In the world of big commerce, security software is big business.
But when it comes to home-run operations, business owners often think their enterprise is too small to need any security software at all.
Whether entrepreneurs believe their company just isn’t of interest to a cyber-criminal, or that the cost of the technology isn’t worth the investment; the truth is, even if you work in the SoHo market (small office, home office) — you need an adequate back-up system just as much as anyone else.
And while your IT setup needn’t be as complicated (or costly) as bigger enterprises, it could save your livelihood from a whole host of cybersecurity threats.
So, let’s look at the software that could make sense for you.
The first technology to look at is robust anti-virus software.
When it comes to choosing the right anti-malware product for your home office, you want one that offers thorough protection, but that won’t cause your computer to run slowly (or disrupt your workflow by blocking the files and websites you use every day).
Microsoft Defender is a great anti-virus option for most home businesses. Microsoft has a strong reputation for serving the SoHo market, offering affordable products that do their job well.
And Microsoft Defender is no exception.
Users rarely report problems when using it and, while it doesn’t guarantee comprehensive protection, it certainly offers value (in fact, it’s free!). That said, certain small business owners should consider paying for upgraded security: say, you’re an accountant handling sensitive financial information, or you hold customer payment records in your own systems.
Then, you need added protection.
Paid-for anti-virus packages typically offer a level of security up from the standard Windows product, plugging gaps with:
- Easy-to-use password managers that act as your first line of defense
- Real-time protection that runs ongoing scans on all background processes
- Built-in anti-phishing and anti-ransomware features that pick up on threats
- Network monitoring and botnet protection that keep your systems safe
As a rule of thumb: if your business relies on computers, but you’re not — and none of your employees are — a computer expert, then it will pay to pay for anti-virus software.
If you want to do your own research on the best anti-virus products for your particular business, then review sites like Windows Report and Tech Radar offer detailed insight. You can often get free trials before you make a decision on which suite to use, so test a few options before making any payments. Once you have your anti-virus package in place, know that a trusted back-up is an excellent way to enhance your security.
After all, if your data is safely stored offline, then no ransomware can ever hold you hostage — which leads nicely onto the next point.
The second line of defense every business needs is data back-up.
Your back-ups should include at least two separately stored versions of all your business details: whether you use USBs, external hard drives, SD cards, or digital back-ups — be sure to choose at least one online, and one offline, resource.
That way, if your house burns down, you know you’ll always have a back-up for your back-up; while Google Drive and OneDrive offer adequate ‘digital safes’ for you to upload business-critical data.
You may also hear recommendations for network-attached storage (NAS) devices. Typically, small businesses can’t justify the expense (or added complexity), so only consider one if your business relies on multiple people sharing files across your network — and bear in mind: a NAS is not a back-up system in itself.
Even if you buy one, you’ll still want to back the NAS up to an external hard drive. So, it makes more sense for home office workers to use the hard drive as a back-up in the first place.
Business recovery systems
Few small businesses ever stop to consider a business recovery system.
Yet, companies great and small that lack a viable business continuity strategy often cease to operate — sometimes, overnight.
A business recovery system means that, if one of your computers fails, you can be back up-and-running with minimal delay. Therefore, it minimizes the impact on your operation.
Let’s imagine you use a desktop PC in your home office: your business recovery setup may simply be a hard drive synchronized to an external USB (you can use products like FreeFileSync for this), which you back-up with a second external hard drive. As there’s no need to compress, or encrypt, these files, you won’t need to restore them should disaster strike.
Meaning that if your main computer fails, getting your business back online is a matter of:
- Switching on a second device (e.g., a laptop)
- Plugging in the external hard drive
- Carrying on with business-as-usual
Business recovery becomes even easier if you do most of your work using the same OS: if you work in Microsoft Office, use Outlook for email, and store data in OneDrive — then, you should have no issue with business continuity, even if every device you use chooses to fail.
And the same can be said of the final option: cloud-based security.
Cloud security services
Cloud-based security is pretty much the norm these days.
There are many options available to store, update, and cross-reference information in the cloud to check for suspicious activity.
They are a great way to lighten the load on your local device while still keeping your network safe from imminent threats. Better still, by tapping into the cloud, you benefit from the updates of millions of other users, so your computer can spot and counter looming threats long before they take hold.
Cloud solutions are now so commonplace that companies like Kaspersky offer comprehensive cloud-based security, while Avast helps business owners protect multiple devices from anywhere with their cloud-based anti-virus solution.
On the other hand, if you prefer to work locally, then a managed IT service provider can offer the same level of remote support. They can give you peace of mind with a friendly voice at the other end of the phone — or on-call technicians, should you ever need in-person help.
Get your home business the security it needs — give Midcoast Tech a call on 207-236-0021, and let’s find the solution that works for you.