IT Basics for Small Business

I have been working with small businesses for approximately 20 years.  Over this time, I have seen a wide range of technical knowledge and abilities within small business owners.  Some have been able to do everything themselves, while the rest have relied on someone or some company to keep things function properly.  However, the one commonality through it all is a lot of important aspects of IT get overlooked or just missed.

I fully understand a small business owner who has bootstrapped his IT in order to get by and finally finds his or her IT out of control.  But I don’t understand the person who calls himself or herself an IT professional that allows a client to not even meet the minimum security level or functionality.

If you are a small business owner who isn’t sure what to do or not to do about your IT, here are some of the things I have seen recently that you should watch for on your network.

Outdated or No Anti-Virus

No anti-virus or out of date anti-virus is installed on the computers and/or server. This is incredibly basic but often overlooked. It doesn’t take any technical knowledge to make sure anti-virus in installed and up to date.

Network Firewall Is Not Installed

If your IT person tells you your modem or router is also your firewall, s/he is wrong.  You need a separate firewall appliance.

Patches And Security Updates Not Current

While I am not a fan of automatically installing patches and security updates due to the inevitable problems this will cause, it is better than never installing patches and updates.  I have even seen patches that were downloaded but never installed because the server hasn’t been rebooted.  The best option is to be on a plan that controls the installation of patches and updates on a scheduled basis.

Old Employees Still Have Valid Login Credentials

This is either ignorance or laziness on the part of an IT person.  The problem is typically exacerbated by the computers being exposed to the internet to allow easy remote access.  If the old employee is disgruntled, many problems can follow.

Computers And Servers Directly Exposed To Internet

Even if there isn’t a disgruntled employee, hackers can easily find these computers and will eventually gain access to your network.  You will know nothing about it until it is too late.

Data Backup Isn’t Functioning Or Being Taken Off Site

It is too common of an occurrence that we find the data backup isn’t functioning properly.  Either it isn’t working at all, or some portion of it is failing.  This needs to be step 1 in any IT planning.  If all else fails, you need to be able to depend on your data backup to get your information back.  If you have a failure or a virus without a backup, at best you will pay a minimum of $10,000 with the hope your data can be retrieved.