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Business Continuity

BACS IT Remote Workforce Safety Hero

Creating a Secure Remote Workforce

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

In a few brief years, organizations of all sizes have been driven to redeploy their workforce from office to home or some hybrid solution. To suggest this was a deliberate move from corporate leaders would be false. Instead, the harried move has been in response to an unexpected world pandemic.

No one is sure if the remote workforce may grow into a stable fixture, a shift back to the office, or a home/office combination. No matter the case, a solid security solution must invariably be maintained as a central priority. 

BACS IT Secure Remote Workforce

Technologies Protecting the Home Worker

Even though the pandemic rages on, some corporations have signaled they may never go back to an in-office work atmosphere. A few companies are considering a hybrid solution, while others have called their employees back to the office permanently.

Current Technologies in Place, Protecting the Home Workforce:

  • Zero Trust has been a part of the networked system for some time. However, with recent developments, the zero-trust policy is being forced to take on a more substantial role. The Zero Trust model is a secure remote application based on a defined set of login rules for employees and devices to the network. Non-compliant devices are either quarantined or rejected out-right.
  • SASE (Secure Access Service Edge) is a method for wide-area networking and security. SASE is Cloud Service which bundles security, network, and policy functions, sending the information back to the source as a separate cloud service.
  • Identity Access Management is a broad framework of technologies and practices that ensures the right users access the appropriate resources.

Enterprise security foundations are being built on the three legacy technologies. However, more cyber-attacks are coming. Keeping home workers safe and company data secure means businesses must look at cyber-security issues from start to finish. One of the initial elements of a healthy plan is a Policy Statement.

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Policy

Taking employees out of their work situation and moving to an unstructured home/office environment is imposing for anyone. The first component a company must provide is a Cyber Work from Home Policy. The key to this document is setting the right expectations.

A work from home policy document must create an infrastructure to protect the worker from every intrusion.  The policy must seek to mitigate the dangers of such a radical move.  With the proper preparation, a policy can keep your team connected, safe, and rewarded.

A sound Policy Statement should empower your employees. Consider the following:

  • Trust: A Work from home worker must be fully invested in the company’s success. With the correct type of trust, an employee will go above and beyond what they are called on to accomplish. A company must establish a higher level of trust to cement the engagement bond.
  • More Time: The average American commute is 52 minutes a day. Policy statements need to point to this extra time and direct the employee to their families or themselves, rather than more work.
  • Focused Work: Office distractions are eliminated when working from home. Your team should be encouraged to schedule tasks that require an intense focus on certain days of the week.
  • Absenteeism and Lateness: Office norms are no longer an issue with a home/work environment. However, time is a premium, and home employees must be instructed to use that time productively.
  • WellRounded: Work from home employees must be encouraged to cultivate a complete family and life environment. Take time for passion projects and family hobbies. Well-rounded employees perform better at work.

It is essential to define the scope and purpose of the policy. Too short on procedure and employees may get stuck with making up their own rules. Too long, and no one will read or pay attention to the document.

Expectation is a vital part of a remote workforce. Employees must understand what is expected of them without being overly demanding. Responsibility plays a vital role.  Each person in the organization needs to understand security is a priority for everyone. If there is a problem, there should be procedures in place to fix the issues.  

 

BACS IT Keeping Your Remote Workforce Secure

 

Authentication

Multi-factor authentication is must-have security feature for any business and specifically those with a burgeoning remote workforce.  Vulnerabilities are everywhere. Recently it was discovered hackers were rerouting  SMS messages from 2FA apps and diverting money directly from bank records.

The following five authenticator applications are for the distributed enterprise:

  • Duo Mobile is used for corporate networks and is a part of Cisco. Enterprise features such as multi-user deployment, provisioning, and one-tap authentication. Back-up is to Google Drive and iCloud.
  • Google Authenticator is a no-frills basic authenticator app. Google seems content for Users to employ Android as its two Factor Authentication. Potential users may wish to have additional apps to fall back on.  However, this is a great authenticator.
  •  Last Pass is a comprehensive authenticator with full integration with its password manager.  Installation is a breeze, and users can quickly authorize the app with the push of a button. The Last Pass Vault is extremely helpful when moving the account to a new phone. Seamless operation between mobile and the desktop.
  •  Microsoft Authenticator works with the entire Microsoft ecosystem. A complete set of authentication tools are available for desktop and mobile. Pin or biometric logins are available. Sync the system with your primary Microsoft account to use the full capabilities.
  • Twilio Authy offers several advanced two-factor authentication features. First and foremost, it is their encrypted backup to Google drive that makes the app unique. The app makes abundant use of encryption across its platform, with encrypted logins.

Advanced authenticator apps generate time-based codes that refresh every 30 seconds. Hackers may gain access but will not work after the time code expires. Each of the apps above is exceptional for a distributed enterprise.

Do you want cloud solutions, but you are not sure which ones will help your remote workforce best? Then download our guide that covers the questions you need to know before migrating to a cloud. If you have more questions after you read our download, then contact us!

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Remote Access Software

Remote Access Software is ideal for specialized functions within the remote workforce. Remote Access apps and Desktop software allow users to access a computer in a remote location anywhere in the world as if they were sitting at the screen.

Some Remote Access software is designed for personal use, while alternatives are strictly for the enterprise.  Smartphone apps can be designed to access desktop systems.

Software and Apps for the Remote Workforce

Nothing is as fundamental to the security of a remote workforce as the software and apps used for an efficient worker. Proper design and the unique demands of the remote worker are paramount in shaping the applications needed for the enterprise.

Password Managers

In a world of multiple access to various business and personal accounts, password managers rise to the top of a critical needs list. It is crucial to have an authority system everyone is comfortable handling. Do not force an operation on employees!

Here are five good managers:

  • Nord-Pass is an attractive application with outstanding encryption features. Support for seven browsers, chat, and a data breach scanner makes the Nord-Pass an interesting choice.
  • Enpass combines a minimalist look and maximum security. Cloud host and SQL cipher for added security.
  • ZOHO Vault is a well-known application with valuable elements for a distributed network. A built-in VPN and a deep web scanner are useful quality-added factors.
  • Passbolt is an open-source application developed for the enterprise. Plenty of transparency and customization options are available.
  • Keeper supports various devices and browsers and comes with 5G of storage—a feature-rich app with instant messaging.

Advanced Password Technologies

Automated password management is coming into its own. The widespread endorsement of artificial intelligence and, specifically, machine learning have fostered many unique facets of password technologies.

Automated password reset tools are enterprise applications needed to automatically reset a host of new account passwords without human intervention. Many small businesses are implementing these tools for security and convenience.

Password Vault Technology is an earlier approach that is experiencing new technologies. A password vault keeps an infinite number of passwords and account data in a secure digital location. A single master password is required to access the vault.  

Management tools for the enterprise use several security layers to ward off internal and external threats from stealing login credentials. Many of these centralized management strategies are now cloud-based and heavily encrypted for the ultimate remote security.

Password Vaulting is a coined phrase that takes highly sensitive executive accounts and passwords out of the control of company IT personnel. The vault is digitally secured in locations known exclusively to a few in the enterprise.

Risk, Threats, and Solutions for the Enterprise

Statistics that illustrate the breadth of cyber-attacks are overwhelming. In the first quarter of 2021, strikes against Fortinet’s SSL-VPN were up an astonishing 1.916%. Another popular VPN service, Pulse Connect Secure VPN, encountered a 1,527% hike in assaults.

VPNs are separate networks within a public network where users send and receive data as if their machines were directly connected. VPNs are now encrypting data as it leaves the device, and any IP address is suppressed. Remote servers secure network activity by storing data remotely.

