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Security Threats: A Guide for Small & Medium Businesses

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Backup and Redundant Systems


Although less glamorous than other topics in Information Security, backups remain one of the most reliablesolutions. Making use of backups can have a direct business benefit when things go wrong. Disasters do occurand an organization will come across situations when hardware fails or a user (intentionally or otherwise)deletes important data.

A well-managed and tested backup system will get the business back up and runningin very little time compared to other disaster recovery solutions. It is therefore important that backups are notonly automated to avoid human error but also periodically tested. It is useless having a backup system ifrestoration does not function as advertised.Redundant systems allow a business to continue working even if a disaster occurs.

Backup servers andalternative network connections can help to reduce downtime or at least provide a business with limitedresources until all systems and data are restored.



Keeping your Systems Patched


New advisories addressing security vulnerabilities in software are published on a daily basis. It is not an easytask to stay up-to-date with all the vulnerabilities that apply for software installed on the network, thereforemany organizations make use of a patch management system to handle the task. It is important to note thatpatches and security updates are not only issued for Microsoft products but also for third party software. Forexample, although the web browser is running the latest updates, a desktop can still be compromised whenvisiting a website simply because it is running a vulnerable version of Adobe Flash.

Additionally it may beimportant to assess the impact of vulnerability before applying a patch, rather than applying patchesreligiously. It is also important to test security updates before applying them to a live system. The reason is that,from time to time, vendors issue patches that may conflict with other systems or that were not tested for yourparticular configuration.

Additionally, security updates may sometimes result in temporary downtime, forexposureSimple systems are easier to manage and therefore any security issues that apply to such systems can beaddressed with relative ease. However, complex systems and networks make it harder for a security analyst toassess their security status. For example, if an organization does not need to expose a large number of serviceson the Internet, the firewall configuration would be quite straightforward. However, the greater the company’sneed to be visible – an online retailer, for example – the more complex the firewall configuration will be, leavingroom for possible security holes that could be exploited by attackers to access internal network services.

When servers and desktop computers have fewer software packages installed, they are easier to keep up-todateand manage. This concept can work hand in hand with the principle of least privilege. By making use offewer components, fewer software and fewer privileges, you reduce the attack surface while allowing forsecurity to be more focused to tackle real issues.




Conclusion

Security in small and medium-sized businesses is more than just preventing viruses and blocking spam. In 2009,cybercrime is expected to increase as criminals attempt to exploit weaknesses in systems and in people. Thisdocument aims to give managers, analysts, administrators and operators in small and medium-sized businessesa snapshot of the IT security threats facing their organization. Every organization is different but in manyinstances the threats are common to all. Security is a cost of doing business but those that prepare themselveswell against possible threats will benefit the most in the long term.




About the Writers

GFI Software provides the single best source of network security, content security and messaging software for small to medium sized businesses.

This guest post was provided by Enrica Garroni on behalf of GFI Software Ltd. GFI is a leading software developer that provides a single source for network administrators to address their network security, content security and messaging needs. More information: GFI Web Security Software .


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