How to shield your office from Net monsters

Written by Vineet Sood | Vineet Sood | Updated: Mar 31 2011, 07:52am hrs
The Internet is all-pervasive and has moved from a surfing destination to the place to do business. The SMB segment today depends on the worldwide web to locate customers, transact business, build relationships with key audience and generate awareness. But, the very tools that propel growth can also leave them more vulnerable to risks beyond their

four walls.

After all, information is the backbone of their business and the best way to prevent any mishaps is to be careful, attentive and adopt effective practices.

The Symantec Internet Security Threat Report (ISTR XV) has some tips that can help SMBs address such threats. The report is a recap of all of the threats posed to businesses and consumers in 2009. Here are the threats and the tips to counter them:

Credit card information was the most commonly advertised item for sale on underground economy servers known to Symantec for R40 to R1,415 per credit card number.

Safeguard financial data: The numbers from Symantecs ISTR XV show that more than ever financial information is a hot commodity, particularly credit card data. Be sure to implement an integrated security solution to safeguard your financial data.

In 2009, physical theft or loss accounted for 37% of data breaches that could lead to identity thefta decrease from 48% in 2008.

Educate employees: Prevent a data breach by educating your employees on the importance of protecting their devices. Good, common-sense best practices are part of the solution for protecting data. Do not leave your mobile device lying around for others to pick it up. Deploy technology that delivers a unified solution to discover, monitor, and protect confidential data wherever it is stored or used.

In 2009, India had the highest occurrence of worms and viruses within Asia-Pac and Japan region. With, less than 20% of IT budgets being spent on security, Indian SMBs have the lowest deployment rate of security solutions across the APJ region.

Implement more than just antivirus: As the number and sophistication of Web-based viruses and malicious code continues to threaten businesses, SMBs need to be secured with more than just traditional antivirus technology. There is a need to employ defence-in-depth strategies for employees and other end-users, including an integrated end-point security solution and security patch updates. Anti-virus definitions and intrusion prevention signatures must be updated regularly, and all desktops, laptops, and servers should also be updated with security patches. Also, make sure to enable the security settings on Web browsers and disable file sharing.

In 2009, spam made up 88% of all email observed by Symantec.

Dont be lured in by spammers and phishers: To shield themselves from cyber criminals, SMBs must deploy proper email security solutions, including spam prevention that protects company reputation and manages risks. It is important for SMBs to know to delete all spam and avoid clicking on suspicious links in email or IM messages. In addition, never open unknown email attachments, and do not fill out forms in messages that ask for personal or financial information or passwords. Hacking accounted for 60% of the identities exposed in 2009, a marked increase from 22% in 2008. Be aware! Awareness of the risks and available safeguards are the first lines of defence for the security of information systems and networks. Technology alone cannot secure an organisation. Create and enforce policies that identify and restrict applications that can access your network and ensure employees follow best practices when they work remotely.

The writer is head, channel & alliances, Symantec India