Staples Advantage Offers Best Practices for Network Security, IT System Stability

October 2010

FRAMINGHAM, Mass., Oct 06, 2010 (Business Wire)

 

A survey by Staples Advantage, the business-to-business division of Staples, Inc., finds that a majority of small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are concerned about threats to IT security while many of them can increase steps to help protect their business information.

 

Nearly 60 percent of survey respondents said they are concerned about network security threats. In addition, more than 70 percent said that if an IT security incident took their business offline for one day it would significantly impact their business or potentially put them out of business altogether. Meanwhile, IT outsourcing has emerged as an important trend for SMBs challenged to maintain IT systems which are increasingly difficult to manage internally. The survey revealed that 40 percent of SMBs use external IT support to help run their operations.

 

"With limited resources, now more than ever, SMBs need to carefully consider the range of threats to their business and take action to protect and run their IT systems," said Jim Lippie, president, Thrive Networks, the IT network services business of Staples Advantage. "Information security threats can be overwhelming and the risks require more than traditional perimeter and host defenses to protect critical business data. The survey findings help show that IT managed services is becoming a 'must have' rather than a 'nice to have' for SMBs."

 

Additional key findings from the Staples Advantage survey include:

  • IT is mission-critical. More than half (51 percent) of respondents said IT support personnel should be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
  • Telecommuting and security. Nearly 60 percent of respondents say telecommuting is a key way they plan to trim costs in the year ahead. This can be an IT security risk without adequate security practices and employee awareness.
  • Data retention. To satisfy certain legal and regulatory requirements, businesses need a way to store and protect certain business information. According to the survey, more than 40 percent of respondents say their organization does not have company policies in place regarding the storage and retention of email, as an example.
  • Data protection and employee transitions. Employee transitions are an often overlooked risk to company security. Only one in four respondents said they monitor activity to ensure departing employees are not downloading proprietary information. Additionally, 40 percent have not changed network passwords associated with certain departing employees.

 

Staples Advantage Offers SMBs Best Practices to Reduce Security Risks, Avoid IT Downtime

To help IT managers and those responsible for IT decisions increase network security and avoid IT downtime, experts at Staples Advantage offer SMBs the following five tips:


1. Adopt a multi-layer security strategy. Just as bumpers, airbags and seat belts all work together to protect passengers in a car, implement security measures at the file, email data store and gateway levels to properly protect data against viruses. Make sure all machines are up-to-date with patches and security update downloads.


2. Use encryption to protect your sensitive data. Enable encryption on wireless networks, and optionally use passwords and encryption software to protect individual files. Use file permissions to control access to sensitive data, and consider installing software that monitors and logs who accesses what data, and when.


3. Invest in multiple connections to the Internet. Leasing and maintaining dual connections to the Internet is no longer an expensive proposition. Using two connections to the Internet, each from a different provider, greatly reduces the potential impact of connectivity interruptions to email, Web and VoIP services.


4. Avoid costly hardware failure by investing in hardware redundancy. Use a service that monitors hardware for uptime and critical performance metrics. Robust monitoring platforms that can dig down to the machine level are best.


5. Carefully assess service providers. Before choosing an external provider of cloud services or any SaaS application, carefully research their service level agreements, infrastructure, redundancy and disaster recovery provisions. When possible, use multiple vendors to eliminate single points of service failure.

 

Staples Advantage conducted an online survey of business decision makers at more than 100 small and medium-sized businesses across the US. The survey asked a series of questions about IT and its impact to business operations, taking into account a variety of technologies ranging from personal computers to smartphones.

 

Through its Technology Solutions line of business, Staples Advantage offers customers a full range of IT products and services from everyday desktop technology products to data center supplies and computing hardware, to national print management programs and managed IT services. For information about network services, please visit thrivenetworks.com and for additional information about technology products and services please visit staplesadvantage.com/technology.