Companies are using all the communication tools at their disposal to secure connections for their hybrid workers. The Remote Desktop Protocol is another mechanism that is experiencing rising attacks.  Developed by Microsoft,  the RDP establishes a graphical link to another computer. Attacks on RDPs are seeing the same proportion increase of intrusions.

Modern Solutions

Companies are progressing beyond the traditional VPN services to a more protected environment. A recent survey of global leaders found that 40% of all respondents are planning a move to the ZTNA/SDP protocol. In comparison, 38% expressed the need for a more robust multi-factor authentication model.

The ZTNA/SDP is a zero-trust architecture based on a defined credential networking framework. SDP adds a need-to-know design, and the default is, “deny services to all.”

Enterprise VPN Service

Cisco AnyConnect: Cisco is a world leader in device security. The largest companies on the planet rely on Cisco networking machines. AnyConnect offers a lower overall cost of ownership, continuous automation from endpoint to endpoint encrypted security.

AnyConnect works on hybrid, full remote, or any combination in between. Robust MFA protocols are employed, threats are eliminated at the access point, and world-class analytics. There is no better VPN service for the enterprise than Cisco’s AnyConnect.

Cisco offers several cutting-edge technologies no other company comes close to providing. Umbrella Roaming is a cloud-based security service that supports users even when they are away from the VPN.

Under Attack

The enterprise is undergoing unprecedented attacks from criminals thousands of miles away. High-profile attacks are making headlines every day.

What are the primary attack vectors?

  • Supply Chains are under siege. Weak third-party vendors are causing havoc for large corporate businesses. Cyber attackers look for the weakest link in the chain and attack. Two of the most significant breaches, LabCorp and Quest, the attack originated from their online payment system.
  • Unpatched and Obsolete systems. No other area of the network is as preventable as keeping systems updated with available patching. An Apache Struts Web Framework was unpatched and contributed to 145 million social security numbers being exposed.
  • Compromised credentials are an enormous headache for the enterprise. Billions of stolen credentials are accessible for the taking on the dark web. Cyber-criminals use this vector as an entrance point because of its simplicity of stealing login information.

What is the Best IT Security Solution?

Will the relentless tide of cyber-attacks ever end? In a word, No! As long as the rewards are substantial, cyber-criminals find no need to slow down their aggressions. The “it can never happen to me, syndrome” is prevalent in every industry. There will always be that one staff member that will click on the apparent malware or ransomware email.

The sharpest minds in corporate security have provided a number of great tools for the enterprise. Each new cyber-attack creates a flood of new attacks and modifications.  Cyber-attacks have risen to one of the top ten corporate concerns for the next decade.

The World Economic Forum has determined that the money to keep pace with cyber threats worldwide will cost the enterprise nearly $90 trillion. Those dollars are merely keeping pace, not beating the attacker.

In the digital age, cyber resilience will happen with effective leadership and the secure design of infrastructures. First and foremost, corporate leaders must understand the foundations of cyber-security, and position their teams as enablers rather than casualties.

We wrote a guide on safety when it comes to working from home. Take a moment and read some of the safety and security tips we put in this guide.

Download the Guide

BACS IT is Here to Help Keep Your Remote Workforce Secure

When you want to protect your remote workforce, turn to the experienced Bay Area IT Consultants here at BACS IT. We will discuss your specific needs and create a security plan that fits your business. We can even help with unique security needs, so contact us. 

 

Contact Us for a FREE IT Assessment

BACS IT Email Threats and Solutions

Advanced Email Threats and Solutions

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

Email is the most incredible communication medium ever created for personal and professional use. From the application’s humble beginnings in 1965, 270 billion emails are now delivered every day.

No other form of communication is as powerful and efficient as email.

It is challenging to nail down when the first email hack occurred. However, it is safe to say; attacks have been going on for much longer than documented.  The first email account hacked may have occurred back in 1965 at MIT, when email was created.

Rise in Email Threats

Each year, email attacks continue to rise. Business and personal accounts are doorways to a much bigger payoff for the attacker. Statistics bear out the frightening surge in email threats.

  • 96% of all cyber-attacks to your framework is by email
  • According to the 2019 Verizon Data Breach report, 74% of all phishing scams come through email.
  • 22% of all breaches involved phishing.
  • Only 3% of users reported suspicious emails to authorities.

In the last few years, extraordinary times have changed the email threat landscape from passive attacks to highly aggressive intrusion teams. The bulk of infrastructure raids and widespread malware assaults come through unsuspecting email users.

Security gateways and software management designed for the Cloud has begun to stem the tide of low-level spam and bad link intrusions to email. 

BACS IT Ohishing and Email Threats

Phishing scams and malware attacks have shared characteristics:

  • Unfamiliar Greeting
  • Blatant spelling errors
  • Threats to a “Sense of Urgency”
  • Attachments
  • Email addresses are inconsistent

Security agencies worldwide are bracing for more destructive Ransomware and DDoS attacks. Saudi Aramco suffered the most significant and destructive cyber-attack ever recorded. In a few short hours, over 35,000 computers were wiped out. The resulting cost to the company was well over $50 million.

User Apathy

Employees from some of the largest companies worldwide were surveyed on phishing and malware attacks, a staggering 48% of respondents  saying, “it cannot happen to me.”  User apathy has developed into a leading concern for every business.

The weakest link behind every keyboard is the end-user. Companies must start extensive user education.  IT departments must provide the employee a stronger sense of involvement.

However, there will invariably be that one person who will click on anything.

It is imperative to identify the weakest link in a network before cyber-criminals find their entrance point. Once the attacker has infiltrated your company, they are now a user operating from within the network. Once inside, detection is virtually impossible.

BACS IT Security Breach and Email Threats

Ransomware, Malicious Intent, DDos, and Email Threats

Ransomware and other malicious attacks have exploded since the beginning of the global pandemic. Years before, cyber-criminals were invading infrastructure targets with little to no fanfare. Now, the world is aware and playing catch-up.

Cyber-criminals only require one user’s email account for access to thousands of computer systems. Every industry is a target; pipeline infrastructure, healthcare, and the public sector are especially vulnerable.

New markets for cyber-criminals are opening up, such as the Cloud and, sadly, K-12 schools.

94% of all cyber-attacks originate from email!

How do Ransomware and malicious code happen? Any digital means can be used as an access point. USB drivers, social media, business attachments are all delivery vectors. Email remains the number one entry point for cyber-attack.  Criminals prefer attachments first and links second.

Phishing attacks are addressed as fake delivery notifications or requests for software updates. The unsuspecting user clicks a link or attachment: a transparent download starts, and the attack begins.

Cyber-criminals have ungraded their encryption capabilities, using RSA 2048-bit private key encryption. This coding is impossible to break.

Do you know how to spot email threats? Check out our Signs of Email Threats You Need to Know!

Signs of Email Threats You Need to Know BACS IT

Trends in Email Threats

Email remains the most effective means of communication for personal and work accounts. As long as electronic messaging remains popular, criminals will keep attacking. 

Below are some of the developing trends for cyber-attack and their solutions:

    • Google has taken a front seat in the security of business accounts and infectious phishing scams. Every day GMAIL is blocking over 100 million phishing emails; this is in addition to the 240 million COVID-related phishing scams. Google is taking a proactive approach to protecting its G-Suite business email accounts by continually updating code.
    • Artificial Intelligence content interpretation is being applied to protect business and government interests. BEC Attacks (Business Email Compromise) tricks the user into paying for fraudulent invoices or subscriptions. At present, the technology is only applicable to English and German languages.
    • New threats are coming down the line every day. Threadjacking is a unique approach that transforms an email thread mid-sentence and inserts the attacker’s comments.  Attackers are scouring Outlook, Yahoo, and GMAIL for suitable threads for insertion. Since the email comes from a trusted party, attackers can deceive users into downloading the malicious code. Threadjacking has been applied extensively in ATT and Verizon mobile systems. The code is layered and hard to defend.
    • Excel has been used for years as a means to embed malicious code into attachments.  The attachment downloads a legitimate tool such as NetSupport Manager, which cyber-attackers use to manipulate a machine.
  • Keyloggers are attached to an Excel file, helping attackers to log in to bank accounts. 

