The expansion of internet connectivity and what is possible online means there is now an incredibly broad range of activities that can be carried out on the move and from virtually anywhere.
One obvious consequence of all this is that more of us can carry out our professional functions from home, on the train and from any number of other locations that doesn’t involve being tethered to a desk at all times.
The scope of the freedom that extra mobility and connectivity has opened up is truly remarkable but there is another side to the coin and it has to do with information security.
Staying ahead of the bad guys
It is an unchanging reality and a fact of life that there will always be people out there somewhere whose goal it is to steal from or exploit others for their own gain and in the modern world that often means stealing information online.
From a business perspective, the challenge of staying secure and protecting your most precious data is now an ongoing battle being fought on an increasing variety of different fronts.
With all that in mind, here are some of the most essential ways in which businesses can aim to keep their data and their IT infrastructures intact and suitably well protected at all times.
1 – Install and update anti-virus solutions
Installing anti-virus and anti-malware solutions onto computers that are used to log in to your company’s IT systems in any way is always optional but absolutely imperative if you want to be confident of protecting your data.
Anti-virus software will sometimes be referred to as being an ‘internet security software’, but whatever it is called, it is a must for any computers used within your business. The software is designed to run constantly and function as a solid line of defence against potential online nasties.
You can get away with deploying security software that is free to use but our recommendation at TTG is always to pay for quality anti-virus that is more likely to be effective and kept completely up to date. Paid-for anti-virus solutions tend to involve a greater degree of support which can be important at key moments and they’re likely to be more reliable on the whole as forms of data protection.
2 – Backup and keep on backing up
Data and digital documents are so essential and integral to so much that goes in business contexts today that keeping everything up to date at all times can be the difference between systems running smoothly and processes beginning to fall apart.
Or to put it another way, if businesses are deprived of their most up to date data for any length of time then it can very quickly have an impact on their bottom line, which is clearly an outcome that needs to be avoided as much as possible.
Given all that, backing up as much of your information as possible to external online sources on a routine basis is now an absolutely essential process for businesses to undertake. Failing to do so opens the door to threats like ransomware, which is designed specifically to prey on the reliance that contemporary businesses often have on their data. These threats can make their way onto your systems completely unnoticed and essentially hold your data to ransom if it has not been stored elsewhere.
So having a system in place that means your information is routinely backed up is an essential plank in the process of protecting your data and your business.
We recommend an online backup solution that enables you to access saved data from any specified point in the past, whether that’s one day, one week or three months ago. This kind of flexibility can be very valuable indeed if you find that your systems have been compromised by hackers or any form of malicious software.
Having an external hard drive on which you can save important data can also be helpful if you’re running a small business or you’re a solo operator, but hard drives can themselves fall victim to data-related cyber-attacks when connected but backing up your data to them as well as an external backup could also save you a lot of time, money and frustration if your computer is attacked by a malicious intruder. One of the biggest issues with using an external drive for backup though is remembering (and being bothered) to actually carry out what can be a time consuming task.
3 – Maintain a healthy website
A lot of what data security is all about for businesses is protecting their computers and their internal systems from attack and from infection by malicious software. But there are also issues to consider in the context of websites and any online presence that your business is responsible for.
The specific nature of the issues involved here differ depending on the nature of the website you have and what content management system (CMS) you use to create and update your online content. Some CMSs are more secure than others but it’s important to take certain steps to keep your website safe and fully functional as much as possible.
To do so you should:
- Keep your website updated on a consistent basis so that you’re using the most up to date and therefore the best protected version of whatever CMS you rely on to maintain your site.
- Backup versions of your website so that if you’re website is hacked in any way then you can effectively throw away your existing site and replace it with an earlier version.
If you are careful and work from a reliable platform then you should be able to keep your website safe from attack but it’s important to be aware that this is an area of significant security consideration. The consequences can be that your infected website is used as a springboard for hackers who can then access the data and the computers of people who visit your site. This can ultimately leave people (quite rightly) unconvinced by the safety and security of your website and your services. Plus it can lead to search engines such as Google taking a dim view on the calibre of your overall online presence, which can have all manner of damaging consequences for your business.
4 – Prioritise passwords
Passwords have been perhaps the most fundamental element in any online security setup since the internet emerged and changed the world a few decades ago. By now, most of us are well accustomed to typing in passwords as a form of identification in all manner of different contexts and circumstances. But while they have become increasingly commonplace, passwords have not become any less important and they remain absolutely at the heart of data security.
For businesses, passwords are used to protect everything from PCs to entire communications systems and databases of sensitive information. Clearly then it is very important that employees are not complacent when it comes to setting up and using their passwords. They should not, for example, use incredibly simple passwords such as ‘12345’, ‘admin’ or ‘password’ in the context of entering an important platform or IT system. Doing so is simply asking for trouble and almost giving would-be hackers an open invitation into your infrastructure.
A good and safe password should be a combination of upper and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols and should be close to 12 characters in length.
There are lots of different ways in which anyone can make their passwords tough to crack but doing so requires some thought and your password shouldn’t simply be something which is easy to remember. This is true for business bosses as well as members of their workforces and if you really want to keep your systems safe then the issue of password security should be a priority at all times.
5 – Invest in cloud computing
Cloud computing has become a vitally important element of internet and IT security for businesses and for anyone who is concerned about keeping their data safe.
Cloud-based backup support can be used to ensure the security of your information in a more reliable and robust way than is possible without it. The key is that information stored via the cloud can be accessed from anywhere and protected more effectively because it is not tied to any particular device.
Do not fall into the trap of assuming your data is safer if it’s NOT in the cloud – with expert advice you can mitigate any risks and the cloud with it’s servers kept in super secure datacentres affords a level of infrastructure and physical security that no one business could afford to purchase.
What’s crucial to be aware of as a business in any industry is that your data is now an important asset and one which needs to be proactively protected on a consistent basis. Cloud computing is an increasingly at the forefront of all this and affordable solutions are now widely available for small, medium and large-scale businesses alike.
Cost effectiveness is inevitably a key consideration for businesses when it comes to data and IT security but what is well worth noting is that prevention is so much cheaper than cure in these contexts.
Putting properly reliable security measures in place is not always easy and can take time and cost money but putting things right once they’ve had chance to go wrong can be much more costly, damaging and time consuming.
TTG can help you to ensure your company’s data security and enhance the effectiveness of your IT systems along the way. Contact us to find out how and to learn about our Plug In and Go services.