Monthly Archives

April 2021

web-filtering protection

Why Every Business Must Implement Web-Filtering Protection

By | Security

Staying out of trouble may mean something as simple as just not going where problems hang out. Sound judgment and wise decision-making can help avoid mistakes with no harm done. However, when the potential for running into trouble involves the web, adventuring into unknown areas can lead to serious consequences.

 

The risks of unprotected computer systems include malicious hacking and dangerous downloads of malware, spyware, and ransomware. All intrusions can create extensive damage that you may never recover from completely. Web filtering protection offers an efficient and effective alternative that blocks malicious attacks on your company’s computer network.

 

 

How Does Web Filtering Work?

A safeguard that prevents anyone from accessing dangerous websites can successfully remove risk. Users who may unknowingly choose to visit a site that contains threats to your computer system can benefit from technology that prevents it. Web filters can prevent browsers from viewing pages from unacceptable sites through sophisticated identification of dangerous URLs or websites. A systematic approach to comparing known hazardous websites to a URL filtering database provides an effective defense against malicious intrusion. The technology can allow or prevent access to manage the controls that you choose.

 

 

Types of Web Filter Controls

By screening URLs, technology can identify acceptable websites for users to access. The filters that you establish for protection can block pages that threaten to damage your network. Avoidance of downloaded viruses, spyware, and other inappropriate content can spare a business some massive inconveniences.

 

Blocking websites with reputations as phishing sites or distributors of malware can prevent significant damage to a computer system. Of particular concern to business owners, malicious intrusion may destroy customer databases and deprive a company of essential CRM options.

 

With URL matching, a type of web filtering, you can enforce company policy and reject specific web traffic categories. With the criteria that you can select when installing web filtering protection, you can ensure the blocking of any information category.

 

 

Why Do Companies Need Web Filtering?

Prevention of cybersecurity attacks presents a viable reason that justifies an investment in web filtering. Additionally, the practice limits access to specified websites increases network security and enhances workplace productivity.

 

Employee Productivity

While almost no manager wants to admit that employees use office computers for purposes unrelated to work, most know that the practice exists. Some even acknowledge that letting employees take a break can contribute to productivity. An occasional visit to an online gaming site or a brief look at a streaming video may seem acceptable. However, going online to shop, check the news headlines, or catch up with the latest social media comments can impact productivity. Web filtering can reduce the use of bandwidth-guzzling applications and remove the temptation to access distracting and unproductive searches.

 

Compliance with Guidelines

Similar to placing a limit on employee access to entertainment, web filtering can prevent risks that can occur on sites that offer gambling or pornography. Often the source of cyber threats to computer security, the sites present risks that web filtering prevents.

 

Cyber Attack Prevention

A consistent defense with web filtering protects a computer network against malicious intrusion. Sites that can download webpages that introduce malware may need to make several attempts before succeeding. When companies identify malicious webpages as unacceptable, URL web filtering can exclude them from admission. The process protects companies from malicious downloads, cybercriminal activity, phishing expeditions, and malware installation.

 

What Benefits Do Businesses Get with Web Filtering?

The overall benefit of web filtering to businesses allows companies to control access to the internet. Within the expanse of benefits that accrue from the capability, many handle issues that companies need to address. The efficiency and ease with which web filtering manages business concerns make it worth considering.

 

Restricted Access to Specific Websites

Companies may have various reasons to limit employee access to selected websites, and many relate to productivity issues. Blocked access to illegal or inappropriate websites, dating sites, social media, or other interests can keep employees focused on work-related tasks. A reduction in lost productivity can favorably affect corporate profit for large or small enterprises.

 

Enhanced Network Security

Whether knowingly or not, employee actions allow breaches in network security. Every business hopes that company loyalty and respect for the organization prevents workers from allowing malicious attacks to a company network. However, the issue presents complications that companies cannot ignore. Websites that want to gain admission to networks can make attractive appeals to users while not seeming dangerous. Web filtering manages the threat to security by disallowing access to potentially hazardous sites.

 

Improved Connectivity

Extracurricular activities unrelated to job tasks may not seem like much of a drain on a company’s bandwidth. However, the amount can become significant with widespread use. A cost-saving measure that employees can accept willingly with an explanation, web filtering that blocks frivolous activity can affect the bottom line. Small businesses often face connectivity issues and need to avoid an unnecessary drain on bandwidth. Web filtering offers a viable alternative that resolves technical issues.

 

Respect for Copyrights

Employees who may have an incomplete understanding of the copyright laws in the United States can create liabilities for businesses without realizing it. Web content, documents, concepts, and ideas that belong to someone else have legal protection against unauthorized use. Intellectual property belongs to the person who originated it, and employees can create legal issues for companies by downloading copyrighted material.