BACS IT Dangers from Email Threats

Top 5: Dangerous Ransomware and Malware Code

Each of the following malware or ransomware programs has endless varieties. Cyber-criminals use malicious software to compromise email accounts. If a portion of code is not working on the target, the prepared cyber-attacker builds on that knowledge. Their team re-codes the application, making it more destructive and intrusive, then waits for the right opportunity.  

  • Social Engineering is one of the more recent additions to a well-rounded cyber-attack. This code is described as research and persuasion for the basis of spam and phishing scams spread by email. Attackers rely on the victim’s trust to steal data. Verizon’s Data Breach report says about 22% of intrusions involve social engineering and spoofing.

Most of the Fraud comes from attackers impersonating companies such as Microsoft, Apple, and Netflix. The FBI recorded over 25,00 incidents costing companies approximately $300 million.

  • Spam has been linked with email since the beginning. Spam is usually email advertising the next best thing in unwanted products or services. Statista reports that 60% of the world’s internet traffic is made up of spam. The most annoying and costly spam effect is the messages that choke email inboxes, culminating in lost time and productivity.

Another costly complication of spam, messages often carry malware code.

  • Ransomware and Trojans are the most recognizable malicious code of this group. Ransomware and trojans are examples of malicious malware code buried in emails. Verizon’s report again says of all the data breaches, 17% are the malware type, and of this group, 27% are vicious ransomware.  Ransomware uses advanced encryption to block files and then demand payment. Attackers usually want payment in the form of cryptocurrency.

Trojans are another dangerous malware code that gets into a system by hacking logins. Nomoreransom.org  is an organization that is fighting aggressive ransomware code.

  • DDoS and Botnets are alternative forms of malicious code. Botnets are a group of systems linked to the internet and controlled by a hacker. DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) is code that enters a machine by email and inundates the system with spam or phishing code.  These types of codes will send thousands of emails in a brief period. The objective is to overwhelm the system so hackers can penetrate a network unnoticed.
  • Spear Phishing and Phishing use fraudulent emails to steal money from a company and personal bank accounts.  In 2019 the FBI reported losses tolling $57 million from 119000 vicious attacks. Attackers will conduct a comprehensive analysis of their targets to make the scams more efficient.

An extensive report from Europol provides more frightening statistics on the widespread use of phishing. 65% of all the hacker groups worldwide use some form of phishing. In the shadowy world of espionage, 78% of these incidents have email phishing techniques.

Today’s cyber-criminals have access to a vast spectrum of malicious code, causing billions in lost money and productivity. New tendencies of these criminals are using social engineering on millions of unsuspecting users.  

Industry experts have agreed one of the fastest ways to combat the rising threats is by employee education.

Solutions Stem from an Increase in Email Threat Intelligence

What is the answer to email security?  For years, the same question has been given to so-called experts, and their same answer repeatedly is to educate the user. In our post, this statistic from above says it all: a staggering 48% of respondents  saying, “it cannot happen to me.”

The brightest minds in the world have been working on different solutions. Protection must start before malware hits the email inbox and eliminate the user altogether

Two Technologies that may provide answers:

  1.       Email Gateways
  2.       Endpoint Security

Email Gateways Powered By Artificial Intelligence

Email gateways can be deployed as a Cloud or on-premise solution.  Each email that comes through a business system is classified and will catch both known and unknown threats.  Advanced machine learning and AI are used to classify emails and block malicious messages with ransomware payloads.

The email gateway is a type of server where every email passes through and is analyzed for malicious code. Secure gateways allow businesses to control email before it hits the inbox. AI-powered gateways scan the email URL for suspicious delivery sites. Content is scanned, and any email deemed suspicious is taken out of the system and placed in a sandbox.

Various protective systems around the internet are getting involved. Granular email filtering is used to tag suspicious emails for later examination. The systems are designed to block various emails, including payment redirects and fraudulent vendor invoicing.

One of the strongest companies in the field of Email Gateways is Proofpoint.

Proofpoint

Proofpoint offers a complete lineup of products for email protection,  Advanced email threat protection, to Cloud Security.  Compliance is another string point for the company. They offer solutions to meet regulatory and corporate requirements while managing cost and complexity.

Endpoint Security

Managing Endpoints on the network has been in the crosshairs of developers for years. Threats come from every angle, which includes smartphones, tablets, watches, or any digital device. The approach is to protect every device by having a level of security.

Over several years, Endpoint security has evolved from the antivirus space to now include malware detection. Network administrators have complete control of what goes out and what comes into the network. Each connected device is controlled. If the device does not meet the requirements, it is not allowed access. Some administrators will only allow cursory access.

No other company has the resources to control endpoints more than Cisco.

Cisco

Cisco, the worldwide expert on connected devices, is reinventing what can be connected to global networks. The company is directing its efforts to Endpoint and Detection systems. Cisco has become heavily involved with Behavior-based detection and advanced machine learning models.

Cisco has been working steadily in the area of work-from-home safety solutions. The aim is to protect home users and their networks.

Cisco Solutions:

  • Hybrid Workforce to manage distributed devices from a central location.
  • Multi-Cloud solutions are designed for simpler access anywhere in the world.
  • Hybrid Workspaces are designed for automated connectivity and intelligent infrastructure.

Cutting Edge

The cutting edge of cyber-security and email changes daily. Tactics used by attackers shift from one attack point to the next instantaneously. Networks are under constant siege. Fresh approaches to cyber security are needed to transform the landscape.

Cutting-edge technologies are making cyber defenses stronger than ever before. Industry leaders have developed three cyber-security directives any company or governmental agency can follow.

Policy First

Companies must establish a sound policy or best practice, employees must follow. Without this direction, a worker can end up in treacherous waters.  Leaders must put down clear directions on employee cyber hygiene.

Policies must include how to handle incoming emails and what type of email is acceptable to send. Leaders must understand “Network Users are Securities Weakest Link.”

Behavior Analysis

With proper endpoint security, administrators can measure a companies’ network. The benefits tell how the network operates on a normal basis and detects any abnormal behaviors.  The approach goes beyond traditional procedures and can detect ransomware and malicious code with no prior digital signature.

With the proper monitoring, anomalous activities can be stopped, and infected devices can be removed.

Embrace Technology

Transformative technologies are continually coming online. Less human intervention is needed by machine learning systems that automatically learn from past experiences. Dramatic results in cost savings and improved productivity are seen.

Game-changing technologies such as EDR (endpoint detection and response) can monitor servers, mobile devices, and home computers in real-time. Any suspicious behavior is detected instantaneously, and actions against the threats are immediate.

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BACS IT Can Help with Email Threats, IT Threats, and IT Solutions

Companies, government agencies, and individuals must learn to embrace the new technologies that will inevitably be coming into focus. The brightest minds in the world have spent careers devoted to defeating the massive flood of cyber-attacks.  

To find out how to ensure the safety of your emails, contact us here at BACS IT. We are IT consultants in the Bay Area ready to help keep your business, your employees, and your data safe from email threats and more. When it comes to advanced threat protection for email accounts, BACS IT has you covered.

