Small biz owners — especially those with growing data stockpiles — are feeling the heat of looming disaster. It can strike from a growing list of sources, including viruses, worms, spam, spyware and phishing. Entrepreneurs now rank computer security among the most crucial survival and growth issues they face. "Any small business that's not worried about computer security isn't paying attention," says Kevin Gilroy, head of HP's small business division.
One reason: Business owners rely more and more on technology all the time, from PCs and servers, to laptops, local networks, wireless devices and broadband Web connections. These have aided productivity, but raised vulnerability.
Data damage or disappearance caused by computer viruses and related ailments can doom your domain. Too many small businesses install protection only after they've suffered a loss. Being proactive now can save your assets later on. Even if you lack formal IT backing like most small businesses, there are many solutions and precautions you can implement solo, such as:
- Install antivirus software on all desktops, laptops and servers.
- Use a firewall on all desktops, laptops and servers to block intruders.
- Keep current with operating system and security software updates to ensure you have the latest protection.
- Create strong passwords with at least eight characters combining alphanumeric and special characters. Change passwords from time to time.
- Open email responsibly. Never open attachments from unknown senders and do not respond to spam. Email containing junk ads can carry viruses.
Secure your computers with anti-virus softwareSymantec and McAfee are terrific small business resources for computer security products, services and information.
Manage anti-virus security updates with Microsoft and HPBoth computer giants offer a wide range of computer security solutions.
Raise your computer security I.Q.The National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) is an organization dedicated to raising Internet security awareness.
Use an outside service to secure your emailHosted email services help many businesses eliminate email security threats.
Discover niche anti-virus software providersYou don't have to limit your search to the big names.
- Teach employees to safely use email. The first rule of thumb is never open suspicious or unsolicited attachments. Avoid responding in any way to spam, especially links that claim you will be removed from the spammer's list.
- Don't let employees use peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing Web sites and applications.
- Warn employees about the dangers of downloading applications from unknown sites.
- Keep all operating systems, software and security measures up to date. Older versions are more vulnerable.
- Install a "firewall" to block incoming traffic that is not needed for your business.
- If you discover a PC is infected, take it off your network (if you have one) so that fixes can be installed.