involved in a mobile business and that often goes hand-in-hand with mobile technology. But having your notebook fall into the wrong hands is not an option. When you are shopping for a notebook, look for one with security built-in at all entry points – even your USB ports and your screen should be protected. 

4. Invest in a commercial PC. Unlike those that are intended for consumer use, commercial PCs are designed with the rigorous demands of a business environment in mind. They feature professional operating systems and more advanced tools to protect valuable data against theft and loss. 

5. Consider biometrics. You may have heard of technology that can allow you to log on to Windows using your fingerprint instead of a password, but did you know that you can even log into your laptop and favourite websites using just your face as your password? All you have to do is sit in front of the computer so the webcam can capture your image.

6. Protect your desktops and workstations, too. They are a substantial investment and you want to make sure you have security in place to keep them safe. There are many ways to do this. Some options include a solenoid hood lock that eliminates the need for a physical key by making the chassis lockable through a password or remotely over the network; a rear port controller that clips into the back of a computer to secure input devices and prevent the removal or addition of cables; or an integrated work centre that not only saves space by integrating the monitor and the PC, but also works with a standard Kensington lock to secure both the monitor and PC at once.

7. Don’t forget about end-of-life disposal. Deleted files aren’t actually wiped clean from your system’s hard drive. The system removes the markers that identify the data and the space on the drive is available to the system for storage again, but the actual data still remains. So when you are ready to redeploy a computer or dispose of it, you need to be sure that the data is properly erased.

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