Are you safe from the World Wide Web?

In this day and age, most of us are dependent on IT to some extent. Without our computer systems and company data, many businesses would cease to function loosing thousands, if not millions of pounds worth of business in a very short space of time.

The internet is one of the biggest threats to a business’s security. If used incorrectly and without protection, the web can jeopardize network and data integrity, and ultimately threaten business.

The use of professionally written, intelligent and well executed viral code is becoming widespread. Not only that, but it is now mostly a covert operation. Infections today are less openly destructive than they used to be with writers all too aware that they can extract useful and valuable data that has a financial worth – such as credit card and bank details – with ease, and with users remaining completely unaware.

These attacks are not just limited to small time ad-hoc efforts; they can be streamlined, targeted affairs for a particular purpose. In short, cyber crime is big business and this type of criminal activity is rapidly becoming mainstream.

So what can you do to protect yourself against these cyber-threats and the ever changing world of the wide web? And how can you secure your business without stumping up huge amounts of cash for the privilege?

Well, you need to keep the door to your network firmly closed, and there are two simple and relatively inexpensive ways that you can do this……

Stop the Spam

An obvious one, but email is a clear point of entry into any computer network. Many businesses receive hundreds, if not thousands of messages every day, so you need to keep a close eye on what gets through the door, and what gets rejected – or in the case of anti-spam software – what gets quarantined.

A good anti-spam solution will block spam and phishing attacks and remove viruses at the same time, ensuring that what is received in your inbox is relevant and clean. By stopping potential attacks at the gate, your business gets the best chance of keeping safe from viruses, worms, Trojans and other forms of malicious code that originate from the internet and threaten the security of a business.

Anti spam systems are not, however, 100% perfect and a solution should have the ability to learn. It needs to be adaptive to the threats – particularly as the threats are constantly changing and becoming increasingly complex to defend against.

When you have your anti-spam software implemented at the gate – where the email enters the network – also should then extend the protection to the actual PC or desktop as a second layer of defence in the form of a suite of software. This way, you will block and inhibit any attacks – spyware, viruses, malicious code, hacking attempts etc – both at the server, and at the user interface.

Beware of Browsing

Most businesses will give employees some level of internet access, but browsing can bring disaster if you’re not properly protected.

By using a firewall, you can literally stop the internet from getting inside your computer network. As part of your IT infrastructure, a firewall inspects and blocks the web traffic that passes through it, protecting you against any potentially unsafe websites which could be loaded with viruses or spyware.

If a firewall detects hazardous traffic, it blocks access for the user meaning that any web searches carried out by your employees – whether deliberately malicious or genuinely innocent – will be kept in check.

Firewalls vary considerably in features and price and one size does not fit all However, best practice would dictate that a relatively simple device is placed close to the internet gateway to undertake simple security blocking tasks, while a more complex device is installed closer to the users to undertake a very fine inspection of information flowing into the business.

By following this format, you can cover all basis ensuring a double layer of checks is taken place by the devices, giving you the best chance of stopping any malicious attacks that your business becomes exposed to.

To put matters into perspective, it is all about what risk your business is willing to accept. Simple steps will effectively reduce the risk to an acceptable level, securing your business from the dangers if the internet and offering a multi layered approach to IT security.

In 2001 Graham Fern founded Axon IT along with business partner Mike Agutter, with a limited budget and zero investment. Within just a few months the company had won major accounts including Tarmac and British Gypsum, and in the 9 years since, the business has grown successfully to boast a turnover of more than £800,000 and 12 employees.