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August 2021

Cyber Threats to Construction Companies BACS IT

Why Cyberthreats to Construction Companies Are On the Rise

By | Business Continuity, Data Protection, managed It services, Productivity, Security, Technology

Cyber-attacks have threatened every industry vertical worldwide, with infrastructure and development companies hit more than most. Construction firms are vulnerable to attack because of the various legacy systems along their supply chains. Older hardware and software exist everywhere in the industry.

Construction may not suggest a likely target with thousands of asset-filled healthcare and financial service businesses available. Construction is hit hard because of its limited employee awareness across various antiquated supply chains.

Ransomware has become highly effective in the industry, with attacks rising considerably in recent years. Assaults are more sophisticated and targeted to every market niche in the sector.

Cyber attackers have focused their attention on construction due to lax security from virtually every firm in the industry. Most firms ask, Why Us? We have limited to nothing worth plundering. As it turns out, the industry has plenty to offer attackers. Statistics associated with the attacks are bearing this out.   

  • 1 in 6 construction companies reported a ransomware attack at some time in the last year
  • Cyber-attacks have a success rate of 74% as compared to 42.5% for all other industries
  • Ransomware payments made by individual companies averaged $220,300 per incident
  • In a typical data breach, construction firms lost 15 operational days per employee

Construction as a Target

Every vertical is under assault by sophisticated hackers.  Why is construction singled out?  Companies throughout the supply chain are cash-rich and regularly under the gun to meet building deadlines.

Building and design firms are vulnerable due to their predictable schedules. Ransomware, phishing, and service denials have an easy time calculating when to attack mobile devices and data systems.

  • Lots of employee information, bank accounts, and SS numbers are available on old computer networks
  • Proprietary and expensive home and commercial construction designs
  • Bid data on all types of projects
  • Profit/loss information on each hacked company plus the supply chain is openly available
  • Banking records of each company, employee, and vendor are readily available

Rapid growth in the overall economy has made cyber attackers look hard at the building industry. Another point made earlier; attacks into one system have a path to countless other networks.

Fast-growing companies have the most to offer or surrender. With growing organizations, cyber security is frequently left in the dust, and firms end up paying for their oversight.

The construction industry as a whole has regularly played catch-up on cyber security. The disparate structure of the industry, with only a few firms having the skill sets or funds to invest in security against cyber attackers.

The largest construction companies should show the same intensity of safeguarding against ransomware attacks as they do minimal employee safety measures. Lax attention to either one is a recipe for disaster.

Some of the best news coming out of the industry;  company leaders from the most prominent building firms are leading cybersecurity discussions. Industry associations are taking point and facilitating the conversation for better defense.

Construction firms must start from the ground up with a cyber security plan of action. These elements should develop into a solid infrastructure for the entire industry.  As more and more companies recognize the importance of cyber issues, the finest third-party vendors will concentrate their resources on the defense of malware, ransomware, and phishing code.

Easy Deception

Scams start as compromise frauds, with a legitimate email addressed to any number of unsuspecting employees.  Or an email blast is disguised as an invoice or some other everyday money transfer communication. Without suspecting deceit, employees deliver the cash into a cyber attacker’s account.  

2019, roughly $1.8 billion was blindly given to cyber attackers’, according to the FBI’s internet crime report.

How Does Ransomware Work on a Construction Firms’ System?

Ransomware gains entry through unsuspecting emails, and code spreads throughout the network, encrypting files as the code spreads through the network and then demanding a ransom to free up the information.

  • Malicious emails containing links to a website or a download link addressed to several employees. If the employee falls for the scam and opens the email, the ransomware is downloaded and executed on the user’s computer system.
  • Another means for ransomware to get into a computer system is by Remote Desktop Protocol or RDP. The attacker has employee credentials by stealing or guessing at the login. Once the system has been breached, the attacker downloads the malware and executes the code.
  • After the malware has gained access, the code starts to encrypt files. Most systems have built-in encryption, so any company files are encrypted with the attacker’s control key. The ransomware picks and singles out the most profitable or sensitive files to encrypt while ensuring the system remains stable.
  • Once the encryption process is finished, the ransomware is prepared to make demands. Different variants have dissimilar methods for ransom demands.  Typically, attackers demand cryptocurrency deposited in offshore accounts in a specific time frame.  If paid, the attackers release the system. If the ransom is not paid, attackers destroy the files or bring down the entire system.

 

Stolen Credentials

Contractors generally have lax standards when dealing with their clients or other contractors. Many times they hold open communication portals for bill pay or construction management projects. These lackadaisical standards constitute a clear channel for aggressive attackers. Easy access to a contractor’s system allows attackers to ransack any sensitive document they choose.

