Small Business Security

Tips & Hints

Posted 14 January, 2003

Data is the most one of the most valuable assets a business has. Yet many of us do very little to protect it.

As a small business, it’s easy to dismiss computer security, "who’d want my stuff?" But do you want to risk the embarrassment of a virus sending confidential documents to all your clients? Worse still, what if all your business data was deleted?

The biggest risk to business data isn't a hacker on the other side of the world, it's you, your staff and your family. It isn't just disaffected staff who might damage your data, we’ve all accidentally deleted files. You need security in place to protect your data.

Password Security

For small businesses and homes passwords are the most important aspect of security. An Internet access or Internet banking password is as good as cash in the wrong hands. Give important passwords only to people who need them.

Different web sites require different levels of security. So you should have different passwords for the different levels. The password used to access an online magazine should be different to the password used to access your online bank or accounting program.

Internet access should be automatic. Do not let staff know the Internet access password. Otherwise your staff, their relatives and friends could be surfing the web on your account. The bills incurred could be the least of your worries, you may find your account becomes blacklisted for sending spam.

Network Sharing

Don't share the root directories on hard drives. Only share the data files that need to be shared. Folders with confidential material must be password protected and make read-only shares for folders with data that you don't want wiped.

Get a firewall

If you have a permanent connection, even a slower dialup connection, you are at risk. A mis-configured Internet sharing program, a Trojan Horse or a file sharing program can cost you thousands of dollars or even get your account suspended. A properly configured firewall is essential.


Probably the most common outside threat to computer security are computer viruses. In the last two years we’ve seen a wave of viruses that attach documents from the victim’s system. Some of these documents have been important and confidential. Get an anti-virus program on all your computers and keep it up to date.

Remote Access

Remote access is a great idea, it allows you to login to your office system when you’re at home or on the road. But the bad guys can use it too. If you have remote access through programs like PC Anywhere and Carbon Copy, make sure they are at least password protected. If you dial from home, then setup the redial function so the computer has to call you back when you try to login.

Change passwords regularly

Over time, passwords become common knowledge. Change them regularly. If a member of the staff leaves then change the passwords.

Lock up the server

Don’t use your file server for day-to-day work. Keep the users off it and keep it secure. If you are using a secure file system don’t give away the administrator or root passwords.

Back up your data

There is only one thing worse than someone stealing your data and that’s losing it. Get a backup system and make sure it works. The biggest risk to all computer users is accidental deletion.

Computer systems are essential to modern businesses and keeping them secure is as important as keeping any other part of your business secure. Your customer details, accounts and proce

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