Small Business IT Security: The Most Essential Points

Posted by Steven Vigeant on 10/18/12 8:00 AM

small business IT securityThe biggest threat to the security of a SMB is the lack of proper precautions.  Too many small business owners treat the tools they’ve invested in as though they were innately secure, which is like buying a car for your pizza delivery business and then leaving it parked outside with the keys in the ignition. If you have an internet connection, your system can be accessed.  Protect your IT investment and the health of your company by candidly facing what you could lose from a security breach or system failure.  Once you’ve looked at the cost, it will be easy to see that you should spend some time and money on protecting your IT and the information stored on it.  A Managed System Provider (MSP) can evaluate your IT system, advise you on potential security weaknesses, and inform you on the best security practices.

         Point #1: You Have Something to Lose

Do you have customer information on your systems? Things like names, addresses, email addresses and more importantly credit card information. A security threat does not have to come from someone outside trying to break in through your firewall, through a virus or malware infection a hacker may already have control or access to these kinds of data on one of your computers. Think of how damaging that could be to your business.  You may have a “backup system” in place but does all the important data to your business end up in these locations. End users love to save data on their desktops or make their own folders on the root of hard drives.

Point #2: Be Proactive

The best way to secure your system is to be proactive about seeking outside expertise and identifying the areas where you might need help.  A MSP will conduct a thorough evaluation of your system and build a security protocol for your employees.

An entrepreneur might install anti-virus software on his computer, only to lose track of updating it as he focuses on other aspects of running his business.  The SMB owner may install a new backup system but never check the logs or do a test restore.

A MSP, on the other hand, will never “forget” to update your system; in fact, because a Network Operations Center (NOC) will be actively monitoring your system for suspicious activity, the MSP might know of a problem before you do, that is to say before your system has been compromised.  An MSP can offer a contract that gives you

Reaching out to a MSP, even if you decide not to employ them on a regular basis, might pay dividends in the end.  If a crisis does occur, you have a relationship with someone who knows you and your business.  With familiarity about your IT system, they can advise you immediately about solutions to your problem.

Point #3: New Opportunities Present New Risks

Small businesses are always challenged to adopt the latest cutting-edge programs, systems and technology.  Whether you are looking at a new cloud storage solution for the cost benefits or upgrading your servers as your business expands, new opportunities present new—often unanticipated—risks. The MSP’s business is technology; they employ staff to keep up on the latest developments, new threats and new security solutions. 

The cloud is the latest big thing in the tech industry.  It does offer some companies a low-cost option for managing and storing data, but it’s hosted on remote servers, so now you need to worry about the credibility and security practices of an outside company.  A reputable MSP will know which sites are secure; more importantly, it can advise you on whether and how to use the cloud at all.  

The growing use of handheld devices offers a comparable example of how SMBs benefit from the expertise of a MSP.  As employers face pressure to allow employees to work remotely and from portable devices, they need to know how much of a risk this new access poses to their business.  Slapping a password on a portable device is not enough security.

The most dangerous way to treat your IT investment in your business is to remain ignorant about how to ensure its security. In today’s competitive world you need to look at your IT systems and their upkeep as an investment and not as a cost to your business.  If you do not have the expertise to know the best security practices, take the time to call in a MSP for an initial consultation to help you learn what needs to be done.

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Topics: IT Outsourcing, Small Business IT Support, IT Security