Security and the Small Business

By Jeff Williams

I get asked a lot about Security.  Every day we hear stories about viruses, stolen data and private info getting in the wrong hands. All this tech-talk can make our new world seem like a very unsafe place….and in fact it is.  Your security is a very big topic, but I broke some of it down to help simplify it and provide you with a quick overview.

Most people have an anti-virus program on their computer.  McAfee Antivirus or Symantec/Norton Antivirus are two popular options.  If you don’t have an antivirus program on your computer it is most likely already infected.  (A typical warning sign that you have a virus is if your computer suddenly becomes very slow, or starts interrupting your work with pleas to purchase software – this most surely means you are infected.) Don’t worry about it, just bring it in to be cleaned.  Staples Easy Tech services can help you. If you are tech savvy you can find free anti-virus software on the internet, but beware, because if you don’t know what you are doing you could download an infection by mistake. This leads me to an important point: if you are browsing on the internet, and are asked to download anything, be very, very careful. If you have any doubt, just play it safe and don’t do it.

Use a firewall.  A firewall is a program that stops bad software from interacting with your computer.  Most anti-virus programs (and later version of Windows) include one but make sure it is enabled.

Use a Spam filter and don’t click on links in Spam. Everyone gets Spam (80% of all e-mail on the internet is now Spam.) Asking to be removed from a Spammer’s distribution list only confirms that your e-mail address is valid, and you will get more Spam. If your e-mail reader doesn’t have a Spam filter built in then get one.  Spam filters are included with most commercial anti-virus packages.

If you have a laptop there is a good chance you may lose it, or someone will steal it. If you have any sensitive data on that laptop then encrypt it (I use PGP desktop with full-disk encryption. If you have any data that you can’t afford to lose then back it up. A great product to make this easy is called ClickFree.

If you use wireless at home, then encrypt your connection. It is unlikely that someone is going to hack into your network to try to steal your data (unless you are a very big company) but protecting your wireless connection will stop your neighbors from freeloading and slowing down your connection.

I hope these tips and advice help you ensure safe business and computing practices. Feel free to comment or ask me questions. I am happy to respond.


 Jeff Williams is VP of Information Systems at STAPLES Canada. Jeff has been with STAPLES for over 9 years and leads an IS team of over 50 people. From his history with Indigo, Nortel and IBM, Jeff brings STAPLES extensive experience in the high-tech field.

By Adam

February 03, 2010