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A Strong Cyber Defense Can Help Improve Your Game
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Many small business owners think of computer security as a defensive measure. But I firmly believe a strong defense can help a company improve its overall game. It not only helps protect a business from catastrophe, but it can also make employees more productive.

To illustrate my point, here’s how three companies could be more productive while working more securely. The examples are fictitious. No real association is intended or inferred, though the problems and solutions are real.

Architectural firm: Protect files and improve collaboration

Employees at an architectural firm are continually accessing blueprints, contracts, reports and other documents. They store the files on their PCs, laptops and tablets and back up to the company’s server. Keeping track of different versions is a headache. The firm’s principals also know a hardware failure could wipe out or damage key files.

The company could resolve these problems by backing up data to the cloud — massive collections of servers maintained by third parties. By doing this, they’re able to:

  • Store data automatically. Architects can back up every document they work on just by hitting “Enter.” They can then access the files from a web-connected device, whether they’re at the office, home, the airport or visiting a client.
  • Minimize disruptions. If the firm’s server goes down, it often stays down until the local tech support service fixes it. Using cloud services could help lessen these interruptions. Since data is stored on multiple servers, other machines can take over if one goes offline.
  • Simplify tracking. Many cloud storage services allow users to retain older versions of files, which can ease the headaches associated with tracking down a needed document. With files stored in a single, online location, employees can easily find what they need.

Legal Practice: Block viruses and smooth operations

Associates at a law firm spend most of their days doing online research, clicking on links and downloading reports. Any one of these actions could introduce a virus that slows the computer to a crawl. It could also introduce spyware that puts sensitive client information at risk.

The company could choose a remote tech support service to help it:

  • Root out threats. Technicians can connect with the company’s computer system over the Web to look for viruses and other malware. They can remove any threats they find before they cause significant damage.
  • Assess defenses. Technicians can also review the firm’s current anti-virus and spyware programs, make sure they’re up to date and suggest improvements.
  • Move quickly. Most remote services are available 24/7. Since work is done over an Internet connection, no appointment is required.

Food distributor: Secure mobile devices and streamline communications

Managers at a food distributor rely on smartphones to communicate with drivers. They also use mobile apps to track the fleet and ensure deliveries are made on schedule. Some drivers use tablets to record deliveries and store paperwork. It’s a lot for the company to handle, and managers worry about devices getting lost or stolen and the security problems that could cause.

They could use a third-party mobile device management (MDM) service to help improve their security. This could help the company:

  • Share applications. MDM makes it easier to deploy and update applications, giving managers confidence that staff members have the tools they need.
  • Keep employees on task. The service can make it easier to monitor the devices and make sure they’re being used as intended. It can also be set to block access to certain websites during business hours.
  • Remotely lock and wipe. If an employee loses a smartphone or tablet, the screen will freeze automatically after a short period. The company can also erase sensitive data from the phone using a web-based console.

Not all of these steps may make sense for you right now, but each can help strengthen your company’s foundation so you can build a more profitable future.

Tom HughesVP of Small Business Product Management, AT&T
Tom leads a team responsible for developing bundled solutions for small/medium businesses, driving IP conversion, & managing AT&T’s Fiber to the Building Program. He has a BS degree in Engineering Mgmt. from Missouri University of Science & Technology and an MBA from St. Louis University.
att.com/smallbusiness | @ATTSmallBiz | Facebook | More from Tom

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