‘Tis the season for holiday deals and holiday giving, but unfortunately it’s also the time of year when cyber scams are on the rise.
Cyber thieves are out in force this year, more so than ever before!
Ringing their digital bells, emailing with special deals, asking for you to sign up for alluring promotions and sending out credit card alerts. In fact, cybersecurity experts suspect that 2 in 5 users will fall for a cyberattack this season, as criminals perfect their phishing scams and further exploit unsuspecting users to get onto business networks.
Today I want to walk through some of the growing scams that are targeting home users and businesses alike this holiday season:
Phony Invoices—the end of the year is the biggest time of year when users are making more personal purchases and businesses are increasing their procurement to maximize Section 179. No matter your purchase types, scammers have identified fake invoicing as one of the most effective ways to get users to click on attachments or links. Many will unknowingly install malware and viruses on their personal computer and network, which may lead to a severe data breach or attack if they aren’t taking the proper precautions.
This holiday season, make sure you and your users are thinking before they click. If they don’t recall a purchase or if the email doesn’t seem quite right, err on skepticism when opening emails this holiday season.
Shipping status links—all of those purchases you’ve made are hard to track! The ease of status updates via UPS, FedEx and USPS shipping links can sure come in handy. But hackers have also found shipping emails to be the perfect vehicle for virus-ridden links.
If you are doing holiday or business procurement this holiday season, be careful not to click directly click shipping links. Rather, go to a distributor’s website and enter the tracking number (Even easier: Google will give you tracking information if you enter the tracking number into their query box).
So many deals—with Black Friday and Cyber Monday expanding into the rest of December (or so it seems!), there are so many deals hitting your inbox, some of which may be too good to be true. Criminals exploit human emotions—including pushing marketing promotions aimed at conversions.
Be wary of these deals this year. If you are really interested in one, type in the URL into your browser (criminals often mask malicious site links with seemingly legitimate URLs in hopes to redirect you to a malicious site that mirrors your favorite store’s website).
Credit card alerts—you may receive regular updates from your financial institutions, but emergency alerts informing you of password verification or security alerts directed at getting you to log in are a big red flag of common banking phishing scams.
Note from the CEO—during the holidays, you may expect to get messages from the leadership in your organization. It may come from the finance department, informing you of your bonus, or maybe it’s a note from the CEO wishing everyone a happy holidays.
Be aware that criminals continue to mask phishing emails in disguise of intra-office correspondences. If the voice, tone or actions asked in the email don’t seem quite right, ask the sender of the email before taking requested action. Often the sender address looks right at first glance, but at further inspection something isn’t quite right (see below). Make sure you inspect emails carefully this season to avoid being tricked!
In light of the Equifax breach earlier this year and an uptick in fraud during the holiday season, consider checking in on your bank accounts to ensure everything looks above board.
Bottom line: Don’t give any information—passwords or other sensitive information—online or over the phone. Guard your (and your business’) information to avoid getting put in precarious situations.
If something doesn’t seem right, if there are typos in the writing or an email or website looks a little sloppy, it’s likely not the real deal.
Most of all, make sure your business is taking security as serious as you should in 2018! If you have any questions, concerns or hesitations about security, give us a call!
IT Support wants to help your business, but most of the time, they don’t understand why adding more steps, longer passwords and heightened security policies often leads to insecure and ineffective security.
By implementing too much computer security— by putting too many computer security controls in place—many enthusiastic IT Support teams have actually burdened to users to the point where they no longer even use IT Security!
Instead of crippling users with multiple access passwords and other controls inhibiting them from getting their work done—along with specific restrictions that may actually hinder productivity— users mostly will likely try to bypass security policies and actually put your business at more risk of a cyber threat.
With only 8 hours in a day most of the time, your workforce needs to be encouraged and enabled to be productive. But with IT Security bogging down productivity, many workers end up resorting to unsafe practices simply to get tasks done (tasks that you expect them to complete, but have not been because of added work relating to security policies implemented without your users in mind).
The problem that I want to talk about today is how to effectively implement IT Security strategies to completely support users to stay secure while maintaining productivity. Specifically, I want you to understand how to implement practical security into your environments.
What is practical security?
I advocate for practical IT Security. That is, security that enables workers to get their work done, while keeping your business and your sensitive data safe. The problem, as I’ve alluded to above, is that most security policies and best practices are defined in a vacuum free of actual workplace environments, devoid of necessary or required tasks outlined by managers or critical tasks outlined in job descriptions.
Most often, IT Security is conceived and implemented by people that don’t understand your business’ values and objectives, nor does this IT Security keep in mind how users tend to work.
