Monthly Archives

February 2021

dark web

Dark Web/Deep Web ID Monitoring

By | Security

Almost everyone has heard of the dark web, and most know it poses risks and dangers that wise internet users try to avoid. However, misconceptions exist about its identity and what it does. Not something to regard lightly, the dark web deserves dogged detection and strict avoidance. The challenge that faces many users lies in not knowing when personal and private information appears on it. Still, deep web ID monitoring provides alerts that indicate the need to act.

What does the dark web mean?

If you think an internet area with an ominous and foreboding name does not pose a danger, some facts may surprise you. The deep web, a much less dire sounding name, provides a space where illegal activities and other nefarious pursuits can occur.

It got its name for a reason, and you do not want to go there. While you may chance upon some legitimate activities, most of its contents tend to serve customers who seek access to illicit data.

As a minor component of the deep web where most internet activity occurs, it has the unique capacity to hide the information that it contains. Inaccessible by the search engines that you regularly use, it remains out of touch except by unique kinds of browsers. Considering the illegal purposes that it most often serves, you may expect the anonymity that it offers to have a strong appeal to some users. Websites that mask their IP address provide a level of privacy and anonymity unavailable in any other place on the deep web.

What can you find on the dark web?

Almost every kind of illicit and illegal information you cannot find on legitimate websites may show up on sites that pander to prurient or malevolent interests. The type of personal and private information that you hope never falls into the dark space on the deep web includes your credit card numbers, subscription accounts, medical records, Social Security numbers, and information about your passport if you have one. However, the intrusiveness reaches much further than that. The personal information you supply when you need a unique id, such as your mother’s maiden name, can exist on the deep web.

Individuals

Your sensitive data provides a source of illegal income for hackers who traffic in buying and selling it, putting everything in your computer at risk. Even more significantly, the anonymous transactions involving your information allow identity thieves to become you. It gives them a license to steal with impunity as the sensitive data enables them to apply for loans that lenders expect you to repay. Finding and buying your government ID can allow a thief to request a tax refund in your name and receive a check from the IRS. Identity theft affects millions of Americans who may find the damage too late to do anything about it. Aside from the sensitive and private information that exists there, hardcore child pornography, human traffic, violent videos, and sites that sell drugs and firearms also appear.

Businesses

Companies experience exposure to risk when criminals buy hacking tools and malware. Like private citizens who do not know of the invasion into personal data, businesses have no way of knowing about data theft either. Hackers can use the purloined tools to steal company files and disrupt the normal flow of business. However, much worse outcomes can occur. When the malware includes ransomware, the threat can harshly damage a company until the thieves receive whatever price they set.

Reports of malicious breaches that often appear can show that they do not target businesses by size but by the ease of access. With the care that you take to prevent prying eyes from seeing your intellectual property, you can succeed in denying access to the people you know. The greater risk, however, exists with those you do not know. Illicit activities on sites can allow malicious operators to damage your brand and cause loss of market share while you do not even know about it.

How does monitoring work?

A monitoring service can accomplish the task of detecting threats on the web with technology and expertise that private individuals and businesses cannot match. As an effective form of surveillance, it uses software to crawl the internet and detect your website’s availability. As it checks on connectivity, it can alert you to its operational status and ensure that the server and the site perform properly. It may find performance problems that you can fix before they create downtime. Transaction monitoring can produce information about visitor activity and other insights that help businesses ensure website availability and consistent performance. Monitoring provides information about unavailable or slow sites that can send customers elsewhere, causing the loss of a potentially competitive edge. It may produce a notification that illicit sites offer stolen information for sale in the cyber market that appeals to user interests’ darker side.

What advantages does monitoring provide?

Awareness of essential facts about your website informs you of your customers’ view of it. An inaccessible site produces an effect similar to a “closed” sign on a brick-and-mortar store. Downtime almost always means a loss of business, and you may not know about it unless you spend much time on your site. A sudden increase in traffic may overburden your site when you expect it to handle the requests for the sale you offer.

Maintenance requires downtime, but it needs to occur when traffic to your site reaches its lowest user activity level. Monitoring can let you choose the right time. An alert to a hacker attack gives you a chance to respond to malicious codes that can bring your site to a complete stop. The value of the heads-up alerts that monitoring provides may vary according to the importance that you place on your proprietary information.

