Cruz got a call that no one ever wants to receive--from the FBI, telling him that several of their customers had received fraudulent credit card charges. This led to finding out that the company's Netopia DSL routers had been hacked, and their firmware had been changed to allow hackers inside their network.
The stores now use SonicWall integrated security devices, and Cruz has implemented password change policies and other security procedures to ensure that he won't get a repeat of what happened before. Such an approach can help an SMB keep private information secure. Another good policy: Ensure that all network access is turned off when an employee leaves the company.
4. Use a VPN
Many larger IT shops make use of virtual private networks (VPNs) to ensure that their communications are kept confidential, and that traveling users can access home office files and other resources when on the road. Many of these VPN products can be quite expensive, but the SMB alternatives don't have to cost a lot of money.
Some, such as Openvpn.org, are free, while low-cost VPN service providers such as LogMeIn.com's Hamachi can run about US$50 per person per year. "Hamachi allows us to connect to hundreds of our customers and monitor live videos of our security cameras discreetly and without having to worry about being compromised by unauthorized users," says Ben Molloy, the vice president of the company that provides security for off-hours construction sites.
And VPNs come integrated in a variety of lower-cost security gateway appliances, too. Nanette Lepore makes use of the SSL VPNs that are included in the SonicWall appliances to connect their stores together, and to ensure that no one can compromise their communications.
The Lepore firm even set up temporary accounts for guest workers and maintenance personnel that are purposely time-limited. Granting accounts for temporary personnel without such time limits is another common mistake. Time-limited accounts mean that the IT staff doesn't have to remember to remove the account when the maintenance is completed.
5. Run Personal Firewalls, Especially on Windows PCs
Windows is notorious for being a security sinkhole, and most larger IT operations now require their PCs to run some kind of personal firewall to prevent infections and malware from taking over. A wide range of products is available, but the key is to pick one, make it standard, and make sure that all employees are educated about why it is necessary to keep the firewall running at all times, especially when traveling. Inexpensive but effective firewalls include AVG from Grisoft.com, Online Armour, and Kaspersky Labs.