I call this “Do What I Say” security. Some IT Security officer demands that everyone comply to a laundry list of security policies simply ‘because they said so’, NOT because those security measures will be good for the business, outside, perhaps making their own lives easier.
Most security frameworks DON’T keep the user’s best interest at heart. They simply are put together thinking about what technical mastery could keep the ‘bad guys’ out. But in the process, they fail to keep workers productive.
Practical security, on the other hand, gets users to complete their work, have confidence in their IT Support team, and enables workers with the knowledge of how to mitigate important security concerns—and protects them from those concerns—while allowing for ease of work.
A simple example?
When most of us think about security, you might think about passing through that airport metal detector.
What is its goal?
To make sure no one is brining restricted items onto airplanes, in effort to create a safer environment for travelers. More often than not, passengers miss their flights when security checkpoints get overwhelmed. Complaining passengers and over-burdened security agents lead to laxer policies (or at least inconsistent policies) when lines get too long.
These security checkpoints make us all agitated, annoyed and keep us from fulfilling our mission of boarding a plane and getting to our conference, vacation, or desired destination.
Are security lines practical?
Some may say “Yes”. Their role, at minimum is to make us all feel safer and by doing so, they are a practical necessity in modern day air travel. But if you were to ask passengers if they like waiting in long lines with the potential of getting frisked or bags completely searched, I’m sure you’ll find several that don’t understand why they have to go through such annoyances just to go on a short vacation to family visit.
Many may say that there are several inherent impracticalities in airport security because the security is not enabling passengers to be better directed, on time for their flights or motivated to go through the entire security process of hurry up to wait the next time they have to fly.
‘Airport Security Line’-type procedures are too often visible in IT Security.
These same disgruntled feelings are constantly affecting your users when it comes to IT Security barriers. The problem with airport security, as user security, is that often, the passenger or user is not kept in mind when policies and procedures are enacted. Rather, someone tells everyone else how things are to be done, without a solid understanding of individual experience.
Now, luckily for airport security, we all see a greater good of staying safe and secure as we board our planes and don’t mind some occasional annoyances by long security lines. But if you had to face the same barriers day in and day out—as many users do with the wrong types (or at least misapplied types of IT Security), you might think twice about security policies.
How are users disenfranchised and left to risk business IT Security if misapplied?
Because most of IT seems black and white to IT administrators, users often jump through hoops or barriers to comply with company security policies to get their work done. Most often, usability under these strict security policies that haven’t considered work flow or user behavior will deeply counteract business objectives and will eventually put business security at risk.
Justa couple of examples of when IT Security becomes more of a hurdle than a good:
Your antivirus isn’t updated—let’s say IT Support requested access to your computer after 5 pm last night. They wanted to update your antivirus because their policy prohibits computers without the latest anti-virus onto the network.
Because you had a big report due at 10 am this morning, you decided to forego the anti-virus updates and work on your computer off network.
When you get into work the next day, stressed and in need to connect to print your report by the deadline—5 minutes away. Instead, when you try to log in, you’re thrown in quarantine and warned that your computer needs the latest update. You miss your deadline because of this policy.
Windows isn’t updated properly—because you missed another scheduled maintenance window, your computer does not comply with your company IT Security policy. Until updates are properly installed, you’re kicked off the network. You scramble to figure out the updates yourself (because IT Support isn’t around to help by your deadline).
You’d probably have to spend at minimum 15-20 minutes trying to log onto the network every time an update came out to the security policy on mandatory computer updates or configurations.
Now let’s say you have to get payroll out by 2 pm this afternoon. Or let’s say you needed access to data on the network to finish a report for the CEO.
Security experts have actually found that strict mandated security policies that don’t consider practicality of worker usability end up leading to greater security threats.
55% of users say that they would find ways around IT Security roadblocks!—like the couple examples mentioned above. How? By shifting temporarily onto unprotected networks or finding workarounds to the system. Some of your users are probably finding workarounds if IT Security is inhibiting them from getting their reports to you, or if security policies are keeping them from doing their jobs.
The take home? Businesses desperately need practical security solutions that enable workers to get their work done!
Is Your IT Security keeping your users safe AND productive? Or is it a roadblock from getting work done and making it so impossible for your users that their circumventing it? Consider getting a FREE security assessment to identify practical IT security practices.
A recent study initiated by Google over the past year exposed increasing threats from cyberattacks on BILLIONS of users. Are you certain your users are safe?
Google recently reported that billions of their users have been victims of cyberattacks. Nearly 12.5 million victims in phishing schemes, 750,000 in malware, and almost 2 billion hacked accounts.