What kinds of monitoring tools exist?

Two tools offer different types of monitoring capability. One can run locally on a server in your home or office, and it may provide access to some facts that help you keep your site running properly. A more commonly used tool offers access from the cloud and tests much more than your web server. With indicators for uptime, downtime, an array of functionality measures, and a highly efficient alerting system, it can provide the notifications that ensure the productive performance of your presence on the web.

Recommendations

Network administrators cannot watch for everything, and you probably do not want them to spend their valuable time doing so. However, you can protect yourself with deep web ID monitoring. Potential risk exposes you to damage to your brand and loss of market share, but you can avoid them with preventive measures.

cybersecurity training and awareness

Cyber Security Awareness for Small Businesses

By | Security

Online attacks are a chronic problem in the business world. If you have any sort of online component to your organization, you are vulnerable. When people imagine cybercriminals, they think of movie-style hackers frantically typing at a keyboard to break through a firewall. However, the reality is rarely so dramatic.

 

What is Cyber Security awareness?

It only takes one downloaded attachment for a criminal to gain access to the data on your server. It used to be that suspicious emails were easy to spot. These days, criminals have moved from general phishing attacks to direct spear-phishing or whaling attacks. Part of their preparation includes learning personal details about the target from public sources like social media. The cyberattack is now hidden in what looks like a legitimate email from a friend or colleague.

Security awareness involves teaching employees about the most recent threats to a business’s data and how to avoid them. It also includes explaining a business’s security standards and policies. By helping employees understand the reasons for security practices, they are more likely to follow the rules.

 

Why is security awareness critical?

Malware and ransomware threats continue to grow. With every new piece of hardware or software, cybercriminals look for vulnerabilities. Small businesses that do not have a large IT department must be especially aware of these dangers. Although they may not have as much customer data as a large corporation, weaker security practices can make them attractive targets.

Teaching security awareness is essential because a data breach can bring painful consequences to a business. Resolving a successful ransomware attack is an expensive proposition whether you pay the ransom or hire an IT service to fix the problem. Stolen customer data will lead to a long-term lack of trust and a loss of loyal clients. If your business is involved with global clients, you can be fined under the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation for failure to comply with safety precautions.

 

What are the benefits of developing an awareness program?

Preventive training can be a tough sell. The main benefits of online safety training are the adverse events that will not happen. Businesses that engage in this type of education are protecting themselves from dealing with worst-case scenarios.

However, cyber safety training will bring positive benefits to your organization. Educated employees will minimize the amount of time and money lost to recovery after a breach. They will also feel more confident as they use new technology. Cyber threats will become less of a mystery when your employees know what to look for.

It is also an excellent practice to let your clients know that you pay regular attention to data security and online safety. Knowing that you care about protecting their information will increase their confidence in your business. A commitment to safety can help you stand out from your competition.

 

What topics should you cover?

Information technology covers a broad range of topics, and no one expects your employees to become security experts. However, security awareness training should cover the areas where human error is most likely to open the way for a breach.

 

Current Cyber Threats

While employees do not need to know the technical specifics of each type of malware, they should have a general sense of how these programs work. Most importantly, they must understand the strategies criminals use to deploy them. Armed with this information, they will avoid opening unfamiliar emails or downloading unexpected files.

 

Password Protection

Weak passwords are the bane of small businesses. Due to limited budgets, smaller organizations often share equipment among employees. To minimize the inconvenience of remembering a strong password, they may use the same password for every device or fail to use a password at all. After training, employees should understand what makes a strong password and why using one for every device is a necessary practice.

Device and Network Policies

Some businesses employ remote options for their employees. Workers can connect to the business network from a home computer. Sales staff may use smartphones or tablets while they are on the road. While these practices offer flexibility, they can also create security hazards. An unattended laptop with an active network connection can give a criminal direct access to sensitive data. Every business must establish and explain its security protocols around remote devices and connections.

 

Reporting Threats

When there is a breach, it is critical to handle it right away to minimize any damage. No one wants to receive blame for the problem, but it will not go away on its own. Employees must learn the procedure for reporting security attacks whether they are successful or not. When employees recognize a bogus email, they can alert their coworkers so that everyone is on the lookout for the latest phishing attack.

