3 step plan for it security

Setting up a secure computer network requires the integration of various hardware pieces, software applications and end user training. Depending on the kind of business you run there are different levels of security you may need to consider. Does your business take credit cards from your customers? Do you have intellectual property in data files and emails that are important to your business?  Do you have personal information in your systems or data files of customers or patients? This blog focuses on the small business that needs basic security.

SMBs can use a 3 step approach to IT security.

1. You need to use threat identifiers like a corporate class level firewall

2. Couple the identifiers with threat prevention applications like antivirus and anti-malware applications.

3. Educate your end users with a focus on your security, strategy and policies.

Even after setup and installation of your firewall and security application, these items need constant maintenance and management to be effective. Thousands of hackers world-wide work tirelessly to produce new attack vectors on existing security protocols. Your computer network security must be able to respond to new threats, as they happen. Small business IT security often comes with compromises based on price. After all, you have limited funds to devote to your small business network security, but you need it as much as larger companies with unlimited budgets. Using managed antivirus software services in conjunction with firewall monitoring offers you a low-cost IT security solution that meets the needs of small businesses.

Why Use Managed Antivirus Services

A free antivirus software must be installed locally on every machine. It must also be updated regularly to be an effective IT security measure. What happens if an employee ignores an update notification or disables the software to get rid of annoying popups? What if a first level virus or malware infection has disabled the security software without the end user even knowing? That leaves your entire network at risk. Managed antivirus services help minimize the largest risk factor to your small business IT security: Computer users. Managed antivirus services ensure that the software installed stays up-to-date on every networked computer, sending out the updates automatically through your network and notifying you when computers get infected or have other issues. This takes control of antivirus and anti-malware software away from the end-user and puts it in the hands of small business network security experts. Your security software then offers the best available protection without the expense of staffing a full information assurance department or the need to hire a full time IT person.

Shoring Up Your Firewall

You may think that since your computers all come with an installed Windows Firewall you need no additional protection, but that is a grave mistake. You face the same problem utilizing the individual firewalls installed locally that you do with locally installed antivirus software: User error. When employees have access to what the firewall allows and denies, you create an IT security breach. Furthermore you need a corporate level firewall appliance that sits between your internal network and the Internet.

A two tiered approach of managed software and hardware based firewalls removes user access and offers a deeper level of security.

1. Remove user access

When users can turn a firewall on and off, they can expose your entire network to viruses and malware. Managed firewall providers administer your network and limit access to interactions with the firewall, making it difficult for users to disable it and unintentionally infect the network. Hardware options for firewalls also prevent users from making changes and lock down access to local resources from the outside.

2. Deeper level of security

A monitored firewall service includes oversight by the MSP to look at the traffic traveling into and out of your network. A small business IT security expert can generate traffic reports and look for potential threats. Identifying threats or suspicious activity early allows them to manage the threat and proactively remove the risk of an infection, before it happens.

Switching to a managed firewall can make your computer network more secure, with minimal oversight required in-house.

End User Training

You don’t have to be a computer expert to have some guidelines for employees to follow as part of your company handbook or onboarding process. Depending on your business needs, updates to the policy or periodic reminders of the policy with your employees are needed. Your outsourced IT partner can help you develop these guidelines. Tips on how to slow down before you click on a link in an email or web site and ask the question: “is this legitimate?”. They should know the name of your IT service provider and tell them that nobody should ever call or email them and ask for their password to a system. They should also know exactly who to contact if they do have a question on a suspicious email or request.

Top-Notch Network Security on a Small Business Budget

Most small businesses cannot afford to spend tens-of-thousands of dollars on IT security, but getting the right security solution that is in line with your business needs is important. Having a solid security package makes sense for any business no matter the size. The minimal cost of contracting a managed firewall provider and managed antivirus service saves businesses much more in continued productivity and losses due to emergency down times or embarrassment of being hacked. An undefended attack on your network could shut it down completely, making a small investment in prevention a crucial element to keeping your business running smoothly.