Small to mid-size contractors are frequently oblivious to the hazards they face or how to stop the invasions. Phishing scams, distributed denial of service, and ransomware are experiencing a meteoric rise in every industry operation.

Easy Targets?

In the initial days of the pandemic, development firms migrated their employees to remote protocols almost at once.  These distributed operations left many company’s IT professionals unaware of the cyber gaps they left behind.

The proliferation of mobility within every industry niche contributed to massive oversights. In the turmoil of shifting their employees, IT departments struggled to secure servers and data centers. Unfortunately, there was not adequate security.

In its many designs, building and planning development is unique in that it utilizes various suppliers, sub-contractors, and dealers, with money pouring in from all directions. Construction is also part of government budgets and conglomerate bidding processes involving smaller unknown companies.

The details of a bidding contract are generally kept secret until the winner is announced. Significant and extensive bids include winners, losers, contractors, and specific cash amounts. This entire decades-old framework makes any construction project a profitable target.

Like other industries, construction firms and their supply chains will never completely ward off a cyber-attack: more investment and a substantial awareness of the obstacles the industry faces are needed.  

Implementation

  • Construction firms, no matter their size, must have a Prevention-First mindset.  By the time a piece of malware is discovered on your computer or network,  It’s Too Late! Firms must have robust mechanisms in place to “Protect the Castle” from the interior.  Instead of moats and towers, an organization must use VPNs, anti-virus, and physical disciplines.
  • Most construction companies should start from the ground up to create a stable framework. A Network Security Audit should be one of the initial steps any firm must select. Knowing where the weak link is in the process is vital. An audit can forewarn you of updates that need to be carried out and warn you of possible security issues.
  • Contractor communications are usually unstable and famously unsecure. Building firms rely heavily on sub-contractors for bill payment and sourcing; this component usually opens the gate to attack. Ransomware, phishing, and service denial attacks launched through one system are quickly passed on to numerous other organizations on the network.  To secure a money moving process, the company’s team must establish stable and secure communications with other firms to have the same protection protocols.
  • Development firms and their working systems are generally unreliable and noted for having no cyber security plan.  If you discover your business is in this position, the first action should be to bring everything on the network up to date. Regular patching and updates require adherence to security. Failing to do so can again lead to disaster.

Patching computer systems and networks is crucial. Cyber attackers often seek out the most accessible uncovered sections for assault. Building companies and supply chains must stay updated with the latest and greatest hardware and software components. Potential vulnerabilities will be diminished.

  • Employee education is invariably a part of every cyber security must-do list.  Accidentally clicking a phishing email or ransomware attack is made a lot simpler by the uninformed employee. To combat the growing threats, every firm needs to train its employees in the correct way to manage its system.

Cyber education is explicitly needed for ransomware and malicious code circumstances. Educating employees is always a great idea. However, ensuring they are trained in how attackers get into a company’s computer is critical to success.

  • By now, every business should have a data backup plan. Unfortunately, that is generally not the case. In an assault, backups serve as the sole means of bringing back a system to its original working condition. Make certain you use multiple software approaches to improve results. Snapshots and replication ensure data is quickly brought back. Relying on a quality third-party vendor is an educated choice.

Ransomware

Modern ransomware attacks began in 2017 with the WannaCry code. These large-scale attacks exposed to the world the accessible routes by which attackers could enter a firm’s framework and attack. It demonstrated all too well; how profitable ransomware could become if adequately managed.

As corporations, particularly building and design, pivoted to remote work, ransomware exploded in popularity. Ransomware attacks surged by over 50%

Deadly variants:

  • Ryuk
  • Maze
  • REvil si one of the most well-known and destructive ransomware groups on the net. REvil has evolved to become a devastating ransomware variant.
  • Lockbit
  • DearCry

Protection

The actions above described construction systems without a cyber security policy and ransomware is a different beast entirely.

Bringing network systems up to standard is required in this modern age, and it should be only a part of an overall comprehensive plan of attack. Preparing a system for malicious code is not easy.

Proper preparation can dramatically cut down the occurrences of attack. Utilize the following tips to help reduce vulnerability to malicious code.

  • The use of a robust user identification process is highly effective for any business. Attackers are constantly finding easy entry to a network by stealing user credentials.
  • Ransomware attacks are created, so companies cannot access their data once the attack has started. Real-time data backups are an excellent solution for larger enterprises. Maintaining a regular habit of backing up company information is key to winning a malware attack.

What To Do if Your Systems are Infected

No one wants to see a note on their screen demanding cryptocurrency, or a complete shutdown of the system is next. If the menace is real and ransomware or malware is on your computer, again, it is too late to stop it.