 

How does security awareness training work?

Developing security awareness is an ongoing process. There are always new threats in development, and employees must learn how to avoid them. An annual training session may not be enough to meet the challenge. Business leaders should look for several opportunities for security training every year.

 

During Onboarding

When you welcome new employees to your business, online safety should be part of the training. Explaining your policies will help establish a culture of Cyber Security.

 

Hardware or Software Upgrades

Adopting new technology is an appropriate time for a refresher course on safety. As people sep up their new devices, you can remind them of the importance of strong passwords.

 

After an Attack

If there has been an attempt to breach your network, it is a good idea to gather employees and remind them of the best security practices.

 

At Regular Intervals

One of the challenges of online security is complacency. If a business does not experience a breach, employees may assume they are not a target and get lazy about security protocols. Regular reminders will help maintain safe practices.

 

How to get started?

Every small business is different. The first step is to assess your risk. Some of the questions to ask include:

  • How valuable or sensitive is your data?
  • Is your data stored on a local server or the cloud?
  • Do you allow remote connections?
  • What types of devices do your employees use?

By looking at your online setup, you will learn the spots in your network that are most vulnerable to an attack. These weak points should be the primary focus of your security education efforts.

Depending on your business’s size, hiring a local consultant to manage the training may be a good solution. Also, many online programs address the most common cyber safety issues. However you carry out the training, you are making a positive investment in your business’s security and reputation.

Mitigate Your Organization's Cybersecurity Risk

Tech Talk: 20 Things You Must Do to Mitigate Your Organization’s Cybersecurity Risk

By | Security

Is your organization equipped with at least cybersecurity basics? If you don’t know the answer to that question, the following information will help you learn the essentials that can create a starting point for reducing your organization’s security risk.

The 20 most critical elements of cybersecurity basics can be broken into the following five key categories:

  • Asset Tracking
  • Access Management
  • Risk Management
  • Security Controls
  • Incident Response and Recovery

Asset Tracking

  1. Create an asset inventory.

What should be included in the inventory? IT departments typically focus on assets that are most critical to the organization and that are connected to the network. That makes sense (and we’ll discuss those next). However, any asset within the organization that stores or processes information about the organization can be used by cybercriminals. There are numerous asset discovery and logging tools available to help you ensure that you have listed all assets in the organization. In addition to technology assets (hardware, software, and data), you should also include people.

 

  1. Determine the most critical assets in your organization.

Once you’ve created an asset inventory, you then need to determine which assets are considered the most critical. In addition to highlighting this group in your asset inventory, make sure you add important information about the asset such as location, employee who uses it, and technical details (i.e., date of last software update).

 

  1. Analyze the details about the assets in your organization.

You should now have a good picture of the assets in your organization. This basic information can help you start thinking about the level of security and security measures you need to implement. For example, if a large percentage of the organization works from a remote location, it’s probably a good idea to invest in security controls that provide protection for assets in such an environment.

 

  1. Continually update your asset inventory list.

Keeping your asset inventory list current will help you keep track of important information about your assets, such as when software updates are required. One of the most common sources of a data breach is neglecting to apply a software patch. The consequences of this neglect can be exorbitant. The Equifax data breach that occurred in 2017 is an example. Nearly 150 million records were compromised during the breach, and the organization was still dealing with the impact three years later. Equifax eventually had to pay a $425 million global settlement.

 

Access Control

 

  1. Determine the employees in the organization that have access to the critical assets.

The first step of implementing access control to your assets is to learn which employees in the organization have access to the most critical assets and how they access them. It’s also a good idea to determine how access to your critical assets is monitored. The First American Financial data breach of 2019 is a good example of why this step is important. The data breach, which resulted in nearly a billion sensitive records being exposed online, was linked to a website for privileged users that was not designed to verify the identity of the user.

 

  1. Implement strong authentication and authorization controls.

Multi-factor authentication and password encryption are examples of advanced access controls that have been considered the basics for protecting critical assets. In the summer of 2020, we learned that they too can be compromised. Twitter announced on their blog that they were subjected to a social engineering attack. The social media company divulged that the attack was driven by the criminals being able to bypass multi-factor authentication, reset passwords, successfully log in to “high-profile accounts” and send unauthorized Tweets.

