Tag Archives: Cyber Security

Cyber Security

Make Your Employees Your First Line of Defense in Cybersecurity

Imagine that your employees could be your strongest defense against cyber attacks, rather than a potential area of weakness. According to a CompTIA 2019 industry trends report, in all the innovation taking place, cybersecurity is an enduring concern. Other statistics indicate that user error contributes to nearly 25% of cyber breaches. Read on to learn more about how to train your employees to be your greatest defense against cyber attacks.

Train Employees to Defend Against Cyber Threat

Cyber attacks are on the rise, in the form of phishing (and spear phishing) designed to implant malware on devices, and merely installing antivirus detection software or firewalls is only one part of prevention. Employees need consistent training on how to recognize phishing attempts, and this training needs to be reinforced frequently. Employees trained to recognize and report phishing schemes–wherein a bad actor poses as a legitimate entity in order to garner personal information—can be an asset in your cybersecurity strategy. One facet of training involves making employees aware of different types of schemes, such as hackers gathering specific information about employees or about your company, also known as spear phishing. In this type of attack, phishers can even make it look like an email is coming from a supervisor, in order to trick employees.

Keep Cybersecurity Training Continuous

Once employees are aware of specific threats, emphasize that they have a key role in protecting your business and themselves at the same time. Teach them through testing their knowledge via fake phishing schemes or a USB drop. Various vendors offer different resources for training and reinforcement. Another idea for ongoing training is to have periodic training using a “lunch and learn” format (with lunch provided), making the training something to anticipate. Whatever method you choose, encourage employees to look at cybersecurity as a whole-life skill instead of a part of new-employee orientation that may be forgotten.  

Contrary to the prevailing statistics about user error, your employees can be key to recognizing and preventing cyber attacks. To learn more about developing a training program, contact your technology advisor today.

Tackling Security in the Cloud

Over the last ten to fifteen years, the cloud has gone from new technology to accepted–and by many, embraced–fact. According to a recent CompTIA study, cloud computing is now a critical part of today’s IT operations, powering everything from Cloud Backup to handling email and other commonly used applications. With this growth, as well as the growth of cybercrime, cybersecurity is an ever-present concern. Read on to find out about cybersecurity considerations in cloud computing.

Keeping Data and Applications Safe in the Cloud

Many businesses are storing their data and applications in cloud data centers, or in a hybrid (part cloud, part on-premise) cloud environment. How can these resources be kept safe from cyberattacks? On-premise security measures can include keeping anti-virus and anti-malware definitions up to date along with operating system patches to keep cyber criminals from getting through. The considerations for cloud cybersecurity are a bit different.

One consideration for a business is whether they want to have their data and applications in a public or private cloud environment. The public environment may do well enough for some businesses, but for certain highly-regulated fields such as healthcare, the private cloud environment is important to maintaing compliance. Or certain businesses can have some applications in a private cloud environment, but their email is hosted in the public environment.

Whichever environment the resources reside in, data encryption is important as well. If a cyberattack occurs, encryption ensures that the information cannot be read and misused. Data must be safe both while in transit to the cloud and once it resides there.

The Role of Network Monitoring

Finally, network monitoring is vital to cybersecurity, and can be done remotely twenty-four hours a day. Thanks to the cloud, employees can work from wherever they are, at any time of day. That can put the business’ systems at risk from unsecured mobile access in public spaces or even from a worker’s unsecured laptop or desktop when they work from home. Network monitoring by your service provider can help you proactively identify intrusion attempts and avoid an expensive data breach by alerting your business to potential problems.

To learn more about cybersecurity measures to keep your company’s data and applications safe in the cloud, contact your technology advisor today.

Cyber Security

What is Cybersecurity and Why it Matters

Over the last several years, we have heard about high-profile cyber attacks and data breaches. However, large companies are not the only ones subject to such attacks. Small to medium businesses are at risk as well, and may not have the resources to overcome a data breach. According to Forbes, the question is not if a cyber attack will occur, but when. Read on to learn what comprises cybersecurity and why it is so important.

What is Cybersecurity?

