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Don’t Let Internet Threats Undermine Your Small Business

December 19, 2012
This comes to us from the Pottstown chapter of SCORE. Having just received two spam-type emails from two separate friends’ email accounts that had been hacked, this seemed timely.

Many people often overlook Internet security until word of a new virus or email “worm” hits the headlines.  Even then, it’s easy to assume that existing firewalls and virus software are enough to safeguard computers and precious data.

The fact is that as the Internet has grown in sophistication, so too have the threats to the security of the people who use it.   One technology firm that screens emails for spam and viruses on behalf of small business customers estimates that 3.6 percent of messages contain a virus.  Even if you strive to be alert for suspicious emails, a distraction or familiar-sounding sender is all it takes for one to slip through.

As a business owner, you must be prepared to protect your IT hardware, software, and data resources. The first step is to educate everyone at your business about the dangers and set policies for using the Internet and opening email attachments. For example, don’t let employees use file sharing Web sites and prohibit downloading applications from unknown sites.

All your computers, networks, and email servers should have antivirus software and other security features. Use a firewall to block incoming traffic that is not needed for your business. And, update all operating systems, software, and security measures on a regular basis. Older versions are more vulnerable to attack. If you discover a PC is infected, take it off your network so that fixes can be installed.

Symantec.com offers a full range of anti-virus, anti-spam and computer problem solving solutions for small business. The Small Business Center portion of the firm’s Web site has dozens of articles on computer security and maintenance, such as downloadable publications on protecting Windows operating environments, managing risk, and other timely security topics.

Another helpful information source for computer security is smallbusinesscomputing.com, which provides news, discussion forums, tips for evaluating system security needs, and a buyer’s guide for various security products.  The Security section of Microsoft’s Small Business Center at www.microsoft.com/smallbusiness also provides information to help familiarize yourself with various Internet threats and how to ensure your small business IT resources are fully protected.

To learn more about technology issues facing your small business, contact SCORE “Counselors to America’s Small Business.” SCORE is a nonprofit organization of more than 10,500 volunteer business counselors who provide free, confidential business counseling and training workshops to small business owners. Call 610-327-2673 for the Pottstown SCORE office, or go online at www.pottstownscore.org.

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