 

  1. Use privileged access management (PAM) solution to protect your organization’s critical assets.

A PAM solution enables you to securely control and monitor your organization’s privileged accounts, which are targets for cybercriminals. However, access control isn’t just for preventing people outside your organization from gaining unauthorized access to your organization’s critical assets. According to The Cost of Insider Threats (2020) benchmark study performed by Ponemon Institute, the negligence of insiders in an organization was the top cause of 63% of incident reports and cost organizations nearly $5 million.

 

  1. Consider implementing a Zero Trust access security model.

Microsoft defines a Zero Trust access security model as one that “assumes breach and verifies each request as though it originates from an open network”. By assuming everything in the organization is at risk and must be verified, the process of identifying and granting access to critical assets is much stronger. Implementing a Zero Trust access security model will require that you modify your infrastructure and security policies.

 

Risk Management

  1. Develop a comprehensive cybersecurity plan that is specific to your organization.

There is no one-size-fits-all cybersecurity strategy. You must analyze your situation and determine the threats that your organization are most vulnerable to, and then create a plan that mitigates your risk.

 

  1. Monitor, analyze, and monitor your organization’s network for potential threats.

There are many threat monitoring, detection, and analysis tools and services available on the market. Many of these allow you to pick and choose the services your organization requires. There are some services available that monitor security threats for you. For example, the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Enhanced Cybersecurity Services (ECS) program provides an intrusion prevention capability service to both public and private entities. If your organization is a government entity, you may be able to sign up for the service with little or no cost.

 

  1. Maximize the cybersecurity IQ of all IT security professionals in the organization.

Cybersecurity is an advanced technical practice that requires a specialized set of skills. The individuals in your organization that are responsible for cybersecurity may manage that task alone or function as IT professionals with a myriad of technical responsibilities. Cybersecurity certification isn’t required, but these individuals should know more than cybersecurity basics. Cybersecurity has become an important aspect of doing business. Your cybersecurity staff can easily enroll in training courses in person or online. The training should be ongoing to ensure the security staff is prepared for the ever-changing cybersecurity landscape.

 

  1. Educate all employees in the organization about cybersecurity awareness.

Security awareness training is also important for non-IT employees in your organization. This training teaches employees about security threats and how to avoid them. Your analysis of your organization’s threat landscape will help you determine the most significant information to include in your security training program.

The following are the basics of a security awareness training program:

  • Types of cybersecurity threats and the danger they pose to the organization
  • Policies regarding use of company equipment and networks, bring-your-own-device (BYOD), and remote work
  • Handling sensitive data
  • Communicating with people outside the organization
  • Social media interactions
  • The importance of strong passwords

Employee security awareness training should be a continual event. The goal is to create a culture of security awareness.

Security Controls

  1. Implement controls that protect the organization’s network infrastructure.

The network in your organization is responsible for the transmission of data and one, if not the most, critical assets in your organization. The network is the main entry point that you want to protect.

Here are the most common types of basic network security controls:

  • Firewall
  • Anti-virus solutions
  • Intrusion detection systems

 

  1. Implement security controls that protect data (onsite and in the cloud).

The security controls mentioned in the previous section are measures designed to keep the perimeter of your infrastructure safe. Your protection shouldn’t stop there. You should also take steps to protect the data that is inside the organization or that is managed by a third-party cloud solution.

 

  1. Implement security controls that protect remote connections.

Using a virtual private network (VPN) is the most common method of protecting remote connections to corporate networks. Alternative solutions include permission-based strategies such as identity and access management (IAM) platforms and VPN-like encryption-based strategies such as The Onion Router (Tor).

 

  1. Adopt an adaptive security model.

The cybercriminals in the Twitter breach mentioned previously were able to bypass common access controls. Technology is constantly changing and, unfortunately, cybercriminals are modifying their tactics to keep up with the changes. Implementing a security model that is adaptive to the changes in the threat landscape for your organization is essential.

 

Incident Response and Recovery

  1. Develop a security incident response plan.

Your incident response plan should be specific to your organization and outline how the organization will respond after an attack.