 

 

How Can a Business Implement Web Filtering?

Businesses can implement web filtering with on-premise software or through a cloud-based managed service. The option to rely on in-house controls may work well for companies who install software on servers with protection behind a firewall. Limitations include making an original investment in a license and assigning a technician to set up and maintain the filtering variables. While it may lack scalability and flexibility, an in-house system may meet company objectives in the short term. As reliance on SaaS cloud applications increases, businesses may need to consider other options.

 

Implementing web filtering requires experts who can manage the transition with understanding and thoroughness. Selection of the URLs to block access to sites can deny it to someone in the company who needs it. The implementation processes may go along more smoothly with a managed service provider who understands the complexities that make it work well for everyone.

 

 

Choosing a Path to Protection

Whether you decide to install web filtering protection in-house or select a service provider to implement it, the key to safe browsing on the internet lies in using some type of protection. Avoidance of cyberattacks provides a justifiable reason for an investment, but it does much more. Companies can ensure compliance with guidelines without pinpointing anyone, and the restrictions become commonplace as employees realize their value. The benefits far exceed the cost of investment, and they produce a cohesive environment that promotes productivity and resistance to cyberattacks.

data-security

Why You Should Focus on Improving Your Cybersecurity Strategy

By | Security, Strategy

Your cybersecurity strategy has been established and now you feel confident that your organization’s data is protected. While you should be applauded for developing a cybersecurity strategy, you should never rest on your laurels. Cybersecurity requires your constant and full attention.  

The following are five reasons you should focus on improving your cybersecurity strategy:

 

1: Your organization’s personal data is valuable.

2: Recovering from a cyberattack is expensive.

3: Your organization’s reputation is at stake.

4: Cyberattacks are on the rise.

5: Your greatest security risk requires constant coaching.

 

1: Your organization’s personal data is valuable.

 

The level of sensitivity may vary, but all organizations have personal information that they need to protect.  Just consider the following three ways in which personal information  can travel within your organization:

  • Employees collect information from individuals doing business with your organization.
  • Individuals and organizations transfer and or communicate information to your organization.
  • Employees and third-party organizations access information from within or outside your organization.

In just those three methods of transmission, multiple people have interacted with data. Should all the hands that touch your sensitive data have access to it? If you don’t know the answer to that question, it’s a good idea to inventory all the data assets in your organization and determine who requires access to the most sensitive information. Creating an inventory of your data will also help you understand the level of protection you need to implement. Effective recordkeeping and evaluation are important in this area because the information can change and the people who require access to it can also change.

2: Recovering from a cyberattack is expensive.

 

According to a report published by Ponemon Institute, the average cost of a data breach in 2020 was just under $4 million. Gartner Inc., an advisory firm, predicts that the worldwide cost of security will balloon to $170 billion in just a few years. What if your organization suffers a cyberattack and it is more devastating than the average? The costs are even higher. 

Consider the costs associated with the following five historical data breaches:

    • Epsilon – This company suffered an attack in 2011 that involved the personal information for 75 of its clients. The costs to recover from the incident were in excess of $4 billion. 
    • Veterans Administration – Unencrypted data of more than a quarter of a billion records was sitting on a laptop and external drive and stolen from this respected government agency. The VA reportedly was out of up to $500 million to recover from the incident.
    • Target – More than 150 million shoppers of this top retailer received the sad news just before the 2013 Thanksgiving holiday that a hacker “compromised the retailer’s credit card readers” and their card numbers were stolen. The company spent $162 million to recover from the incident.  
    • Capital One – A previous employer of this large financial institution illegally accessed a cloud-based server and stole the personal information of more than 100 million customers. The initial estimate of the data breach was $150 million. The eventual number was closer to three times the number of customers that were impacted–$300 million. 
  • Yahoo – Considered by many as the largest data breach ever, this web services provider first announced in 2013 that 1 billion customer accounts had been compromised. In October 2017, just after it sold itself to Verizon, the company changed the estimate to being closer to three billion records.  In April 2019, their settlement with individuals of the compromised accounts was $117.5 million.

 

3: Your organization’s reputation is at stake.

 

In addition to being expensive, suffering a data breach or other cyberattack can impact how other organizations or individuals feel about your organization. According to a survey conducted by Security.org of 1,000 people (including 300 victims of data breaches), 67.3% of the respondents had less trust in a company if they had a data breach, and  21.6% would not share their personal information with such companies. 

