Small offices and Home Offices typically have a cable or DSL modem that attaches the Internet to the network with a broadband connection. This is an ideal environment for someone to be scanning the network for weaknesses or installing Malware at high speeds. With full time broadband Internet having Layered Security is the best chance for the small office to have good computer security.
Anti Malware at a minimum is recommended for the following devices in a Small Office Network:
- Desktop Computers – Use Anti Malware with firewall, Security Suite without firewall
- Laptops – Use Security Suite
- PDA’s and Smartphone – Use Mobile Anti Malware and theft tracking
- Servers – File, Email and Web – Use Anti Malware
- Gateway devices if applicable – Use Anti Malware
We recommend setting the Anti Malware to check for updates every hour and scheduling deep scans once a week during slow computer use times.
TIP: If you want to put Anti Malware and\or Firewall software on a server, make sure that it is designed specifically for that server. Server installers can be designed much differently than desktop installers. Personal Firewall Software is not well suited for servers and can cause more problems than they prevent.
TIP: Do not put more than one Anti Malware solution on any machine because they can conflict, diminishing your protection! With the way real time scanners work it is getting more difficult to find compatible scanners that are worth their salt to work together, so be careful when “mixing and matching”.
For Anti Malware Products
For Security Suite Products
While small offices and home computers have a less complex set of security needs than larger businesses, the process of determining optimal protection is similar (although simpler). We’ve outlined below the eight steps you should take to figure out the security you need for your data.
Step 1: Identify what’s valuable to you.
First, identify what data is valuable, where it is, and who has access to it. We’ve provided some suggestions for how best to tackle this important first step here.
Step 2: Back it up
Get an automatic backup process in place to recover valuable data when (not if) you need to. The process should include incremental backups so you always have the latest version of your most important data backed up.
Step 3: Firewalls
Use a software firewall at the Internet gateway – in other words, at the DSL or cable modem where your Internet connection comes in. If you use dial-up, this does not apply but we still recommend having a personal Firewall. See also Step 6 – Laptops below.
Step 4 – Anti Malware
The most efficient way to tackle malware is with a security suite that provides protection against a number of different threat types in one package. With a single package containing anti-spyware, anti-virus, and often anti-spam, a firewall, and more, suites can save a lot of money and hassle because all the different pieces have been specifically written to work together. All you need to do is set it to scan your computer regularly for malware and make sure you keep it up to date.
Step 5 – Updates
Make sure you apply security updates – sometimes called ‘patches’ – whenever they become available for the operating system, browser, and applications you use most regularly. Programs like Quicken, QuickBooks, Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, Publisher, Power Point etc.), have regular update schedules (Microsoft, for example, has ‘patch Tuesday’ on the second Tuesday of every month).You can set your computer to automatically check for updates for many of these programs.
Step 6 – Laptops
If you regularly carry around a laptop with valuable data on it, one of the best protection moves you can make is to encrypt the data. If you travel a lot, you might also want to consider a theft tracking program in case it gets stolen. A personal firewall is essential for laptops, especially if you make frequent use of free WiFi hotspots and other access points, where the security is not under your control.
Step 7 – Laptop Security
If you set up a wireless access point for your home or business, it should be configured to use both authentication and encryption. For authentication, make sure you change the initial login for the wireless access point from “Admin” and “Password” (or what ever it was by default) to something more secure. For encryption, opt for WPA over WEP; WPA encrypts data in transit so it can’t be intercepted by hackers “sniffing” data entering and leaving the wireless network.
Step 8 – Mobile phones and PDAs
Mobile phones and PDAs are really cut-down computers these days, and they need the same level of protection as any other device that can access the Internet and send and receive messages. Because there’s less protection available as yet for these devices, make extra sure you install manufacturers’ updates and patches as soon as they become available.