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Your Organization’s Network Security Threats Are Easily Avoidable

Pick any cyberattack in 2018 thus far and I’d challenge you to come up with a list of events—cyberattacks and data breaches—where the hack could have been easily avoidable. Your findings will most definitely reveal that they all could have been easily prevented.

Remember the city of Atlanta getting shut down from a SamSam attack earlier this year? Completely avoidable. San Francisco’s mass transit system? Avoidable. Hospital attacks? Allscripts McKesson? All avoidable and preventable if networks were simply kept clean (patches applied and tested, and basic hygiene enforced).

The problem with most organizations? Network security hygiene takes a serious back burner to the daily break fix drum of user issues. In fact, security often falls far too low on the priority list to even get addressed, let alone completed.

One recent statistic that came out recently highlighted that one third of organizational security issues—not a third of organizations but a third of issues—are critical enough to completely shut down your entire network if exploited.

Think about this for a minute.

You likely have security vulnerabilities on your network right now that will cause severe outages or shut downs in the event it escalated into something like the city of Atlanta.

As I’ve found in our network security assessments across organizations large and small, every last one has security issues. And within the common issue we see when evaluating a network, I find that organizations are a lot less secure than they think they are.

What’s troubling is that nearly every single vulnerability that has the potential to not only create a work outage, but potential to bankrupt your organization (lost trust, hefty fines, stolen information, legal battles, etc.) are simple to fix if you only put the time in to fix them.

But I get it.

I’ve been in IT for a long time. Problems pop up and those security issues lose focus. But this is 2018, we’re seeing attackers get in the ring—even criminals with little or no experience in coding and technology—and are able to successfully attack and bring down networks simply by following a list of instructions that they purchased on the Dark Web.

How are novice criminals making headway with organizations like yours?

Unpatched machines—most vulnerabilities on your network are simply results of patches that either were never applied or failed when being applied. Most organizations have no routine procedure for patching and updating systems.

If you don’t have a formal vulnerability and patch management program that is constantly reviewing network vulnerabilities, you’re likely hosting a variety of unpatched systems which, if identified by a criminal, could completely bring down your network. Think ransomware attack where all of your files are encrypted, no one is able to get work done, you’re not able to bill or collect money or even pay your staff.

Events like ransomware attacks result from out-of-date firmware, hardware and operating systems. That includes switches, firewalls and routers, desktop computers, and servers.

Ransomware also rears its head in offices that continue to use unsupported operating systems, such as Server 2003, XP, 2000 (and soon to be obsolete—Server 2008 and Windows 7 in about a year). If you’re not addressing software vulnerabilities on your network and strategically fixing those vulnerabilities, sooner or later, someone is bound to find you as the lowest hanging fruit. Do you want to be in their crosshairs?

Password issues—the second-most common area of security issues relate to flaws in how organizations handle passwords and credentials. You probably don’t use multifactor authentication for remote access or to access critical accounts (making it easier for hackers to compromise sensitive parts of your network). Weak passwords—those that are too short or never get changed— also make it easier for hackers to crack into your network.

By enforcing a password policy that requires passwords to change (and not be reused), you are eliminating the risk that your team is using the same password for their Facebook login as they are for their work passwords (this happens over 25% of employees!).

Phishing scams—nearly three quarters of cyberattacks stem in one way, shape, or form, from a phishing campaign where a criminal sends an email with a link or attachment to a user to get them preliminary access to your network.

The reason phishing works? We are all human—and most of us are good natured enough that we innately trust things more than we probably should.

Criminals are bombarding phishing emails against your mail server in hopes something gets through and gets a user to click. Their English is improving and their stories are getting more believable (they actually will do research on people in your office and customize their messages to your team).

Network segmentation problems—most networks are not segmented enough to protect sensitive assets (information which compromised could severely impact your staff, patients, donors, or clients). Instead, everything is relatively an open book once someone is on your network. If a criminal were to hack their way onto your network through a vulnerability or phish, they likely could easily access information or areas of your network that most team members probably shouldn’t have access to.

Bottom Line: your environment could be riddled with basic security problems—problems that may be putting your organization at serious risk—and you might not even know they’re around until it’s too late.

I am writing this article and others like it as part of a public service announcement to get the word out on cybersecurity. I believe you should be aware of current problems in cybersecurity—especially those issues that directly affect organizations like yours. I also want to make sure that you are doing everything you can to identify any of these security issues on your network and get them addressed.

These attackers know your security landscape. They are familiar with common mistakes and missteps and are acutely aware of the tactics to crack into networks. And frankly, most of these tactics are easy and so straightforward that it would only take a few clicks and some simple commands to break through. They have organizations like yours figured out because the security issues that you have are the same as those they’ve dealt with before. If you’re not fixing your vulnerabilities they will eventually run into you and take advantage of your inattention to security details.

My question to you: Are you worried about your security enough to fix the basics? Contact us TODAY for a free network security assessment.

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