Computer data security is essential
Computer data security is essential
With the increased use of computers for record keeping and communication in all nutrition services programs, there is an increased need to protect and assure security of these records. Natural disasters such as flooding, earthquakes, tornadoes and now, terrorist attacks, have demonstrated the importance of securing computer records. There are also more common threats to equipment and data that include vandalism, fire, automatic sprinkler malfunction, computer virus infection, deliberate sabotage, electrical power surges, broken water pipes and equipment breakdown. This is especially true with the hard disks where most data is stored.
More and more child and adult care centers in Nebraska are using computers for record keeping. Centers and sponsoring organizations need to take appropriate action to safeguard records that verify claims for reimbursement. A few suggestions will offer some degree of protection. If you have adequate backup copies of your data stored in a safe place, you can recover from any virus, sabotage, accident or natural disaster.
- Plastic covers should be used to cover computer equipment, including the computer, monitor, printer and other storage devices. These inexpensive covers may offer some protection in the event of water damage.
- The use of a surge protector can protect data and electronics from damage that could be caused by electrical power surges.
- Place computer hardware in areas that are free of dust, cigarette smoke and other contaminants and away from magnets and electric motors.
- The office, center or home should be equipped with a smoke detector or fire alarm to warn of potential danger to life and equipment.
- The hard drive should be completely backed up at least monthly at a minimum; however, consider bi-weekly or weekly as the needs of the business dictate. A file should be backed up anytime it is updated, or at least on a daily basis.
- Back-up data files and software should be stored in a secure on-site area. One thing to consider here is the use of a fire and water proof box for storage.
- Consider storing back-up data files and software at a secure off-site location also. Storing these files at an off-site location lessens the chance of losing them to damaging forces. In making this decision, be sure not to compromise the ownership of the material when choosing off-site storage. Another alternative might be a safe deposit box.
- Business computer users should be fully trained in back-up, recovery procedures and emergency power-down procedures. This is critical so that current up-dated files can be saved.
- The training of employees in the use of fire extinguishers and individual responsibilities in the event of fire not only is an important factor in saving lives, but could save important computer data and files.
Although a lot of hype and myths have been spread about computer viruses, Trojan horses or worms in computer programs, the anti-virus programs will not give you 100 percent protection from a virus attack. Your first line of defense should always be a good set of back-ups. If a virus is discovered, you can reinstall programs from master disks and your important documents and databases can be restored from your backup without restoring an infected program.
More information about viruses and computer security
These are links to some web sites that may be of interest to the users of the Nutrition Services web site. This is not meant to be a comprehensive listing of sites. You will be leaving the Nebraska Department of Education server when you follow these links. These links will open in a new browser window so you can continue viewing the Nutrition Services site. The Nebraska Department of Education Nutrition Services office does not endorse products; links to commercial sites are for information purposes only.