Keep Your Guard Up

Inside Job

Sadly, current employees and disgruntled ex-workers are the most common violators of company data. However, there are precautions you can take to minimize this risk.

SecureWin Technologies offers a desktop security solution and a line of client/server products to centrally install and manage security applications. One of its products, SecureWin 2.0, offers a well-rounded security solution with features like Secure Boot to prevent unauthorized system access, Secure Delete to remove sensitive files, and centrally administered control over user access to programs and files.

SecureWin also offers high-quality e-mail and file encryption features. Even if you're not familiar with public-private key encryption, SecureWin makes it easy to protect files by scrambling their contents so they can't be read. The Automatic Encryption feature provides transparent file and folder encryption and decryption, so files on your desktop or network are automatically decrypted when opened and re-encrypted when saved or closed. There's also a Secure Sign-on feature that allows one-time-use identification through a single password prompt during login, limiting access to network resources. SecureWin Desktop Edition 2.0 costs $49.95 for an individual license or $450 for a 10-seat license; SecureWin 2.0 Small Business Server costs $495.

Computer viruses also pose a significant threat to small-business data security. Every company should make use of a good anti-virus program like Symantec's Norton AntiVirus (Version 5.0 for Macintosh or version 4.0 for Windows 95, 98 and NT costs $69.95.) Norton AntiVirus provides continuous virus protection that runs invisibly while you work, one year of free virus definition updates, and protection against new viruses.

Sometimes, data can be compromised by employees who delete or harm computer files accidentally. The best way to protect your business is to back up your data. Back up your hard drive before installing any new programs and perform regular backups weekly or even daily, if possible. It's also a good idea to unarchive backup data occasionally to make sure your system is working properly.

Finally, no security plan is complete without a written security policy distributed companywide that provides clear rules on how your organization manages, protects and distributes information. Digital Magic, for instance, has a policy that requires all its clients' disks and Internet files to be scanned, and all its employees to have anti-virus software installed on their machines. A good data policy also covers issues like employee access to information stored in hard-copy files and digital format, remote user access, and data backup procedures. Also, clearly outline what must be done when employees are terminated, such as automatic restriction of rights to online accounts or networks.

No computer system is ever 100 percent secure. The important thing is to minimize your major security risks by implementing the best security precautions you can afford. If you're on a tight budget, take advantage of inexpensive solutions such as passwords, user IDs and data backup. That way, you can rest easy knowing you're doing all you can to protect your valuable business data.

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This article was originally published in the October 1998 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Keep Your Guard Up.

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