An IT security checklist for SMEs

Effective IT security is a must for any business, as even seemingly minor security breaches can be damaging on so many levels. Here, Jackie Wake from GFI Software offers a quickfire SME IT security checklist to help you cover all the important bases.

Effective IT security is a must for any business, as even seemingly minor security breaches can be damaging on so many levels. Here, IT guru Jackie Wake offers a quickfire SME IT security checklist to help you cover all the important bases.

1. Know your network
Knowing what devices are connected to your network, and being able to easily check their operating systems and software installs is the first step. It sounds simple, but many IT admins have probably worked with asset spreadsheets in the past, and know the reality of this task (and it’s not a nice reality).

By using a dedicated asset tracking service instead of manually updating unwieldy spreadsheets, IT admins can reduce the time of this manual task. Eliminating data entry human errors is a bonus too!

2. Educate your employees
Employees are often the weak link in IT security. It’s up to the business owner to educate their employees on the importance of complex passwords, for example.

Most users don’t always understand technology – and can’t be expected to keep up with the latest cyber threats. For example, a phishing email that’s obvious to an IT admin may prove completely believable to a non-techie. One click and a virus can infect an unprotected network. It’s vital to work with employees to ensure they know what the IT security risks are.

3. Use top-quality antivirus software
Of course no matter how much you educate someone, there will always be that one person who clicks on something they shouldn’t have. The use of antivirus is essential, but don’t get complacent and assume that all antivirus solutions are equal. Do your research and choose a solution that’s robust, effective and fast – and easy to deploy and centrally manage.

4. Remember patch management
Antivirus doesn’t provide protection against everything. In fact, some of the more high profile security breaches in recent times were due to vulnerabilities in web plugins and add-ons. It’s vital to have an effective patch management process and schedule in place – and to stick to it! Be sure to patch third-party products as well as core operating systems.

5. Protect users online
Phishing emails are just one way people can be tricked into compromising business information (and personal information) when online. Malicious URLs can also be spread by social media or from links on other websites.

A web filtering solution is another line of defence against cyber criminals. This helps protect employees and therefore your network by blocking websites known to be malicious.

6. Proactively monitor
Nothing you do to ensure IT security matters if you turn your back and wait for problems to come to you. Proactive monitoring is key to running an effective IT department, so install a monitoring solution, and, most importantly, use it. You will be alerted when there are problems and, in some cases, able to fix them without having to disturb the employee at work.

Ensuring strong IT security is a major responsibility. Your employees will always need to be reminded but it is possible to make your life a little less stressful by putting in place layers of IT security with asset tracking, antivirus, patch management, performance monitoring and web protection.

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