Of course, cyberattacks are not 100% preventable. However, the organizations and individuals that you work with expect you to perform an acceptable level of due diligence to mitigate your risk. An investigation often follows a data breach, especially one that impacts a large number of people or organizations. Once an organization suffers a security breach their reputation is damaged and it while possible, it is difficult to recover from.

Consider the following companies that struggled after a data breach:

  • Capital One – Shortly after they suffered the large data breach mentioned above, the stock of this large financial institution decreased in value. 
  1. FlexMagic Consulting – This small firm operated their business successfully for 34 years, had an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau (BBB), and reported $2 million in annual revenue. They experienced just one data breach, but the effects of it forced the company to close their doors forever.
  2. LabCorp – In 2018, this large clinical laboratory suffered a ransomware attack that compromised millions of patient records. In 2019, the laboratory learned that 7.7 million of its patient records were accessed by unauthorized individuals via their collection agency, American Medical collection Agency (AMCA), for eight months. In 2020, a website misconfiguration by the laboratory led to 10,000 company documents being exposed. In addition to their stock losing value, LabCorp is the subject of multiple lawsuits by patients impacted by the multiple data breaches. 

 

4: Cyberattacks are on the rise.

 

One constant about cyber threats is that they are increasing. There are many reasons for the increase. One of the most common is that cyber threats are closely tied to major shifts in technology. Advancements in technology provide convenience but also new opportunities of exploitation for cyber criminals. 

Cyberattacks are also on the rise because of a series of special events. The 2020 presidential election was a major event with such increased cyber activity that the director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center (NCSC) issued a press release warning Americans about international threats. Most recently, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) reported an increase in cyberattacks due to the COVID-19 global pandemic. Healthcare organizations have been targeted for vaccine information, video communication (increased during this time of social distancing) is being hacked, and social engineering attacks abound amid the news of government stimulus checks, COVID-19 vaccinations, and unemployment benefits.

The following are three additional reasons cyberattacks are increasing:

  • IT departments are understaffed and can’t keep up with cybersecurity demands.
  • A new digital currency (bitcoin) is available to exploit or use as ransom payment.
  • Cyber criminals want fame and compete to orchestrate the largest attack.

 

5: Your greatest security risk requires constant coaching.

It’s a common belief that the weakest link of a cybersecurity strategy are employees. A great example is a report by Trend Micro that uncovered that nearly 100% of the cyber threats based on the COVID-19 pandemic were spam or phishing threats. Human error is difficult to improve and probably one of the most important reasons you should focus on improving your cybersecurity strategy.

Training employees about phishing and other types of social engineering cyberattack methods is the obviously the best method of increasing employee awareness. However, you should focus the training on the weak areas of your employees’ behavior. The HubSpot Your Guide to Employee Phishing Scams document includes a suggestion of simulating phishing attacks to both train employees about them and test their awareness. You can easily carry out the simulations on a regular basis and adjust your cybersecurity strategy as needed.

 

Next Steps

Effective cybersecurity requires a dynamic process for protecting your organization’s data against the sophisticated and increasing threats of cyber criminals who are constantly changing their tactics.  When should you review your cybersecurity strategy? That depends on your organization. If your organization operates within an industry, such as financial institutions, with security compliance requirements, those standards will mandate the intervals in which updates are required. 

If there are no mandates or regulations for your organization to contend with, consider improving your cybersecurity strategy on a regular interval your security team determines proactive or when there are major changes in your organization or industry, there is an increase in a type of cyber threat that is a weakness for your organization, or there is a shift in technology or information that impacts your organization.

Here are five steps you can take to improve your cybersecurity strategy:

  1. Review the objectives from the last iteration of your strategy. 
  2. Evaluate the current protection of your sensitive data. 
  3. Evaluate employees’ security awareness.  
  4. Update the cybersecurity strategy based on your findings. 
  5. Obtain approval from key roles in the organization.
  6. Repeat steps 1 to 5 on a regular basis or during specific shifts that impact your business. 

If your security team is struggling to develop a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy, the security consultants at BACS can provide assistance. We understand that every organization is unique in its cybersecurity needs. We conduct in-depth assessments of IT infrastructures to learn the scope of an organization’s security needs.  We can then work with you to develop an effective strategy for your organization.

Managing-Passwords-What-a-Small-Business-Can-Do-to-Minimize-Risk

Managing Passwords—What a Small Business Can Do to Minimize Risk

By | Data Protection, Security

A network that is not adequately protected may be vulnerable to unauthorized access from competitors, government entities, and other malicious players. After someone gains access to your company’s network, that person could potentially use the information obtained to undermine your trade secrets. There is also a chance that malware, ransomware, or other dangerous software will be uploaded to a vulnerable server. Your organization must take network security seriously.

