Does the consistent press about data breaches/loss get you thinking about the safety of your computer network? Is (Internet/email) computing safe anymore? Can your business afford a breach/data loss? If not, more MIS would be operating as a closed system. Fortunately, most SoHo office businesses are not preferred targets for network breaches or data theft. If you’re a high net worth individual who’s somewhat visible publicly, you may become the target of spearphishing (email), vishing (telephone) or bluejacking or bluesnarfing (bluetooth). Avoid all this with modern basics of computing security (smartphones included).
Firewall. The router (“Gateway” device) provided by your teleco provider offers a firewall aspect, that if set at moderate (or high) level, can help block unwanted websites and downloads. However, a firewall appliance (looks like a router) with WiFi is preferred because its designed to be configured/managed. Each endpoint should have a software firewall installed to block unwanted websites or downloads from entering your browser. It logs all its seen and blocked to see trends from endpoints that may need corrective action. (Be prepared for unexpected blocks of websites; a close/reopen usually lets it through.)
AntiVirus. If you’ve a fixed budget, you can protect the endpoint to a degree with Windows Security Essentials (feature of W7) or Windows Defender (feature of W8.1), yet buying a 3rd party UTM (Unified Threat Manager) is always best. Set it up for live detections/deletions, regular updates and a scheduled scan 1x/week after business hours.
Patching. Software patching eliminates exposure to vulnerabilities in software. It’s the most effective way to deter the bad guys from pursuing you. So long as the software you use is compatible with the operating system as it patches forward, leave the Windows Update setting On; it’ll update the 2nd Tuesday of each month. Other software should be set to autoupdate as those app providers issue patches. Most SoHo offices use off-the-shelf software that will be compatible with auto-update of installed software.
Smartphones. Lookout app offers a firewall, AV, remote screen lock and remote data wipe if lost, find me if displaced; AV providers may offer a firewall and AV. K9 browser app offers a layer of protection to malicious websites if you do a lot of browsing from your smartphone.
Awareness: Email/IM/Calls, unwanted webpages or downloads. Any kind of email, IM or call that’s unexpected or unwanted could be a phishing/vishing attempt; delete it or let the call go to vm. Social engineering has become low hanging fruit by the bad guys to take, anyone can be victimized; avoid it.
Unwanted webpages/downloads. On PC, use Cntrl,Alt, Delete to end the task; on your phone, close the page. These pages are designed to continue running. A strong popup blocker on your browser helps if the webpage penetrates the network and software firewall; Opera browser has the most effective popup blocker I’ve seen (desktop and mobile).
Whitelisting. If you want to mimic a closed system for your business, you can set the firewalls in the gateway and software firewall to maximum, only allowing access to certain websites. It’s limiting, yet it will keep unfriendlies out of your network.
Data Backup. The smartest way to backup data for a SoHo business is to upload new versions of data to cloud storage (such as Box.com or MS OneDrive). Your data is stored in a professional data center; backing up is a part of their daily business. You’ll always have access to your data as you need it, wherever you are.
The smart-computing rules outlined above will make a strong contribution to avoiding breaches and data loss. If you need help setting up these cybersecurity layers, please click Request a Consultation at the upper right of the screen, fill out “Cybersecurity SoHo Office” in the subject line, include your email signature in the message body; I reply within 24hours to arrange a conference call. Thanks for reading. ###.