However, here are a few tips to use if you recognize your network is infected:

  • Immediately quarantine the machine or network if feasible.  Malware spreads to alternative systems on the network immediately. Limit the broadcast by eliminating the connection.
  • If your files are encrypted, check with the “No More Ransom” site to determine if any decryptors can run on your files.  Run the decryptor on your machine to see if it works.
  • Do not turn off the computer. Encryption may make the system unstable, turning it off, and it may not turn back on.
  • Format the drive in question and restore the drive from a clean backup or operating system installation.

Let BACS IT Help Protect Your Data – Call Us Today

It is essential that you have the right IT services set up for your company, no matter what type of industry you operate in. For help creating a security plan for your company, turn to the experienced IT consultants of BACS IT. We are here to help keep you and your data safe. 

Financial Services Companies IT Services BACS IT

Financial Services Companies Face an Ever-Evolving Cyber Landscape

By | Data Protection, IT Support, managed It services, Security

After the initial fascination of the internet had run its course, financial developers turned their attention to laying the groundwork for banking services. In 1995, Wells Fargo became the first company to offer online banking. Since that time, the industry has seen a transformation unlike any other in history.

The cyber scene has evolved to include networks, devices, transit information, and services of every shape and size. Security quickly moved to the fore as the most influential aspect of our online world.

As devices and services explode on the cyber landscape, 96% of Americans state that more should be done to safeguard privacy. 65% of those surveyed are convinced personal data was not being protected. Along with an emerging threat of attack, the regulatory climate has been a distraction for most.

Governments worldwide are coming down hard on industries they feel are not doing enough in managing risk and personal data. As the world embraces digital, the cyber threat landscape has evolved into consumers aware of their lost privacy.  

The Financial Service Industry must do more to convince its clientele their data is secure.

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Cyber Security

Over the previous few decades, there has been an exponential rise in people accessing the internet with every device imaginable. The single biggest challenge for every organization is the threat of cyber-attack. Experts acknowledged that global companies could bear the brunt of a 5.2 trillion dollar loss to cyber-criminals over the next five years.

The concern by Americans and the World; personal data is not being cared for as it should. Financial services have made strides in securing personal information, but so much more can be done.

Infrastructure

Attacks on infrastructure networks are advancing rapidly. In 2020, attacks were up more than 150% from the previous year. According to NPR, the situation is acute; investigation has revealed over seven ransomware attacks occur per hour. These assaults have grown into a national emergency without fanfare.

US Banks are being hit hard by ransomware and other malicious code. July 2021, REvil, a devastating code, attacked a group of Ohio Banks and extorted nearly $70 million. Unless you were an Ohio resident, it is unlikely the story made was heard.  

These raids on our financial infrastructure are multiplying at unprecedented rates.

Industry experts admit Financial institutions must do better with their infrastructure to secure essential data. Preparation, good data backups, and constant vulnerability scanning are part of the prevailing landscape to keep digital assets intact.

Internet of Things

IoT has been recognized by many to be the next revolutionary landscape. As billions of more devices are linked to the internet, the risk is growing exponentially. New security challenges are being identified daily by financial institutions.

IoT devices were not built with security in mind, which leads to significant vulnerabilities throughout the system. A significant flaw for an IoT device, there is no way to install a security procedure, and in some cases, malware is on the device when it is shipped.

Protocols used by many of the devices are proprietary and create havoc with traditional networked systems. Users who do not keep the operating systems on each device continually patched and updated are a serious burden for the industry. 

IoT has given society unique and extraordinary ways to improve our lives. However, with over one million new devices shipped each day, safety considerations are growing.

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The Cloud

Every industry uses The Cloud and its diverse applications to promote its business.

Financial start-ups and seasoned services employ the Cloud to increase scale and lower costs. Data management has become more accurate and easier to manipulate. Borrowing decisions and related costs are now quicker, and decisions are better informed. Credit companies, automobile, and consumer finance businesses use the Cloud extensively, reporting a buyer’s credit worthiness are faster and a lot more accurate.

The Cloud has become a secure landscape for most businesses than their on-premise IT departments. Accessibility over data location is proving to be a vital aspect of a secure environment.  With the Cloud, cyber-attacks are mitigated when data is secure.

Attacks on the Cloud and its applications have surged. McAfee studied the third and fourth quarters of 2020 and found nearly 3.1 million attacks on user accounts. Widespread acceptance of remote working conditions has left the door wide-open for cyber-attack. Remote workers have limited knowledge of corporate platforms that control security and therefore have no fallback plan.

