Office network security should be among the top priorities for all office managers.  Over the last three years there has been a steady increase in the amount reported cases of data loss caused by system breaches and negligence.  As the information technology costs of business increase its important to be aware of potential problem areas and find ways to address them.  These ten tips can help you begin your search and help build a proactive and secure office.

10.       Install a strong first line of defense. Not all system attacks are related to newly discovered program vulnerabilities.   A strong firewall/router can make all the difference when it comes to protecting your system data.  As information filters through your firewall you can get a clear picture of potential problems and stop many threats before they ever reach your systems.

9.         Keep your antivirus up to date. Antivirus software is one of the strongest forms of defense against virus and malware threats.  The problem that many businesses don’t address is that if your virus definitions are not kept up to date it’s possible that new viruses and exploits will still get through.

8.         Plan for expansion. When it comes to backup solutions many businesses look no further than the present.  This nearsightedness will result in long term complications as the data needs of the company grow.  If your storage space starts to run low you may find that you are unable to backup your data as often or as completely which will put your company at great risk.

7.         Expand data storage as you need it. With traditional storage systems when storage capacity reaches its limits you would be required to purchase a whole new tape library but this upgrade stress can be alleviated.  A great way to backup data is in a Virtual Storage device.  With a virtual storage solution your storage capabilities can grow organically overtime.  As an added benefit Virtual Storage solutions make it possible for a single user to administer thousands of terabytes of data efficiently.

6.         Establish monitors. Roughly two thirds of the threats that plague businesses happen internally either out of spite or negligence.  Monitor the resources that your employees have access to and ensure that nothing is amiss.  Crucial data should not be accessible by general employees and if it must be available to a large number of users, make sure it is also regularly backed up to a secure location.

5.         Automate your backup. Backing up data isn’t hard but it is easy to forget.  All network data should be systematically backed up and stored securely through an automated process.  A single person should be designated to check on the status of the backup data regularly.  Nothing is worst than a false sense of security.

4.         Plan for recovery times. A strong backup system is a great first step but it’s also important to plan ahead for what it means to fall back on one.  Data recovery from disk based storage is often slow and cumbersome.  Make sure that if you need to recover you will have adequate time to do so.

3.         Shutdown unused services. Modern computer systems ship with numerous programs that are not only unnecessary but could also harm your computer if not used correctly.  Ensure that you know of every program running on your computer and what each of them does.  It’s better to do a little research than to have an unnecessary hole in your system security.

2.         Plan for the worst. Eventually, something will go wrong.  Test your backup and antivirus solutions regularly.   Look for weakness in bandwidth limits, network delays and the potential for human error.  An untested backup solution is as bad as no backup solution.  Not only does it have a high chance of failure but it also gives a false sense of security.  Ensure that if your data fails your company won’t fail with it.

1.         Facilitate a regular patch schedule. This might seem obvious but it really is the most important step in the protection of your office.  New software and operating system vulnerabilities are discovered all the time and if you don’t have a system in place to apply patches, your network is at risk.

– Richard Keene
IT Computer Support of New York
Design and Optimization Department