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The Great Wall of China or Simply a Chain-Link Fence?

Technology changes more rapidly than the Oklahoma weather. When it comes to protecting our data, the options are not only endless, but also quickly evolving. When you talk to others about how they protect their information, there will be a plethora of suggestions and scenarios. So, which is best for you and your company? What will provide the best protection with the least amount of hassle? We have provided a few suggestions to help guide you toward that perfect solution of walling off your data from corruption and theft.

1) Encryption – Encryption is the scrambling of information on a computer or network to make it unreadable by unauthorized users. There are several types of encryption, from file and folder encryption, to full-disk encryption. The full-disk option will offer protection for the whole computer; files, folders, and volumes. It is transparent to users, and doesn’t require a special place for files to be kept. When using this type of encryption, the computer requires a passcode or encryption key when powering on.

Many modern versions of operating systems include an encryption program called Microsoft BitLocker. Apple also offers a program called Apple FileVault. These programs have to be enabled on the computer, but are quick and easy to access. If a third-party option is preferable, VeraCrypt receives high marks from top-rated computer researchers.

2) Backups – This option is one that most people are familiar and comfortable with; and the options are endless. Backing up your data is best when the backup is on a different device. This can be an external hard drive, USB drive, online storage service, or off-site backup service. There are many factors to contemplate when determining which backup process is best for your business. For instance, the amount of data you have, the speed needed, the sensitivity of your information, the level of your expertise, and the amount of hands-on involvement required all need to be considered. Of course, cost will play a part, but should not be the top concern as your business’ livelihood could depend on the backups.

3) Anti-malware protection – Malware is short for malicious software. Like a Trojan horse, it can creep up and infiltrate your computer without your knowledge or consent. Education is one of the best ways to avoid malware, but an anti-malware software is vital to the security of your information. Running a scan for viruses and malware periodically is one of the best ways to avoid getting affected by one of these nasty bugs. Be cautious when surfing the internet and when opening attachments on emails from people you do not know.

Malwarebytes is one of the most popular and highest rated anti-malware software available today. They offer both a free and paid versions. Other software programs that are also rated high are: Bitdefender and Kaspersky. There are many good programs out that will detect and clean malware from your computer, but do your research and decide on the one that best fits your scenario.

4) System updates – Let’s face it. Those pesky updates are a real nuisance. Sometime they will provide a cool enhancement or new look, but the update does much more than that. Every update contains security enhancements to protect against the latest known threat of hackers and viruses. Software updates are important, as they are designed to operate more efficiently with the updates on the systems. It is always a good idea to update your software regularly.

5) Firewalls – Finally, the use of a firewall is a significant line of defense when protecting data. They establish a barrier between trusted and untrusted networks; much like a gatekeeper would at the entrance of a city. A firewall can be hardware, software or cloud based.

A software program is usually much easier to implement but has to be installed on each computer, which could require individual purchases for each machine, as well as the time to install. Software firewalls are sometimes considered weaker than hardware firewalls and easier for hackers to infiltrate.

The best firewall protection is hardware based. A physical device accompanied by software connects directly to your network. The initial set up of the physical firewall is more complicated and time consuming than a software firewall, but the security it provides is well worth the cost. This option alleviates the need to update and maintain each computer individually and yet scans each “packet” of data that passes through.

Finally, cloud based firewalls are becoming a popular option because they eliminate the need to house and maintain the equipment in-office. Usually this option is handled by an IT service provider that also offers their expertise with the firewall and other IT advice for businesses without an IT department. The cloud based alternative generally operates like a hardware firewall but is monitored through the internet.

When you build a house, you contemplate what type of fence you need depending on the type of things you want to protect. Likewise, when building your business empire, protect your data with the type of “fence” that will protect one of your most valuable assets in the way that best benefits your needs.

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