Companies must take stock of their infrastructure vulnerabilities before migration to a remote workforce. IBM reports, something as fundamental as misconfigured Cloud settings, had an average cost to business of roughly $4.41 million per incident.  

Laptops, mobile phones, and tablets are excellent devices for working at McDonald’s. However, without realizing the repercussions or, in some cases, lack of concern, users are clearing the way for cyber-attackers. The Cloud provides an abundance of benefits for companies in 2021 and beyond.  Each financial organization must generate its winning Cloud strategy to be successful in the modern era.

 

Network Security

No component in the financial space is more fundamental to the success of the financial industry than network security. As the internet has grown with millions of new networks from one website to another, attackers find intrusion into your bank account much easier. The sophistication of cookies has made casual surfers’ prey to financial extortion and exploitation.

Financial experts recommended machine learning techniques for the industry, notifying authorities of any unwarranted intrusion into the system. Emerging threats come from everywhere, attacking financial apps, software, websites. Users must seize the initiative to secure their data with two-factor authentication, antivirus programs, and encryption.

 

Cyber Landscape

Technology is continually evolving and growing into a unique phenomenon each day. No one could have foreseen the ravaging effects of a global pandemic and its effects on business and cyber security.

There are fundamental characteristics of a solid financial landscape. The first and possibly the most influential is user privacy in the financial space.  

Privacy

Each new financial application appearing on the iPhone or Android App Marketplaces wants some form of sign-on to access the next best financial application. Without realizing the consequences, users sign up and later wonder why their phone or tablet was hacked.

Each day there seems to be a new high-profile cyber-attack exposing millions of names, addresses, and regrettably, social security numbers.  Concerns from banking and financial experts have skyrocketed with the security of the cyber landscape rapidly turning into the dominant priority.

Regulatory compliance continues to be a significant topic of controversy among banking officials. Data privacy is no longer a single component within a much larger financial application. With increased regulation and millions of identities stolen every year, user privacy will develop into a proprietary platform accessible only to users.  

Data privacy impacts a considerable swath of companies in every industry around the world. Every aspect of a company’s operation is affected.  Strategies to stay in alignment with cyber security trends to HR resources are involved.

The Graham-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999 was enacted to remove barriers between financial service firms. Other noteworthy facets of the Act:

  • Financial Privacy Rule-required financial businesses to provide consumers with a privacy notice and explain personal information collected.
  • Safeguard Rule-financial organizations must have a “written information security plan,” to protect client’s non-public information.
  • Pretexting Protection-Pretexting is known as social engineering.  Organizations are encouraged to safeguard against this activity.

Financial businesses must rethink their approach to personal and public privacy going forward or lose ground to changing organizations. Some of the concepts being considered:

  • Data encryption while in transit from bank to bank and consumer to the bank.
  • Network segmentation
  • Access control by role
  • Destruction and document retention

User data protection plays a significant factor in financial organizations. Businesses must develop a solid base and identify the deficiencies in their infrastructure.

BACS IT Financial Services Companies Need IT Services and Data Protection

Securing the Future

Regaining customer trust is a major hurdle for the financial industry. Banking organizations must move beyond tradition and forge a new approach to doing business in the era of mobility.

Consumers are hungry for economic independence, and they see managing and investing their finances as a way to get there.  The cyber landscape is evolving quicker than any individual or business realizes.

Predicting the future is just as obscure now as it was a generation ago. However, there are three areas of technology that hold great promise for the future.

Artificial Intelligence

Financial organizations are utilizing artificial intelligence as a way to enhance the customer experience. Each organizational step in AI requires a vast amount of data to work correctly. Financial organizations have the data. It is only a matter of time before they can integrate adequate AI technologies into the mix.

Artificial intelligence in the financial industry is growing in sophistication. Industries are on the very tip of realizing the true potential of these technologies. Replacing human involvement is the objective of most AI-enabled security schemes.

Facial recognition and analyzing vast quantities of data to establish security risk faster makes financial institutions much safer. These capabilities will be beneficial to large corporations especially. Under-resourced, small, and mid-sized enterprises will see tremendous progress as well.

AI techniques present a quantum leap in threat detection for every enterprise. Unfortunately, cybercriminals have the same opportunity and are taking advantage to automate their networks.

According to Business Insider, by 2023, the potential savings for banks from AI-enabled applications will be a staggering $447 billion. 80% of banks worldwide are aware of the tremendous benefits AI will bring to the industry.

The financial industry will accelerate AI and machine learning technologies with increased user acceptance and shifting regulatory guidelines. Task automation, fraud detection, and advanced technologies are the main drivers of the future in banking.

