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Four Must-Have SMB Security Tools

Regardless of their size, many SMBs still need to meet strict compliance regulations, such as PCI and HIPAA. In addition to any special requirements, there are a few security technologies every small business should have in place. Here are my four SMB security must-haves.

Regardless of their size, many SMBs still need to meet strict compliance regulations, such as PCI and HIPAA. In addition to any special requirements, there are a few security technologies every small business should have in place. Here are my four SMB security must-haves.1. Firewall. It sounds passé, but firewalls are still the de facto solution for minimum security. Small businesses are no exception. I frequently hear vendors trying to coax SMB owners into boxes bigger than they need, with full redundancy and licensing out the yin yang. As expected, most small organizations will balk at the $20K-plus price tags that hang off these shiny new boxes. The truth is, for bandwidths typical in SMBs (let's say T1s up to 10Mbps), a small ASIC-based firewall even with gateway services (such as gateway anti-virus, anti-spyware, IDS or IPS) can be found for just a few thousand dollars. Even if it's not tweaked to perfection, some firewall is better than none. And no organization should rely on their Internet provider for this security.

2. Client anti-virus. Whether your small office is three people or a hundred, client AV is a must-have. Depending on the number of users, an organization may opt for boxed consumer licenses and manual management, or a centrally-managed AV solution. All mainstream AV vendors will have both options available, but the licenses may not be upgradeable or transferable. Meaning, if you buy AV in boxes at Walmart or Best Buy, you probably can't turn those into centrally managed client licenses if your needs grow or change. Take the time to do a little research and you'll be pleasantly surprised at the affordable licensing structure of centrally managed AV.

3. Password management tool. These are great little tools and I've found they're an easy and inexpensive solution for small offices that aren't using single sign-on or authenticating to a directory (such as Active Directory) for management. These tools allow a team or entire company to post, update, and share key passwords used in the organization. They can contain login info for bank accounts, the server admin account, email management or CLI logon for switches. They reduce the use of default passwords and re-use of shared passwords while making it easier to incorporate complexity into all credentials.

4. Backups. I can't overemphasize the importance of a good backup and disaster recovery plan. You don't have to have a fully-executed DR methodology, but if your small business currently has no backups, I urge you to start here as your next step in securing your business. From experience, I can say you never know when there will be a fire, a flood, or a disgruntled employee who decides to wreak havoc before leaving. The fire and the flood my company survived through, the latter has happened to small businesses I've worked with in the past. Even if you're not taking backups of all the computers, identify your key data -- such as accounting records, customer data, and anything critical to operating your business such as emails, website content, intellectual property and marketing materials or graphics -- and back it up. Look for software-based backups that can take regular snapshots of servers or storage, or consider a hosted online backup solution.

The first step is to keep backups locally. The next progression is to also find a remote site or hosted solution in case your location experiences a disaster or even theft.

Jennifer Jabbusch is a CISO and infrastructure security specialist at Carolina Advanced Digital. By day she architects enterprise security solutions and by night, well, she does the same thing. For Dark Reading, she melds her enterprise experience and intimate knowledge of small business operations to deliver relevant security guidance for SMBs everywhere. Jennifer Minella is VP of Engineering and consulting CISO at Carolina Advanced Digital, and an author, speaker and consultant for infrastructure security for government, education and Fortune 100 and 500 corporations. View Full Bio


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