 

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Avoid a Security Lapse During an Infrastructure Improvement BACS IT

Avoiding a Security Lapse During Infrastructure Improvements

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

The pace of technology innovation continues to accelerate. New versions of software are launched every day to keep businesses on the cutting edge of digital transformation and customer service. Frequent technology upgrades and modernization of enterprise systems is no longer an option―it’s a requirement in today’s highly-competitive business environment. 

While ongoing infrastructure improvements are essential for sustained business growth, these projects can also create unintended (and sometimes dangerous) gaps in your security framework. Without proper planning and a clear blueprint, what may seem like run-of-the-mill system upgrade can instead create the perfect opportunity for a cybercriminal to attack hidden weaknesses and breach your defenses.

Keeping systems and data safe and secure in an era of escalating threats requires a well-planned, proactive approach―built around best practice measures, smart policies, and a defined security framework that aligns with your business goals.  Following are some of the common challenges that can elevate your security risk when implementing new technology or modernizing existing infrastructure

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Lack of Visibility

Maintaining a clear view of all devices and network assets across physical, virtual and cloud infrastructure is critical to ensure optimum protection. The challenge for many organizations lies in the reliance on disparate, outdated systems to track and monitor network activity. Optimum protection can be best achieved by relying on more centralized security platforms that allow you to automate network discovery, improve visibility and quickly identify attack points, irregularities, patterns and other suspicious activity. Compared with point tools, these integrated systems require fewer IT resources to maintain effective threat protection. Every upgrade project has its own set of risks and benefits. While implementation speed is important, it should never supersede the need to keep systems and data safe and secure.   

 

Strategic Network Management

Poor Integration

The best approach to minimizing risk in technology deployments is finding an optimum balance between speed, flexibility, and security.  A common challenge in many IT environments is the diverse range of disparate security platforms from a variety of vendors. Meanwhile, legacy technology requires increased IT resources and support as they age. Eventually, these growing inadequacies and service demands can create dangerous security gaps, integration barriers, and scalability challenges. Disconnected systems and components make information sharing difficult, creating a recurring challenge for IT teams responsible for monitoring potential threats across the enterprise. Disjointed communication leads to unreliable processes and protocols. Left unaddressed, these concerns create uncertainty about what to do in the event of a threat and who’s responsible.  

Inadequate Planning

Today’s top-performing companies operate with some of the best digital technology available, yet many are still unable to prevent a near catastrophic security breach. Poor risk assessment and a lack of planning are among the top reasons. Infrastructure planning must take into account the present, along with the future, so it’s important to integrate security into your operational and infrastructure foundation from the beginning.  In planning a technology upgrade, it’s important to look beyond the potential cost savings and make decisions in the context of sustainability and long-term goals. That means carefully considering your security requirements, computing needs, resources, and many other factors. It’s complicated, and often involves trade-offs with significant strategic impact.  

 

IT-security-services

Substandard Monitoring

As your infrastructure expands and evolves, problems can emerge, including redundancies, inefficiencies, and performance gaps. The problem is only compounded in the midst of a technology upgrade. The temporary disruption of systems and applications can make it difficult to determine what components are secure and which ones are not. This is where network monitoring can provide substantial value, conveying critical insights that can help identify gaps in application and perimeter defenses by notifying you of potential problems before any damage actually occurs. Rather than waiting for problems to materialize, you can proactively identify areas that are vulnerable and take action before they impact your business. Regular infrastructure monitoring can also provide an accurate audit trail when investigating an incident.

Disorganized Response Handling

To effectively safeguard business data and assets, it’s important to close the gaps and address the vulnerabilities that other improvement projects might create. That includes setting up a defined plan for how security incidents should be reported and resolved. In the event of a problem, clear communication is as important as solving the underlying technical issue.  It’s essential that everyone impacted by an event clearly understands their responsibilities and the role they play in the recovery effort. This is particularly important when working with third-party providers. Should an outage occur, you need to have confidence in your recovery plan to know exactly how long it will take for the business to be back online―with systems restored and critical data intact.    

Contact Us for a Business Continuity IT Assessment

Make Security a Business Priority with Help from BACS IT

Preventing a security lapse during an infrastructure upgrade requires careful planning and an operating culture firmly focused on safeguarding data and mitigating risk. Although there is no way to defend against all types of attacks, new tools and techniques for detecting and identifying threats can help protect data without hindering  mobility or productivity. 

While staying on the cutting edge of hardware and software advancements is critical to business growth, maintaining world-class security and business continuity is a vital component to ongoing sustainability and success. 

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. 

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What is a Business Continuity Plan?

By | Business Continuity

As companies get more digital in order to scale and grow their operation, a Business Continuity Plan is now imperative for success and survival.

 

Many organizations have been able to avoid the worst cybercrime problems by turning to cloud solutions. Having the ability to access your tools, applications and files from any location is part of the key to keeping an enterprise operating during an emergency.

The cloud erases boundaries and barriers, providing seamless access to its private members. Modern cloud providers typically handle cybersecurity to ensure as much business continuity as possible. But your business should still have its own cybersecurity oversight in some form. Certain industries such as healthcare must invest in robust technology to comply with government regulations.

Part of hacking has more to do with human communication and decision making than technology. You need to protect your digital assets from scammers who use email and other digital communications to trick employees into activating harmful malware through clicks. 

 

Related Video: Listen to Jeremy—BACS CEO speak about taking technology to the next level. 

 

Defense Against Dark Web Cybercriminals

Where do cybercriminals get hacking software? Often from the “dark web” where nefarious entities connect to buy and sell illegal items. They even trade long lists of hacked consumers with their credit card numbers and other personal information. But even companies that use robust multilayered cybersecurity have been breached by cybercriminals.

Establishing several cybersecurity protection layers around your digital assets is the key to shielding them from outsiders. Keep in mind no system yet has been proven to be hacker-proof. But hiring, partnering with or outsourcing to IT experts can help reduce the chance of downtime to near zero. You simply can’t predict events such as hackers showing off how they can disrupt whoever they choose.

 

How Business Continuity Impacts Success

The reason every enterprise must prioritize cybersecurity these days is to maintain business continuity. If a hacker takes down your private server or locks you out of your cloud accounts, it could mean business downtime for a matter of hours, days or long-term. You certainly don’t want to face multiple lawsuits because a cybercriminal was able to steal confidential information about your employees and customers.

Companies that ignore cybersecurity and lack insurance are at high risk of sudden financial collapse if they suffer a cyberattack. Phishing schemes and social engineering are common strategies for ransomware attackers. They establish a friendly relationship through email for several months then eventually try to trick the target victim into clicking a link that unleashes malware. It then freezes a computer or broader system until the victim pays a ransom fee in cryptocurrency.

Part of business success in the 2020s is defined by sustainability, which involves reducing waste. Cybercriminals create waste by destroying data, software and hardware. Building a strong defense against hackers is now a factor for success in the digital business world. Avoiding lawsuits and reputational damage due to cybercrime will help reach business goals faster.

 

Adopting Multilayered Cybersecurity

While no system provides absolute guarantees, you can reduce the odds of a breach by using these types of cybersecurity layers:

  • Firewalls – Taking the form of both software and hardware, firewalls help detect and block suspicious activity on your network.
  • Strong Passwords – Creating complex passwords that mix letters, numbers and special characters strengthens protection. A simple password facilitates easy access for cybercriminals to the account.
  • Use Anti-Malware Software – Your IT specialist can provide anti-malware solutions to fight hackers.
  • Multi-factor Authentication – Adding multiple steps after a password for a login helps block out network spies. The common approach is to answer a few security questions.
  • Encryption – Using software algorithms that scramble passwords is one of the most effective solutions to disrupting the path of the hacker. Encryption is often used to protect email accounts.
  • Server Segmentation – Dividing your server into segments is a strategy for limiting cyberattack damage. Gaining access to one segment does not lead to accessing other segments. It’s useful for serving multiple accounts.
  • Virtualization – The use of virtual servers is common at modern data centers. It involves stacking multiple operating systems on one physical server. Each OS is independent from the others. It allows for easy data backup on multiple virtual servers at once.
  • 24/7 Monitoring – Advanced cybersecurity applications used by data centers are capable of monitoring networks continuously for cybercrime. Suspicious activity triggers automated solutions such as sending real-time alerts to cybersecurity officials.