Machine Learning

Each year the consequences of fraud on the financial services industry cost billions of dollars. Financial firms are keeping their data stored online, and this is another open door to cyber-attack. Machine learning is coming into focus as a significant way to combat fraud in the industry.

A set of rules defined fraud detection in the past, making it extremely easy to bypass these conditions. Machine learning scans millions of data points to find anomalies and unique activities in a user’s account.  The system then sends up a red flag for incidents that require further investigation. Machine learning techniques compare data points such as  IP address and location to compare if the transaction is in line with the account holder’s activity.

Machine learning algorithms analyze vast amounts of datasets to find correlations. Human efforts cannot find the subtle differences in the mounds of data that will lead to fraud detection. Full control machine learning systems will decline a purchase or deposit until there is human intervention.

Machine learning systems are much faster at analyzing the data with less manual work.  Some of the largest financial institutions rely heavily on ultra-modern machine learning techniques.

Mastercard uses several machine learning algorithms in its business to detect fraudulent transactions. With machine learning, the system analyzes the account behavior and the transaction to determine any fraud. It is estimated that merchants lose almost $118 billion a year on false transaction declines.

According to Javelin Strategy and Research, traditional brick and mortar financial institutions take nearly 40 days to detect fraud and react to the intrusion. It takes longer for an offline consumer to detect fraud activity, while cybercriminals are getting better at evading detection.

The significant challenges for the financial services industry are real-time fraud detections and assessment to improve accuracy.

Blockchain

No article on the future of financial services is complete without mentioning one of the newest technologies on the block. Experts fully agree Blockchain can revolutionize every area of the financial service industry.

A Blockchain transaction starts by recording a single step in the entire transaction; before moving on to the next step, an encrypted validation key is generated by the previous step. Any future steps in the process must have the validation key from the previous step to move on. For any Blockchain transaction to be valid, every step from the beginning of the process must be accounted for and validated. There is no way around the process.

Most people unfamiliar with Blockchain see the tech used only for bitcoin. Although cryptocurrencies make heavy use of the technology, Blockchain is so much more. The technology can be used for currency exchange, property, goods, or anything that requires an enforceable contract.

Blockchain records each transaction verifies the transaction as valid, secures the transaction with encryption, and enforces the terms. Every primary financial concern in the world is developing, actively using, or taking a hard look at the advantages of Blockchain.

Blockchain technology is entirely uncrackable and safe due to its encrypted validation key. The rush to use Blockchain by every financial institution on earth has just begun.

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Let BACS IT Help Keep Your Bay Area Financial Services Company Safe

Find out how the professional IT consultants here at BACS IT can help keep your financial services company safe. We understand the security steps you must take to maintain compliance, and we also know what IT services will work best for your industry. How we specialize it for your company is what we must discuss next. Call us today and let us figure out the best options to keep you, your employees, and your customers safe from scams, malware, and breaches. 

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Five Reasons to Prioritize Cybersecurity as a Life Sciences Company

By | Data Protection, Security

While cybersecurity is not an unfamiliar challenge for life sciences companies, what has changed, however, is the sophistication and intensity of attacks in recent years, particularly amid the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic. With substantial investments being made in new drug therapies and life-saving treatments, intellectual property and proprietary research data have never been more valuable.

At the same time, cybercriminals are becoming increasingly more clever in their approach. This means that implementing a robust, well-planned cybersecurity strategy is more important than ever. A single security breach can wreak havoc on any business, compromising manufacturing secrets, exposing private information, and potentially damaging mission-critical systems.

Meanwhile, hackers continue to uncover new ways to monetize sensitive data, making these assets even more valuable and attractive targets. Life sciences and healthcare organizations collect an enormous amount of sensitive and highly confidential information. Losing control over that data can have catastrophic consequences, from data privacy violations and financial penalties to an erosion of consumer and brand trust.

Following are five core reasons why cybersecurity should be a top priority for life sciences companies of all sizes.

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1 – Safeguarding Intellectual Property (IP) 

One of the biggest risks for life sciences companies is the loss of intellectual property, including proprietary product formulas, clinical trial data, and drug pricing and marketing strategies. In fact, according to one study, the pharmaceutical industry is now frequently the number one target of cybercriminals around the world, particularly when it comes to IP theft1. Because of its intrinsic market value, this data can be quickly sold on the dark web or ransomed back to companies who are desperate to recover their sensitive data.  

