Are you thinking about IT security enough?

By: Adrian Case

Date: 30 September 2013

Are you thinking about IT security enough?/get your IT security head on{{}}How much time do you spend thinking about IT security? Unless you have been affected by a security problem, you may have never given it much thought.

Use strong passwords

Your business probably has a number of people accessing its computer systems who are likely to manage their own passwords.

If they manage their own passwords, that means they are setting their own levels of security for your network. Beryl in accounts only comes in once a week, so she can’t be expected to remember anything complicated, can she? What’s wrong with ‘password’ anyway?

And Steve in the sales team dearly loves his fiancée, so why shouldn’t he have ‘Nicola’ as his password?

Passwords like these are a really bad idea because they’re easy to guess. In fact, ‘password’ is probably the worst you could possibly choose.

Not using effective passwords puts your entire system and company data at risk. Here’s how to come up with strong passwords.

Antivirus software: a necessary evil

Does every computer in your business have up-to-date security software? And do you assume that this is sufficient to protect them, no matter what they subsequently do online?

If you’ve answered ‘yes’ to both those questions, well done for having the software. But don’t think your job is done.

Staying safe isn’t just about having the right security software in place. The safest users are the ones who are well-informed, so help your staff to understand how your security software works, what spam, viruses and other threats look like … and how to spot a malware-infested website.

Make sure you have an IT security policy that explains what your people need to do to stay safe.

You do have a firewall, right?

Firewalls act as a filter between your business network and the outside world.  They allow safe traffic through, but block questionable connections before they can do harm.

Here’s a quick checklist to help you get your IT security basics right: 

  1. Are all your computers protected by adequate security software?
  2. Is every device on your network connected securely and protected by a firewall?
  3. Do you hold confidential or critical data? If so, is this fully protected?
  4. Are your staff aware of viruses, malware, spyware and the risks of malicious websites?
  5. Are you protected from the growing number of professional hackers?
  6. Are mobile employees and remote offices connecting securely?

It is important your employees have safe, secure tools to go about their work with minimum risk to the business. Over and above that, they should be empowered and informed about security threats so they know how best to respond.

If you’re in any doubt about the security of your business, speak to an IT security specialist (perhaps your regular IT supplier) who can discuss your needs and the potential risks. 

Adrian Case is technical director at Akita.

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