Large organizations have on staff expertise to insure that their websites and computer networks are protected, but small and home based businesses often deal with computer security on their own. There are some basic computer security steps you can take to minimize your risk of damage from an email or internet based attack:
- Install Anti-Virus Software to protect against malicious viruses that can be hidden in email attachments or web-based downloads. Most anti-virus software is sold with an optional renewable annual subscription which updates your software and virus definitions to protect against new threats. Sign up for that when you purchase the software so it never goes out of date.
- Install a Firewall which will help prevent hackers from accessing your computer to steal information or plant malicious code. Firewalls are more complicated to configure than anti-virus software, so follow the instructions carefully. Also, some operating systems such as Windows come with a built-in firewall that can conflict with one you buy from another manufacturer. It is possible to turn the Windows Firewall off if you choose to install another product, which should eliminate problems on that score.
- Install Anti-Spyware Software to protect against programs that monitor your online activity and collect personal information.
Once installed, it is imperative that you keep all your software up to date as new cyber threats are created daily. This can be done through using the automatic update option on the software or doing it manually on a routine basis. Manufacturers such as Norton sell software packages that incorporate all three types of protection, making it somewhat easier for you to install and maintain your subscriptions.
And last, but definitely not least, secure your wireless network. Wireless networking of computers for internet access and file sharing is very common, as it is easier to do and less costly to install than hard wiring Ethernet connections. But wireless networks are unsecured when initially installed, which leaves you vulnerable to a hacker attack. It also puts you at risk for someone to use your wireless network for their internet access, thereby not only accessing the internet on your dime, but slowing down your network.
Securing a network should be simple but it isn’t. Most wireless routers come with instructions about how to do so, but many non-techies are foiled by the process. If you are unable to work it out on your own, it is worth the money to hire someone to secure your network so that you have an additional level of protection. It’s a relatively inexpensive way to have some peace of mind.
Nothing can guarantee 100% protection, but the risk of damage to a business, including the loss of data/client records and the misuse of stolen personal/business information increases daily. Taking these relatively easy steps costs far less in time and money than it will cost to recover from the outfall of a cyber crime.