2 – Potential Exposure of Confidential Data

Cybercriminals stealing personal data from computers is nothing new. However, with growing digital connectivity and the emergence of the Internet of Things, network breaches and data theft have become increasingly more rampant in recent years. With more devices and more endpoints to manage, one of the biggest threats is the prevalence of new hard-to-detect malware capable of intercepting private information and personal data from customers, partners, and employees. Depending on the type of data and its inherent value, life sciences companies also face a growing risk from ransomware attacks, which can effectively block or freeze digital systems and databases so that owners cannot use them until they pay the perpetrators a ransom.

3 – Regulatory Compliance

While the loss of data and customer trust is bad enough, there’s also the potential for non-compliance and its associated penalties. Depending on where you operate, new stringent privacy regulations could mean that substandard security protocols could leave you vulnerable to legal litigation―on top of the loss of valuable data. The digital nature of today’s business environment elevates your risk of experiencing a cybersecurity breach and can create confusion and uncertainty around the chain of controls that define how and where data is generated, how it is accessed and shared, and ultimately where it ends up.

4- Operational Performance and Business Continuity

While building an effective data protection strategy and business continuity plan can be challenging, the effort can deliver immense business value on multiple levels. Transactions involving mergers and acquisitions are a good example. While these events are part of daily life of many life sciences companies, they can pose unique challenges from a cybersecurity perspective. During the normal course of shuffling resources and personnel, cybersecurity protocols and practices can lapse, creating an opening for savvy criminals. It also means that if your company’s data is compromised, you’ve not conducted enough due diligence to protect their assets before a merger or acquisition is completed. That alone could threaten the deal and leave your company vulnerable to costly legal issues.

5 – Smart Governance

Powerful innovations in digital technologies and new uses of big data have caused life sciences companies (like other industries) to be swept up into a wave of transformational changes. These disruptive forces have accelerated the need for more robust security protocols – beyond simply updating your anti-virus software and making sure the latest security patches are in place. It requires implementing a proactive, top-down operating and security model, with well-defined roles and responsibilities, rigid protocols in dealing with third-party integrations, ongoing monitoring, effective communication, and properly trained employees.

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Best Practices for Life Sciences Companies

While there is no silver bullet to protect against all threats, there are some proven best practice measures and techniques that can help protect sensitive intellectual property and proprietary assets. 

     Conduct regular risk assessments to assess strengths and weaknesses around data protection best practices and security protocols. Gain a deeper understanding of the increased risks that digital systems and interconnected devices and networks bring to the business and IT environment. Define and update policies and procedures based on corporate data use requirements and mandates for your particular market. 

     Monitor lifecycles. Network monitoring tools can help confirm the health of software and firmware throughout system startup, operation and during sensitive upgrade periods. Software updates and security patches should be delivered automatically by default.  Stay updated on the liability and regulatory directives impacting cybersecurity in the life sciences sector.

     Implement higher-level controls. These enterprise data protection and security tools help protect data when it’s being accessed or used. Strong access control and user authentication methods help ensure only approved users can obtain access to your networks and data. Encryption is also critical to safeguard data and provide additional reinforcement barriers to network-based attacks.

     Create a culture in which people talk about security, and make security a clear priority. The users who interface with IT systems must also be educated and instructed in how to perform their tasks. Teach users about secure online practices such as how to recognize potential threats and phishing attempts. Check their security awareness with in-house hacking attempts and interactive security activities.

     Deploy updated anti-malware to help prevent malicious software such as ransomware and viruses from sneaking into your network, and make sure your anti-malware software is consistently updated with the latest definitions. 

     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.

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Making Security a Strategic Priority with BACS IT

Every IT environment is different, and hackers are constantly refining their techniques. The good news is that with the right mix of defensive measures, smart policies and sound technology planning, life sciences companies can create a business and IT environment that is secure, cost-efficient, and sustainable. To find out more, reach out to us here at BACS IT today. We can help keep your business data secure.

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Solutions for a Remote Workforce to Keep Bay Area Businesses Safe

Solutions for a Remote Workforce to Keep Bay Area Businesses Safe

By | Data Protection, Security, Work Remotely

A few short years ago, having a remote workforce never crossed the mind of many employers. The pandemic created a new worker paradigm. To remain relevant, business owners must shift their focus to supporting their remote workers.

Is the future of business remote? If so, how do you keep the remote worker productive, motivated, and most importantly, safe? There is a constant stream of headlines telling the world of new threats against the enterprise and its employees.

The following post highlights issues at the heart of the problem, and Solutions Available for Business. The safety of its employees working at home should be one of the highest priorities for any organization, large or small.

The rampant growth of malicious malware, ransomware, and DDos attacks are a constant threat.  Over 560,000 instances of various types of malware are created and detected every day.

