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The Five Most Glaring Holes in Small Business IT Security

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Submitted by Tim Roper on Friday, September 30, 2011

As an IT service provider to small businesses, we see a few common problems among new clients. Whether it’s because of oversight, lack of knowledge, neglect, or user error, the following five issues keep many small businesses from achieving their full potential or even worse, jeopardize a company’s very existence.

1.   Backup and Disaster Recovery (BDR) – A company’s electronic data is one of its most valuable—and fragile—assets. A shocking number of small businesses either rely on manual backups or just keep their fingers crossed. For maximum protection, a business needs not only an automated backup system (to minimize human error), but also a thoroughly tested and simple-to-implement disaster recovery plan in order to get the business back up and running.

2.   Adherence to Security Protocols – Your car alarm won’t give you much protection if you leave your keys on the hood. As with many security systems, the human factor is often one of the weakest links. Poor login management, shared passwords, and other shortcuts leave your computers and network open to threats. Educating your staff about the importance of adhering to security measures (and making sure they do) is of utmost importance.

3.   Outdated Equipment – This especially applies to network infrastructure such as routers, switches, and firewalls. Just because a device still works doesn’t mean it is working securely. As security protocols have progressed, especially in the wireless space, manufacturers have had to increase performance to keep up with increasingly complicated encryption schemes. Running older hardware makes you an easier target (and therefore more attractive) for hackers.

4.   Unsecured Mobile Devices – Yes, employees love the convenience of accessing their email via a smartphone, but smartphones are also easy to lose (as are laptops and USB drives). What if that device held sensitive information? Or provided a direct path into your corporate server? Again, adherence to proper security protocols is paramount. All devices need to be protected with robust, regularly changing passwords, and all employees need to understand and adhere to a written “acceptable use” policy.

5.   Lack of Cohesive IT Strategy – Most companies expand their IT infrastructure as their business grows. As such, they often find themselves with a patchwork system. Smart business owners see IT as a strategic business asset, not just a necessary evil. Investing in a coherent, well-designed IT infrastructure not only provides security and increased performance, but also does good things for your bottom line.

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