Be safe onlineWhen it comes to computer-related risks to their businesses, SME owners told us in our recent DNA of an entrepreneur study that being attacked by a computer virus is the biggest threat (41%) that they face. This was followed by the theft or accidental loss of a computer or storage device (32%) and then cybercrime (27%). But what can you, the business owner, do to better manage these risks?

This week is ‘Get Safe Online’ Week (22nd – 26th October 2012), and we’ve put together a few simple security tips to help you battle online risks:

• Call the professionals. If you don’t have online technical expertise, seeking professional advice on security measures can save you time and hassle in the long run. These professionals can also advise you on secure options for working remotely to prevent ‘eavesdropping’ and how to work through secure sites.

• Lock it up (part 1). Look for a padlock on a web page to indicate the site is secure or ‘https’ in the address: the ‘s’ stands for secure.

• Secure connections. Using the internet and email to conduct business means that data loss becomes a bigger risk. Prevent unwanted connections to your network by keeping yours secure and your firewall up to date.

• Staff guidelines. Develop a clear email policy and raise online security awareness with employees and follow up on suspicious emails even if they seem to be a one off.

• A need to know basis. Encrypt important information for extra security so that only authorised users will be able to access it. Share access to documents on a ‘need to know’ basis.

• It’s as easy as ABC and 123. Make it protocol across the business for employees to use numbers and letters in passwords that provide much more robust protection from online criminals. For example, using the memorable phrase “My son Peter is 7 years old”, your password is “mspi7yo”.

• Get your back up. Back up your files and check your insurance covers online risks so that you can get your business up and running again quickly in the event of an incident.

• Lock it up (part 2). Items like laptops and computer monitors are common targets for thieves and the real cost of a stolen IT asset isn’t just the hardware; it’s the lost data and the lost productivity. Lock servers in a room and move laptops into a secure drawer at the end of the working day.

• Dealing with data. Keep up to date on what you should do to keep your client’s data safe. For more information, read about how to handle sensitive personal data here.

For more information about Get Safe Online week, visit http://www.getsafeonline.org/