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network_securityIs
your network secure from intruders – both internally and externally?
Are your employee’s Internet habits costing you money by introducing
viruses and countering their productivity?Certainly many security breaches are internal and often not
intentional. But cybercrime is also on the increase and companies
need to be vigilant. What can small companies do to protect
themselvesHere are some essential first steps…

Get up to speed on just where your network and internet security
might be vulnerable and how to deal with it. Contact a computer
expert who specializes in internet security and have them assess
your networks vulnerabilities.

Be alert to the various internet security scams out there and how
to deal with them. Fraud schemes include the increasingly popular
‘spoofing’ which involves the use of special software designed to
falsify the sender’s address on an email. This can be used to obtain
money, trade secrets, company research, passwords and other data
from businesses. Software can monitor the latest scams and offers a
free email alert service. Security software such as Mimesweeper can
run automatic integrity checks on emails.

Virus control software such as Norton and McAfee is a must. The
biggest damage to your network can be done by staff downloading
unauthorized software, email attachments or porn from the internet.
Screening technology such as 3com’s Firewall 25 for small
businesses, help control unauthorized access to your network as well
as preventing staff accessing unsuitable Web sites. These might
contain viruses or even ‘Trojans’ – software designed to siphon the
contents of your hard disk and mail it to another email address.

One simple way to protect sensitive data – such as customer
details – from hackers is simply by not storing this information on
your Internet server. Any Internet machine permanently linked to a
network increases the risk of hacking. Hackers generally target
large, high-profile corporations rather than small businesses but
you could be a target of industrial espionage, particularly if you
develop leading edge technology or other highly competitive
products. Hackers outside the company look for loopholes in your
internet security systems, typically, glitches in software.

Check with your software provider (usually via their Web site) on
a regular basis for news of security loopholes and their remedies,
such as downloadable ‘patches’.

Review your security policy annually. The threat of serious theft
or corruption, though, often comes from disgruntled employees. Do
you spring-clean passwords regularly? How many ex-employees still
have their passwords?

Issue written security procedures and ensure staff are properly
trained. Otherwise a hacker will simply call up and ask for a
password – it’s that simple!