The definition of cybersecurity is “the protection of Internet-connected systems–including hardware, software, and data–from cyber attacks.” It can be thought of as a constellation of equipment and practices designed to keep a company’s data and infrastructure safe from natural and man-made hazards. On the technical side, protections include operating system patches and current anti-virus and anti-malware definitions. Data encryption is another key protection, both on-premise and in the cloud. On the human side, employees need to learn how to protect the company’s data by recognizing attempts by hackers to get into the company’s systems. Phishing schemes are one such way cybercriminals attempt to steal passwords and other data. If an attack happens, employees need to be trained in how to report and escalate it. All of these aspects can make a difference in keeping your business, in business.

The Importance of Cybersecurity

With cybercriminals becoming ever more sophisticated, and technological innovations such as the Internet of Things developing quickly, there are more points at which a business’s systems and data can be threatened. And what does this mean for your company? If a data breach occurs, customer data can be stolen or lost, especially sensitive information. In this case, the business can lose clients’ trust and, in strictly regulated industries, be subject to steep fines. If nothing else, an outage can result in lost revenue and employee downtime. Natural disasters such as fires and storms can also put business continuity at risk. Of businesses suffering a disaster, many are out of business within two years.

Protection from cyber attacks is well worth the time and money. If you are unsure about your business’ protections, contact your technology advisor today.

The Business Risks of Cybersecurity

With daily business processes as well as innovative new technologies like the Cloud Computing, keeping your company’s data and systems safe is a top priority. Damages from cybercrime, in the form of lost revenue, continue to mount; in the next few years, the cost could reach as much as $6 trillion a year. In daily business activities, companies gather, store and use a great deal of customer data. Employees, thanks to Software as a Service (SaaS), can now work anytime, anywhere, accessing company data from outside the office. Both your technology and your employees need to be ready for multiple threats to the security of your network. Read on to learn more about how to protect your business’ revenue and reputation and keep the business running smoothly.

Knowing and Guarding Against Cyber Threats

Cyber threats come from both inside your company and outside and can affect businesses of all sizes. Not only can malware and viruses attack your system and steal and/or destroy company data, lack of understanding of threats by employees can compromise the safety of your systems. Be sure to have the latest definitions of your anti-virus and anti-malware definitions up to date. Along with these protections, establish a culture of security. This should work from management downward and emphasize that everyone has a role in keeping your systems safe and your business productive.

Keep an Eye on Your Network

Another way to keep your business running smoothly is to monitor your network. Network monitoring can be done off-site, 24 hours a day, and can spot and eliminate threats to your security. It can keep even small intrusions from becoming data disasters that can interrupt business processes and jeopardize your reputation with customers as well as cause you to lose revenue.

Remember the Human Element

Make sure that your employees are not the weakest link in your network. Educate and train them to recognize malware and phishing schemes, and to respond when a threat occurs. Emphasize that as part of your company, they have an important role in keeping your systems safe. Also, inform employees of potential threats outside the office, such as the dangers of unsecured mobile “hotspots.”

To keep your business running smoothly and staying in business, cybersecurity is key. If you need help developing a cybersecurity plan, contact your technology advisor today.

Cyber Crime

Keeping Your Network Secure

A network is only as strong as its weakest link, and if that weakest link is your security, that can compromise the revenue and the reputation of your business. Attacks just from ransomware have increased over the years, by 200% between 2015 and 2016 alone.  There are three fronts to consider: identify the hazards, use technical tools to protect your network, and educate your employees on cybersecurity. Read on to find out more about how to protect yourself.

Know the Hazards of Malware and Phishing Schemes

With so many businesses finding it necessary to gather, store and monetize customer data, this is an area of vulnerability. Malicious software, or “malware,” can take various forms, from worms and viruses to ransomware, which can hold your data hostage. Some types can simply make your system run more slowly, and some can steal or destroy data. Phishing schemes are designed to steal private data simply by an unwary recipient clicking a link. Technical tools are part of the protection plan.

Fight Cyber Attacks with Technology

There are plenty of technical tools and applications to keep your system safe. Firewalls and SPAM filters can keep unwanted network communications from coming in and going out. Anti-virus and anti-malware applications keep harmful worms, viruses and other malicious software from infiltrating your network. Be sure also to keep your antivirus and anti-malware programs up-to-date, to guard against the latest threats. Network monitoring can help stop attacks before they start, and operating system patches can fill in any security holes in the network. Along with these tools, be sure to train your employees to recognize security hazards.

