Source: PC Mag

Data thieves continue to attack private and business PCs and networks, and the devices they use are becoming more and more intelligent. The real problem, however, is that many small business owners make these intrusions easy by not introducing the most basic of protective measures – passwords. Even if your system is more sophisticated than this and has some form of encryption M place, the danger remains due to the sophistication of the threats being launched.

The experts agree that small businesses are generally more vulnerable to security threats because they don’t have dedicated technical staff to react to threats or the equipment to counter these attacks. And as the economy tightens and budgets are cut, security-related solutions are likely to be added to the list of non-essential items. The message here, however, is to do this at your peril.

Small businesses are becoming increasingly reliant on technology. Email communications with customers, your daily banking and in fact probably your entire business will come to a halt if your network is downed during an attack If your computers are out of operation as a result of a virus or hacker attack, the businesses’ ability to operate will be directly affected. The associated cost and further downtime during recovery of the computer system adds a further burden.

The most common threat facing computers users is infection from computer viruses, worms, Trojans and other malware. These tend to spread voraciously and automatically via built-in mechanisms. In some cases they require end-user interaction, such as the opening of an email attachment to infect a PC, in other cases they are able to automatically hack into vulnerable computers.

The first step to ensuring your security while online is making sure that your operating system’s automatic security updates are switched on. This ensures that the latest security patches are automatically downloaded and installed to your computers and will prevent unauthorised infiltration of your network.

While these patches can prevent malware from hacking into your computers, you should also have a firewall of some kind to prevent unauthorised traffic and connections to and from your computer. Operating systems such as Microsoft Windows come with a simple built-in firewall that can be switched on. This is suitable for many applications, although not particularly sophisticated.

Another crucial weapon in your protective arsenal is an effective antivirus software solution. A good product can cover a variety of attack vectors, i.e. methods by which your computer can be infiltrated. Email, surfing of websites, downloading of files or music, chat programs and a variety of user activities are commonly used to introduce malware onto PCS, often unbeknownst to the user. Effective antivirus solutions will stop malware in its tracks before infection can take place. The best solution is an antivirus solution that is able to proactively and intelligently detect new types of malware and not just rely on downloaded updates.

Some antivirus solutions come bundled with advanced firewall applications. These are more sophisticated than those offered by default with your operating system. They can be tricky to install and use, however, and may land up being more painful than useful. Make sure that your antivirus software is user friendly and that it doesn’t require technical knowledge and doesn’t ask difficult questions of you when setting up, as you may select the wrong options. This means intelligent, intuitive software that can protect users without bothering them with too many questions about allowing or blocking traffic, for example.

You should put a company policy regarding computer security in place. It can be as simple or as complicated as you want. The mandatory use of automatic updates, a firewall and an antivirus program, should all be addressed in this document. To ensure user acceptance and that protective applications aren’t disabled, these applications should be designed not to annoy or bother users. They should be intelligent and intuitive and accomplish the majority of their tasks silently in the background.