The Complete Guide to IT Infrastructure for Small Businesses

Are you having trouble getting your IT Support Infrastructure setup? Do you find there are too many decisions to be made with not enough time to research all of them? Below is PART I of our helpful guidelines to making sure the IT side of your small business hits the ground running.

3 Words: Router Firewall Security

Router firewall security is an absolute must in an age of technology where hacking is common. It is important to layer your security base to be, at the very least, moderately secure from all kinds of attacks. In a service-based business, the different layers of files and confidential information on your company servers make having a structured secure firewall on your router crucial. Viruses and worm attacks, as well as misconfiguration, can be extremely disruptive to a service-based business if these firewalls are not put in place correctly, maintained after installation, and updated when required. Any of these viruses can compromise a computer quickly and without your immediate knowledge.

Get a Reliable Internet Provider

With today’s technology, a dial-up provider is an outdated option for your company; broadband is the clear way to go. Broadband options include cable, DSL, satellite, and fiber optic service. The best option in Buffalo is fiber optic service, with speed and consistency a notch above the rest. If fiber optic service is not available in your area, cable would be the second choice. Gaining a reliable internet provider should be geared toward your company and employees’ internet usage. If your company only uses the internet to search the web, then you will not have to spend unnecessary funds on a more expensive plan. First, monitor your bandwidth to see if the current internet you are using is worth what you’re paying, and then adjust your plan accordingly.

Are You Going to Run an Internal Server with a Domain, or Workstations That Would Be Using the Cloud?

There are plenty of benefits to using the cloud over an in-house server. The headache of maintaining that server, as well as owning your own hardware, can affect efficiency in daily operations. When it is your server, you have to manage service updates along with any complications or hardware failures. Instead, choose to go with cloud-based operations where your provider backs up your business for you and will fix anything that is broken for a monthly or yearly fee. You can setup user accounts, and with a small office, you do not need to have anything other than an internet connection. Mark Molfese, Systems Administrator for Lighthouse Technology Services commented, “It’s the simplicity of the service, it is worth a monthly or yearly fee to relieve most of the stress.”

Updates are More Important Than You Think

Everyone hates the dreaded popup from Java or any other program that requires a frequent update in the middle of your work day. You could be really focused and productive on a project, and the popup ruins your whole groove. Well, we are here to explain to you that it is for good reason; updates should be taken seriously! If programs are not updated frequently, you expose your machine (and the information on it) to abuse and anyone trying to gain access to your information. Rick Hawley, Professional Services Manager at Lighthouse Technology Services said, “We provide an update service and receive alerts to make sure people are doing their updates. It is a big benefit.” Your business should have someone who can take care of issues with updating, as well as any other minor problems.

Your Wireless Internet Needs Encryption

Encrypt your wireless internet in order to prevent a set of problems that could take away from your busy schedule. Encryption discourages quick and easy internet access by people, and their internet connected devices, that your company may not trust. It also ensures that the people your company does trust act in a professional manner online.  It is an easy fix to a potential headache for your business.

Internet Access

Allowing your employees to have more flexibility as far as where they work and when they work has become increasingly popular in the past few years. Less time spent commuting to and from the office, and more time spent at home with friends and family, can help keep morale high among employees. This is possible thanks to remote access options for your business computer systems. The ability to log in to your business’ files from home, and exchange emails from different computers, allows instant access for employees as if they were physically in ‘the office.’ Employees can be traveling as well, and remote access allows them to access their business files while on the road or in the air. Cloud computing services are the way businesses are trending towards now, they give you the opportunity to access files from anywhere.

Tight Control on File Sharing

The first step here is breaking up users into their different departments, such as manufacturing, accounting, etc. We then adjust permission settings so that a manufacturer can only have access to the manufacturing files, accounting to the accounting files, and so on. You likely don’t want team members from your manufacturing department having access to view accounting reports, for example. Protecting these files and having a tight grip on file sharing is an important compliance requirement when starting to build your IT infrastructure.

Application Control

Application control is similar to controlling file sharing with one distinct difference – individual, not group, access. Where a group of people can have access to files, applications can and will be much more confined to select individuals. There are options for single user or multi user licenses. We want to stress the importance of securing these applications just as much as file sharing. No one wants people to gain access to privileged information that only certain managers are supposed to monitor and control. Payroll information is a good example of this. Just because someone in your accounting department may be responsible for processing payroll each pay period, doesn’t mean everyone in the accounting department should necessarily have access to your payroll application.

Always Have a Backup Plan

The old ways of backing up your hard drive and saving data are becoming obsolete. It is, sadly, common for people to have multiple USB devices all around their desk, completely forgetting what information is on which USB device. Cloud services offer different options for backing up and storing your data, depending on how much storage space you need. Rick Hawley, Professional Services Manager at Lighthouse Technology Services said, “Cloud services allow you to pay monthly for connection and bandwidth and automatically save so you do not have to worry.” You never have to switch drives and tapes – your data is all automatically saved in the cloud, and you will not have to spend any money on hardware to save information. This is another service that is worth “peace of mind,” even if it costs a small fee per month.

Office Climate Control

This one may seem outside the box, but it’s important – your work location needs to have a regulated, comfortable temperature. While this includes your employees, because you obviously would like them to be comfortable, we want to focus on ensuring your machinery has an adequate climate for its functioning purposes. If your computer or server are stuck in a hot room, they have the potential to slow down, and ultimately crash. Important documents can be lost, and only because of the lack of awareness for vital company property. Moisture can also lead to similar problems if it develops inside the machine.

Security Send Off

A solid foundation for your business starts with building a strong IT infrastructure. We have given you multiple tips on where to start and how to improve your IT stronghold around your small business. We emphasized security in different channels to solidify your private information. We want small business owners to understand how important these suggestions are, and we hope this topic has been valuable.

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