Don’t Forget the Human Element

Employees can be the first line of defense against cybersecurity hazards. Teach your employees, through regular training, to recognize threats to your system’s security. Educate them to avoid “phishing” schemes by not clicking on links in email from suspicious sources, and how to recognize a suspicious email (often typographical or factual errors in the email are tip-offs). Finally, emphasize that cybersecurity is a team effort, and get them invested in helping keep your network safe.

Remember, your business is only as secure as your network. You are risking more than money if your network contains weak spots. Contact your technology advisor for assistance with protecting your network’s security.

Cyber Crime

Closing the Door on Cyber Crime

Businesses today are under constant attack from Cyber Criminals. Ransomware,  including the WannaCry Virus , is an example of a top threat to avoid. With the risk of lost data, lost productivity and lost reputation, isn’t it time to close the door on Cyber Crime? Here are a few tips to defend your company from potential cyber attacks.

Document Operating System Security Patch Policies and Procedures

Take the time to review and update your documented security policies and procedures.  Security and related patch policy should identify who is responsible for application and operation of system patches and system updates. Clearly determine whose responsibility it is to apply the latest operating system and related security patches. Whether this process is manual, or done automatically through a managed service, be sure your employees know which is the case. Also, document your policies to verify all your systems are in compliance.

Review your Cybersecurity Framework

Avoid data breaches resulting from lack of Cybersecurity defence. Ensure your AntiVirus and Malware detection definitions are up to date. Utilize spam filtering and other Cyber Threat detection to protect your business. Consider penetration testing to identify any weaknesses on your network. Also ensure your employees are periodically trained to identify and avoid malware and phishing schemes. If you have suffered a data loss due to Cyber attack, ensure you have a communications plan to notify all stakeholders and authorities within adequate time frames. Having a solid data protection plan including Cloud Backup can minimize your exposure and increase your recovery time.

Study Machine Learning to Combat Cyber Threat

Cybercriminals are using automation, artificial intelligence and machine learning to trick you and your employees to take the bait on phishing, ransomware and other cyber attacks. Why not fight fire with fire? Leading Cybersecurity suppliers  are pouring millions of dollars into research and development to embed Machine Learning to detect and combat Cyber threats. This Machine-to- Machine combat will evolve over time and soon combine with artificial intelligence (AI) to train your employees on how to identify and avoid these cyber attacks in the event your perimeter security is breached.

Cyber threat and related Cyber attacks are a top concern for many business owners. Staying one step ahead to protect your business network is a constant effort. Contact your technology advisor to find out more how you can close the door on cyber crime today.

Technology Trends

Technology Trends you Will Hear About in 2018

According to technology research firm Gartner Group, technology spending is expected to grow to $3.7 Trillion dollars in 2018. Communications Services ($1.387 billion) and IT Services ($931 billion) make up the majority of spending. In contrast, Enterprise Software and Data Center Systems are the smallest categories of spending expected for next year. Shifts in IT spending from Data Centric to Cloud Computing change the landscape for buyers, vendors and technology solution providers alike. Here are top Technology Trends you will hear about in 2018.

Cybersecurity

2017 was a year full of data breaches and ransomware. According to a 2017 Cost of Data Breach Study by the Ponemon institute, the average cost of a data breach in 2017 was $141 per record lost. Consider how many customer, prospect, employee, member or supplier records you may have within your organization. With the risks so high, expect Cybersecurity to be top of the list of Technology Trends for most companies next year.

Cloud Computing

According to Forbes, 80% of IT budgets will be committed to the Cloud. Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions will help line-of-business managers from Sales, Marketing, HR and Finance become more productive. Communications and Collaboration applications including Email, VoIP and Web conferencing solutions will connect employees across companies and supply chains. Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) will host a range of solutions including websites, online backup and more. The utility model, or paying for usage, appeals to businesses replacing technology capital expense (CapEx) for subscription-based operating expense.

Managed Services

As the “everything as a service” model gains in popularity, more companies will adopt fixed- priced managed services contracts. Rather than waiting until an issue arises, the managed service delivers proactive IT service for on-premise and cloud-based systems.