Here are the basic steps of creating a security incident response plan:

  1. Create an incident response team and assign responsibilities.
  2. Identify critical assets and alternate storage solutions.
  3. Determine the procedure for handling compromised assets.
  4. Determine data backup strategy.
  5. Outline the internal and external communication plan.
  6. Document the details from the steps above and have it approved by top-level executives in the organization.

 

  1. Create detailed logs of all security incidents.

Incident logs can help you uncover weaknesses in your security solutions and prevent future incidents. Your organization may also be required by compliance regulations to log all security incidents. The basics of a security incident log answer the when, what, and who questions: When did the incident occur? What was the incident? Who discovered the incident? Make sure you include as much information as possible about the security incident.

 

  1. Consider purchasing insurance to lessen the effects of a cybersecurity issue.

A security incident such as a data breach can have a significant impact on your organization’s reputation and revenue. Cybersecurity insurance can help your organization recover more smoothly from an incident. In addition to mitigating some of your financial losses, cybersecurity insurance may provide security consultants to assist with the recovery process.

 

  1. Test your security incident response plan.

Determining the effectiveness of your security incident response plan is a critical task to perform once your plan is created. The common practice is to replicate a specific type of cyberattack that is realistic as possible for your organization and walk through your plan. Make sure you make notes about any flaws or weaknesses you discover.

 

Next Step

Learning cybersecurity basics can be an eye-opening experience for security professionals. If you realize that your organization has not yet met the baseline of IT security, your next step is to work toward that goal. If you require assistance with performing an in-depth analysis of your business needs, BACS can help.

BACS is an IT services firm of security professionals that specializes in working one-on-one with organizations to first understand what their IT security needs are, and then determine the most robust, flexible, and cost-effective solution.  BACS consultants are also experienced with assisting organizations with strengthening their security foundation.

Multi-Factor Authentication

Increasing Security with Multi-Factor Authentication

By | Data Protection, Security

Multi-factor identification (MFA) involves additional security measures required when logging in to an online account. While it is true that every website requires the user to sign in with a password, MFA adds additional security.

Indeed, a website may require two or three MFA classifications, including identification via a face scan, the user’s voice, or optical recognition. Alternative MFA types include bank cards, keys, and secret tokens. For instance, an ATM user has a debit card combined with a Personal Identification Number (PIN).

Bank and investment websites use MFA technology to protect account owners from hackers. You have most likely already used MFA software to log in to your online checking account or other financial services firms when you provided numerical codes in addition to your passwords. A Multi-Factor Authentication verification works as follows:

  • MFA software calls the phone number associated with your account.
  • MFA software may send your cell phone a verification text instead of a phone call.
  • You answer your phone and receive a numerical code.
  • Alternatively, you may receive the code via a text message.
  • Next, you enter the code into your online account via the website or an app.

A website views your phone as a trusted device. Consequently, receiving the code on your cell phone or landline phone indicates that you are not an impersonator attempting to hack into someone else’s account. MFA might also use your fingerprint as a form of identification. If you lose or forget your password, MFA is sometimes used to verify that you are the authentic account owner. Once verified, you can proceed to change your password.

Websites may require users to answer several security questions before they can access their accounts. Nevertheless, answers to security questions do not constitute the most secure types of MFA authentications.

 

Why is MFA Needed?

MFA is needed to ensure that both the small business owner and the consumer receive protection from people who want to steal identities or funds. MFA requirements protect small businesses from having to deal with identity theft issues. Furthermore, MFA provides an invisible protective wall surrounding the user or account owner. Think of MFA as a moat that defends your account from the malicious intents of ne’er-do-wells.

Unfortunately, hackers get their entertainment from observing users who choose weak passwords. MFA is needed because people often choose insufficient passwords that are too short or lack sufficient letters, numbers, and characters. In addition to selecting an inferior password open to security breaches, a user may enter the identical password on 100 different websites.

Using the same password numerous times can send alert signals to potential hackers. Hackers delight in finding users who continue to use the same passwords for months or years. Many users continue to use the same passwords for multiple applications and store them in insecure locations. Using software to store passwords also presents problems. Using a password manager to store one or more passwords is not always a good idea because of possible security vulnerabilities.

 

What are the advantages of using MFA?

