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21st November

Putting the Why into Information Security

In 2004 67% of companies suffered a virus attack, according to the National Hi-Tech Crime Unit.  Similarly, a DTI survey calculated that o­ne in five incidents caused disruption lasting more than a week.  80% of companies suffering a disruption of this type do not survive the following 18 months.

Last year 77% of companies lost a laptop computer.  The risks are expensive as o­ne recent DTI survey confirmed that the average cost of a security breech is £30,000.  Weak computer security allows the risk of unauthorised access to your private files, infecting your system with viruses, hijacking your resources, vandalising your Web site and perpetrating identity fraud.  Denial of Service attacks can be a ‘game’ for amateurs or a serious threat posed by blackmailers, criminals or even unscrupulous competitors.

A sensible solution

Against these risks, the cost of security both in time and money seems like a sensible insurance policy.  A great deal of the solution is common sense.  In the same way that today’s businessman would never dream of leaving his office unlocked at night, then the savvy businessman would never leave his business information insecure.  The technical aspect can cause a form of blindness and it is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that this is expensive and impenetrable for all but the highly paid information security consultant.

A recent guide published by the British Chambers of Commerce stresses the solution can be a great deal simpler than it appears at first sight.  The guide recommends a strategic review.  It suggests that businesses and individuals calmly review their existing security measures, identify strengths and weaknesses and then make a plan so that information security becomes part of the daily business operation. 

Steps to security

We all understand that 100% security guarantees do not exist but proper evaluation and weighing risks and consequential loss against the cost of prevention is a useful starting point.

The Chamber of Commerce Guide lists 10 steps to security:
1) Install virus protection
2) Setup a firewall
3) Keep software up to date.  Always use the latest releases and install patches as soon as they are made available
4) Use strong passwords
5) Ensure physical security
6) Take special care of laptops and ensure that latest data is backed up in a secure environment.  At all times minimise the amount of commercially sensitive information stored o­n the laptop.
7) Connect remote users over a secure connection using strong user validation and authentication.
8) Lock down wireless networks and set default parameters to ensure that all data traffic is fully encrypted.
9) Browse the Web defensively.  Do not use business computers to browse ‘black’ or dodgy sites.
10) Backup, backup, backup.

Further information on this topic is available from

Bill Duncan
Security Systems Advisor

E-Mail: bill.duncan@securevirtualoffice.com

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