Malware Each Day BACS IT

Digital Transformation

Larger companies transition better to a remote work environment in most instances. In comparison, many smaller firms have found the move much more challenging. Cybercriminals take advantage of the rampant use of unprotected personal equipment in use by smaller companies.

Well-thought-out strategies keep your remote workforce safe. Your digital roadmap for a successful remote workforce requires a coordinated effort from every department.

A digital strategy should produce innovation and value for your customers:

Remote assets will fundamentally change how you operate. A plan of action is needed to strategically embrace a secure and mobile framework for remote employees. Get everyone on board with the transformation. Make sure the company’s goals are aligned with each employee, in-office and remote. Create and execute a roadmap for more remarkable growth.

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Trust No One

Transition your team to a Zero Trust Security Model. ZTNA technologies provide a secure remote access framework based on defined access control protocols. Zero Trust Architecture enables the enterprise to open its portfolio of applications and data to remote workers without friction.

Zero Trust can be in the cloud, local networks, or a combination of hybrid technologies. ZTNA is not restricted by location; a zero-trust network operates efficiently anywhere on the planet.

Remote networks should use a cloud-first framework. Guideline execution of the network needs a combination of technologies to keep the remote worker safe.

Zero Trust Security Design

The organization needs to have a Security Strategy for Operating Remotely. This policy must deal with present circumstances, users, and equipment, along with future rollouts. Over time, the strategy should grow and develop as new opportunities arise. Strategies should be rooted into every employee and vendor as part of the workplace routine.

  • Authentication requires each user or device to confirm its identity to the server when a login attempt occurs. Authentication merely identifies the user or device; it will not influence what files the user has access to. This is up to the admin to assign separately.
  • Make sure each device in the home office is scrutinized for cyber vulnerabilities. Unprotected routers, mobile phones, printers, or laptops are easy pickings for today’s hackers.
  • Administrators must thoroughly enforce BYOD/MDM policies identified in the Security Strategy.
  • Home office biometric security is another option. Facial Biometrics bind digital identities to a physical person. Using a standard laptop or over-the-counter cameras can be used for seamless recognition.
  • Password efficiency is a key to protected systems; a combination of upper case, lower case, various symbols, and numbers is ideal. It is a good idea to have different passcodes for sensitive files and folders. These passcodes should only be made available to company officials.

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Zero Trust has rapidly become the security model of choice for its work from home framework, requiring all users and devices to be authenticated. User/application authentication, device authentication, and Trust are critical components to the architecture.

The principles of Zero Trust are shaped by industry guidelines: Forrester eXtended, Gartner’s CARTA, and NIST 800-207. Zero Trust is defined as a way to conquer the challenges, such as those mentioned in “Work From Anywhere World.”

 

Endpoint Management

Endpoint Management supervises access rights of a device to a network. The tools are a management interface to simplify or automate the deployment of a network device. Endpoint configurations are finding broad resurgence because of their powerful treatment of selective access for users and their devices.

The surge of remote workforce teams has brought endpoint software tools to the forefront of network security. Endpoint management provides a means for full visibility into network data points and connections.

The goal of modern endpoint security systems is to analyze quickly, detect, and block attacks in progress.

 

The Cloud

Cloud computing has become the backbone of a remote workforce. Associated cloud technologies are expanding at a furious rate. Many companies have realized that remote employees can be just as productive at home as in the office. Cloud applications have allowed companies to expand their search for quality employees. Geographical locations are now a secondary consideration. Real-time communication platforms such as Slack are invaluable to the entire organization.

Executives are rethinking work strategies to save employees money and time. In the traditional office environment, some workers spend over 200 hours a year commuting to work. Some companies that have been disrupted by the pandemic have begun to get rid of their offices entirely.   A significant benefit of cloud computing is its seamless access to the information a remote worker needs whenever they need it. Well-designed Cloud applications allow remote employees to stay closer to the files needed to do their job.

Quality remote software can help your team perform at a higher level:

  • Hubstaff , a time tracking and proof of work application. The bundle includes payroll, time tracking, and project management.
  • Google Drive is one of the world’s most used and well-known storage programs. The application is a cloud-based storage solution that allows remote workers to track files and documents anywhere in the world.
  • OfficeVibe is a unique platform to engage remote employees and build trust to understand a team’s needs.

Related: Questions to Ask Before Migrating to a Cloud (with FREE Download!)

 

Legacy Systems and A Remote Work Force

Remote technologies in the modern enterprise have become decisive factors to improving the employee experience. Desktop-centric needs of the past do not uphold the diverse demands of a modern remote and mobile workforce. Nothing is more infuriating to a tech-savvy remote worker than poorly designed company apps and unresponsive websites. In 2019, NetMotion surveyed a pool of remote employees to identify common grievances. Here are some of the top remote working issues:

  • 23% stated, dealing with legacy systems is in their top five.
  • Number 10 on the list, “Difficulty accessing corporate systems”.
  • The number one issue for a remote workforce was connectivity.

