Jason Cherkas

Tuesday, 27 December 2005 19:00

Computer risk mangement

How safe are your company’s computers? One thing that should be at the top of every CEO’s list is to ensure that proper security procedures are in place to protect company and customers’ information.

How do you decide which antivirus program best fits your business’s needs?
An effective antivirus product should feature a separately designed module for both servers and workstations. The application should continuously be scanning files and e-mails for potential viruses. It should allow the network administrator of your business to maintain and control all servers and workstations from one central computer to help with the application’s deployment and maintenance.

The antivirus product should also have the ability to update or push the virus identification file (also known as the DAT or definition file) to every server or workstation on at least an hourly basis. This is critical in the event of a virus outbreak in the middle of the business day.

How can a business reduce the amount of SPAM it receives without blocking important business e-mail?
Look for an antiSPAM application that has three layers built into one package. The first layer is a module that has a well-defined black list or list of known spammers and has the ability to create a white list or list of known senders that may get caught by the system.

The second layer should be a module that can review incoming e-mails and determine if they initiated from a spammer by searching for known spammer techniques, reviewing the black list and isolating the e-mail for review if the e-mail fits the above criteria.

The third layer is a product that can scan incoming and outgoing e-mails for viruses. This will add more protection against attachments with embedded viruses.

How can businesses ensure all workstations and servers are kept current with all the Microsoft updates?
Microsoft updates can be maintained by deploying the Microsoft Windows Server Update Service. This free application can run on any Windows 2000 or later server. It allows for gathering, installing and updating of the Windows operating system, Microsoft Office and device drivers for workstations (printer, network cards, display cards, etc.).

A best practice is to configure your server to gather patches and updates in the middle of the night and deploy them to your servers and workstations during the day. By using this product, businesses will stay current with all the patches and drivers, and not spend hours going to every workstation to do so.

Everyone is focusing on their disaster recovery plans after the recent deluge of natural disasters. What can businesses do to ensure their data is safe?
Every business should ensure that the backup of data and offsite data storage procedures are consistent with industry best practices. It is recommended that the backup of all data and program configurations be performed on a daily basis to enable the restoration of a file without having to access multiple tapes to do so.

The previous night’s backup should be taken offsite and eventually stored in a fire safe with the other daily tapes used for rotation. The month-end tape should permanently be stored with a data storage company to ensure a secure environment and the ability to retrieve or destroy tapes at anytime.

How can a business monitor the use and possible abuse of the company-provided Internet and possible security consequences that can result?
Monitoring the use of the Internet can be a great tool in preventing the introduction of viruses and spyware into a company’s network. By implementing a monitoring package, it’s easier to identify where a slowdown, virus or spyware issue came from. The monitoring package should have the ability to block nonbusiness related Web sites, see real-time usage of the Web site and produce reports.

If a monitoring system is implemented, be sure to notify your staff in writing and add it to your company’s policies and procedures.

Jason A. Cherkas is a senior network administrator at Tauber & Balser P.C. with more than 10 years experience, including working for a Fortune 100 company before joining T&B. Reach Cherkas at (404) 814-4911 or jcherkas@tbcpa.com.