safeguard your head office small business

4 steps to small business security

Software Associates specializes in security and compliance for biomed.  Many of our biomed clients are small 3-10 person startups working out of a small office and not having neither the IT budget nor the IT best practices to take care of their own network.

According to the latest statistics from the FBI in their annual Uniform Crime Report, one burglary occurs in the U.S. every 14.4 seconds. As bad as it is to be the victim of a burglary, when you have a home office or small business, the effects can bring your operation to a standstill as you try to reorganize your affairs.

Here are four things you can do to protect your small business systems:

1. Physical security – install an alarm system

Adding an alarm system is an effective way to protect your office from a break-in.  How do you find a reputable service provider for a security system for your home office/small business office?

According to SecurityCompanies.com, a comparison shopping resource for alarm systems, there are over 5,000 home security providers in the U.S. market. That’s a lot – and you will need to do a little research and preparation before you start.

Try Google Local – a Google search for alarm systems will usually pop-up a number of providers in your neighborhood with their phone numbers.

After you have a list of 3 home security providers – prepare a checklist before making the calls.  When you call a home security provider you should get answers to these 6 questions:

  • Do you want a hard-wired system or a wireless one?
  • Do you need professional monitoring or would you prefer a sensor-activated system?
  • How big is your home?
  • Do you want advanced features like home automation?
  • Do you need remote access?
  • Will you be installing security cameras as well?

After getting satisfactory answers  – ask for references (recent ones) and guaranteed service levels – if the alarm goes off when you’re on vacation, what  are your options?

2.  Network security – being a good neighbor and assuring your bandwidth

Working on open  wireless network enables other people to jack in.

This has an upside and downside.

The upside of an open wireless router is that its good neighbor policy.  If a passers-by asked you for a glass of water, you would gladly offer them on.   The risk of having sensitive business information stolen or other private information compromised from your home office/small business office network by a casual surfer is practically zero – there are far more interesting targets for drive-by attacks than your small office.

The downside of an open router is assuring bandwidth.  Guests  and neighbors can dramatically slow down your Internet connection. If bandwidth and fast response time is really important to you –  protect your wireless network with a personal password and share it selectively with friends and colleagues.

Do you regularly have clients over, or other guests, who need access to your Internet connection? Set up a separate network for guests, protecting it with a unique password that you can share with guests.

3.  Access security – protecting passwords

With so many online services requiring you to enter strong passwords – it is hard to remember the passwords to your own network and small office server.   Having said that – the last thing you want is to use the same Google password and/or Facebook password for your small business.  That is a really bad idea because if someone hacks your office password – their first attack will be on your Google and Facebook services.

You can try a password generator program to generate unique passwords that are nearly impossible to hack. Top-rated programs include – KeePass, Sxipper and RoboForm & Data Vault.

Another equally good option is to use phonetic passwords that you can easily remember with combinations of letters and numbers – like Xcntu8B4F6g (Accentuate before fixing)

4. Data security –  develop and implement a backup protocol

How often do you backup your files? Once a day? Weekly or monthly?

Having your computer stolen isn’t your only risk.

While modern hardware is very reliable, it’s  not perfect and even the most expensive, dependable computers can crash without any warning.  Even a faulty motherboard can cause disk corruption.

To protect yourself from the panic and anxiety of losing your work, make a plan to backup your work at the end of each work day. Save files to a free cloud-based storage system, like DropBox, or use a removable hard drive. If using a removable hard drive, be sure to store it in a different area of your home, out of the office, to prevent theft. If any harm should come to your computer in a fire or other natural disaster, you will want your hard drive to be stored in a separate location that is out of harm’s way.

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