Where to start when you protect your business


Date: 4 October 2010

Recent years have seen a huge growth in the number of online businesses. More widespread, faster internet access has been key to this growth. However, the increase in internet usage has also created more IT security problems for businesses. If your business doesn't have key security measures in place, you could fall victim to an online threat. For instance, a customer database could be stolen and used by spammers, important information could be deleted from your systems, or your software could be damaged. How to protect your business So, what can you do to get protected?

  • Get the basics covered. This means installing security and anti-virus software onto all your computers, keeping software up-to-date (you can set most software to check for updates automatically), and regularly backing up important data.
  • Make sure your web hosting is secure. Your website and other online services, such as email, intranets or order processing systems, can be vulnerable to attacks from hackers or viruses. Look for a web host which works hard to ensure its systems are protected and up to date.
  • Consider a 'shared hosting' package. With one of these packages, lots of websites are stored on a single web server. Most web hosting companies therefore place restrictions on how you can use them, to stop a mistake with one website causing problems for others. Effectively, this means a lot of the security is handled for you.
  • Use a firewall. A firewall is a piece of hardware or software which analyses all data your computer is sending to and receiving from the internet. A good firewall will block any malicious internet traffic like hacking attempts, before it causes any harm.
  • Consider a secure sockets layer (SSL) certificate, which helps to secure your website by proving your identity and scrambling information sent over the internet. Having an SSL certificate triggers the display of the padlock which we've all been taught to look for when buying something online.

It is also important to consider the potential threats that employees can bring into the business. Many companies allow members of staff to access instant messaging services and social networking sites, such as Facebook or Twitter, while at work. These websites can often find themselves the target of malicious code and viruses. If you want to keep your employees happy by allowing them to access such services, it is also important you stay vigilant for potential threats. Failing that, it might be worth reviewing which sites your staff can access.

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