If you manage a small business, you may think it unnecessary to ask customers for MFA authentications. You may worry that your clients will regard receiving and entering numerical codes as heavy burdens on their time and patience. Nonetheless, your customers will thank you if your requirement to use MFA software results in protecting their identities and accounts. Benefits of using MFA software include:

  • Providing clients with additional account protection
  • Protecting a business by offering clients ways to defend themselvesdata-security
  • Preventing a breach of trust
  • Keeping clients happy because they feel secure

Using MFA technology as additional security measures can protect businesses, customers, and employees from hackers. Gaining access to valuable information, an accomplished hacker can wreak all kinds of havoc for everyone involved in the attack.

Hackers can steal medical records, social security numbers, and physical addresses. While the mere thought of a hacker gaining access to confidential account information may send shivers up and down your spine, your use of MFA technology can help prevent this type of situation from taking place.

 

What are the disadvantages of using MFA?

An account owner may not want to spend additional time verifying their account. It is already somewhat of a nuisance to enter a username and password for verification purposes. Receiving an email, voicemail, or text with a numerical code is an extra burden. Plus, the person then needs to take the time to enter the code before they can access their account.

A user may receive the dreaded message implying that the website does not recognize their computer. Lack of recognition may result from using a junk file cleaner. While deleting unnecessary information, a private usage data cleaner may also eliminate a trusted site verification. An updated browser can also cause a website to require additional identifiable information from the user.

A person may not have their phone within proximity. Perhaps someone recently stole the person’s mobile phone. If MFA requires receipt of a unique code via a voicemail, this can cause an issue. In this case, a user will not have the ability to access their online account.

MFA software is not 100% foolproof. A hacker can figure out how to mimic a person’s voice or even their iris. Yet utilizing MFA technology makes common sense because the authentication adds extra security.

 

How does MFA work?

Multi-Factor Authentication occurs when a person wants to log in to their online account. A one-time password (OTP) is a common requirement before an individual can access their online data. The code only works for a short time. Once the allotted time expires, the user will need to obtain a new OTP and enter it into the website.

A website that does not require the user to enter an OTP may ask the person to answer one or more security questions. As stated earlier, security questions are not foolproof because a hacker may have the ability to ascertain the correct answers.

Another method involves recognizing a person’s trusted device. In this scenario, the individual would have already granted the website permission to use the same cell phone or computer. Providing ample evidence constitutes the best way to describe how MFA works. A person who provides two or more pieces of evidence demonstrating correct identification can access their online account.

Even though requiring the use of MFA may cause a person to have a minor inconvenience, the benefits far outweigh any disadvantages. Scrambling to find a cell phone to obtain a numerical code is worth the slight hassle if it means protecting the person from identity theft.

Small businesses benefit from using MFA software because the authentication method offers extra protection for their clients, resulting in satisfied customers. Every business owner knows that keeping a customer happy is a vital aspect of growing a company.

Business owners should familiarize themselves with Multi-Factor Authentication software before they choose a system. It is useful to determine if they can get support and whether the software is easy to use. Providing clients with an extra measure of safety, a small business owner has the satisfaction of going the extra mile for their customers.

Malware Threats

Safeguarding Assets from Evolving Malware Threats

By | Security

The digital age has greatly expanded the range of opportunities and avenues of attack for hackers to penetrate your IT security defenses and gain access to critical business systems and applications. Many of these breaches are the result of weak security defenses and poor email usage practices.

 

Malware infections can be particularly devastating for businesses. By interrupting critical workflows and stealing or encrypting crucial data, malware can cause serious financial and reputation damage.

 

According to one report, 66 percent of malware enters enterprise networks through email attachments.

Therefore, the importance of implementing solid email security defenses and best practice measure can’t be overstated, particularly considering the extensive use of email for day-to-day business communications.

 

At the same time, today’s threats are becoming increasingly more sophisticated as cyber criminals create more dangerous variants of ransomware and malware, along with more devious phishing schemes. Whether caused by software failure or human error, a single malware attack can prove catastrophic for businesses of any size.

 

While there is no silver bullet method for preventing all malware attacks, there are reliable, best practice measures to detect and block threats. These baseline methods provide a solid framework for helping to protect sensitive business systems from unwanted intrusions without hampering productivity.

 

Install anti-virus software.

