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Saturday, 27 January 2007

Basic Computer Security

Many businesses are considering the introduction of ISO27001 - Information Security Management - as part of their strategic plan to protect computer and other records from unwanted disclosure or misuse.

Other organisations should consider basic security on their computer systems however, it is surprising that really basic security measures on desktop and laptops isn't always being used.

Here are 10 basic security precautions:

  1. Always set the option to force a user to press CTL- ALT-DEL before logging on

  2. Passwords should be at least six characters long and contain letters and numbers

  3. Don't use your name, your partners name or the name of a pet as a password

  4. Don't write the password on a post-it note and stick it to the screen or under the keyboard

  5. Passwords should be changed regularly

  6. Don't share your password with anyone

  7. Use antivirus software and keep it up to date

  8. Use an anti spyware programme regularly

  9. Turn on the inbuilt firewall ( Windows XP and later machines)

  10. When leaving the desktop or laptop unattended, lock the system by pressing the windows button and L.

Better safe than sorry

Monday, 8 January 2007

Internal Quality Auditing

Most of the management standards call for internal auditing to be carried out at least once a year by competent persons, correctly trained. This process, if carried out correctly, will be of great benefit to the company, providing detailed information about the parts of the company that work (and the parts that don't). The results when analysed allow for continual improvement and increased customer satisfaction.

The main problem today is that some organisations will try to audit the processes without knowing exactly how this should be done. The results are inconclusive at best and misleading at worst.

The only way to be sure and to get the best results is to have your auditors trained properly. Proper courses are based on the Standard ISO19011, Auditing Requirements for Quality & Environmental Audors and are usually two days in duration and successful candidates receive a certificate of successful completion.

The first day concentrates on the two main standards 9001 & 14001 and how these are applied to organisations. An end of day test confirms understanding.

The second day looks at audit practices, techniques, routines and form filling, and finishes with tests of understanding and competence.

Thursday, 4 January 2007

The Basics of Laptop Security

It is startling to see that a recent statistic records that one in ten laptops will be lost or stolen. These laptops often contain sensitive or very sensitive information but some have only minimal security in place.

Recent thefts of laptops include:

  • Irish Army

  • Metropolitan Police

  • Ministry of Defence (21 lost or stolen between July 2005 and July 2006)

  • Nationwide

  • Ernst & Young

The loss of the hardware is bad enough but the data that they hold could be very damaging.

The strict rules at airports last year meant that laptops could no longer be carried as hand luggage and as a direct result many hundreds of laptops were never reunited with their owners.

Rule 1: Never leave a laptop unattended in a car or in a public place.

Rule 2: Keep a minimum of data stored on the laptop.

Rule 3: If you need access to large amounts of data use VPN to access the main system.

Rule 4: Use complex passwords and log-in methods to protect data

In addition to these main rules:

  • If possible use two factor authentication, where a token, card or bio-metric is used to gain access to the laptop data.

  • If possible use encrypted data so that it is useless to a thief

  • When using a laptop in a public place avoid being overlooked.

  • The above are really simple and sensible precautions.

Some very secure organisations make use of the so called 'logic bomb', where four wrong attempts to log in to a laptop results in the entire hard disk being destroyed. Not something that should be used lightly!.. Think if the poor IT manager who will need to purchase new hardware.

Let's make 2007 a secure year for laptops

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