Software-Defined Everything

Technology research firm IDC predicts Software Defined Networking to top $8b in 2018. As more companies rely on technology for communications, customer experience and remotely hosted cloud solutions, cost-effective network performance becomes critical. Increased cost savings combined with improved connectivity make Software Defined Wide Area Networking (SD-WAN) a popular choice for companies expanding to multiple locations or those reviewing their networking expense.

Emerging Technologies

The technology industry is known for its infatuation with the “New, New, Thing.” Many technologies will impact the buzz meter in 2018–Big Data is one of them. Standards for collecting information and connecting the dots between demographics, geographics and other insights begin to provide companies both small and large competitive advantage.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the form of process automation, chatbots and other computer-to- computer conversation and learning will creep into the technology stack in 2018. You may find AI emerge in popular productivity applications throughout the workplace.

Companies wanting to stay on the edge of technology will turn to Digital Transformation to fuel growth and efficiencies. Expect large businesses to acquire their digital counterparts, while small business will deploy technologies to improve customer experience and ensure employee productivity.

BlockChain or Distributed Trust technologies will go beyond Bitcoin and other distributed ledgers to drive efficiencies in select industries including Healthcare and Financial services. Blockchain technology uses encryption to link a continuous series of records. By securely confirming agreement to complex transactions, BlockChain technology will begin to rattle in 2018 for many larger organizations. It may take more time before this technology applies to small and medium businesses.

Internet of things (IoT) and other smart devices will emerge in consumer and business technology markets. From security systems to smart cities expect more and more connected devices to contribute to efficiencies from the factory floor to the warehouse door.

As technology becomes a greater part of our business operations, it is more important than ever to ensure we have secure and reliable business systems. IF you have questions about how your business can benefit from emerging technology trends, contact your technology advisor today.

How to Avoid Being a Ransomware Hostage

RansomwareRansomware, spyware, phishing schemes, and other Cyber attacks are commonplace in today’s world of technology. According to a recent article in Forbes, ransomware attacks grew at an accelerated pace in 2016 with reports of 638 million attacks, almost 200 times more than the number of ransomware attacks in 2015. Most experts agree that Ransomware attacks will continue to occur–so what can you do to avoid being a ransomware hostage?

Not All Ransomware is Created Equal

Before you panic, find out what type of Ransomware you are up against. Scareware is a type of Ransomware that tricks you into thinking you have a bigger problem. A simple scan may quickly remove the pop from your browser cache and get you back on your way. Some ransomware is truly nasty — your entire system may be encrypted, meaning you will need to wipe your system and start over if you have a good backup. Otherwise, you may find yourself hostage to the cybercriminals to unlock your data.

An Ounce of Protection is Worth a Pound of Ransom

Data protection is an important element in minimizing the impact of Ransomware. Make sure your network security is fully compliant. Backup your data, update your antivirus definitions and make sure your security patches are up to date. Consider using Cloud Backup, Security as a Service, and Managed IT services to keep your network up to date. Having a strong offense to avoid ransomware is your best defense.

Don’t Forget the Human Element

Train your employees on a regular basis on the importance of staying vigilant against Cyberattacks and how to avoid being a hostage. There are many resources to get training for your team. Periodic updates about threats and security procedures serve as a reminder to your employees to ensure they adhere to best practices.

If you need security training or are interested in a review of your network, security vulnerability, or other technology infrastructure, contact your Technology Advisor today.

Cyber Threats You Should Protect Against

Cyber SecurityDefending against Cyber threats is no easy task. Understanding the risks and designing a defense strategy are important steps in protecting yourself from Malicious actors and Cybercriminals. Staying current on Operating System and Application Patches, Restricting Network Access, and maintaining antivirus and malware protection are known ways to protect your network. Employee awareness and education on how to identify threats, and the importance of adhering to policies, also bolster your defense against cyber attack. If you’re not convinced, review the following Cyber threats you need to protect against.

 

How Malicious Software (Malware) Works

Malware is self-propagating software designed to infiltrate your network. This software can come in the form of a worm that will infect your network via your router via your Internet Protocol (IP) address. If it doesn’t find a hole in your network it may automatically update to scan for the next sequential IP Address, infiltrating and corrupting networks as it goes along. Avoid Malware by proactively scanning your network and keeping your network in compliance.