Setting a Strong Cybersecurity Policy

Another step toward achieving business continuity is to establish a strong cybersecurity policy, which may consist of several restrictions on network use. It’s common for businesses to restrict various types of downloads, especially from sites that violate copyright laws. With modern solutions you can blacklist certain websites that you consider off-limits as work material.

Implementing your cybersecurity policy should accompany giving instructions and training for your employees. Expecting people to read something once and then remember it is not always the safest approach to enforcing cybersecurity rules. Your employees need to become educated about cybersecurity and how to avoid email traps set by cybercriminals.

 

 [Free  Resource Download]: 7 Tips  To  Create A Password  Policy  For  Your  Organization

 

Backup and Disaster Recovery Plan

Backing up your critical data routinely keeps business continuity smooth. Many companies overlook the fact that employee errors such as accidentally overwriting files are common in the business world. In fact, employee errors are the most common reason for cybersecurity breaches. It’s usually the reason a ransomware attacker penetrates a system through email.

You can reduce the chances of attacks facilitated by employee errors by working with an IT team that handles making all your data backups. Part of their work involves testing files and applications as well. Keeping fresh backups of all your important files ensures someone can’t just quickly demolish your business. It prevents the problem of starting all over again from scratch due to data loss.

The strongest safety net to prepare against cybercrime is a Backup and Disaster Recovery Plan that defines what to do if your network is attacked. It lays out a clear set of procedures for specific employees and IT personnel to take. One of the most important reasons to develop this plan is once again, to maintain business continuity. Just because your city gets hit with a natural disaster doesn’t mean your business has to shut down.

These days it’s possible for a business to remain online in automation mode even if all the employees have to evacuate. With the use of cloud services, it’s possible to access all your important business files online. Your Disaster Recovery Plan establishes what happens when technical issues occur such as if your main server goes down. Now a backup server typically takes over, triggered automatically. Due to backup plans, downtime is now a matter of seconds instead of days or weeks.

 

Developing A Business Continuity Plan with BACS

Every business these days must develop a Business Continuity Plan. It could mean the difference between a slight disruption and a major setback. In the digital age cyber attacks are becoming more common. So businesses must assume more responsibility and take the most reliable steps to reducing the chances of cyberattacks.

Investing in strong cybersecurity will help you focus more on your core business. Contact us at BACS to learn more about how we can help your company improve productivity through technological solutions.

 

Contact Us for a Business Continuity IT Assessment

 

Virtual Desktop Deployment

Benefits of Virtual Desktop Deployment

By | Business Continuity, Cloud, IT Support, Networking, Technology

Implementing virtualized desktops across your enterprise environment can provide users with a high-definition desktop experience while helping to improve security and reduce costs. While the potential benefits are compelling, implementing an effective virtual desktop environment requires more than installing and configuring software.

In planning your virtualized desktop deployment, it’s important to look beyond the potential cost savings and make decisions in the context of an actual business case. That means carefully considering your goals, computing needs, resources, and many other factors. 

While no single strategy can cover every possible need or scenario, a sound implementation plan should take into consideration potential risk factors and adhere to best practice methods and procedures for optimum performance and return on investment.

 

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Define business needs.

 Virtual desktop deployment projects can rapidly expand in scope and complexity. That’s why it’s important to be clear about why you want to move to desktop virtualization. Understanding which capabilities and which performance requirements are most critical will help ensure you choose the optimum mix of infrastructure for your unique business needs. If you’re starting with just a few applications, determining performance and infrastructure requirements is easier because you’re not transferring every desktop to the cloud, but rather just a few applications to certain end users. You can use this initial scoping exercise to begin capacity planning. What are your current processing and storage needs? How many users will you be extending desktop services to? What will your virtual environment look like in a year or two years? 

 

Create a server plan. 

Servers are at the core of your virtualized desktop infrastructure, so it’s vital that I/O, memory, and other resources are available to support the processing requirement of desktop users. This requires having a clear understanding of the capabilities and limitations of your existing server environment. What applications and workloads run on which servers? What level of performance and availability do these workloads require? One drawback with creating multiple virtual machines from a single piece of hardware is that if that hardware fails, the entire configuration can be compromised. One remedy is to distribute virtual desktops across several servers so that a failure in one server won’t shut down all users. A more advanced approach is to implement a server cluster for virtual desktops, which spreads workload processing across all servers and can transfer the load to other servers in event of a fault. 

 

 

Implement access controls.

Although virtual desktops can provide users with a more flexible experience, it’s critical to closely manage which users are allowed access to specific applications and data. The more connections linking to a single device, the greater the risk of data exposure or compromise. The challenge is creating policies that aren’t overly restrictive. Ideally you want users to be able to maintain control of their devices while making sure operational flexibility does not undermine existing security policies and controls. Also, be sure to sure you include virtual desktop servers and endpoint data storage in your overall backup and disaster recovery plan.

 

 

Check compatibility. 

Make sure the hardware you select is compatible with the software you intend to virtualize. Many virtualization packages will support a standard set of hardware regardless of where that software resides. This will help ensure you have a standard hardware design template for each virtual machine, helping to reduce the time and effort in managing different driver versions across your virtualized environment. Consider what components are needed for a successful scale-up. IT teams often overlook the components needed to scale up to a virtualized environment, including host hardware, storage, networks, and hypervisor.

Allocate sufficient resources.

Virtualization increases the hardware requirements for your environment. So in the process of scoping out your ideal virtual system configuration, it’s important to makes sure you have sufficient storage and processing power for your virtual machines and software. This means your host servers must first have enough resources to support your virtualization software of choice, plus the operating system and software used within the virtual machines. How many users do you anticipate using the service at the same time? Is your network infrastructure capable of supporting this new client-server communication load?  An inadequately powered virtual machine or server diminishes the benefits of desktop virtualization. 

 

Train users.

The shift to desktop virtualization will alter the way users manage their endpoint devices, so training is often an integral part of the deployment effort. The resource sharing capabilities that virtualization enables can presents a number of issues that will need to be addressed. Which users will have control? What new skills will be required?  Training doesn’t need to be extensive since the desktop user experience should not change substantially. However, users should be aware of changes to their access controls and rights concerning their desktop privileges.   

With the right virtual desktop deployment strategy, you’ll be able to reap several important benefits:

Better productivity. 

Virtualized components can be configured and implemented quickly, reducing the time and complexity involved with provisioning new servers, storage or other resources. Fewer physical components also reduces the time and expense needed for ongoing management and support. 

 

 

Lower costs. 

The ability to create virtual versions of computers allows you to significantly reduce hardware costs. Less hardware to install reduces space requirements along with power and cooling expenses, allowing you to reinvest this savings into more strategic initiatives.    

 

Enhanced data protection. 

Virtualization helps simplify data protection processes. With consistent and automated data backups, meeting your recovery time objectives becomes a more reliable process.

 

 

Improved scalability. 

