Small Business Server

Keeping your system secure

Although many small businesses are keen to grasp the advantages brought by the latest server based technology, a general lack of IT expertise makes many nervous about protecting their data, the lifeblood of the organisation, from hackers and virus attacks.

Silchrome Plating is typical of a small company that views technology as an important means to grow the business, but was concerned over how a move to broadband to increase the efficiency of the company's email system could leave the company open to a security breach.

These fears are not unfounded with a survey by the UK's National Hi-Tech Crime Unit (NHTCU) showing that three quarters of UK businesses have been victims of a virus attack, whilst the DTI estimates the average cost of a security breach is £30,000, with one in five security incidents causing disruptions lasting more than a week.

According to Mike Gillet, the managing director of Silchrome Plating, Although we've always backed up our systems and so never lost anything critical, it still costs us time and money to put things right.

When it comes to security of its systems, Microsoft has far from a perfect record, but the launch of the software giant's 'Trustworthy Computing' initiative has attempted to rectify this and the Windows Server 2003 family, of which SBS is a part, is the first Microsoft operating system to benefit from this new focus.

By moving to Small Business Server, Silchrome plating was able to take advantage of the built in firewall, which was combined with the firewall in Windows XP on desktop and laptops, to provide additional protection against hackers.

Firewalls are, however, only part of the solution: ensuring your system is correctly configured and patched against the latest vulnerabilities is also vital. Security experts are quick to blame organisations for falling victim to attacks because patches are out of date, but for a small company with limited IT resources, this can be a difficult and time consuming task.

The security wizards in SBS make it easier to ensure the server is correctly configured for security, whilst Microsoft's free Software Update Services (SUS) technology, can help businesses stay on top of updating servers and clients through centralised management - something that is lacking from Windows Update.

Although SUS does not come as part of Small Business Server 2003 it is supported. SUS 1.0 with Service Pack 1 is available as a free download from the Windows Server System Web site.

Security is just one of the areas where Microsoft believes SBS can help small business. Combined with reduced installation complexity and improved reliability Small Business Server, provides a sound platform from which companies can get their staff to work faster and smarter.

To request a Windows Server 2003 Evaluation Kit please click here.