IT security is best left to professionals (see our cover feature). But if you maintain your own office server computer, here are some basic tips on how to keep it safe from intruders:
Only load software and applications which are absolutely necessary. Don’t add anything you don’t fully understand, and warn staff about loading anything onto their computer’s hard drive – one infected computer can infect the whole network.
Have strong password protection for all users. Don’t use common generic passwords for multiple users, as they can be easily learned by outsiders, and will leave your network vulnerable if a staff member leaves and decides to make mischief.
Be careful sharing files. Put the files that staff need to share on a separate part of the server, rather than the main hard drive.
Be sure that staff are using only authorised hardware to access the server from outside, eg: working from home or while travelling.
Back up all data regularly (this task should be automated) and ensure the backups are kept off-site.
Keep a log that monitors usage of the server, and tell staff you are doing this.
Keep your firewall and anti-virus software up to date, and educate staff about safe computer habits.
Planning a major upgrade? Are you really sure you can do it yourself? If you’re not entirely sure, leave it to the professionals.