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System Security -- Seven Simple Steps

Element of Risk

The effort needed in achieving total computer system security seems overwhelming. There is always something else you could do to improve your security stance. You might be surprised, then, if I told you that just one step could accomplish this goal:

Eliminate all computer systems from your business and use paper instead!

Of course, for most businesses this is not a realistic solution, but then, achieving total computer system security is not a realistic goal. Like crossing the street, there is an element of risk no matter how careful you are. So what can you do to mitigate this risk in a reasonable way, without consuming endless resources?

Take Action

While there can be no single answer that applies to every system and every business, you can make significant improvements in your overall security stance by taking some simple actions. Here are seven steps:


    Sorry about shouting, but I cannot stress this one enough. If you do nothing else, save your work, including contacts, accounting and stored email. And keep your backups somewhere else, away from your office or place of business.

  2. Scan for Viruses

    Effectively use your virus scanner on all desktop workstations and servers (you do have scanning software, right?). That means regular scans and regular updates. Most scanners will do this for you, but what if an employee disables this feature? (Maybe it slows down his web surfing experience or something). You need to be sure!

  3. Use Firewalls

    No, firewalls are not going to save us all from all the evil hackers in the world, but they go a long way to making it more difficult for them. If you already have one, make sure it's configured to allow nothing but the essential traffic. Consider using personal (software) firewalls on each workstation and server, too. A layered approach is best always!

  4. Patch OS and Application Software

    Check for security advisories on a regular basis. If your vendor says you should apply an important security patch, you really need to get it done.

  5. Use Strong Passwords

    Do not use your favorite color. Do not use the name of your dog (or cat, parakeet, critter, ...). Do not change letters to clever number and punctuation replacements (c!3v3r, n0? No!). These all can be cracked in no time. Better yet, consider a stronger authentication mechanism.

  6. Don't open email attachments!

    Delete email from unknown and unexpected sources outright. But even email that appears to be coming from friends, relatives and associates can be dangerous. Many worms have used personal address books to propagate themselves.

  7. Develop a security policy

    Even creating a simple security policy will force you to think about what needs protection and the threats specific to your business. If you have employees, make sure they understand the importance of your policy. Educate them (and yourself, in the process!)

We Can Help!

At The Bitmill®, we have considerable experience with large systems administration and security in an Internet environment. As consultants we are available to provide professional guidance and support for all your computer security needs. As software developers, we are committed to creating affordable quality security tools for any enterprise, small or large. And as a young company, we are only just beginning to achieve these goals.

You Can Help!

What keeps you up at night? How can we help? We are very interested in hearing your comments, suggestions and requirements! These will help guide our course as we grow.

We look forward to hearing from you. Please contact us!

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