Network Security – What Small Businesses Need to Know

Welcome back everyone!  There is much happening this month, please read on….

SMB Services Limited is excited to announce that we will be participating in the 2010 Trade & Investment Convention (TIC) to be held at they Hyatt Regency from May 19-22 2010.  SMB will be in booth #121 and this is your opportunity to meet the team and get a first hand view of our offerings.

SMB Services Limited also wishes to extend Mother’s Day Greetings to all our wonderful mothers out there.  We hope that you enjoy this day dedicated specially to you surrounded by all your loved ones.

In our last newsletter issue, we covered at what you need to consider before you buy a new server or pc for your business.  This month, we are looking at Network Security – what you need to know, the importance of it and what should be done to protect your company’s sensitive information.  This month, we also continue to offer handy tips designed to make your time spent at the computer easier and also, a sneak peak at what’s in store for June.

Network Security – What Small Business need to know

When you hear the words ‘network security’ what are your thoughts? Firewalls, anti-virus, passwords…all of these are part of the whole that is network security.  Before we go any further, let us first determine exactly what network security is.

Network security is the protection at the boundaries of any organization against unauthorized access of its network and network accessible resources and the consistent and continuous monitoring and measurement of its effectiveness (or lack) combined.

A breach or lack of network security can result in devastating effects and some high profile examples include Mastercard/Visa Security Breach 2009 and Walmart 2005-2006.

In this new world, where everyone and everything is technology reliant on functions from email to the storage of sensitive data, it seems that no one is immune to the havoc that viruses, worms, spyware and hackers can wreak.

Small businesses generally do not budget for ICT, neither do they allocate much towards network security, if anything at all.  Failure to do this can cost your company far more than you would ever spend on security.  What can you do then and how can you protect your network?  Here are three things to know to reduce your chances of becoming a statistic:

1. Your biggest risk and asset – your employees – Websense, a web and email filtering company, indicates that 80% of all security breaches come from within an organization.  Seemingly innocent actions repeated daily by employees are the ones that put you at risk.  Consider the email with an attachment that is opened, launching a company wide virus within minutes; inappropriate web-surfing on unsuitable sites; the increasingly portable memory stick infected with a virus on an employee’s home computer and plugged into a company’s machine; the Post-It note with an employee’s login credentials.

It is necessary to create a company culture of vigilance when it comes to your network. The first step is awareness.  Educate your employees about the risks, instruct them not to open email attachments from unknown sources, reduce non-business web surfing by implementing ‘acceptable use’ policies and reinforce them.

2. No total network security methods with internet connectivity.

According to web statistics for web threats:

  • 85.6% of all unwanted emails contain links to spam and/or malicious websites
  • 77% of websites with malicious codes are compromised legitimate websites
  • 95% of user generated comments to blogs , chat rooms and message boards are spam or malicious

It is almost impossible to keep up 100% with the frequency of new viruses being introduced without unplugging your network connection.  It is important to have a plan for dealing with them and one of the solutions offered by SMB Services Limited is MailSecurity.

3. Back to Basics – What your company should have for a more secure network:

  1. Passwords that change on a regular basis and are not intuitive (for more guidelines, check this month’s tip below)
  2. Up-to-date anti-virus software on all workstations and servers
  3. Firewalls with strong traffic policies to prohibit and allow communication
  4. Email anti-virus and spam filters
  5. Anti-spyware technology

While complete protection from network security breaches cannot be guaranteed, it is critical to be proactive and have contingency plans in place.  One of the more popular approaches to putting the right network security functions in place is outsourcing this function to professionals – “the outsourced ICT professional can help you save time, give you access to reports and audits, as well as expertise that may not be available in-house.  Bringing in the experts may be just what you need to get a jump start on the security of your network”

May Quick Tip – Password Tips and Tricks

  1. Change often
  2. Type a sentence using punctuation, long enough, tough to crack and easy to remember, add a number for extra uniqueness.  If replacing letters with numbers, e.g. replace-r3plac3, use different numbers i.e r7plac8
  3. Avoid names and numbers that are near and dear to you – e.g spouses, pets, maiden names
  4. Scramble it – if you must write it down, something as simple as adding/swapping digits can prevent misuse
  5. Don’t keep the same password for different sites. If one account is compromised, hackers won’t be able to access the others
  6. Archive important passwords so that friends and family can have access to your accounts in case tragedy strikes

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