 

Why Phishing Could Put You Out of Business

Every year, millions of SPAM emails are sent to unwary recipients with the hope of collecting private and personal information including, account/password, privacy data and other information that can be exploited for profit. What’s more, Phishing is a popular way for Cybercriminals to distribute Ransomware, a form of malware that holds your systems hostage in exchange for payment. In the event of a data breach, your company may need to disclose the impact to customers and other stakeholders. In addition to ransom and legal fees, your company’s reputation may be on the line. Email protection and web content filtering are ways to protect against phishing schemes. It is also important to train your employees in how to identify and avoid these types of attacks.

 

Distributed Denial of Service Attack (DDoS)

Think of a Distributed Denial of Service Attack (DDoS) as a flood of system-generated traffic attacking your business infrastructure, designed to take you offline from the Internet. Hackers may try and extort your business or use DDoS in retaliation. Many Cloud Providers have excellent resilience and redundancy to defend against DDoS. If you rely on your own infrastructure, be sure to monitor for unusual activity and have a plan for failover in the event of a DDoS attack on your business.

 

Cyber attack threatens businesses large and small. Planning and network protection, combined with training, are your keys to defending against unintended data loss and business interruption due to Cyberthreats. Contact your Network Security specialist to find out what you can do to prevent a Cyber attack on your business.

Technology Trends for 2017

Technology Outlook 2017It’s that time of year when many businesses are setting goals and budgets for next year. This is a good time to reflect on the impact technology can have on your business. While Cloud Computing adoption remains strong, companies will increase migration from Public to Private Cloud and even migrate back “on premise.” Cloud adoption, digital transformation and streaming media will increase the demand for bulletproof networking. New technologies including SD-WAN will hit mainstream in 2017 to improve network performance in support of business requirements. Cyber threats will continue to keep business owners up at night with increased intrusions from ransomware and unplanned downtime from DDoS attacks. Here are a few takeaways to consider for your 2017 plan.

More Choices for Cloud Computing

In a recent study by the Computing Technology Industry Association’s (CompTIA), 43% of those using Public Cloud are expected to migrate to another Public Cloud Provider. For example, companies using Hosted Exchange may find themselves adopting Office 365 or Google for Work to keep current on the latest version of these communications and collaborations applications. The CompTIA “Trends in Cloud Computing” research also revealed 21% of Cloud usage will move from Public Cloud to Private Clouds. This scenario is driven by the need for compliance with industry regulations, including HIPAA regulations for health care and SOX compliance for Financial Services, among other business requirements.

Digital Transformation Will Emerge as Competitive Advantage for Business of All Sizes

Businesses will adopt new strategies for reaching new customers and servicing existing customers in 2017. These new strategies will fuel the need for digital transformation. Reaching new buyers through digital channels, along with automating customer service, order or fulfillment, and linking supply chains, will drive this digital transformation in support of new business strategies. Cloud Contact Center, Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Marketing Automation, eCommerce, and other customer-facing technologies will emerge as transformation enablers. Other technologies helping with administrative functions (including workforce recruitment and development) will help companies maintain competitive advantage and manage their growth.

Resolve to Bulletproof Your Network in 2017

In 2017 Business Networks will become a strategic advantage. Access to Cloud infrastructure, connecting remote offices, reliance on VoIP, Cloud Call Center and video streaming will all drive demand for high-performance networking. Technologies allowing wide area networking optimization, known as Software Defined Networks or SD-WAN, will become mainstream technology in 2017. Through simplified management and reliance on business class Internet, network performance is expected to increase while related costs are expected to decrease.

Security will Continue to Keep Business Owners Up at Night

The Gartner Group predicts demand for Security related to the Internet of Things (IoT) will be driven by 11 billion connected devices. Similar to adoption of mobile devices in the workplace, connecting “things” will create the need for additional security and proactive management. Additionally, Cyber Threats from malware and phishing schemes will continue, as will additional threats and downtime from Ransomware and DDoS attacks in 2017. Keeping your network running will be more complex and more important for the foreseeable future.

As you adjust your strategy to accommodate the rapidly changing business environment, consider how technology can influence your outcome in 2017. If you feel you need help with your 2017 technology plan, contact your technology advisor today.