Anti-virus and spam filtering tools offer an effective front-line defense in helping to prevent malicious malware, ransomware and other viruses from sneaking into your network and infecting your applications and systems. These programs scan your email and attachments, checking for vulnerabilities as they enter your inbox. If malicious content is identified, the software will alert users of the suspicious content and typically will quarantine the affected email to prevent it from being inadvertently released. It is your responsibility to check your security settings on your spam filter and enable the specific options you need. You can often change the settings to block out any emails that contain specific words or phrases, which can be helpful in guarding against specific types of scams or email phishing schemes. To help defend against the latest threats and vulnerabilities, make sure your anti-malware software is consistently updated with the latest definitions.

Use secure authentication.

Once an access point is compromised, attackers will often reuse the password to gain access to other systems. Authentication will help obstruct these attempts no matter how the hacker gains access to the password. Options within your email client typically give you a range of authentication capabilities. While the concept is simple, authentication offers a highly effective data loss prevention technique. For a more streamlined security approach, consider consolidating your authentication, encryption, and advanced threat protection into a single security suite. Compared with point tools, these integrated systems require a fraction of the IT resources required to maintain effective threat protection.

 

Keep software updated.

While no system or application is completely safe against malware attacks, software providers regularly provide patches and updates to close any new vulnerability that may emerge. As a best practice, validate and install all new software patches and check for signs of malware in log reports. Be sure to implement routine maintenance including updating your operating systems, software tools, browsers and plug-ins. Make backups of all your data and software on a storage device that is not attached to your network or computer. Confirm that all your backups are operating properly and test them on a regular basis to make sure they will perform when you need them. Also, don’t overlook your email servers, which are a frequent target of hackers. Make sure your IT team has all the necessary tools and information to effectively secure your email servers.

Safeguard email with encryption.

Popular email platforms like Gmail and Outlook typically don’t have sufficient enterprise-level encryption capabilities to fully protect applications and systems against all cyber threats. Third-party add-in encryption services can close these corporate email security gaps, helping to safeguard information in transit and on endpoint devices. For even greater protection, consider full-disk encryption, which encrypts the complete hard drive, safeguarding the data as well as the applications and operating system. Keep in mind that some encryption services can add friction to the user experience. Any encryption tool is only effective if users can easily make it a part of their regular workflow. Carefully weigh your options by testing trial versions before making a final decision.

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Monitor for suspicious activity

Proactive email scanning can identify vulnerabilities and provide reports on detected gaps in security and recommendations for security patches or vendor updates. These reports describe the types of risks found and a potential cause for each area of vulnerability. Many of today’s leading email monitoring solutions will monitor all user accountsfor suspicious activity and provide an alert if there is any reason for concern. Core capabilities typically include: logging all incoming and outgoing traffic; baselining normal user activity and proactively looking for aberrations; and promptly investigating unusual actions. Network monitoring can also be used to confirm the health of software and firmware throughout system startup, operation and during sensitive upgrade periods.

 

Educate end-users

While implementing the right technology is important, it’s not the entire solution. The users who interface with your business systems must also be educated on how to perform their tasks. Work with your internal team to define and implement policies and practices based on your usage preferences and requirements or mandates specific to your particular market. Create a culture in which people talk about security, and make security a clear priority. Teach users about secure online practices such as how to recognize potential threats and phishing attempts.

 

Continue to build awareness of malware risk attacks and check user awareness with in-house hacking attempts and interactive security activities.  Make sure policies and procedures are consistently enforced.

  • Keep users informed on the latest cybersecurity threats and best practice security techniques.
  • Educate users on how to identify phishing schemes and what to do if a hidden threat is uncovered.
  • Empower and encourage users to be proactive in reporting suspicious behavior.
  • Instruct users on how to use secure networks and follow best practice processes when working remotely.

 

Staying ahead of today’s advancing threats

Safeguarding your vital IT and enterprise infrastructure is not just a security concern; it is a fundamental business issue. It requires an intelligent investment in resources to meet an increasingly complex threat landscape.

While building an effective email security framework is a long-term process, you cannot afford to hesitate. Cybercriminals are constantly looking for new ways to break through your defenses, which is why you need a solid technology foundation, combined a strong culture of awareness and responsiveness to today’s evolving threats.