While these numbers may seem eye-opening, the stats are not surprising to many security firms. Today, I want to talk about 8 tactics your business security should adopt to avoid becoming a growing target in 2018.
Problem 1: Do not let users reuse passwords. One important point every security expert underscores is to avoid reusing passwords across multiple accounts.
Why is this a problem?
If a user were to use the same password for every account—including personal accounts— any breach to an account could compromise every other account they access with that password. This increases your risk to a network breach.
How to fix it?
Consider enforcing a password policy across your network that requires un-repeated passwords for each account. Make sure your users are creating passwords that are not predictable to crack—for example, that contain words, birthdates and names. Consider using encrypted password vaults, such as KeePass to store account passwords. These applications allow users an easy and secure means to store passwords.
Problem 2: Consider changing your password every month—The longer a password lingers unchanged on the network, the more likely it will get cracked.
Why is this a problem?
Hackers do attempt to crack passwords by looking at all combinations of characters and numbers. If your password lay unchanged for years, you’re giving criminals greater chances of actually cracking it!
How to fix it?
Consider instituting a password policy that enforces users to update their passwords on a regular interval (most security standards recommend monthly password changes).
Problem 3: Avoid permitting personal email on business networks— Analyses of the most popular phishing kits (ways cybercriminals use email and other apps as a means to hack into networks) revealed that mainly Yahoo, Hotmail and Gmail were big targets, all of which are commonly used for personal email.
Why is this a problem?
If you are allowing your staff to access personal email on your network, you risk bringing in phishing and hacking vulnerabilities that your enterprise business email system would have blocked or flagged. By allowing users access to their personal accounts, you are opening a door to increased threats.
How to fix it?
Consider restricting email use on your network to your enterprise system that can be properly monitored. If users need to access personal email, consider restricting their access to personal devices that are permitted to only access a ‘guest’ network, if you permit personal devices to connect.
Problem 4: Avoid opening the door to bad Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) Policies—many businesses allow people to use personal devices—phones and tablets—in the workplace.
Why is this a problem?
The problem with BYOD is that users risk bringing vulnerabilities—including viruses and malware—from their un-monitored personal devices onto your business network.
How to fix it?
Consider instituting a BYOD policy that at very least restricts device access to your business network. By creating a partitioned ‘guest’ network that gives devices access to wireless internet, you mitigate risks of devices compromising network security.
Problem 5: Make sure your IT Support know your enterprise— there are many industry-specific security risks and compliance needs that IT Support should be familiar with inside of your specific industry.
Why is this a problem?
Your business accesses, manipulates and transmits sensitive data in very specific ways. If your IT Support does not understand the intricacies of your business and compliance pressures, they will not be able to appropriately support your security needs.
How to fix it?
Ensure that your IT Support team intimately understands how your business works, has experience within your vertical or has appropriately trained their staff on your industry’s use of data and need for security. Your support team needs to understand how to appropriately mitigate risk in your business and prioritize what security issues should be top of mind.
Problem 6: Does your IT Support understand where your security gaps lie— IT Support should be able to identify your industry’s, along with your business’, specific security risks at any given time point.
Why is this a problem?
Understanding and defining security risks for your business is the first big step in mitigating breach risks.
How to fix it?
Your IT Team should understand the ins and outs of your core business processes and how every single role in your organization interfaces with IT Security. One of the easy first steps to define your problems is to set up a third party security assessment.
Problem 7: Does Your IT Support experience the swivel chair effect—IT Support team members are hard to retain in many organizations.
Why is this a problem?
For companies with internal IT Support, employees tend to get disillusioned by the monotony of their work. For many outsourced solutions, improper management or incentive plans leave technicians with a “grass is greener mentality”.
How to fix it?
Good IT Support teams recognize and encourage growth amongst their team members. Through on-going team training, team member support and job satisfaction check-ups, IT Support management should encourage their team members to grow to have bigger responsibilities and knowledge contributions within their organizations. Unfortunately the majority of IT Support management fail to retain team members for more than 24 months, leading to a perpetual rotating door of support members.
Problem 8: Do you have an appropriate IT Security workflow—your organization likely has a unique set of requirements based on threats to your industry and security compliance policy.
Why is this a problem?
IT Support need to understand how security issues need to be escalated and what steps need to be taken when a security incident occurs.
How to fix it?
Make sure your IT Support has developed appropriate security workflows to match your business’ needs. Your support team needs to understand what steps need to be taken, in what order to adequately detect, analyze and respond to security issues. One common recommendations that security experts suggest is to use a third party security assessment to understand how to improve your current IT Security.
