Security Risks For Small Businesses

The digital world is riddled with dangers these days.  Since so much business is conducted over the internet, there is more and more opportunity for hackers to wreak havoc and steal personal data.  How can you protect your business from these sorts of dangers?  It’s a good question, and one that has a few different answers.

Compliance Standards For Different Industries

Depending on what industry your business is in, you may have to prove that you are compliant with industry standard security practices, such as HIPPA.  However, if you’re just a small business or a startup, this can be daunting.  Getting help from an IT company that provides managed services might be a great idea rather than having to hire IT staff for such a small company.  Larger companies can either hire dedicated IT staff or outsource security considerations to a managed IT company.

Ensuring Employee Education

Because many data breaches occur because of ignorance on behalf of employees, it’s important to ensure that your employees are educated on how to spot phishing attempts and fraudulent phone calls.  Having company meetings that go over this important information can be a great step in building a team that is vigilant against security threats.  Many phishing emails take advantage of secretaries and other employees that are unaware of these sorts of scams.

Telling employees not to visit risky internet neighborhoods on company computers or phones is also critical, as is the complete ban on downloading any software or apps onto company computers before they are cleared by either management or the IT department.

Proper Backups And System Protections

In the event of a malware intrusion such as ransomware, having a proper backup of servers or important information is critical to recovery.  As you might know, paying the ransomware creators is never the right option.  Rather than spending thousands for help recovering files, it’s much easier if you have good offsite backups that are made on a regular basis.  This is another area where a managed IT solution can help out.  According to San Diego based IT company AMA Networks ( ) it can be very easy to set up a backup system that runs quietly without the need for much input at all from users.  Backups to the cloud are an excellent option as well.

Outsourcing Your IT Security

If you have a small to medium sized business or organization and you can’t quite afford the cost of a full-time IT staff on hand, then outsourcing your IT needs to a managed IT company is a great idea.  This way you can ration out IT needs that you can’t handle yourself.   You can then ensure they are done properly and comply with industry standards.  This is a small price to pay if it will prevent costly data breaches that could sink your business.  We highly recommend that you hire local IT companies rather than going with larger nationwide conglomerates as you’ll get a more personalized service and attention to detail that might be missed with a larger IT company.

Safe Ways To Handle Your Data

datasafetyWhen it comes to your data that you have sitting on your computer, then there are a few things to keep in mind.  That data isn’t guaranteed to always be there in a fail-safe manner.  Things can and do go wrong, from viruses to physical malfunction.  However there are a few things that you can do to mitigate the risks and ensure that your data can be recovered in the event that something can and does go horribly wrong.  Whatever you decide to do – all or some of these tips – you can rest much easier knowing that you’ve done your best to have an “insurance” policy against data loss.

It only takes one time to seriously lose data to ensure that someone takes steps to protect their data and start a reliable backup program.  This happened to me with my video editing computer – of course whist I was in the middle of a project.  My power supply unit went out, but unfortunately it wasn’t as simple as that.  The PSU took out my hard drive with it.  It was an incredibly annoying (as well as slightly costly) thing to repair.  I didn’t have all my files backed up on physical drives – but I DID have all my files mostly backed up on Backblaze.  Thankfully this online backup tool saved me hours and hours of work – some things that I could never get back.

Backblaze is one of the latest in a new generation of automated online cloud backup programs.  They silently run in the background, uploading all of your data to their servers.  In the event that your computer or physical drives fail, you can download your data from their servers or have them ship you the data on a hard drive (depending on how much you need and what your needs are).

So my first tip to you is to sign up for one of these services.   It’s about $9 a month, but it’s the best insurance policy you can ever take out for your data.  You won’t forget to make the backups (most people always forget to run physical backups) and they’ll be stored “off site” meaning if your house burns down, taking your computer AND your physical hard drive backups with it, you’ll still have your data.

This is an invaluable piece of protection for people such as photographers and other artists that have irreplaceable data on their computers.  Many people have the backups on the hard drives, but those are prone to failure too – as well as vulnerable to disasters such as fires.

Having TWO backups – one physical with you and one in the cloud is just about the safest way to store your data.

Another thing that you should do is to protect your PC from data mining and destroying software and spyware.  Spyware is different from viruses – and many spyware programs often sneak by antivirus software.  This is a good reason to employ good anti-malware software into your operating system.  It’s mostly seamless and you can have it run on a scheduled scan.  These programs will find and remove malware that could have installed itself without your knowledge.

I once had the Conduit adware install itself on my computer when I downloaded a freeware program to open .rar files.  I should have known better…but there I was.  I had to use Spyhunter to get rid of it, and that worked pretty well.  However, some software is much more malicious than Conduit was.

PC Problems?

cleanupcomputerIf you’re having PC problems you’re not alone – I get the most emails from people experiencing what I call the “usual suspects” of computer ailments.  Slow performance, hangs, crashes, error messages.  Add in some malware and spyware as well as a dose of the occasional virus and worm, and you’ll see what I usually deal with on a day to day basis.  Oh and last but not least (but not really the case all the time) is hardware malfunction.

The best way to diagnose your computer is to understand what you’re dealing with.  The most common complaint that I get is that the computer is slow, sluggish, and takes forever to boot up.  This is usually caused by a few common culprits.

First off, do you have spyware lurking on your computer?  Spyware and malware can often sneak onto your computer without your knowledge and hog resources.  It’s very easy to miss the covert installation of a malware program until it’s too late.  Often these programs will take over your browser, you’ll see pop up windows, or something seems “amiss”.  The easiest thing to do?  Run a spyware removal software program.  These programs are designed to make it easy to get rid of rogue software that has found its way onto your computer.

If you’re dealing with file and software clutter, the easiest thing to do is to clean out your PC. Use a program such as PC Health Advisor or CCleaner in order to get rid of unnecessary files and folders, excess registry entries, prevent programs from starting up when you boot your computer, and more.

As computers age it’s often the copious software programs installed on them that are running in the background hogging resources that are the culprits.  You tend to forget just how many programs you’ve installed on your computer until you go back and look at the list.

If you’re not opposed to spending a little bit of money on your computer you could spring for some additional memory.  Physical memory, or RAM is the single most effective way to speed up a computer physically.  RAM is the measure of how much the computer can do at once before it has to start shuffling things around while you work.  The more RAM, the faster your computer will run.  RAM will not help with certain things like graphics rendering, but it WILL enable you to run those graphics creation programs more effectively.

The only other thing I can say is that if you don’t have an effective backup plan in place then you’re shooting yourself in the foot and you’re going to be sorry later.  You will always want to spend money on a backup program such as Backblaze.  You can set it and forget it.  In the event your computer physically breaks, is damaged, or stolen, your files will be safely in the cloud ready for you.  Trust me I’ve been there and I can’t tell you how useful it was that I had Backblaze running in the background at all times.