If not appropriately adapted, Legacy systems can have a negative impact on productivity gains from the remote worker. Legacy architecture may still provide its intended function within the workplace. However, legacy configurations may not work with current chipsets, operating systems, and software.

Incompatibility with newer systems, outdated support protocols from the manufacturer, and security vulnerabilities make legacy architectures risky. Research by Reworked states, “almost half of the global organizations are being hindered in their digital transformation by legacy technologies. Nearly 44% of these global enterprises cite a lack of IT skills as a barrier to success. These challenges are being met with newer, more robust IT solutions.

Overcome the legacy challenges:

  • Shift legacy systems to a cloud architecture if the undertaking is not too labor or resource intensive.
  • Create APIs to mesh with newer systems or turn to third-party integration platforms.
  • Upgrade the legacy component with a newer solution.

Training

Empowering a remote workforce takes commitment from every corner of the enterprise. Business owners must use the tools available to ensure remote workers have the guidance required to do the job right.

  1. Working from home is not just about the job; it is kids, pets, husbands, wives, and 1000 other little details. Respect the life of your remote worker. Streamline what you want to say and how you say it. When the employee starts their remote work environment, be succinct in your message and communicate only what is essential.
  2. Leverage technology whenever and however possible. Employ the tools you have in place or applications that are readily available, such as Microsoft Teams.
  3. Make sure there are plenty of opportunities for everyone to see each other’s faces. Facetime makes people feel connected to training and each other.
  4. Create on-demand instruction. Management rarely knows when its remote workers will be on the job. On-demand training gives workers the option to access the material on their schedule.

Focus on Goals, Not Tasks

It is too easy and counterproductive to keep a worker in front of the computer screen. After a full day of work, kids or husbands and wives asking someone to stay on the screen will see only  modest results.

The rules of goal setting still hold true for the modern workforce, Use the  SMART approach.

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time-Bound

Training and goal setting a remote workforce will take innovation and a lot of clever or shrewd imagining. Focus on one goal at a time.

 

Culture of Trust

A business needs to establish a culture of Trust that permeates throughout the organization. Executives must know who they can depend on. Companies are at risk from various cyber vultures, and management must know how to mitigate constant threats.

Ernest Hemingway once wrote, “The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.”

Trust is a critical element of good communication, teamwork, and a commitment to productivity. Leaders at all levels of your company must be honest and supportive of their remote employees. A consistent message of accountability for everyone is vital to a successful organization.

Paul Zak, Harvard Researcher, studied High Trust companies and discovered some amazing results.

  • High trust companies report 74% less stress
  • 106% more energy at work
  • 50% higher productivity
  • 13% fewer sick days
  • 76% more engagement
  • 29% more satisfaction with their lives

A remote workforce needs to be cognizant of their surroundings. The employee must be on the lookout for any questionable activity with their co-workers or vendors and should have no question where they report the activity.

Mitigate Potential Threats To Your Organization

 

Working In a Vacuum

Companies are rethinking their remote workforce strategies, declaring the situation may not be so great after all. Projects are taking longer, collaboration is more challenging, and training is a struggle. Behind the scenes, executives are claiming the work from home experiment is not a viable long-term solution.

Executives admit the move to remote work was not well-planned. CEOs believe productivity gains realized in the early part of the pandemic have peaked. Significant changes must be made if the experiment is to survive.

Fortunately, for a well-connected and trusted business, things are a bit different.

More employers are starting to embrace the work from home revolution. Innovation and technology have made the transformation, training, and work environments more attractive to potential employees everywhere.

Remote work is here to stay; however, there will always be those employees who want to be in the office. Industries such as construction, food, and retail need on-site employees.

New tools and strategies must be developed and embraced for the new work paradigm to be a success. Business owners must find the right balance between office and at-home work environments to make their business effective and productive.

Slack surveyed 9,000 employees in six different countries and found that 72% preferred a remote-office work scenario. Only 12% of that total wanted an exclusive work-from-home environment.

Businesses and their employees cannot work in a vacuum. Organizations must understand the opportunities to connect with one another increase the employee’s scale and capacity. When a remote or hybrid workforce is implemented correctly, employee productivity and job satisfaction are through the roof.

The successes of one elevates us all.

Connect with BACS, For Your Remote Workforce Requirements.

A Bay Area IT Solutions provider

 

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