Warning: your data could be under threat

* Make sure anti-virus software is up-to-date. Keep these monitored as new security patches are released regularly. In addition, all new desktops and laptops should be fitted with the necessary anti-virus software.

* Remove infected computers from the network immediately. This will restrict the spread of viruses and lessen the impact on your network and potential data loss.

* Update browsers where possible. Web browsers can often be vulnerable to attacks, and may spread viruses across your network. Protect against this by upgrading browsers to the latest versions.

* Be mindful of physical security. Don’t leave passwords or critical information written down where they can be seen, or computers and phones unintended, and shred waste documents that contain sensitive information.

* Restrict applications that have access to the network. Consider which of your staff really needs remote access onto networks through laptops or mobile devices and only grant these the authority to do so. This will limit security threats and potential for data loss through human error.

* Beware of loss or theft. Employees’ laptops, mobiles and electronic storage devices may go missing or stolen containing sensitive and critical company data. Ensure missing equipment is reported as soon as possible so data breach procedures can be put into place.

* Back up your data. Hardware failure, human error or security breaches can bring down an IT system. For small businesses in particular, it’s critical to back up often as the costs of losing important information could have huge ramifications to the future of the business. For example, accidently deleting customer data kept on just one server would mean the loss of year’s worth of precious information in one swoop.

* Use a respected back-up service to provide an extra level of security. Employees of small businesses have to wear many hats and may not be IT specialists. This can increase concern over hardware failure and sensitive data being corrupted. Quality back-up services can restore lost data providing peace of mind that critical information is protected, should the worst happen.

Thomas Vollrath is CEO of Webfusion

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