What makes I.T. different than other parts of your business is that if you do it wrong, your business can be destroyed. The problem is that I.T. seems like something that many people can do on their own. Whether you just bought a new PC, or bring your home laptop to the office, or let a new employee bring in their own PC, it’s usually pretty easy to add a computer to your WiFi and get to work. But is it smart? We recently had an experience with a client that proved again how dangerous it can be if you don’t follow best practices for adding a computer to your network, and the potential for an I.T. Disaster that can shut down a company entirely.
A client of ours recently acquired a company, which included the company’s owner, some key personnel, and some computer equipment. Our client decided that they would like to avoid buying new computer equipment for these new people, and decided to integrate the acquired company’s equipment onto their network. One of those computers was a laptop that the owner had used for both home and business, and that he had taken with him on his many business trips in the USA and internationally.
Our client didn’t want to offend his new business partner by declining the request to add the computer to the network, or prying into the contents of that computer. But one of the things that our clients get from us is advice on the best practices for all of their I.T. issues. We have policies and procedures every time a new computer is added to our clients’ networks, or when our client wants to attach some other device, such as a personal laptop, to the network. (We call this BYOD -- Bring Your Own Device.) It’s our job to keep our clients’ I.T. safe, secure, and working. If we let down our guard, our client could potentially lose their entire business.
New Computer Best Practices
That’s why we insisted on following our best practices for adding a computer to a network, and fully inspected this computer prior to letting it join our client’s business network. And it’s a good thing that we did, because what it revealed would have been very dangerous to our client.
The laptop had absolutely no anti-virus protection on it, no software firewall (critical when you use a laptop for travel), and a long list of software with known security flaws. Plus, Windows hadn’t been updated for a long while, making the entire computer an easy target for hacking, viruses, malware, ransomware and more.
But what made all of that even worse was the fact that Tor Browser software was on the computer. Tor is a system that is used by both legitimate and illicit people and enterprises to provide anonymous services and surf the web anonymously. Originally funded by the U.S. government to enhance computer security, it’s now described by The Economist as "a dark corner of the web". The software itself isn’t the problem as much as what you can do with the software.
Using the Tor browser, you can download pirated software and media, including movies and music. Often the downloaded contents are infected with all kinds of malware, just waiting to infect your computer and your entire computer network.
It goes without saying that you should only use legitimately licensed software on your business computers. Doing otherwise exposes your business to a long list of disasters. So the presence of the Tor Browser on this laptop told us that we had to be extra diligent with this computer. There was no option at that point to make the current configuration secure enough, according to our best practices for adding a computer to a network. The only solution was to completely wipe this laptop clean, reinstall the latest version of Windows and all required (and properly licensed) software.
The result is that we successfully added the new staff and BYOD equipment to our client’s network. This computer is now doing what it was intended to do, and the business continues to grow uneventfully...partially as a result of our insisting that our client follow our best practices for adding a computer to a network.
Keep Your Business Safe
Our clients depend on us to keep their business safe and running well every day. Insisting that our clients follow our best practices for adding a computer to a network is just one part of what we do. We’re constantly monitoring our clients servers, their network security, their resource usage, their regulatory compliance, cloud services performance, disaster recovery readiness and more. Read more about our complete SMB I.T. services here.
We take great pride in our role in helping our clients serve their own clients and customers without their having to worry about their network, their computers, or the safety of their business data. If you’d like to enjoy the same kind of peace of mind that our clients already experience, contact us today or call us now at 818-913-1335.