A core benefit of a virtualized environment is the ability to quickly configure the infrastructure to meet shifting business requirements. Virtual desktop machines can be rapidly reconfigured to enhance their “hardware” performance capabilities ‘on-the-fly”.

 

 

Better disaster recovery. 

Automated failover capabilities inherent in most virtualization platforms helps improve recovery so that if a disaster hits, your infrastructure is already preconfigured with the proper backup and recovery steps to ensure systems are brought back online quickly and securely. 

Charting a path to success

Making the right decisions about how to best leverage virtualized infrastructure can be confusing. It often involves tradeoffs with significant strategic impact. Your best bet: Don’t go it alone. Work with an experienced virtualized expert whose core focus is improving your technology and optimizing your return on investment. Implementing an effective, smooth-running virtualized desktop environment can be challenging and time-intensive, but when done correctly, the effort will pay dividends far beyond the initial investment.  

Data-Backup-and-Recovery-Reaping-the-Benefits-of-the-Cloud

Data Backup and Recovery: Reaping the Benefits of the Cloud

By | Business Continuity, Cloud, IT Support

While some data loss is inevitable, how you respond to a data breach or business disruption can have a significant impact on your bottom line, or even your survival. With security threats coming from all directions―from malicious code and hackers to natural disasters―data loss is not a matter of if, but when.

Although most companies and their IT departments are aware of the risks, few make an effort to implement disaster recovery until it’s too late. With cyberattacks and internal security failures becoming more commonplace, companies are increasingly turning to disaster recovery in the cloud.

Data protection and recovery capabilities weigh heavily in cloud planning decisions, particularly in regulated environments. While it’s important to safeguard systems and infrastructure against unauthorized access or malicious threats, at the same time, it’s essential to balance these risks with the unique goals and long term objectives of your business.

The fundamental goal of disaster recovery is to reduce the impact of data loss or security breach on business performance. Cloud-based disaster recovery offers an effective way to do just that. In case of a data breach or loss, vital workloads can be failed over to a recovery site to enable business operations to resume. As soon as data is restored, you can fall back from the cloud and re-establish your applications and infrastructure to their original condition ―reducing downtime and minimizing disruption.

Disaster recovery in the cloud offers a particularly attractive option for small and mid-sized businesses that often lack sufficient budget or resources to build and maintain their own disaster recovery site.

 

Gaining a performance advantage

Compared to traditional methods, cloud computing disaster recovery is relatively straightforward to configure and manage. It can eliminate many hours of time moving backup data from tape drives or on-premises servers to recover following a disaster. Automated cloud processes help ensure rapid and trouble-free data recovery.

With the right configuration and a reliable provider, cloud-based disaster recovery can deliver a number of important benefits:

• Fast recovery

Thanks to its virtualization capabilities, cloud computing takes a wholly different approach to disaster recovery. With infrastructure encapsulated into a single software or virtual server bundle, when a disaster occurs, the virtual server can be easily duplicated or backed up to a separate data center and quickly loaded onto a virtual host. This can substantially cut recovery time compared to traditional (physical hardware) methods where servers are loaded with the application software and operating system and updated to the last configuration before restoring the data. For many businesses, cloud-based disaster recovery offers the only viable solution for helping to ensure business continuity and long-term survival.

• Cost savings

One of the biggest advantages of cloud-based data recovery over standard techniques is its lower cost. Traditional data backup requires deploying physical servers at a separate location, which can be expensive. Cloud configurations, however, enable you to outsource the amount of hardware and software you need while paying only for the resources you use. Without capital costs to worry about, the “pay-as-you-need” model helps keep your total cost of ownership low. You can also eliminate the need to store volumes of backup tapes that could be cumbersome and time consuming to access during an emergency. Smaller business can select a service plan that suits their budget. Managing the data doesn’t require hiring extra IT staff. Your service provider manages the technical details and tasks, allowing your team to focus on other priorities.

 

• Scalability

Relying on the cloud for your disaster recovery provides substantial operational flexibility advantages, allowing you to easily scale your capacity as workloads shift and business needs change. Instead of locking yourself into a certain amount of storage for a specific timeframe and stressing about whether you are exceeding those limits, you can scale your capacity as needed, with assurance that your recovery processes will meet your requirements. Cloud backup provides a high level of scalability, with the ability to easily add whatever capacity you need. As your business grows, your backup systems can scale along with them. You simply adjust your service plan from your provider and request additional resources as your needs shift.

 

• Security.

Despite the security concerns of cloud infrastructure, implementing a cloud-based disaster recovery plan is quite safe and reliable with the right service provider. Most providers offer comparable, if not better security protection than many on-premises environments. Still, in the area of disaster recovery and business continuity, there is little room for error. Be sure to perform your due diligence and ask the difficult questions when evaluating the provider who will be backing up your critical business data.

 

• Redundant capabilities.

A cloud environment can provide a level of redundancy that would be cost prohibitive to create with on-premises infrastructure. This redundancy is achieved through additional hardware and data center infrastructure equipped with multiple fail-safe measures. By capitalizing on specialized services and economies of scale, cloud solutions can provide much simpler and cost efficient backup capabilities than on-premises systems. Redundancy helps ensure you can recover critical information at any given time, regardless of type of event or how the data was lost. This redundancy extends to other cloud components from power to connectivity to hosts and storage.

• Reliability.

In terms of vital business data, cloud-based data recovery offers a highly reliable failback and business continuity solution. In the event of a business disruption, workloads are shifted automatically to a separate location and resumed from there. The failover process helps ensure maximum data availability. After the problems at the initial site are solved, the applications and workloads can be transferred back to original location. It also enables faster backup restoration than traditional disaster recovery methods. Workload transfer and failover require only a few minutes. Conventional recovery techniques typically take longer as the migration uses physical servers deployed in a separate location. You might also decide to migrate your data in a phase approach, depending on the volume of data you are backing. While backup and failover processes are often automated in cloud-based systems, you still want to regularly test the operation on specific network sites to ensure critical production data is not impacted or corrupted in any way.

 

Building an effective backup and recovery strategy

Most businesses today are benefitting from the inherent efficiency advantages of cloud infrastructure of and its ability to help scale resources, and optimize assets and improve backup and recovery performance. As market demands fluctuate and businesses seek greater agility, cloud-based recovery is expected to continue to expand across industry sectors.

While there is no magic blueprint for the perfect back up and recovery configuration, a good first step is making sure you have implemented failover measures for all your connected devices. A common point of entry of many attacks is through outdated firmware on connected devices. Therefore, you’ll want to make you’re your devices and networks are hardened effectively equipped to protect against cyberattacks.

At the heart of any good disaster recovery plan is a guiding document that defines specific procedures and processes to be carried out in event of a disaster. This detailed action plan factors in multiple scenarios with defined steps to mitigate the impact of an event and enables critical business systems and processes to be recovered and restored quickly and efficiently.

After identifying and prioritizing the data and applications and you’ve defined your recovery time objectives, your business can establish a solid foundation for a cloud-based disaster recovery solution.

Depending on the extent of your need and availability of resources, closing the gaps between business needs and disaster recovery capabilities can be an extended, protracted process. No matter how long it takes, the effort to create a solid, well-crafted plan will pay dividends far beyond the initial investment.

signs your computer may have malware or a virus

Surefire Signs You’re Infected With Spyware, Malware, and Viruses

By | Business Continuity, IT Support, Security, Technology

On average, there is a hacker attack every 39 seconds. Unfortunately, hackers hide malicious programs, and there are no visible signs that your device is infected. Once your device is compromised, you need to take action right away to prevent additional harm.

Signs Your Computer Is Infected

Does it seem like your computer has slowed down? Does it crash frequently? If your computer has been acting differently, there may be a reason why. After malware infects a device, you may notice pop-up ads or speed issues.

