Six Low Cost Security Upgrades for Small Business Networks

Small Businesses are often the target of cyber security crimes due to weaker online and network security.  In fact, Symantec (an Internet Security company) reported that “cyber-attacks on small businesses rose 300% in 2012 from the previous year”. 

The fact remains that the majority of small business owners do not have a fortune to spend on pricey hardware and software to upgrade their computer network. 

However, the great news is that there are a few basic and low cost security upgrades that can be done to lock down a small business computer network.  Here are 6 that you should consider:

  1. Use Strong PasswordsUsing strong passwords to secure the devices connected to your computer network is extremely important in preventing unauthorized access to your systems.  Strong passwords are at least 8 characters long have a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers and special characters and do NOT include common words found in the dictionary.    Here is a great list of strong password generators that you can use.    
  1. Turn on Automatic Updates.  Turning on automatic updates will allow your computer to stay up-to date with the latest security patches.  Read how to turn on automatic updates. 
  1. Secure your Wireless network.  Making sure that your wireless network is secure from intruders is crucial.  Here are a few steps that you can take to setup wireless security:
    • Use a wireless router with WPA2 Encryption
    • Change your default wireless password.
    • Change your SSID Name.  Your SSID name should be unique to your business.
    • If possible, purchase a wireless router with Guest Network Access.  This way your office visitors can use a separate wireless network from the one that your business runs on.
  1. Use Anti-Virus and Anti-Malware Software on all of your Workstations and Servers.  Anti-virus software is used to prevent virus infections.  Anti-Malware is used to prevent and detect Malware infections.  These days, there are applications that combine both virus and malware protection in one software package.  Check out this list of the top 10 small business anti-virus programs. 
    1. Educate Your Employees.  Your employees should be trained on the basic computer and network security practices when possible.  You can also give them an Acceptable Use Policy to sign and adhere to – that covers what is “acceptable” in your environment when using and accessing your equipment and what is not.

 

  1.  Use built-in security features.  Can’t afford to splurge on new Anti-Virus or Malware protection.  No worries.  Windows 7 and Windows 8 workstations come equipped with the following security features:
  • Firewall – to block outside intrudersRead this article to learn how to enable firewalls on your workstations.
  • Windows Defender – used to protect your pc against spyware and malware.
  • User Account Control – alerts you when programs are changed on your workstations.

As you can see, it doesn’t take a ton of money to secure your small business computer network.  Using the tips mentioned in today’s post, you can easily create a more secure networking environment for your business.  Cheers!

Chic Geek
 

Kim "The Chick Geek" is the founder of Small Business Sense and Websites4SmallBiz. Small Business Sense shares small business ideas, tips and resources for independent Entrepreneurs and Small Business owners.

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