Security, Once Minor Concern, Now Major Factor

Resources - Articles

Return to Articles list

Reprinted From: The News Journal
Written By: Richard P. Sommer, CPA & Steven T. Martin
Just a few years ago, security was usually a minor concern when businesses bought personal computers, because each PC stood alone. With networks commonplace now, though, security considerations have become critical.

One way to protect your system is to assure physical security. Surge protectors and uninterrupted power supplies will protect your system from electrical surges and provide backup in case of a power loss. Only authorized personnel should have access to the equipment.

Virus protection is equally important. There are thousands of extremely talented people who write programs designed to penetrate a computer system and spread onto other computers via floppy disks, modem communication or network access. Most of these programs are harmless although some virus programs may distort, corrupt and delete entire volumes of data.

But there are ways to avoid virus penetration. Software programs will scan your computer memory and disk drives for virus activity and eliminate it. The key to staying virus free is to maintain the most recent updates of the software because new viruses pop up constantly.

On-line services, bulletin boards, e-mail services and the Internet are other security concerns. For the user who calls in to bulletin boards, the most important security issue is making sure downloaded software is checked for viruses.

A new type of security called the firewall has arisen out of increased crime on the Internet. a firewall is a program with a high-security interface using state-of-the-art encryption techniques designed to keep out even the most sophisticated hackers.

The best protection, though, is to keep sensitive information off the server or computer that allows outside connections.

Internal security is another matter.

It's usually handled by your computer network's administrator, who can limit user access to particular volumes or file manipulation.

How will you know when your system has been violated? It's hard to know whether someone has been inside your system unless the guilty party lets you know or data turns up corrupted, or is simply gone.

There have been instances of hackers getting inside financial systems and moving monetary data around undetected for months. The only way to find this kind of manipulation is by keeping strong audit trails of data, generating exception reports and reviewing this information on a regular basis.