Are you certain your IT Security is keeping you safe?
Are you sure your business isn’t a sitting duck to become the next cybersecurity statistic? Contact us TODAY for a FREE security assessment!
Day in and day out, we’ve come accustomed to hearing news of the latest cyberattacks.
Cybercriminals have certainly been successful in at least one thing—increasing our anxiety about their next big attacks!
While we’ve all heard about many of the precautions to avoid data breaches and cyber hacks, we’ve overlooked a big component (but if you’ve been on vacation for the last 6 months, here is a little refresher).
The big piece of the puzzle that many businesses have failed to address?
Your IT Support should be doing everything in their power to protect you, plain and simple. Making sure critical security patches are applied, helping your users understand security best practices and filling users in on how criminals are breaking into systems. They also should be making sure your data is backed up. BUT sometime, they overlook one quite obvious part: obsolete hardware.
Out of date and non-compliant software and hardware can make or break your business security strategy. It’s actually this cut and dry!
Old hardware and software often lack security updates because the vendors who had built the software or hardware no longer are producing or supporting old systems. The big problem with this is that old software lacks the appropriate security patching to prevent popular hacks from breaching your network. And old hardware is just, frankly, too old to support secure software, including basic antivirus protection.
Note: if you’re not sure whether your hardware or software are meeting today’s security standards, many businesses are considering 3rd party security audits. Cybercriminals are eager to exploit vulnerabilities in aging systems, it’s best to get a second opinion on whether keeping specific hardware and software on your network is a good strategy for your business’ security.
Your Problem? MOST businesses have old assets on their networks leaving them vulnerable:
In fact, 30 to 50 percent of hardware and software installed on the average business network have reached their end of life (EOL) date. End of life means that the software or hardware is no longer being supported by manufacturers.
When machines have reached EOL, this means that your business risks losing data on crumbling machines.
Bottom line: if you depend on older machines or software to get work done, you are risking your business’ security and productivity.
Today, I want to stress that this last quarter of 2017 is the perfect time to save money on 2017 taxes while keeping your business secure going forward. It’s that time of year again to save big using Section 179—tax incentives meant to help businesses reinvest in hardware and software.
What I’ve learned about Section 179 for 2017?
Section 179 can save your business (and mine) a lot of money. It lets you deduct full purchase price of qualifying equipment—computers and software—that were purchased during the tax year.
New and used equipment deduction limit is 500,000. Must be financed/purchased AND put into service by December 31, 2017—that means you need to make decisions quickly in Q4 to ensure you maximize your 179 benefits!
What to expect in 179 for 2017:
Your Deduction Limit Remains at $500,000—Deduction on new and used equipment (any computer hardware) and software was defined for a second year at $500,000.
Your 2017 Spending Cap on Purchases Remains at $2 MILLION— Congress kept the same purchase limits in 2017 as last year. After $2 million dollars is spent, the dollar for dollar incentive reduces considerably.
Bonus Depreciation for 2017 is 50% has been extended to 2019—After you’ve reached the spending cap of $2 million, you can take a 50% depreciation for 2017 off of new equipment purchased.
But before you can really maximize your Section 179 tax breaks, you need to understand what exactly you need to replace in 2017 to keep your network safe. Note: for Zog Inc. customers, we have you covered.
But if you aren’t getting exceptional Zog Inc. service, you likely need to follow a roadmap to optimizing your Section 179 advantage (continue reading to find out what you should be doing).
So, what is a good strategy to identifying old computers?
Create an inventory of your machines and software products— the first step to understanding the magnitude of your security problem is understanding what computers and software your team is using. Catalog every computer and software license so that you’ll be able to evaluate where your risks may lie.
Identify release dates and details on your products— when you purchase hardware and software, you should record when the software was first produced and understand what time frame you have until needing to replace or update your hardware and software. Here is a typical replacement schedule:
Laptop PC 3 Years
Desktop PC 4 Years
Server 5 Years
Networking gear 5 Years
Monitor 8 Years
Create an inventory of potential vulnerabilities and take immediate action on security risks— after understanding when specific hardware and software may reach their end of life, identify specifically which vulnerabilities create immediate risks for your business. Software and hardware that are passed their life cycles should be identified and replaced ASAP.
What are your risks if you keep old hardware and software around?
Lack of vendor support—typically vendors like Microsoft guarantee ongoing support for a product if it’s still in service. This means you’ll get ongoing updates and bug fixes, trouble shooting and security fixes. When software reaches its end of life, you won’t get any support. You probably don’t want to just ‘hope everything works’.