How Easy Is It to Hack Systems Protected By Weak Passwords?

The biggest problem with quality passwords is that they are hard to remember. Your employees may choose to create codes that they won’t forget, such as 123456, password, or birthdates. Unfortunately, most hackers know the weak passwords typically used to secure corporate servers, and they may be able to access your firm’s network without the need for fancy software.

It’s important to note that a hacker might gain access to a server through any device that connects to it. So, it’s essential that company smartphones, tablets, and computers have strong passwords.

What Can Small Businesses Do to Safeguard Their Networks?

Any passwords used to protect your company’s network should have a mixture of letters, numbers, and symbols. This practice makes it harder for passcode-cracking software to guess the sequence of characters needed to access a server. Plus, it is a good idea to change a passcode at least once every 30 days.

In addition to strong passwords, businesses can take other steps to prevent unauthorized access to their networks. For instance, it may be a good idea to require separate passcodes to access especially sensitive data such as customer data or trade secrets. These passcodes would only be given to top executives, certain classes of shareholders, and others who have a right to view this information.

It will also help to create server restart points every few minutes to ensure that information isn’t lost in the event of a ransomware attack. If such a scenario were to occur, you could take the server offline, find the breach’s source, and then roll the server back to the last secure restore point. It can also be worthwhile to create multiple virtual copies of your server’s data to ensure that it can’t be lost, damaged, or stolen.

Ideally, you’ll keep a physical server in a secure room that can only be accessed by members of your IT team. A server room may be secured by a lock that only opens if it recognizes a person’s fingerprint, retina, or other unique identifiers. Additionally, your firm should have a log of all the people who enter or exit the server room. If a security breach occurs, the log can be used to identify the person who may have gone rogue quickly.

How Can Employees Help?

There are several easy actions that employees can take to prevent a data breach from occurring. For instance, workers should refrain from using personal devices while on company property. Although a corporate network may be adequately protected from viruses, malware, or other exploits, personal devices secured by weak passwords may create a vulnerability that a hacker could exploit.

It’s also crucial for employees to refrain from using a company phone, tablet, or computer at home since their networks may not be as secure as those they use while on the job. This difference makes it possible for devices that were healthy when they left the office to return with viruses or malware.

Employees are also encouraged to follow best practices for creating strong passwords for any devices they use to complete work tasks. It also helps to use a password management program designed to create strong protection against those who may try to access their devices.

How Do Authentication Protocols Work?

Authentication programs require those who are attempting to access your company’s network to enter a one-time code in addition to the typical passcode that protects it. This code will be sent to a user’s smartphone, tablet, or another mobile device in most cases. If the unique code is not entered within a specified period of time, the person trying to access the server will not do so.

The Potential Consequences of a Data Breach

If customer information is obtained because of a data breach, a company may be held liable for any damages those individuals incur. It isn’t uncommon for thieves to use this data to commit identity theft, destroy a person’s reputation online, or otherwise cause long-term harm.

A data breach caused by an insufficient network security plan may also cause customers, investors, and others to lose confidence in your brand. This loss of trust could result in lost revenue, a significant decrease in your company’s share price, and other problems that might harm its ability to operate efficiently.

Depending on the circumstances of a given incident, there is a chance that members of your organization might face criminal charges after a breach occurs. This consequence may be especially true if a leak puts someone in danger of physical harm.

Now Is the Time to Create an Action Plan

If your company doesn’t have a network security plan, it’s essential to create one as quickly as possible. First, you’ll want to develop policies that ensure that your workers will create strong passwords, only use approved devices at work and follow other security best practices.

Next, you’ll want to provide training to your employees to ensure they understand these policies’ importance. These training sessions should go over the basics of what makes a strong passcode and why they need to be changed regularly. They should also introduce password management programs, authentication tools, and other technology that your employees may need to interact with regularly.

It’s generally a good idea to have refresher courses every few months to ensure that your employees comply with these rules. These courses can also be helpful because new threats are constantly emerging, which means that you’ll likely have to update your policies every few months.

Finally, you’ll need a system that measures how well employees comply with the rules you have implemented. For example, those who are seen using their personal devices might be given a written warning. Conversely, those who are seen adhering to the new protocols should be given bonuses, time off, or other rewards.

Strong passwords can be the foundation of a network security plan that keeps your business safe from sensitive data breaches. An IT professional will help you better understand the importance of implementing such a plan and how to do so correctly.

and resistance to cyberattacks.