Protecting Your Business DataNovember 9, 2011
Most small business operators are so focused on the daily operations of their businesses that they neglect to think about protecting their important data. Fortunately, there are several simple things you can do to ensure that your data is secure. Here are my ‘top 5’ recommendations:
Install a UPS. An Uninterruptible Power Supply, or “UPS”, is a device that protects your PC or server from power fluctuations and surges, whilst also providing short-term battery backup in the event of a power outage. The batteries in most entry-level UPSes usually provide around 10-15 minutes runtime in the event of a power failure, which allows you to save your work and shut down the system gracefully. Many UPSes include software to automatically shut down your PC or server when the UPS battery charge is critically low, eliminating the risk of data loss and/or corruption which may occur when the PC or server is shut down unexpectedly.
Consider your Firewall. Due to the increasing number of security threats such as worms and trojans originating from the Internet, it makes sense to protect your network with a quality firewall. In simple terms, a firewall is a piece of hardware or software that separates your home or business network from the Internet, and contains a list of rules describing the types of traffic allowed to pass into and out of your network. Careful consideration must be given to these rules to ensure optimal protection, so consulting a professional is recommended. Most business-grade modem/routers include a basic, built-in firewall, which in many cases provides sufficient protection when configured correctly.
Install AntiVirus Software. Viruses, malware and rootkits are malicious programs that put the security of your data at risk, so it’s important to ensure that every PC and server in your organisation is protected by AntiVirus software. Businesses with a small number of computers can be protected with consumer-grade AntiVirus software, and there are several free packages available. However, larger businesses are advised to consider a ‘managed’ AntiVirus solution. Managed AntiVirus packages are managed by a central server, allowing administrators to check the protection status of all computers at a glance. Additionally, ‘managed’ AntiVirus packages offer the convenience of all update subscriptions expiring on the same date.
Install Software Patches and Updates. As software vendors become aware of security vulnerabilities or other issues in their software, they release updates or ‘patches’ to resolve them. It’s important to install these updates regularly to prevent your systems from being compromised by malicious software or hackers. In a Windows environment, Microsoft Update can be used to automatically download and install updates for Microsoft software. For the best protection against web-based threats, we also recommend also updating your web browser ‘plugins’ periodically. These include applications such as Adobe Reader, Adobe Flash, and Java.
Maintain Your Backup. The most important aspect of protecting your business data is to ensure you have an up-to-date backup. Many different forms of backup (such as tapes or USB hard drives) are available, but in all cases the following recommendations should be followed:
- Store your backup media off-site, to protect against fire or theft.
- Review your backup logs after every backup, to ensure it has completed successfully.
- Perform periodic ‘test restores’ to ensure that the backup system is working correctly, and that all critical data is being backed up.
- In addition to your daily backups, consider performing ‘end-of-week’ and ‘end-of-month’ backups. These will allow you to restore historical information if data loss goes unnoticed for a period of time.
Following the above simple steps will ensure that your valuable business data is protected. If you don’t already have a data protection and disaster recovery plan, then talk to your preferred IT provider.
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