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Small Business

This checklist can help you secure your network and critical company data

Every small business needs to protect its network and data from viruses, malware, and other malicious threats. A breach could cost your company not only lost revenue and the expense of recovering damaged systems but also your reputation in the marketplace. “Reputation is lost overnight. It takes a lifetime to get it back,” says Danny Pang, who runs a cyber café, Geek Terminal, in Singapore.

If you don’t currently have any safeguards in place or you’re not sure what they are, where do you start in bolstering your network and data security? Here are six steps you can take to fortify your defenses.

  1. Inventory your network. You should know all the devices that are connected to or accessing your network—from routers and switches, PCs, laptops, and printers to smartphones and tablets. This should also include an inventory of your current security technologies, such as antivirus and malware software, firewall, VPN configurations, and wireless access security settings.
  2. Catalog your information assets. Company data gets stored in many places, including servers, the cloud, and employees’ laptops and smartphones. Make a list of all your company information assets, where they’re stored, and how they’re accessed. In addition, rate the data on how critical it is to your company’s success. This will help you determine the different levels and measures of protection your data needs.
  3. Create an acceptable use policy. It’s easier to enforce the rules when employees know the rules. Developing an acceptable use policy (AUP) establishes the rules for everyone using the company network. It’s not enough, though, to create the policies. You need to communicate them to employees and then enforce the rules. Ongoing employee education  and inclusion are critical components to the success of any company’s AUP.
  4. Prepare for BYOD. Whether you like it or not, employees are not only bringing their personal mobile data devices to the office, they’re using them to connect to your network and access company data. You need protect your critical business information and creating a wireless device usage policy can help. Again, involving and educating employees is key.
  5. Consider the risks. Security is not a “set it and forget it” exercise. You need to be ever vigilant and monitor for a broad range of existing and evolving threats, such as mobile devices, social networking, and the cloud.
  6. Consider plans for growth. While you need to protect the network you currently have and the data that resides on and travels over it, you also should consider your company’s plans for growth in determining your security needs. For example, will you be adding advanced technologies such as VoIP or unified communications to your network and what security implications will that have?

If you don’t have the expertise in-house, assessing your security needs and implementing the solutions may seem daunting. If this is the case with your company, consider calling on an expert. A local Cisco reseller can help you implement the security you need to protect your business today and as your company grows.

Security is about staying at least one step ahead. What measures are you taking to secure your small business network and data.

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