Cybersecurity risks increase—once a product is not supported, say good bye to software updates. Security updates, alone, should be the major reason why you might want to upgrade your system. Note: firewalls and virus protection are alone insufficient to protecting against unpatched network vulnerabilities (unpatched software is actually a hacker’s preferred method of entering your network).
Non-compliance—if you work in an industry that needs to maintain security compliance—say HIPAA or PCI compliance for example—having dated software or hardware that is too old to support secure versions of software packages leaves your business out of compliance. Period. You may risk bigger fines or other legal fees if your networks are full of vulnerabilities that lead your data to be breached.
Poor performance—slow computers can impact productivity of your staff (so can outdated software). If an old computer fails during the work week, you may be jeopardizing tens of man hours waiting for an old part or computer to be replaced. Most often, hardware and software failures occur at your busiest times.
If you’re in accounting, realize that tax season is creeping up on you. Would you want to lose your tax data right when you need it most?
If you’re in sales, could you tolerate losing a week of not selling? Making sure your computers are reliably functioning is critical to ensure everyone is getting their work done.
Unless you’re okay paying them to not work while their computer or software takes hours to repair!
Are you concerned about your aging network infrastructure but aren’t sure what to do?
Contact Us TODAY for a FREE security assessment to identify what specifically needs to be done to keep your business safe without spending an arm and a leg!
Microsoft, Facebook and Google have upped their investment in security this year (and plan to in 2018 as well). If your business isn’t heeding their fixes, you’re likely becoming even more vulnerable.
This past year has been a world win tour of the havoc that cybercrime has wreaked across businesses large and small. Some attacks have been so successful that millions of Americans—including many in and around Philadelphia—have fallen victim to ransomware, data leaks and cyberattacks.
Many of these businesses did not heed security fixes released by companies like Microsoft, Google and Adobe (just to name a few that have heavily invested in patching up their platforms), leaving them easy targets to cyberattacks.
I want to talk about why big tech’s investment in security will cascade down and cause your business havoc (no matter what vertical you fall into!) simply because your IT Support and security are not paying enough attention to fixing and patching your networks (and training your users how to safely use technology in the workplace).
For today, I’m going to focus in on Microsoft simply because most of my clients (and prospective clients) regularly use their products.
In 2017 Microsoft reported investing over 1 billion dollars in security. During their quarterly shareholders meeting, Microsoft’s CEO, Satya Nadella, confirmed that one of its biggest concerns moving forward towards 2018 was in cybersecurity.
In fact, Microsoft has been working tirelessly shoring up its security to the point where they’ve increased their patch release schedule from monthly to a weekly occurrence. To combat cybercriminals and exploits in their systems, they’ve directed their workforce towards security. Other major tech companies, such as Facebook, Google and Adobe—just to name a few—have also made huge investments over the course of this past year and through the foreseeable future towards cybersecurity to shore up their products from malicious attacks.
The biggest concern that lingers is not how big tech will react to increasing cybercrime, but how businesses will implement and manage changes made by big tech to benefit from these major tech security investments.
What remains certain is that many businesses fail to monitor and apply routine security patches to shore up their networks. More than 37% of businesses fail to even apply security fixes, using insecure (un-updated versions) because they have no idea bugs exist! Their IT Support isn’t keeping track of them often because they are merely fighting daily fires rather than preventing disasters from occurring.
So, How could Microsoft’s increased investment in security hurt your business?
If your IT Support is NOT regularly testing and applying Windows patches to your network, you’re leaving a completely open door to hackers. The more patches they overlook, the more your network is becoming Swiss cheese and the more likely an attack that happens to target you will compromise your business data.
Even more so, your employees are more vulnerable to social engineering and phishing attacks than ever before.
Phishing kits are being used by cyber attackers to increase their targeting efficiency and gain access to user credentials. Even the most basic of kits allow criminals to clone login pages (including for email, Office365, Facebook and bank accounts) for the cybercriminal to use at a later time to penetrate your network or accounts.
And don’t simply assume that if your website is up and running. Many businesses are unsuspectedly hosting malicious code on their websites, aimed at vectoring attacks on your clients.
Even legitimate websites using modern WordPress themes are vulnerable to masked attacks on users. Attackers are compromising your enterprise-grade website through WordPress add-ons or unpatched or un-updated WordPress versions. If your IT Support is not looking at patching their network and making sure all of your applications are up-to-date, they may be doing you a disservice saying that ‘Everything’s handled’.
The bottom line: Microsoft and other big tech companies that your business relies to run business are investing in security updates and patches and if you aren’t testing and applying those fixes throughout your organization, you’re becoming a bigger target.
