Improving Computer Security

The media often highlights the worst aspects of the Internet. The fear of credit card fraud has made many people wary about using a credit card on line. The reality is that credit card details are often more secure on line than they are in the real world. Your credit card details are given to so many people but how often does the media expose credit card fraud that is not Internet related?

In every aspect of life there is risk, and steps to minimise risk and adopt standards of security must always be weighted against the likelihood of loss, the cost of loss and the cost of increased security. At some stage, the cost of security will be far greater than the loss weighted against the risk of loss.

There are some simple ways that one can minimise the risk of loss to your business, without spending a lot of money. Much of risk management of computer data is related to good protocol.

Do not open email attachments that look suspicious before first verifying the contents with the sender. Instruct and regularly remind staff to do likewise.

Install of virus checker on your computers.

Buy a router with a firewall.

Back up your data on a regular basis and store the CD's in a secure place. Don't back up important information on floppy disks as they can be affected by magnetism or other factors and easily destroyed. User external harddrives to mirror data that is on your computers.

Commit passwords to memory. Do not make passwords too complicated to remember or too easy to guess. Make sure employees do not compromise the security of your organization by leaving passwords stuck to their monitors.

Do not leave a computer logged in, in an area that is not secured.

Protect server rooms with adequate security, from flood and fire. Make sure back up tapes are stored in a different location because you don't want them burned in the same fire that burns your server room.

Routinely make hard paper copies of your important data summaries and store in a secure place.

Have a contingency plan in place, if a loss does occur and plan your response to that loss. A plan is better than no plan, when an event strikes and even if it isn't a perfect plan. Ideally the plan should be a written document, with worse case scenario and the steps to follow when a breach of security has occurred. The plan should detail what to do, who to call, and could even be as detailed as having a written response to customers. Customer and supplier addresses and contact details should be kept up to date at all times, to ensure that all parties are contacted and notified. The telephone numbers of law enforcement agencies and anyone associated with each area of security needs to be documented and kept in a central location. Staff need to be educated to refer to security protocol. No one thinks clearly in an emergency and a written plan, will form the basis of a decisive response, that will minimize the impact of the breach. Every company and business no matter how big or small is vulnerable to security threats and by documenting security protocol, better procedures can be implemented to prevent breaches from occuring in the first place.

Larger companies should have a member of their I.T. staff on security duties taking inventories of computer hardware, instructing staff on security protocol and ensuring that the security procedures are being adhered to.Breaches of security are mainly due to people not following simple security protocol and becoming complacent about the need for security.

Make sure you have applied the latest updates or patches for your computer software. Computer software is evolving and as a user, you need to be aware that you have not purchased a finished product so much as a work in progress. If many web administrators had applied the recommended patches and home users the patches to windows, many would have saved themselves a lot of late nights and angst from computer viruses infecting their computers.

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