IT security isn’t just for major corporations, businesses of all sizes need to consider how to stay safe online. For small business owners it may not seem like a priority on the long list of things that need their attention but it is increasingly important.

One concern is the private data held by businesses of all types, something that’s a very attractive target to criminals. The major data security breaches such as the TalkTalk and Ashley Madison hacks make headlines worldwide, but there are smaller incidents all the time. Among the many other problems it causes, firms suffering such breaches take a reputational hit. It has even resulted in bankruptcies.

In a recent survey by Broadband Genie, they found that 41% would not continue to use a service in the event of a data leak. Notably, 57% said it would depend on how the company responded.

This is just one reason why it can pay to secure your files and computer hardware. It also doesn’t have to be expensive or time consuming.

Business broadband security

Many small businesses will use a business broadband service off a major ISP which runs on consumer level connections. These are inexpensive and generally offer sufficient speed and bandwidth to serve anyone from independent traders to firms with a handful of employees.

Most ISPs will supply a wireless router for accessing the internet and sharing it over wired or wireless connections. The router will include some security features such as an integrated firewall for blocking malicious communications and provide some functionality for filtering web sites. However the ISP supplied routers are usually very basic. Investing in a higher end model will improve Wi-Fi reception and allow the router to handle more devices at once, as well as offering a greater array of features for security and convenience.

Either way, you should always change the router password from the default settings so malicious hackers are not able to easily circumvent your security, and the Wi-Fi should always be password protected so only authorised users can access it.

And of course every computer should be fitted with anti-virus software to protect against malicious software. It’s especially important to safeguard web browsers as this is a major vector for attackers. This does not have to cost anything – free anti-virus tools such as Avast! or Panda are very efficient – but buying a business licence for every computer in your office can give access to some useful management tools.

Should you BYOD?

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) is the snappy name for allowing employees to use their personal smartphones, tablets or laptops for work. The attraction for the employer is reduced equipment costs, while employees get to use hardware they are comfortable and familiar with, improving productivity.

However the danger of BYOD is that it becomes more difficult to implement a rigorous and consistent IT security policy. You don’t know what software may be installed, and a computer virus caught at home could be transferred to work. There’s also the danger of a personal device being lost and exposing confidential data.

Any business using BYOD should consider the dangers it may present and have a policy to reduce the impact. Security software such as anti-virus should be standard across the board. Passwords and private files must be protected from unauthorised users with management tools and encryption, and employers should have a way to control access to private data so it cannot be used should a device be misplaced.

Another consideration is that even if you supply the equipment there will still be personal equipment in the office. If you do not wish to allow them to connect to your network you’ll need to restrict access to authorised hardware, though as an alternative you could use a guest network so employees and visitors can access the internet but are restricted from seeing shared drives or network devices such as printers.

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