Self-Defense for Your Tech

Today’s technology gives us extraordinary opportunities. It allows us to make our businesses more efficient, profitable and reliable, while simultaneously enabling us as individuals to be more connected. We can tweet, surf, post, blog, email and chat all from a device no larger than our hand.

As with all progress, these advances bring a variety of threats that must be evaluated, monitored and mitigated. As business owners, we make risk-reward decisions every day, and technology demands nothing less.

These five tips will help ensure that you control your business’s technology and not the other way around.

1. Have strategic and tactical network security // Protecting your business with a security framework that is able to identify individual threats, as well as analyze and protect against systematic risks, is the single most effective means to prevent security breaches. Whether you have one or 100 employees, your network security plan should include an up-to-date firewall to protect against specific intruders and general external threats.

2. Get immunized against viruses // Wait! I’ve already got a firewall. Isn’t virus management part of my business’s network security? A common misconception is that firewalls prevent entry to your network without authorized access. But each time you open an email, connect to a website, download a file or click a link, you are temporarily authorizing access. Constant reimmunization through a proactive virus management tool is critical to protecting your business.

3. Exercise common sense and vigilance // It sounds simple, right? When you’re late to a meeting, have a dozen to-dos and there’s a deadline looming, it is so tempting to rush through guest user login screens at the airport, coffee shop or hotel. But those screens are acting as the gatekeeper to your computer and network.

When in a public setting, be sure to select your device’s “Public” network setting to disable the ability for other people to share your documents and files.

Beware of those popups and links you think you are closing. Many spyware programs have been launched by inadvertently clicking on “CLOSE,” which was really masquerading as a download button.

4. Beware of Trojan horses // Many of the latest viruses are disguised as programs claiming to be able to resolve countless issues on your computer or network. Whether paid or free, never allow a program access to your computer or network under the guise of “improving speed” or “cleaning up.” Be especially alarmed if the advertisement claims you are infected with viruses and malware that can easily be removed by entering your credit card information.

5. Define standards // Chances are you and your employees have mobile devices. Did you know that once a mobile device is connected to a network, it is part of that network? Whatever is on that mobile device is now free to roam within your business.

Perhaps more concerning is that, in the event your employee is pursuing illegal activities, your network can become a tool with less-than-savory results, exposing you and your business to legal and even criminal action. Be certain you have defined your expectations of behavior in terms of company devices, assets and network usage, through policies, procedures and employment agreements.