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Insecure about your security?

A tool to help small businesses improve their IT security

Globe and Mail Update

Just because you know that bolstering your IT security is priority No. 1 doesn't mean you know how to go about doing it. Well, check out the Microsoft Security Assessment Tool (MSAT), which lets organizations compare their security strategy to that of their peers, and offers suggestions on how they can improve.

The whole process takes about an hour. The online questionnaire includes questions about your company's current security procedures in areas like anti-virus software, security and privacy policies, and firewalls. At the end, MSAT will generate a report detailing how your procedures stack up to established standards and to those of organizations of similar size in the same industry. It'll also offer up recommendations for action. And it's free of charge.

"I found it to be a nice tool," says Blair Nowakowsky, a network analyst at the Alberta Research Council. "It provided a very nice report on the security standards that I practise here in my organization." The MSAT produces an "executive-level report," Nowakowsky notes, so he felt entirely comfortable handing it directly to his manager.

Microsoft already offers the toolkit in other countries, but here in Canada, it teamed up with the Canadian Information Processing Society, the national association of IT professionals, to help promote MSAT. So far, 98% of CIPS members who've used the toolkit have found it useful. You can check out MSAT at

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