Published April 29, 2011
For most small businesses, information technology isn’t a top priority, so it’s no surprise that many of them are making the same mistakes.
Whether it’s not having the right protection or letting employees have free rein of the Internet, lax IT rules can wreak havoc on small businesses’ computer systems.
Security software maker Symantec offers the following tips to prevent a small business from making common IT mistakes.
Problem: Protecting Business Information
According to Symantec, small businesses are facing an increased risk of data breaches that could lead to financial ruin. And it’s not only breaches on the physical servers that owners need to worry about. Small businesses are increasingly housing important information on laptops and other mobile devices that can easily be hacked if lost or stolen.
Solution: Symantec suggests small businesses go beyond traditional antivirus software and implement a complete security system on their servers. As for information being stored on mobile devices, Symantec said businesses have to know where the information is being stored and protect those devices by maintaining strong passwords and installing encryption software.
Problem: Reacting to Data Losses Instead of Planning for Them
A power outage for a small business means a loss of productivity and money. According to Symantec, the median cost of downtime for a small business is $12,500 day; if the company is down for too long, it could even mean a loss of customers who no longer have confidence in the business.
Solution: Small businesses need to be proactive and have a back-up and recovery system in place. Owners need to identify critical resources and implement security and backup software to protect critical data. One option is for a small business to use an online storage service to store important data at an offsite location.
Problem: Using Free Security Software that Doesn’t Provide 100% Protection:
Facing tight budgets, small businesses often turn to free applications, but Symantec warns the products might not offer enough protection. Free antivirus software may protect a small business to an extent, but the software isn’t as adaptive as the ones that cost money.
Solution: Buy a complete security software package from a reputable provider. According to Symantec, small businesses need security software that can protect against all the potential cyber attacks--not just anti-virus protection.
Problem: Not Enforcing Internet Policies
The Internet is just as ubiquitous as the phone in an office, but many small businesses don’t set clear limits on what an employee can and can’t do online. That makes small businesses more vulnerable to viruses, hackers and data breaches.
Solution: Develop Internet security guidelines and educate the employees about what they can and can’t do, said Symantec. Symantec advised the training should include changing passwords regularly and protecting mobile devices. When employees go on social networks, Symantec said they should be trained to act with caution and care; they shouldn’t open up unfamiliar links, conduct chats with unknown people and or go to unfamiliar Web sites.