The 3 Scariest Threats to Small Business Networks
While spam, pop-ups, and hackers are a real threat to any small business network, there are 3 security measures that you should be focusing on FIRST before you do anything else…
Worry About E-mail Attachments, Not Spam
Sure, spam is annoying and wastes your time, but the REAL danger with spam is in the attachments. Viruses and worms are malicious programs that are spread primarily through cleverly disguised attachments to messages that trick you (or your employees) into opening them. Another huge threat is phishing e-mails that trick the user by appearing to be legitimate emails from your bank, eBay, or other password-protected entity.
Here are 3 things you must have in place to avoid this nightmare:
1. Keep your anti-virus up-to-date and enabled. Okay, this sounds like a no brainer, but it’s not uncommon for an employee to disable their anti-virus software unbeknownst to you. Which brings us to #2…
2. Train employees on what they are (and aren’t) permitted to do with the company’s computer, e-mail, Internet access, etc. One thing that should be on the list is that they should NEVER open suspicious attachments or respond to phishing emails. We highly recommend creating an AUP (acceptable use policy) to teach your staff what NOT to do.
3. Put monitoring software in place to not only maintain the health of employees’ desktops, but also to automatically “police” employees from accidentally (or intentionally) visiting a phishing web site, downloading a virus, or visiting questionable web sites and content online.
Fear Downloads Before Pop-Ups
Did you know that most computers and networks get infected with viruses because the user actually invited the threat in by downloading a file (screen saver, music file, PDF document, pictures, etc.).? Again, this comes down to training the staff on what they can and cannot do with your computer network; but the best way to avoid this from happening is to remove the temptation by installing monitoring software that will prevent employees from downloading unsavory items to YOUR network. We also recommend installing and maintaining a good firewall, which will block Internet traffic to and from dangerous sites.
Lose Sleep Over Backups Before Hackers
You are more likely to lose data from hardware failure, accidental deletion (human error), flood, fire, natural disaster or software corruption than a hacker. Sure, you should do everything to keep hackers out of your network, but not backing up your data to a remote location is crazy. At a minimum, you should have an onsite AND offsite copy of your data, and you should be testing your data backups regularly to make sure your data CAN be restored in the event of an emergency.
What You Don’t Know CAN Hurt You
Since we are on the subject of protecting your network, can I talk straight? 99% of the business owners I work with wait FAR too long to have us check and update their computer network’s health and security. Because they are not performing regular maintenance, almost every single network we review is completely overlooking these 3 security risks! At some point, disaster will strike and they find themselves in a real mess with a network that is completely down (that’s when they call us in a panic). By then, the damage is done and it often costs thousands of dollars to restore their network back to normal. Even then it’s not uncommon for them to permanently lose irreplaceable accounting, client, and business data – not to mention hours of downtime. What saddens me even more is the fact that almost every one of these costly disasters could have easily been prevented if someone had checked their network’s security and health to remove these threats on a regular basis.
Why Should You Care About This?
Because your computer network is the core of running your business. Try to imagine what it would be like if you walked into your office one day to discover all of your data was lost or corrupt. That’s why regular maintenance is so important. REMEMBER: Keeping your network safe is a moving target; the security updates you installed today may be rendered useless tomorrow because new threats are emerging daily.