You can’t assume that everything is being handled today. There’s simply too much risk involved in protecting sensitive electronic data to merely assume that IT Security is being handled. What most businesses are turning to are security risk analyses to validate that their networks are safe.
Concerned about your business security? Not sure if your network is being patched or monitored? Are your users left in the dark? Contact us today for a FREE network security assessment.
Cybersecurity Awareness Month has just past. But for the majority of businesses in and around Philadelphia, security threats should be number one on their radar for the end of 2017 and beyond.
Cybersecurity has massive impact on every organization from every industry, both private and public, large and small, businesses with internal IT departments and outsourced IT support teams.
At its core: your business’s IT Security strategy should have laser-like focus on how to prevent attacks from happening in the first place.
BUT Your Security Is Likely Not Even Protecting Your CEO!
Just to give an example of business security problems, over 30% of CEOs have had their company email address and password stolen without their knowledge. Many of these victims have had other accounts compromised because of shared passwords across accounts.
Over half of CEOs that have had their email compromised have self-reported having other business and non-business accounts tampered with or compromised as well. CEOs are a big target for cybercrime for many nation state hacking groups.
Today, I want to reiterate some of the biggest actionable items your IT Support should be looking for when monitoring your IT Security.
Make sure you are patching—one of the easiest ways into a network is through one that is not properly maintained. Most people simply assume that basics like security patching vulnerabilities that Windows and other software companies hand over would be applied in a timely manner.
But unfortunately, patching and network maintenance are two of the most-overlooked aspects of business security.
IT Support teams often are too busy or do not have strict processes in place to consistently apply and maintain updated patch schedules. If we learned anything from the Equifax hacks earlier this fall, it is that patching regularly (AND testing patches to make sure they were applied without causing incidents) are crucial in security prevention.
Secure comprehensively—most often, businesses concerned with IT Security might expect to have one person on their team ‘doing security’. Unfortunately, security is not a one and done job. And security is not something that can simply be siloed to one person to oversee and maintain.
Every single endpoint and every single point of contact on your network could be a point of access for a hacker.
If you are relying on one guy (or gal) to monitor and secure your business, you likely are having security vulnerabilities fall through the cracks.
A cybersecurity initiative should be comprehensively part of your IT Support solution— every technician should understand security policies enforced by your business (and agencies enforcing compliance where applicable). They should alert users to security best practices while working out user issues.
By protecting every part of your business—every end user and every machine consistently, you will prevent easy vulnerabilities from slipping through the cracks.
Know how to use least privilege—many companies don’t realize that they grant team members access to more information than they need to successfully fulfill their jobs. Some team members are unknowingly on email chains or have access to folders that they don’t need to have available to them.
The problem with giving people more access than they need is that your business risks having more exposure to a potential data breach in the event someone gets phished or someone’s account gets hacked. The more privy data you leave exposed, the more likely it will get into the wrong hands.
Monitor what specific activity is common on your network—the best way to detect a breach in progress is first having a complete baseline understanding of what network activity routinely looks like. When incidents contrast the norm, IT Support should investigate and understand what is happening on the network to cause activity irregularities and have response plans in place in the event hacking attempts are being made or if there is a breach in progress.
Heuristic security improves over time—having security that learns to detect attacks from past events is critical in modern IT Security. Heuristic firewalls—those that understand what attacks have looked like in the past will help learn and detect how future attacks may present themselves. With advances in computer programming techniques like machine learning and artificial intelligence, nowadays, your IT Support team should be thinking about more effective ways to detect and prevent attacks from hitting endpoints on your network.
Know your threat landscape—instead of simply reading about the latest attack in the New York Times or the Tribune, your IT Support should be scraping the web for hints of the latest breaches and attacks. They should be able to field any recommendations and answer any questions regarding the current attack landscape. You may even ask an expert on their team for insights into how your business should protect against upcoming attacks.
Having a team that understands the threat landscape and is able to proactively react to that constantly changing environment is critical for your business cybersecurity.
Take a holistic approach to security—instead of simply going at security in an ad hoc manner, you want to have security in your quarterly and annually business planning meetings. Your ultimate goal is making your organization safer from the bottom up and the top down.
Your IT Support should be actively interested in your business planning sessions and should be fielding advice on how to strategize security given the current threat matrix. They should make recommendations, provide security metrics (i.e., show you explicitly how they have protected your business and identified and fixed security issues) and enforce security policies.
Are you certain your security plan is comprehensive? Is your business protected enough to prevent being a target to hackers? Contact us TODAY for a FREE cybersecurity assessment.
