Cybercrime is one of the fastest growing crimes of our time. Viruses are written to infect, threaten and wreak havoc, often holding companies to ransom putting their data and with it, their entire business at risk. Your company data is your lifeblood, and you need to protect it. So here are our top ten tips to keeping your IT systems secure.
- Pay for your AV Install a good anti-virus product from a reputable provider, and pay for it. Free AV software will not keep you protected. BitDefender, F-Secure and Norton are all recommended, but none of these will protect you efficiently unless you keep them updated. As computer viruses mutate, protection companies adapt their products to maintain levels of defence. Think of it as new antibiotics being developed to fight a mutating virus. If you take the old medicine, you won’t get better. If you’re running an old version of your anti-virus software, your systems won’t be protected.
- Strong password policy, – create a company-wide password policy and enforce it. Ideal passwords are at least 14 characters long, alphanumeric and changed regularly. Different passwords should be used for different systems – otherwise you risk a mass security breach if a password is hacked or stolen. Passwords should never be shared and never be written down.
- Firewalls first – ensure that you have a firewall installed, and if you’re not sure, check with your IT provider. And NEVER turn it off. A firewall works to protect your IT systems from unauthorised access and basically acts as a barrier between your business and the World Wide Web. Turning it off, even for a few minutes, can expose your business to significant risk.
- Beware the USB drive Never borrow or share USB drives from unknown sources and be wary at all times. An infected drive used on your network will expose your business to viruses, potentially distributing through your company systems in minutes. If you use USB drives for sensitive data, always encrypt them.
- Watch what you click – be careful what you click on. Even the most sophisticated of security systems will fail if you open the door and let the viruses in. Be wary of email attachments, downloads and links and check they’re from a reputable source. It can often be difficult to judge, but if in doubt, delete.
- Browse sensibly – similarly, be careful what you browse. An infected website will pass viruses to your computer which could in turn spread through your entire network. As will an infected app. Keep to brands you know when downloading apps and stay off dodgy websites. Don’t click on pop-up adverts, particularly from obscure companies you’ve never heard of.
- Employee loyalty Can you trust your staff? All of them? We certainly hope so, but be conscious of any discrepancies that may be occurring which could pose the potential for a member of staff to want to steal or damage your intellectual property. It’s not nice, and nobody likes to think about it, but it does happen. So, one to be mindful of.
- Keep your software updated Make sure you’re not running old versions of your software. These are often unsupported by the manufacturers, leaving your systems open and vulnerable to attack. Windows XP, for example, is no longer supported by Microsoft meaning the firm does not now roll out software updates or security patches for this product. So it’s open to attack and will leave holes in your systems.
- Know the signs know how to spot a computer virus and look out for the signs. If your computer starts running slowly or freezing, reboots itself, and printer access disappears, you could have a problem. Look out for strange looking error messages, additional toolbars appearing in your web browser and a loss of access to certain drives. One or more of these things could indicate an infection, so be vigilant and if you think your systems may have been compromised, contact your IT support company immediately.
- Employee education of course, there is always the risk that human error can let in a virus. So educate your staff, and refresh any security training regularly. Keep up to date with any new strains of viruses that become particularly prevalent at any time so you know what to look out for – your IT support company should provide you with this information whenever necessary.
For more information, guidance and for any advice please contact us on 03333 231 115 or email firstname.lastname@example.org