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Securing your data in times of economic uncertainty. Are you doing enough?
by Bridget McPhillips

In hard times business owners need to focus their efforts and make sure they are working as efficiently and effectively as possible. During times of uncertainty it is important to make sure you are getting the most out of your business, by maximizing your operating procedures. It is equally as important to be certain that you have adequate security measures in place and that they are performing to expectation. Knowing that you are protecting your company as well as the information of your customers will bring peace of mind to you and your clients as well.

Most companies are aware of external threats to their systems and data, but fail to recognize the threats that are present within their organization. At some point, your company may find itself compromised by an employee who abuses their access to your business computer system and data stored there in. These circumstances can stem from a disgruntled employee, a former employee or perhaps one who finds themselves in the midst of a personal financial crisis. Protecting your business by implementing security measures that will block these attacks is another element in maximizing your operating procedures.

The advances in technology make everyday business operations more convenient, but introduce a whole new set of risks. Intellectual property, trade secrets, proprietary data, customer lists, and personally identifiable information (PII) are all types of information typically stored on business computer systems. This information needs to be safeguarded to ensure the growth and prosperity of your business operations. There are also legal requirements for securing PII that you should be aware of. Ensure your computer network is in good security health to help protect your company in these challenging business times. The following is a top ten list of things to consider or reconsider to ensure your business computer system and data are secure:

* Apply a banner to your network computer system. Notify employees that the system and all of the data and property contained on the system belong to the company and that they should not expect any privacy associated with their use of the system. This includes any personal business that your employees may choose to conduct on the office computers.
* Check the access levels that each employee has to the information on the system. Is everything open and available to everyone to see and access? Organizing your systems so that employees only have access to information that is required for them to successfully complete their job function eliminates the temptation to look at, access or take copies of things that have nothing to do with them.
* Have unique logon ids and passwords for each user and enable the logging capabilities on you system. Shared login and passwords may be easier but facilitate unaccountable behavior. When something does go wrong, it will be much more difficult to identify who was involved and what happened when everyone shares the same login and password.
* Make sure you are aware of the devices that are being used in your organization. The introduction of flash drives, PDAs, cell phones with internet capabilities, and blue tooth technology allow information to be accessed, altered, and copied in some instances without ever touching your networked computer.
* Secure your wireless networks. Open networks offer your paid resource to anyone who wants to partake. In addition, it also opens your network and information to be accessed by anyone within range to connect.
* Consider wireless network encryption software. This software encrypts all of the incoming and outgoing transmissions from you network.
* Back up your data on a regular basis. Industry standard advises backing up with two separate sources on alternate days.
* Passwords. Make sure that your hardware devices are not utilizing the default passwords. Promptly disable accounts and passwords of employees who have left your service.
* Limit the access to certain websites through your systems. It is unbelievable the number of employees that will spend time on Facebook, online dating sites, and You-Tube instead of doing their work. In addition to the lost productivity, accessing files from these sites and unknown sources opens your system to exposure to malware, viruses, adware and other programs that will use system resources and provide a route of entry for hackers to your system.
* Remind employees not to open emails and attachment from unknown and un-trusted sources.

It only takes a small amount of time and effort to ensure that your company’s data and systems are secure. By implementing procedures that protect your company and it’s data systems, you are improving the product and services for your clients as well as providing yourself some additional peace of mind.

Bridget McPhillips is a former FBI Special Agent with more than 8 years of federal investigative expertise focusing in Cybercrime, Counter-Terrorism, Financial and Healthcare Fraud. Ms. McPhillips is currently the President of Net Tech IC LLC, an Internet and Technology Investigative Consulting Company. If you would like to learn more about Ms. McPhillips or the services her firm offers please explore