We were recently asked to work with an organization hosting a major event at their office. The group soliciting our IT Support services simply expected us to do what they considered “routine work”—set up additional wireless access points, help guests log on to the network and assist with any technical issues that may arise during a big event with hundreds of people.
When we got to the event space (an open suite of offices besides the organization’s headquarters), we realized right away that something didn’t seem right.
As we set up boost signals for the wireless and tested the signal to ensure that the entire event space was completely covered, we detected a device on the network beaconing to an external destination.
There was something on that organization’s network transmitting a regular flow of data off the network. And the organization’s network defenses (primarily a firewall) failed to identify the threat. It took a little bit of investigation and scanning to see that there was a major problem—and possibly a data breach—that had likely slipped through the cracks for weeks to months.
If we’ve only learned one thing from the recent Equifax attack, it should be how easy it is for a subtle debilitating data breach to go undetected.
What this attack underscored for me?
Business have to be extra careful when it comes to cybersecurity. And businesses that aren’t sure what their IT Support is doing to keep them safe, should get informed.
While the recent Equifax breach might be the latest headline sink, cybersecurity experts know it will not be the last.
One thing cybersecurity analysts are sure of is that the next attack will be coming soon. And what experts have a hard time grasping is how easy businesses make it for hackers and thieves to break into their networks and steal or ransom their data.
In fact, many of the data breaches we see in the news could have been completely prevented had their IT Support teams taken proper preventative precautions to eliminate risks on their networks.
HOW PREPARED IS YOUR ORGANIZATION? 6 Questions to ask yourself about your IT Security
Do you know how easy it is for an attacker to see inside your network?
Your IT Support team should have acute awareness into what an attacker is looking for. What specific IT Security infrastructure (or lack thereof) will make you a more likely target? IT Support should be able to identify key people that need to be informed on the latest schemes and attacks. They should identify weaknesses in your business processes to address any potential weaknesses or points of entry for attacks.
How can hackers breach your network?
Your IT Support need to be up-to-date on the methods hackers are using specifically against your business sector. They should be informing your team on necessary changes to behavior (say password policies for an example) and infrastructure (firewalls, routers, operating systems) to make it as difficult as possible for anyone to access. The harder it is to penetrate your network, the less likely someone will invest effort to get in (there are way too many easy opportunities for fast pay days—criminals don’t waste their time getting into secured networks if other opportunities abound).
Do you have security best practices that staff are abiding to?
Most IT Support teams fail to relay best practices to your staff, simply because that’s not ‘part of their job’. They see themselves as the guys and gals that clean up messes.
What they fail to do is prevent emergencies right out the gate. In fact, most IT Support fail to properly backup your critical data (even when they say they are!) and fail to regularly apply security patches to your networks (patches preventing known attacks!).
Zog IT Support ensures that your company is in the know with latest cybersecurity best practices and helps your team make the best decisions when it comes to cybersecurity preparedness.
Are you certain you’re protecting your sensitive data?
Even if you don’t think you work with much sensitive data, you likely have plenty of it sitting on your network— social security numbers, client credit card information, insurance policies, your own bank accounts.
And most of the time, when I perform a security assessment, I find that this data is wide open on the network. Unencrypted. Not segmented.
Many businesses even fail to identify where on their network sensitive information is stored. Many lose track of critical files over time because it is not in fixed appropriated locations.
Good IT Support should help you keep track of critical or sensitive information, ensure it is encrypted and protected, AND backed up.
Do your users understand what’s going on with the latest hacks in the news?
At this point, many of us are frankly tired of seeing headline after headline talking about business cyberattacks.
What the news doesn’t do is clarify specifically what happened in the attack and what specific actions your business should be thinking about—when it comes to infrastructure or user behavior—to keep secure.
One critical component to any cybersecurity policy is making sure your users are informed on how they can help keep your business safe. If your IT Support team isn’t taking an effort to train or inform users on how they can prevent attacks, your business security is not working very well (NOTE: over half of cyberattacks are caused by users granting criminals access unknowingly!).
Your IT Support should inform AND enforce good security hygiene throughout your network. Strong password policies and strong authentication requirements are a couple good examples of how your support team should be ensuring your business security by empowering users to modify their behaviors at work to keep your business secure.
Does your business go a step further?
Do you have an IT Support team that assumes the worst and expects the best outcome? Is your business prepared for an attack (in the event something happens)?
You should considering going a step further than crossing off checks in boxes when it comes to security. You should have an actionable plan in the event something happens—so that you will be able to restore data from a recent backup, assess and understand what happened, quickly understand what was accessed and when, and have a strategy to communicate with your team and clients.
