From small single-person operations to global multi-national corporations, IT security is the cornerstone on which the rest of a business can be built. It can be much easier said than done, however, to develop and manage a sufficiently secure and responsive IT system.
Small businesses generally struggle the most with IT security. Even if a single-person operation has the necessary IT knowledge, it can be impossible to find the time to implement important updates, changes, and fixes while also juggling business growth.
For any start-up or small business looking to maximise their IT security, these top tips should be followed closely.
Get a vulnerability assessment
It’s impossible to improve your IT system’s overall security if you’re not familiar with the specific points in your network that are potentially at risk. This assessment is something you can do yourself if you have the understanding. But, for most business owners it’s a much wiser investment to outsource the assessment to a specialist.
If your IT system has been professionally built there should be minimal weak points – no system is without flaw, however! Understanding the specific areas in your own network that could be liable to attack is essential. If your business doesn’t have a secure footing on which to develop, its overall growth will be stunted.
Invest in penetration testing
Penetration testing is a hands-on method of checking your IT network’s security. What better way to understand how you might be attacked, than to simulate one? A team of specialists will look at your network and identify the key points they would attack, if they were looking to breach your defences. They’ll then try a variety of different methods to hack into your system and see what works.
After the testing phase, a report will be generated, showing you where in your system the attack would have been successful. There’ll then be a consultation as to the best possible fixes to re-secure the network.
Embrace VoIP telephony
Voice Over IP is becoming a far more popular method of communication with businesses of all sizes. When you consider the cost savings, the ease of use, and the overall improvement in voice quality it’s easy to see why. Embracing VoIP telephony also has a degree of security improvement to offer businesses willing to invest in its proper implementation.
The reason for this is that VoIP telephony systems can be implemented as a part of a secure network – the more secure the network, the more secure the communication.
Develop a business continuity plan
Unexpected downtime is a serious problem to contend for businesses, and it can happen for a number of reasons. It can be down to a power outage, for example, or as a result of a hack. For small businesses who particularly rely on every penny of revenue and ounce of customer satisfaction, the cost of even an hour’s downtime can be considerable.
A plan of action is essential, then, to ensure the business remains as operational as possible through these adverse circumstances. This can be through a variety of means. Whether it’s off-site backups, contingency plans, cloud solutions to provide remote access to necessary information, etc. The solution is as individual as the business it’s developed for. But, it remains essential for all businesses.
An anti-virus program that spans the entire network is non-negotiable in terms of its importance in a business IT network. You need to be able to detect, isolate, and remove a virus the minute one is introduced to your system. Or, ideally, have an anti-virus that will flag potential malware before it even has a chance to be downloaded into the network.
Anti-virus should be able to cover your machines, but also the internet. Many hackers use malware links attached to otherwise innocent looking websites. Just clicking on a simple link can be enough to bring the whole system to its knees in seconds. Invest in professional-grade anti-virus sooner rather than later.
Take advantage of hosted email
Hosted email has two specific benefits for small businesses when it comes to IT security. The first is that it helps provide that ever-important business continuity in the face of unexpected downtime. With hosted email, you would still be able to email customers and clients even if the rest of your system is experiencing difficulties. In times of trouble, communication makes all the difference.
The other aspect as regards IT security is that professional hosted email services will be regularly scanned for malware links from suspicious senders. So you would be able to see a flag before you or an employee clicks something that otherwise looks innocent. Even that minor warning can help avert a potentially crippling malware attack.
Virtualisation is a great way to help improve your business’ efficiency, but it can also to a boon for your security as well. One major advantage is that it’s much easier to segment individual aspects of the virtual network, isolating them from one another. So in the event that one element becomes infected, it can easily be quarantined without infecting the entire network.
Virtualisation also provides access to a host of sophisticated firewalls and other security measures that can be implemented to keep the system secure. Ultimately threats become easier to detect and deal with. They also, crucially, become easier to predict – which considerably improves overall network security.
Back up data off site
Investing in external data backups are a great way for small businesses to make sure that their data is kept as secure as possible. Outsourcing to a professional means you’re getting access to considerable experience and dedication – all for a nominal fee. When you consider the cost of implementing the same sort of attention yourself, the savings become clear.
Data which is stored off-site will be regularly backed up and encrypted to ensure it’s as secure as possible. This is especially essential for confidential information such as customer payment details. A business that can ensure its customers’ security is one that will ultimately generate considerably more customer loyalty.