Many small business owners work from a home office. Basic security measures should be implemented in order to maintain a stable work environment. Neglecting to implement certain security measures could be detrimental. However, pitfalls can be avoided by following these 5 simple guidelines.
Implement Environmental Controls
There are three main environmental concerns when dealing with home office electronics:
- Room temperature and humidity
- Room ventilation
- Fire protection
Room temperature and humidity should be controlled. The smaller the room, the faster it can heat up. Especially if you have a lot of equipment running like computers, fax machine, all-in-one printer, etc. Try and keep the room between 70-80°F with a mild humidity. Keep in mind that if the room air is too dry, this can create the ideal environment for static electricity which is obviously a bad thing for electronic equipment! Temperature and humidity sensors are relatively inexpensive and easy to find. It would be worthwhile to invest in one for your home office.
A properly ventilated room is essential as electronic equipment tends to collect dust very quickly. This dust buildup can often times block vents on equipment (PC case vents, CPU heat sinks, etc.) which can cause your computer or other equipment to overheat, causing damage or even equipment failure.
Purchase a Class C fire extinguisher which is the proper rating for electrical fires. An overhead sprinkler system is always a good thing to have for your home; just keep in mind that water and electronic equipment don't get along!
There are two factors to consider when thinking about implementing hardware protection devices. Those factors are power surge protection and power failure protection.
Power surges, spikes, or brownouts are power fluctuations that can affect or damage your home office equipment. Investing in a quality surge protector is the first course of action you should take. Now keep in mind, I'm not talking about a power strip. A surge protector is something totally different. It helps to regulate and protect devices that are plugged into it from electrical signal fluctuations. A power strip is simply an extension device that provides you with additional outlets.
Power failures can cause data corruption to servers and other home office systems if they are not powered down properly. A UPS (uninterruptable power supply) is a battery backup system that sits between your equipment (i.e. a PC or server) and your power outlet. If you lose power, the UPS detects this and its battery takes over. A UPS battery can provide anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours of power, enabling you to safely power down your system(s).
Wireless Network Considerations
If you have a wireless network setup in your home office, it's important to make sure it's properly secured. Using WPA/WPA2 security protocols is a good start in securing your wireless environment. Check out BrightHub managing editor Brett Callow's article on How To Secure A Wireless Network for an more in depth look at this essential step in securing your home office environment.
Maintain Operating System Updates
Operating system updates are crucial to keeping your computer system(s) secure. Sure they can be a nuisance but they often plug security holes within the operating system software. They also fix glitches and sometimes even increase system efficiency. Staying on top of system updates is a critical step in home office security.
Implement AntiVirus Software
Choosing the right antivirus software is like buying a new car. You have LOTS of options that come in all different shapes, sizes, and colors. The best advice I can give is to test drive a few and see which one fits your needs. Most antivirus companies provide a trial version of their software for you to download and test on your systems.
Keep in mind that, like a car, antivirus software works best when it is maintained properly. Once you purchase an antivirus package, make sure you configure it to automatically download and install software updates and virus definitions so that you're always current and protected from the latest viruses and malware.
Keep these 5 tips in mind if you're planning to create a home office environment. If you already have a home office, each of these are very easy to implement and may save you from a lot of unnecessary headaches down the road. Remember, a secure office is a happy office! A little peace of mind goes a long way.