Useful tips for growing businesses
4 IT Security Technologies Every Small Business Should Have In Place
Regardless of their size, many small businesses still need to meet strict compliance regulations, such as PCI and HIPAA. In addition to any special requirements, there are a few security technologies every small business should have in place. Here are our four security must-haves.
The first step is to keep backups locally. The next progression is to also find a remote site or hosted solution in case your location experiences a disaster or even theft.
10 tips for outsourced IT Services
When the economy turns down, corporate IT budgets are usually one of the first casualties. It's not uncommon to see IT budgets allocating only 15% discretionary spend, with the remaining 85% spent on maintenance and 'keeping the lights on'. However, despite the economic realities, the need for reliable IT remains the same - especially when it comes to critical business applications such as Email, Collaboration or Customer Relationship Management. As organizations across all industries face tough decisions about where to allocate their limited resources, more IT chiefs are turning to their Managed IT Services Partner (MSP) for guidance with IT solutions.
Top Six Ways to Guard Your Business Data
In the age of pervasive information technologies small and medium businesses (SMBs) increasingly fall prey to malicious attacks. Employees regularly chat over instant messengers with their prospects and customers. Email and web-applications offer nefarious ways to trigger wide-spread malware events within minutes of the first exposure. Attackers frequently bait content with links leading to scammer interactions, ultimately exposing to the wild sensitive proprietary company data.
Every one of your employees – not just the “IT guy” – needs to be familiar with at least the basics of IT Security. And, if you don’t have a Security Policy, consider the top six ways to guard your IT Infrastructure from the most common security threats:
Encrypting your data is one way to mitigate that risk. You can use an encryption program, such as TrueCrypt (available for free under open-source licensing), to protect your data from unauthorized access.
Another way is to use a recovery service. If your equipment gets lost or stolen, and you can’t get it back, you’ll at least want to erase its data. Some IT Managed Services, as well as laptop manufacturers, offer data recovery services for selected laptop computers.
It’s highly advisable, as well, to use stronger encryption. Several types of Wi-Fi network encryption are available. WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy) encryption is the most common variety employed on wireless networks, but it can be easily cracked. The newer encryption types such as WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access) or its successor, WPA2 resolve the weaknesses of WEP and provide much stronger protection.
It only takes one unprotected machine to infect or disable any small and medium business network. That means one un-patched workstation can create costly repercussions including:
- Downtime and loss of productivity due to re-installation
- Questionable data integrity due to a successful exploit
- Negative public relations due to systems unavailable for your customers
- Legal problems if your patch management process has to go under a judicial microscope
While patch management is common at larger enterprises, smaller and medium businesses are exposed. In other words, some IT assets continue un-patched. Further, no single tool solves this problem. Patching is an IT management service – not a tool. Smaller organizations delegate patch deployment as a task. It’s not a task; it’s a full-time job, spanning five common steps – resulting in a secure and safe Small and Medium Business IT infrastructure:
- Inventory – Start by taking an inventory of your network and the software deployed on it. Without this, you won’t know which patches to deploy. In addition, prioritize machines by creating a risk profile based on their necessity to the organization.
- Monitor – Once you have an inventory and prioritization of your assets, you’re ready to start monitoring for patches. This is usually as simple as signing up for e-mail notification on the product vendor’s Web site. But don’t rely on your vendor to always give you timely notification of problems. It may not notify you until it’s developed a solution, and that could be too late. That’s why you need to also monitor security web sites for news of zero-day exploits and emerging problems.
- Deploy – After you’ve set up a monitoring process, it’s time to start deploying patches. There are many patch deployment solutions available, so pick one that fits your needs and budget. All solutions deliver patches. However, what you need most from your patch management system is a report on what the solution patched and which machines it did not patch.
- Remediate – Now it’s time to remediate. Using the report of which machines failed, track them down, and start monitoring them for activity. Some users habitually turn off workstations at the end of the day regardless of how many e-mail notices they receive to leave them on. Monitor your network for activity from those machines. In addition, you can use Wake-On-LAN (WOL) or Wake On Wireless LAN (WoWLAN). If you can’t seem to catch the machine on or wake it up, take action.
- Respond – Sometimes drastic action is necessary to protect your organization’s network. You can always disable the machine’s account and send a note to the help desk to route the trouble ticket through the patch management section.
If this doesn’t work, then disable the switch port that the workstation connects to. Either solution will produce a response from the user and allow you to solve the short-term problem of deploying the patches. Then you can start working on the long-term problem of why this workstation is failing to receive patches.