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Protecting Computers, IT Systems and Data in your Business

If you are starting a new business or have an existing company, how much time do you give to protecting computers or your IT network? Are you protecting your data against unknown hackers or human error?

Had we written this article 10 years ago, we may have recommended anti-virus software and malware protection. However, since the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) came into force, ‘protecting your computer’ and ‘achieving compliance with the GDPR Regulations’ are much the same thing.

We’re here to break down the best ways for you to protect your computers, data and network, in this handy checklist.

Router

Your router is the gateway to the internet. It provides routing for your wired and wireless devices and allocates unique addresses to each connected device. A basic router will do little more than that, but a more comprehensive router can provide additional security features. The router is often provided by your ISP (Internet Service Provider) in which case the firmware (router operating system) is normally updated automatically. However, if you have installed your own router (perhaps via your IT support company), this may not be updated automatically.

Like your computer, the operating system (OS) needs to be updated with the latest security fixes. A router with out-of-date firmware will not provide you with adequate protection.

Operating System

Keeping your computer operating system (OS – eg. Windows) up to date is imperative to maintain the latest security fixes. An older OS will not receive these updates, leaving your computer vulnerable to viruses and malware. At the time of writing, if you are using a Windows PC, you should be on Windows 10 and if you are using Mac, either Mojave or High Sierra.

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Anti-Virus Software

To protect your data from contracting a virus (often received from email attachments) you need a good anti-virus (AV) software.

There are many on the market, and you can choose either the free or paid version. There is always added protection and features on a paid edition and we strongly advise all business owners to choose the paid edition. If you purchase a good AV solution, this will often include anti-spyware and anti-malware security.

Firewall

There is a lot of confusing talk about computer, hardware and software firewalls. In short, a firewall will protect traffic in and out of your computer. A software firewall can be installed on your router or connected device. The problem is when you have more than one firewall, issues can occur. Your router will have a firewall, as do all computer operating systems. A premium AV software solution will also come with an additional firewall. You generally do not need to purchase a firewall solution for the above reasons. If you want the highest level of protection, you can purchase a hardware firewall which starts at around £500.

Passwords

The easiest and cheapest solution to data and computer protection is the most overlooked.

Passwords are the best way to protect yourself from unwanted guests. While we agree that using the same simple password of “1234” for 10 years is convenient for the more forgetful among us, it’s really not the best way to secure your computer.

Using strong passwords and changing them regularly is one of the best defences against malicious attacks. We do recommend using a different password for each online account or computer and these can easily be stored in password vaults. Often this software is free and can be installed on all of your devices.

Protocols

Your data is not only sought out by unscrupulous hidden scammers online, but there have been many occasions when employees of a company have copied data (for use in their next job) or deleted data (after being sacked and out of revenge). As an employer and business owner, you have a serious obligation to protect your data (essentially any client data) from anyone not authorised to have access to it.

Backup

Backup is again one of the most ignored elements of data security. Protection of your data includes backup both on and offsite. It costs very little, can be easily automated and can save your company a lot of money when a computer fails, or data theft occurs. Do not underestimate the costs to recover data without backup. If a hard drive mechanically fails, the costs of recovery can start at £300. We strongly advise that if you haven’t already, you should back up NOW.

In conclusion, while all of the advice above might seem obvious, in our experience the most common cause of data loss at the businesses we are called in to assist is that these basic measures have not been carried out.  As we always say, a little planning and care now has the power to save your business later.

Unless you’ve got a technical background, protecting computers, setting up automated backups and updating firmware is generally beyond most of us … do your business a favour and find an IT support business who you can work with to implement best practice in your business.

Straight advice from Yorkshire Powerhouse on protecting computers and IT systems

Now you’ve read our article about protecting computers, have you any more questions?

Here at Yorkshire Powerhouse, we’re happy to help as much as possible – is there anything else we can do to help you, do you have any further questions or can we help introduce you to an expert – please let us know:

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Registered address: 40 Gordon St, Slaithwaite, Huddersfield HD7 5LH