Keys to Computer Security

August 12, 2013 in Small Business

Computer SecurityMany years ago, a bar owner shared with me the tale of how he was losing so much money in one of his bars he had to hire a loss prevention specialist to pose as a customer and watch his staff for any signs of financial impropriety.

The undercover customer spent nearly a month visiting the bar (what a job!) and reported back that he found nothing was amiss. He said he watched all the cash registers for four weeks and didn’t see one suspicious transaction at any one of the four registers.

“Four registers?” said the owner. “But I only have three.” Turns out the bar staff had installed their own cash register and were using it to steal money right from under the noses of the owner, customers, and even professional spies.

Any idea how many computers you have in your business? Might seem like a silly question but you’d be amazed at just how many small businesses lose track of devices used by their employees, whether they are computers, laptops, tablets, or smartphones. And every device that you’re not aware of is one less device you can protect. And one more device that can expose you to all kinds of risks!

An unprotected computer, tablet, or smartphone could be an unguarded gateway that hackers can sniff out and exploit before you can shout “Drop the Drawbridge!”.

So here’s a simple reminder of all the things you could – and should – be doing to protect your devices:

Multiple layers of virus protection. If you’re using desktop malware protection, not only can you install one of the many great desktop malware protection products available but it’s easy to add a layer of free cloud-based malware protection. Cloud-based antivirus software rarely conflicts with traditional desktop software because it’s usually just a tiny piece of software installed on the computer. All the heavy lifting is done remotely.

Screen locks. Every computer has one – a timer that will put the computer to sleep when it’s left unattended for a specified length of time, and then requires a password to wake up. Great if employees have to leave their computers unattended for any reasons.

Password managers. Passwords are always a tricky issue, and at the very least your business should have a policy that sets out your rules for creating, managing, and updating passwords. That doesn’t mean your employees shouldn’t get a little help, and there are a number of well-respected and sometimes free software programs that will manage and protect thousands of individual passwords – on the computer or from the cloud.

Safe surfing. What your employees do online can often come back to haunt you, and often in malware they inadvertently download from infected websites. Every employee should have some kind of safe surfing tool or browser installed that will detect malware-infected websites, warn them of any other threats, and even stop them from clicking on an infected website. And in the worst-case scenario, make sure you have a security tool that includes malware removal.

Keylogger protection. Sophisticated Trojans can sneak on to a computer, hide themselves, and quietly snoop on sensitive passwords like your bank accounts or website. One of the best defenses is a keylogger that will encrypt everything you type so that it’s of no use to the snooper.

Encryption. Speaking of encryption, if your computers or devices are used to store sensitive information, like customer data, make sure it’s all encrypted. Encryption is one the strongest and cheapest ways to protect sensitive information on any device. Just make sure that employees get into the habit of using it.

Mobile security. A smartphone is really a palm-sized computer with a phone thrown in for good measure. So treat it like a computer. Protect the device, the data on it, and the employees who use it. There are plenty of free antivirus software programs specifically created for smartphones and tablets. And not only will they help protect against malware, they can backup, restore, wipe, disable, and even find a lost or stolen device. And that’s some peace of mind.

In addition to protecting your end-point devices, it is crucial for your company to work with an organization like SiteLock to protect your company website from infection with tools such as malware scanners and a web application firewall.

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