Being prepared for a cyber breach is tough work! Most businesses don’t have the time to follow through with making sure every ‘i’ is dotted and ‘t’ crossed. If you’re concerned with your cybersecurity, consider a FREE security assessment to understand what might be keeping your network’s door open to criminals.
Is your business safe?
The ransomware industry has grown by 2,500% this past year. Criminals have found a high return on investment developing and deploying ransom software that phishes your employees, infects your network and shuts your business down until a ransom is paid (and there are no guarantees your files will be released once you pay the ransom!).
Today I want to voice my concern over failing cybersecurity strategies that businesses all over Philadelphia need to address in 2017 and beyond. There is no clear stop to cybercrime anytime soon, and many businesses are actually fueling a growing problem.
With growing popularity of bitcoin, hackers able to see high returns quickly and securely. With more incentive than ever (high profit margins, little investment, and massively successful campaigns), these criminals aren’t stopping their attacks on small to medium-sized businesses. With secure payment methods to get ransoms, little government oversight on cybercrime and limited to no enforcement of enacted cybercrime laws, would you expect crime to be declining?
Here are 3 of the big reasons why your business needs to put cybersecurity as a #1 priority for 2018:
Code is cheap— you might think that software programs are expensive, especially ones that are custom to your business. But one of the biggest reasons there are so many hackers and cybercriminals attacking businesses is that malicious code is cheap to buy. In fact, on the dark web this month, the average ransomware package sells for just $10.50!
Let’s say you’re a budding criminal that wants a big return. You invest in a virus for 10 bucks and follow a list of instructions (essentially, point and click instructions). You attach the virus to an email and start sending it out to a list of prospective victims (a list which you paid another 8 bucks for on the dark web). You do a little reconnaissance research on your victims: who they work with, what their hobbies are (simple stuff easily found on Facebook or LinkedIn). And you wait for victims to pop up from that list.
Simple as that. If you’re a criminal, you spend 18 bucks and wait for your bait to get gobbled up. You may optimize your campaign just as a marketer might with their sales campaigns, to make sure (1) people are opening their emails and (2) folks are clicking on your link bait.
On average 5-10% of emails get opened (but this can be much higher is you have a captivating subject or pressing email topic). And about 20% of links get clicked and attachments get opened when received from strangers—if someone just spoofed a sender address from Jane in accounting, the click rate may be much higher!
Your business gets infected. Your workers are down for hours to days. You hastily pay a ransom. You incur all the risk.
The cybercriminal invested 18 bucks, sent emails to a few thousand to tens or hundreds of thousands of prospects (amounting to maybe an hour’s worth of effort). With a 1% return rate, the criminal made enough to live for quite some time (and to realize that it isn’t that hard to get wealthy with cybercrime!).
Exploits are easy to find—Microsoft, alone, releases patch releases monthly (and recently has been do so at a much accelerated pace). Many businesses don’t get around to patching their machines months to years after a security patch is released (if they ever get around to doing it).
This leaves big opportunity for hackers to reverse engineer patches (maybe spend a couple hours fiddling with code—which is something these folks are passionate about) and sell an attack for criminals to purchase (for a criminal, this is another 10 buck investment). Easy money for a coder (hundreds to thousands of their code packets sold) and good return for the cybercriminal. If your business isn’t even taking basic precautions to protect your data, be assured you’re playing Russian roulette with your cybersecurity!
Most businesses are not properly backing up their critical data—cybercriminals are beginning to realize that many businesses don’t have good enough backups of their data to be able to recover from a ransomware attack.
Even when your IT guy says that you’re getting backups, doesn’t mean that they are actually working. He or she is likely seeing that backups are ‘On’ for your network. Your IT Support company or internal support should be testing backups to make sure they are working properly and in the event of a cyberattack, that you can completely restore from a recent backup without a hiccup.
More and more businesses are realizing when attacked, that they cannot recover. They end up paying large bitcoin ransoms, relying on chance that everything will be okay. Having a 3rd party audit of your backups will help you assess whether your IT Support team is doing everything they’re committing to.
Your Simple Cybersecurity Reality
It’s hard to digest, but the simple reality is that the ransomware and cybercrime industry is growing day by day. Dismantling businesses with weak cybersecurity policies, strategies and infrastructure. Cybercriminals are raking in large pay days simply because businesses like yours are not taking proper precautions (or checking to see that your company mandates on IT Security are getting implemented).
Are you concerned about your business’ cybersecurity health? Contact Us TODAY for a free cybersecurity assessment!