Internet hacking and business espionage are major problems these days. Many business owners assume that firewalls and anti-virus software are enough to protect their computers and valuable data. This has caused many to overlook their Internet security, putting their business at risk.

The fact is that as the Internet has grown in sophistication, so too have the threats to the security of the people who use it. One technology firm that screens emails for spam and viruses on behalf of small business customers estimates that 3.6 percent of messages contain a virus. Even if you strive to be alert for suspicious emails, a distraction or familiar-sounding sender is all it takes for one to slip through.

Central Maine SCORE mentor Peter Sassano warns that, “As a business owner, you must be prepared to protect your IT hardware, software and data resources. The first step is to educate everyone at your business about the dangers and set policies for using the Internet and opening email attachments. For example, don’t let employees use file sharing Web sites, and prohibit downloading applications from unknown sites.”

“All your computers, networks, and email servers should have anti-virus software and other security features. Use a firewall to block incoming traffic that is not needed for your business. And, update all operating systems, software and security measures on a regular basis. Older versions are particularly vulnerable to attack. If you discover a PC is infected, take it off your network so that fixes can be installed.”

Symantec.com offers a full range of anti-virus, anti-spam and computer problem-solving solutions for small business. The site has dozens of articles on computer security and maintenance, such as downloadable publications on protecting Windows operating environments, managing risk and other timely security topics.

Other helpful information sources for computer security include: smallbusinesscomputing.com and the Security section of Microsoft’s Small Business Center at www.microsoft.com/smallbusiness.

For more information and an appointment to meet with a volunteer mentor, contact Central Maine SCORE at 782-3708 or [email protected], or contact the Auburn Public Library for an appointment. In Oxford Hills call 743-0499; in Rumford-Mexico call 364-3123. Or contact SCORE at www.SCOREmaine.org.

This column is provided by the Central Maine SCORE chapter.


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