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10 security rules for SMEs

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Cybercrime in South Africa is increasing at epidemic proportions and small to medium businesses have turned into key targets for cybercriminals. Small businesses rarely recover from cyber-attacks, but there are some very simple steps you can take to protect your business, says DOROS HADJIZENONOS, sales manager at Check Point South Africa.

1. Common Passwords are Bad Passwords

Passwords are your first line of defense when it comes to security. Cybercriminals trying to break into your network will start their attack by trying the most common passwords. Ensure your employees and users are using long (over 8 characters), complex (include lower case, upper case, numbers and non-alpha characters) passwords.

2. Secure Every Entrance

Consider all the ways someone could enter your network, then ensure that only authorised users can do so.

Ensure strong passwords on laptops, smartphones, tablets, and WIFI access points.

Use a Firewall with Threat Prevention to protect access to your network (like the Check Point 600 Appliance).

Secure your endpoints (laptops, desktops) with security software such as Anti-virus, Anti-SPAM and Anti-Phishing.

Image courtesy of shutterstock.com

3. Segment Your Network

A way to protect your network is to separate your network into zones and protect the zones appropriately. One zone may be for critical work only, where another may be a guest zone where customers can surf the internet, but not access your work network.

4. Define, Educate and Enforce Policy

Actually HAVE a security policy (many small businesses don’t) and use your Threat Prevention device to its full capacity. Spend some time thinking about what applications you want to allow in your network and what apps you do NOT want to run in your network. Educate your employees on acceptable use of the company network. Make it official. Then enforce it where you can. Monitor for policy violations and excessive bandwidth use.

5. Be Socially Aware

Social Media sites are a gold mine for cybercriminals looking to gain information on people, improving their success rate for attacks. Attacks such as phishing, and spearphishor social engineering all start with collecting personal data on individuals.

6. Encrypt Everything

One data breach could be devastating to your company or your reputation. Protect your data by encrypting sensitive data. And make it easy for your employees to do so.

7. Maintain your Network Like Your Car

Your network, and all its connected components, should run like a well-oiled machine. Regular maintenance will ensure it continues to roll along at peak performance and hit few speed bumps.

8. Cloud Caution

Cloud storage and applications are all the rage. But be cautious. Any content that is moved to the cloud is no longer in your control. And cybercriminals are taking advantage of weaker security of some Cloud providers.

9. Don’t Let Everyone Administrate

Laptops can be accessed via user accounts or administrative accounts. Administrative access allows users much more freedom and power on their laptops, but that power moves to the cybercriminal if the administrator account is hacked.

10. Address the BYOD Elephant in the Room

Start with creating a Bring-Your-Own-Device policy. Many companies have avoided the topic, but it’s a trend that continues to push forward. Don’t avoid the elephant in the room! It comes back to educating the user.

Consider allowing only guest access (internet only) for employee owned devices.

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