By Shelley Solheim  |  Posted 2005-07-25 Print this article Print

SMBs also may want to reduce the number of documents they print, said panelist Joe Kennedy, a Los Angeles small-business consultant and the author of "The Small Business Owners Manual."

"I advocate you dont print documents unless theres a compelling reason to do so, and even if documents are printed, be sure to keep duplicate digital records," Kennedy said.

That kind of planning is also an essential piece of any small business security strategy.

"If you dont discuss security, and you only respond when something happens, that is way too late," said panelist Michael Grieves, director of research for the MIS department at the University of Arizona, in Tucson, and a senior partner at channel strategies consulting firm Core Strategies, based in Irvine, Calif.

Grieves suggested some simple steps for resource-strapped SMBs, such as notifying and frequently reminding employees to tell someone if they have a problem; avoiding opening e-mail attachments, visiting questionable Web sites and responding to requests for sensitive data; investing in virus protection for all systems; and keeping systems up-to-date.

He also urged SMBs to back up data and have an emergency plan in place.

"All these things dont cost a whole lot of money; theyre more about awareness than they are about expenditures," said Grieves. "But doing some of these things will save you a great deal of time and aggravation when and if you have a problem."

Panelist John Norman, a systems engineer at Advanced Systems Group Inc., in Denver, advised businesses to be aware of what assets they need to protect and from whom they need to protect them. Norman also urged businesses not to overlook internal threats, such as unauthorized employees or contractors.

He also said valuable security measures dont have to cost a lot of money. "We have, for instance, some customers that handle government classified information," Norman said. "They dont have half a million dollars to spend on a highly secured hardened network, so, instead, what they do is store them on [a] flash disk and [a] USB key chain and lock it up at night."

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