According to Mike Fast, CGR, president and CEO of MRF Construction, even remodelers who work on one or two computers still need to think critically about computer security. Fast’s computers have already weathered one virus in the past year and a half, and he knows others whose computers have been ruined by viruses. "Our biggest fear was not that someone would find out what we have," he says, "but that they would come in and screw something up."
It’s important to remember that any computer with Internet access can possibly allow other people to gain access to your computers, too. E-mail is a wonderful tool, but mass-mail viruses threaten smaller businesses as well as big corporations.
Fast says that the relatively low cost of putting security on a computer is well worth the peace of mind it offers. Fast paid less than $1,000 to hire a computer consultant and purchase software necessary to protect his system. "I would rather err on the side of caution than have a virus take our hard drive down," he says.
How to Secure Your Computers:
- Put critical business information on one computer. Don’t make that computer Internet-capable. Instead, do e-mail and Internet searches from a different computer that isn’t on your network. That way, if a virus comes in, it won’t take your business down, too.
- Consider turning off cookies. Web sites can read information off your computer because your Web browser sends out bits of information, or "cookies," when you access certain Internet sites.
- Purchase security software. A simple firewall doesn’t cost much. Not only will it prevent unauthorized access of your computer, but it also allows you the option of password protection.
- Do your homework on any security you’re thinking about buying. It’s important to test it and verify it can do all that it claims to do.