The most common signs of infection are:

  • You get pop-up ads all of the time for no apparent reason.
  • Your home page has switched on its own, and you are unable to change its settings.
  • You may also have new toolbars that you never created.
  • Unexplained files appeared on your computer.
  • You noticed that your email account sent emails, but you did not send them.
  • Your desktop files have been deleted or moved.
  • The icons on your toolbars or desktop have disappeared.
  • A second or third browser opened up behind your primary browser window, but you did not open them.
  • You get runtime errors when you use Outlook Express or MS Outlook.
  • Your computer crashes frequently or is unstable. It may be sluggish if it is infected.

The previous signs are indications that there is a problem with your computer. You will need a professional technician to help you remove it and to be aware of the common misconceptions about hackers and malicious programs.

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The Four Most Common Misconceptions

1. You Can Easily Remove Malicious Programs

Unfortunately, spyware and viruses can be difficult to remove. On very few occasions, you might be able to remove malicious programs using a free download. Still, in many cases, malicious programs cannot be detected or eliminated using these software programs since hackers embed them deeply in the operating system. When this happens, you need the help of an experienced professional to detect and remove the program.

In extreme instances, the only solution is to wipe the hard disk completely. To do this, the technician must delete every file before installing the operating system all over again. Eliminating all of your data is never the first option, but it may be your only choice. Some malicious programs are so crafty and complex that the only way to get rid of them is by deleting everything.

2. My Computer Is the Problem

When someone suffers from viruses, they often blame their computer. They think that the computer would not have a problem if it were more expensive or better made. In reality, most malicious programs happen because of human error, getting onto a device because of the user.

You or one of your employees could have unknowingly clicked on the wrong link or downloaded a malicious file. Do not blame yourself too much, though. Cybercriminals are talented at making malicious programs look like innocent files. They make their malicious programs seem like ordinary activities you do all the time, which is why you feel comfortable clicking on them.

Some downloads may look innocent, but they could have spyware. For instance, your employee may download a software program that ages their pictures or gives them new emoticons. While these programs seem innocent, they could include malicious code. As soon as your employee downloads one of these programs, the malicious program can infect your entire network.

Avoid downloading any free program you find online. Avoid screen savers and enhanced browsers, and carefully read through the terms and conditions before you download an application. Often, the terms and conditions will specifically include clauses that allow the software vendor to install malicious programs on your device. It would help if you also stop your employees from downloading any online applications.

Unfortunately, your computer can be infected through other techniques as well. For example, you should regularly update your current programs. Each program has security patches that prevent hackers from accessing your computer. If you do not get these patches, then hackers may be able to access your device when you accidentally click on a banner ad or email attachment.

Security patches are incredibly important because hackers are always creating new ways to access devices. For example, some hackers discovered how to install malicious programs using Internet Explorer without requiring any clicks or downloads. The malicious program would install on your computer, even if you didn’t click on anything. Making sure your computer has all of Microsoft’s latest updates and patches to prevent this kind of attack.

If you want to protect your personal information and device, you should avoid peer-to-peer file sharing. Hackers and cybercriminals love these sites, so they are full of malicious programs. In many cases, the source of a company’s malicious attack is a peer-to-peer site.

3. Maintenance Is Unnecessary—My Computer Works Fine.

Even if your computer seems to be working fine right now, it still needs to be appropriately maintained. Think of a computer like a car. You have to change the oil and replace the brakes regularly if you want to avoid spending more money and time on repair costs later.

With a computer, there are maintenance checks you need to do daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly. For example, spam filtering and virus updates should occur daily. A spyware sweep and system backups should take place every week. Meanwhile, defragmenting your disk and updating your security patches should be done every month or quarter.

A good technician will tell you about the regular maintenance you need to do to your computer. Your technician should offer to do things like configuring automatic system backups, spam filtering, and virus definition updates. To be protected, these system backups must be stored away from your company so that your backups are safe from natural disasters.

If the technician you’re working with does not offer to do regular maintenance, find someone else. Routine maintenance prevents significant repair costs later on, and the lack of it is one of the top reasons why people have high repair bills and lose important files.

There are only two reasons why a technician will not perform routine maintenance. In some cases, the technician is inexperienced and does not know what they are doing. Some technicians do not want to do maintenance work because they know that they will make more money from repairing problems. Both of these reasons are signs that you should find a different vendor.

4. Microsoft’s Operating System Offers All of the Protection I Need

It seems intuitive that a computer would sell with everything you need to use it. Sadly, this is not the case. Microsoft does not equip its devices with all of the security features they need. If you do not protect your computer, you will be vulnerable to viruses, data loss, and cybercriminals.

Protecting your device requires a multi-faceted approach. No one vendor is capable of providing every single security feature you need. It is crucial to find an experienced technician you trust to get the protection you need.

BACS IT data-backup-and-recovery-business-continuity

Conducting an In-Depth Review of Your Current Backup System

By | Business Continuity, IT Support, Security

The Challenge

Backing up your data and the ability to quickly and fully recover it in the event of a natural disaster or ransomware attack is critical to the stability of your company. If malware damaged your server beyond repair or a ransomware attack hit you, and all of your files were locked, corrupted, or erased, how fast could you get back up and running again?

And it doesn’t end there. You may still experience data loss even while backing up your server. Most business owners know that it is crucial to backup their server(s). But they forget about their desktops, laptops, and Macs. Even if quite a bit of your data is stored on your servers and backed up on your network, your computers themselves may not be. Your icons, background, all of your settings, local files, the music and pictures you have stored, and all of your software applications are most likely not being backed up.

If your company’s computers were to crash, get a virus, or simply die, all of that information could be lost. The company data that you’ve saved to your server would still be there if you are saving everything to your server (a big if for many people), but everything else would be gone. You would have to recreate each computer by reloading all of the software and settings. And if you’ve ever had this happen to you, you know that it can take a significant amount of time to do, and time is money.

So, either at the macro (server) or micro (computer) level, having the appropriate backup system is crucial to keep your company running efficiently at all times.

 

Our Recommendation

We recommend conducting an in-depth review of your current backup system.

  • Determine the data that is critical to your business so you can make sure you are indeed backing it up.
  • Guard yourself against the more sophisticated attacks we see today by putting a more robust, ransomware-proof backup system in place.
  • Review what data you have and its location. Unfortunately, it’s typical to find critical data on laptops and other devices that are not being properly backed up.
  • Identify the processes, such as payroll or client-facing services, that are crucial and cannot be down for an extended time.
  • Discover your tolerance for downtime. How long could you be without access to your server, files, e-mail, Internet, and other processes before it starts costing you real money?
  • What’s the plan for an actual disaster? What will you do if your team can’t get to your data because of a fire, flood, or natural disaster?

The End Goal

The purpose of these questions is to:

  1. Get an awareness of the risks and limitations of your current backup.
  2. Use your answers to map out a disaster recovery plan so you won’t have to face any unpleasant surprises should a disaster happen.
  3. Help you choose the disaster recovery system that fits your budget and priorities.

 

Next Steps

Not comfortable conducting your own review? BACS’s Disaster Recovery, Security, and Backup Audit will reveal how quickly your business could recover after a server crash, natural disaster, virus attack, or other data-erasing catastrophes. We make it easy for you not to push this “important, but not urgent” action item to the back burner.

Our Disaster Recovery, Security, and Backup Audit determines:

  • How fast could you recover if a disaster were to happen?
  • How secure is your data…really?
  • Are you backing up all your critical data every day?
  • Are you protected from hackers, viruses, and even simple mistakes?
  • Do you know what steps would be involved to rebuild your server and recover your data if you had to and how much they would cost?

