How Safe is Your Company?
Security is a very broad subject and involves many different areas of network, server and workstation operation. Preventing malicious software or hacking attempts begins at your firewall. It’s your gateway to the world and that world can be a dangerous place. If you don’t have a firewall, get one. I’ve seen many small companies that plug directly into a cable or DSL modem and that in itself is a bad practice and puts your company at risk. The firewalls built into most operating systems just have too many holes and leave you vulnerable to attacks. Email, network intrusion and viruses are just a few of the threats that wait at your gateway to the world. You have to protect your investment.
You have to do your homework when shopping for a router/firewall. Most routers you buy at the big chain stores are just that, a router and offer minimal protection, but a business needs something robust with the capabilities of blocking attacks from many angles. No firewall/router is 100% secure, but there are big differences that make some much more secure.
Cisco is a good brand and fairly secure depending on which model you buy. Some of the “small business” routers just don’t have enough protection for your business. Barracuda is another good firewall and offers software based protection but again, do your homework.
I use SonicWALL for several reasons;
- Service based protection in the firewall stops most attacks before they get to your network.
- A Gateway anti-virus is available that monitors all the computers and servers on your network. If an infection is found, it stops network access to the infected machine so it doesn’t spread.
- Deep packet inspection prevents malicious code from getting to your network.
- Intrusion prevention keeps your network from being hacked.
- Gateway anti-virus and anti-spyware stops adware and other variants from passing into your network.
All these features and many more make it a secure gateway to the world for your company.
Just like selecting a good router, you have to do your homework when selecting an anti-virus software. The market is flooded with anti-virus software, some free, some subscription based. Do your research. Some of these are resource hogs, (i.e.) use a lot of processor and memory, and leave your workstation or server slow. It’s not as much of a problem with today’s hardware, but it is still a consideration when choosing a product that is right for your company.
I mentioned that SonicWALL has a gateway anti-virus that works with the router/firewall to protect your business. It’s a good product and takes the security a step further. The combination of the SonicWALL and the Gateway anti-virus increases your chances of not getting a virus or hacked.
My experience is most companies provide email without email security or email gateway. My most recent experience was with a local company that had a nationally known domain registrar hosting their email and one of the workstations still got a hijack virus. If you’re not familiar with the hijack variants, it encrypts your files and makes then inaccessible then emails you and asks for money to have the encryption removed. It came in the form of an email attachment and looked legitimate as if it were from a company he had dealings with regularly. Only one of the workstations was infected but it lost everything. This person spent 5 hours on the phone with an anti-virus software company and 6 hours with Microsoft and still did not get the files back. The workstation and to be reloaded and the documents had to be recreated. You can imagine how devastating this would be. Email security protection may have prevented this tragedy.
There are many different email providers and many different hardware and software devices available. Some cost and others are free. If your company email is hosted by another company; always ask if they use email security. The company I mentioned assumed they had email security, but when they called, they were told that is an extra charge, so they were without protection.
When it comes to security you have to cover all your bases. The threats are everywhere and in every form. If you don’t have an IT department, hire a professional to advise you on the risks involved and how to lessen the chances of being a victim of a cyber threat. Companies all over the world are under attack and you see it in the news almost every week. Don’t let your company be the next victim.
Eric Evans, Owner
Digital Data Services LLC.