If we don’t find any issues, you’ll have peace of mind about the security of your network and the fact that you would experience a quick recovery in the event of a disaster. But if we do find a few gaps, you’ll be able to fix them before you experience an unexpected catastrophe.

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The Most Common Reasons for a Server to Malfunction

Here are some of the most common reasons why the performance of a server geta affected or stops altogether.

  • Physical causes. Accidents such as falling from a rack, fire, or a flood can cause severe server issues.
  • Power supply failures. Missing power results in servers shutting down.
  • Hardware problems. Overheating can cause server failure.
  • Software problems. Database issues can result in servers malfunctioning.
  • External actions. External attacks or malware can also end up in a server going down.

How Can Backup Issues Harm You?

Even though it’s challenging to add up specific figures, backup issues have a real economic impact. The actual calculations depend on multiple factors, such as:

  1. Loss of sales. The server that supports the website’s cart is down.
  2. Service loss. Not being able to purchase from you will force prospects to buy from your competitors. And even worse, some of those people, disappointed by not being able to buy from you, might not try to do it again in the future.
  3. Productivity loss. If your team is unable to use the systems and programs they need, preventing them from working, productivity will decrease.
  4. Customer service issues. What if billing is down, affecting your customers, and having them worry about the security of their personal data?
  5. Reputation problems. A website or a billing system failure will not only affect you in the specific moment in which they occur, but they can convey a negative image of your company, with all the negative consequences that this may entail.

The biggest challenge BACS faces in protecting you (and other companies) is your thinking. Many business owners think like this:

  • these problems won’t happen to me,
  • our company is too small, or
  • we don’t have the kind of information a hacker wants.

Or they think that if it does happen to them, the damages won’t be significant. That may have held 10 to 20 years ago, but it does not hold today.

Act now, in partnership with us, to develop a disaster recovery plan that fits your budget and priorities. We are here to help.

Computer disasters - Servers - Business IT

Top 10 Most Expensive & Deadly Computer Disasters

By | Business Continuity, Security

Imagine the frustration of losing a couple of hours of work on your computer.

Now imagine losing days and even weeks. Or, imagine losing critical data like your client database and those clients’ financial records. Imagine not being able to access your email or any of the information on your computer. What is the level of your frustration now?

Many small business owners ignore the natural disasters that can destroy all their data or tend to forget to implement an emergency recovery plan. They fail to take steps to secure their company’s network from these types of catastrophes until disaster strikes, and by then, it’s too late. Think about these facts:

  • Sixty percent of small businesses will experience a significant network or technology disaster
  • The average cost of these technology disasters ranges from $9,000 to $60,000 in repairs and restoration costs
  • 99% of businesses claim to be “too busy” to think about network security and maintenance
  • An auto body shop spends $20,000 to clean up a virus
  • A health products company spends $40,000 and suffers nine days of downtime from two corrupted hard drives
  • A property management company pays $9,000 and experiences weeks of downtime for a simple, inexpensive repair

And now think about this: you can avoid 100% of these disasters and restoration costs easily and inexpensively. Yes, it’s impossible to plan for every potential computer disaster or emergency. Still, you can take simple steps to prevent the top 10 most significant threats and disasters that wipe out businesses from happening to you.

 

Viruses and Worms

Viruses remain the most common type of security threat for your network.  They can do a wide range of damage from displaying annoying popups to corrupting all your files and hurting your company’s reputation. Imagine unknowingly spreading a virus to a customer, or imagine a virus hijacking your email address book.

Worms don’t need a host file to infect your network, making them even more dangerous than viruses. They are often embedded in emails. The infected computer can make quick copies of itself and affect an entire network in just a few hours, making worms responsible for a good number of companies’ widespread network failures.

Make sure to install anti-virus software on every computer and laptop in your office. Once you install it, don’t forget about it. Monitor your network, making sure every machine has the most up-to-date version installed and making sure the software isn’t accidentally disabled.

 

Not Keeping An Offsite Copy Of Your Data, or Not Even backing up at all

Most small businesses never back up their computer network, or only keep an on-site copy of their data. Imagine this: you write the most crucial piece of information you could ever write on a chalkboard. Can you get it back if I come along and erase it? Unless you copied it, you can’t recover the data. It’s gone forever. There are many ways to lose data. If the information is essential to you, make sure you have more than one copy of it.

The first step in prevention is to make sure you have a good on-site copy of your data. Second, you must have an additional off-site copy. No one considers natural disasters. But should you consider the possibility of theft? Or, what if a nearby office catches fire or if a faulty sprinkler system waters your server room? And, what if your data becomes corrupt or a hardware failure erases your data?

 

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Not Performing Back-ups Tests


Many business owners set up some type of back-up system and never check to make sure it’s working correctly. It’s typical for a system to appear to be backing up when it’s not. Perform a restore of your data monthly to see if it can be restored and to see if your data is intact.

Trojan Horse Malware Attacks

Trojan horses hide in innocent items like screen savers, computer games, or even YouTube videos. They are challenging to remove, so preventing them from happening is what you want to do. Educating your employees is not enough to protect against Trojan horses because hackers come up with new, innovative strategies to access your network all the time. Instead, block users from downloading freeware and computer games, as well as embedded links in emails, and even block all websites that are not on an approved list of websites that employees may visit.

 

Spam

Spam is a malicious menace every business faces. In addition to killing office productivity and introducing viruses, worms, and Trojan attacks, spam can take up enough bandwidth to crash your network. Fortunately, a good email filter may be all you need.

 

Lack of A Secure Firewall

Small business owners have the mindset that hackers would not waste time trying to access their networks when nothing is further from the truth. There have been experiments where, within hours, malicious code took over gigabytes of space from a single computer connected to the Internet without a firewall. Remember that there are thousands of unscrupulous hackers out there who think it’s fun to disable your computer just because they can. Maintaining a secure firewall can save your business a lot of headaches.

 

Failing to Install The Most Up-To-Date Security Patches and Updates

Software companies continuously discover security loopholes within their programs that hackers use to access your network. That is why these companies offer free patches and updates to their users. The irony is that most hackers do not discover these security loopholes on their own; they learn about them when the software vendor discloses the vulnerability and issues the patch or update. The announcement is the hacker’s cue to action. And the time gap between the solution and the exploit gets shorter every day. That is why it’s critical to keep an eye out for security updates and patches and install them quickly.

 

Phishing Attacks

Phishing refers to spam emails designed to trick recipients into clicking on a link to an insecure website. The intention is to steal passwords and account information for e-commerce sites and credit card and bank account numbers. Most of us have received the infamous PayPal emails alerting us that our account is going to be deactivated or closed if we don’t log in to verify our account information. To prevent phishing attacks, you can educate employees on how hackers try to phish account information and remind them to never enter personal information in a web site solicited via an email

 

Hardware Loss and Residual Data Fragments

Did you know that stolen laptops and computers are a significant contributor to the 10 million cases of identity theft suffered by Americans each year? What can you do for prevention?

  • Encrypt sensitive company data (especially on laptops used by employees who frequently travel)
  • Wipe and shred files on old hard drives before they leave your organization
  • Develop a policy for tracking smartphone and USB memory card use around sensitive data

 

You And Your Staff

End-user mistakes are often the biggest threat to the security of your network. Whether someone downloads a virus, accidentally deletes a critical folder or file, visits shady web sites, or shares confidential information, end-users are usually at the root of every computer problem. In most cases, these actions are not intentional, but the effects of a virus are the same whether the download was deliberate or purely by accident. On-going education on proper email, Internet, and computer usage and regular maintenance and monitoring of your critical data and systems is the prevention we recommend.