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15 Surprising Statistics About Cybersecurity

15 Surprising Statistics About Cybersecurity

By | Security

What can statistics about cybersecurity tell you? They can offer some insight into how effective or ineffective the efforts currently are to improve the cybersecurity outlook. As a cybersecurity executive, cybersecurity statistics can prove to be an excellent means of communicating to upper management that your organization should invest in cybersecurity. 

Presented below are 15 surprising statistics about cybersecurity, grouped in the following categories:

 

Costs

  • The average cost of a data breach in 2020 (so far) is $3.86 million.

In their 2020 Data Breach report, IBM states that the average cost of a security breach is $3.86 million. This is an alarming statistic because the amount presented by IBM is higher than the amounts they provided in previous years because 2020 has not yet ended. There are numerous possibilities about the cause(s) of the increases. However, the bottom line is that the cybersecurity landscape is not improving.

  • The amount spent on cybersecurity budgets in 2019 was $250, 000 for midmarket organization to $1 million spent by large enterprises.

The 2019 The Security Bottom Line report by Cisco reports that companies are investing in cybersecurity, but the costs are not equal. Companies recognize that cybersecurity is an important investment, but the costs to implement it are often too much. In the same Cisco report, 84% of the CISOs survey participants stated that their organization was only able to afford only a portion of what was considered the minimum required to protect their infrastructure.

  • The cost of cybersecurity insurance is projected to cost organizations $28.6 billion by 2026.

 

According to a market outlook provided by Allied Market Research, cybersecurity insurance just about hit the $5 million mark in 2018. As more organizations are adding cyber insurance to mitigate potential losses due to a cyberattack, that number is projected to balloon to almost $30 billion by 2026.  Cybersecurity insurance is becoming more important as the costs of recovering from a data breach increase. This type of insurance also benefits companies by providing their customer base an assurance that in case there is a data breach, they will receive some protection.

 

Threats

  • The most frequent attack to both enterprises and small business is DDos attacks.

The 2019 IT Security Economics report by Kaspersky reports that distributed-denial-of-service DDos attacks are equal-opportunity attackers in the business world. These types of attacks highjack a company’s resources and in most cases requests a ransom to release them. They do not only cause a disruption of business, but are associated with significant costs.

 

  • Cyberattacks of mobile devices increased by 50% in 2019.

 

The technology firm ZDNET reported on this statistic in their report on the increase in mobile malware. This is an important statistic because more IT departments are implementing Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) policies. Any vulnerabilities that are associated with a device that connects to a corporate network pass on to the network and increase the chances the network will succumb to a cyberattack. The report highlights the increased usage of online banking as a key to the increase in mobile malware attacks.

 

  • Malware threats occur most often (94%) via email.

In the early days of technology, malware was most often considered a threat via software. Now that email has become the main method of communication around the world, cybercriminals have changed their tactics. A 2019 report by Verizon outlines the statistics of malware. Despite the numerous ads and training programs that highlight the dangers of clicking on questionable links, people are still falling victim to email malware.

 

Industries

  • 43% of the security breaches of 2019 involved a small business.

As noted in this statistic from the Verizon 2020 Data Breach Investigations Report, the message is clear that cybersecurity is for everyone. Tight budgets and no buy-in from top executives make it difficult to direct funds to cybersecurity, but it should be considered a significant part of your business. The potential impact is not only financial. Your business reputation can also suffer, your business may be disrupted, and your customers or business partners may be impacted. This stat indicates that small business may not be taking

  • Attacks on supply chain providers were up 78% in 2019.

 

A 2019 report by Symantec that states that cybercrime in the banking industry rose in 2019 to $18.3 million. This probably isn’t a surprise to you since the financial and banking industries are markets that are targeted often. What’s surprising is that supply chain providers are not being added to that list. The increase in supply chain cyberattacks is linked to organizations relying more on multiple third-party vendors to distribute their products. The attacks on the supply industry has become some critical that during the Aspen Institute’s Virtual Cyber Summit, a leader of the FBI warned  companies in the United States to about hackers targeting the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine. 

 

  • From 2016 to 2019, 93% of healthcare organizations have had a data breach.

 

Healthcare is one of the industries that are most targeted for cyber attacks (companies in finance, government, manufacturing, education, and technology are also heavily targeted). According to a report by Black Book Research, a whopping 93% of healthcare organizations experienced a data breach between 2017 and 2019. In addition, the report states that more than 50% of organizations in the healthcare industry have experienced more than five data breaches within the 2016 and 2019 period. The healthcare/medical industry is an attractive target for cyber criminals because it receives and stores a significant amount of personal data. During health crises, such as the COVID-19 global pandemic, the industry is target even more as cyber criminals attempt to gain access to privileged research data.

 

Outlook

  • The average time for financial services companies to detect a network intrusion is 98 days.

 

The technology company ZDNET reports that the majority of organizations don’t detect a data breach until its been around for more than six months. This is a sobering number. Organizations in the financial industry are privy to a significant amount of personal data and are one of the key targets of cyber criminals. Since a data breach of these organizations can impact a large number of people, their reaction time to an intrusion is critical.

 

  • Less than 50% of companies in the world feel they are adequately prepared to mitigate their cybersecurity risk.

The accounting firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers conducted a survey of  3,249 executives in business and technology and learned that 55% of them did not have confidence that their investment in cybersecurity would provide their companies the most benefit. One of the most difficult aspects of cybersecurity risk is determining where to allocate your investment. Without an accurate assessment of an organization’s needs, they will likely not provide their organization with the most protection.

  • 33 billion records will be stolen by cybercriminals in 2023.

 

This projection stems from a report by Juniper Research of 48 leading cybersecurity companies. According to the research, the latest technologies to protect against newer forms of attacks aren’t making it to small businesses that are most vulnerable to cyberattacks. Until small businesses are able to keep up with technologies and the costs associated with mitigating their cybersecurity risks, we’ll likely to continue to see alarming projects like this one.

 

  • 58% CISOs report that they feel employees ignore cybersecurity policies and guidelines.

The 2020 Cyber Threats Report by netwrix includes an important statistic. One of the most sobering statistics is that employees are not doing their part to help organizations stay safe. However, employees may not be receiving sufficient education (see statistic #15). The important factor in education is content and timeliness. Cybersecurity professionals should assess the knowledge that the employees in their organization require and design a training program that fits that assessment.

 

  • Only 5% of folders stored on a corporate network are adequately protected.

 

The 2019 Global Data Risk Report from the Varonis data lab highlights the results of 785 data risk assessments they performed. Protecting all potential entry points is a basic cybersecurity best practice. Project folders that are uncontrolled are easy access for cybercriminals via ransomware or other forms of malware.

 

  1. The average frequency for employee cybersecurity awareness training in the U.S. is once per year.

According to Statista, an Internet statistics database, employees in the U.S. on average receive cybersecurity awareness training on an infrequent basis. This is a startling statistic, considering the growing number of cyberattacks projected in the future. One of the most significant impacts on the outlook of cybersecurity is human behavior. 

 

Conclusion

 

As technology for mitigating cybersecurity risks improve, so do the tactics of cyber criminals. Understanding the cybersecurity landscape can help you remain informed about what your organization should consider when you design your cybersecurity policies.

BACS is a professional team of security experts who can help you understand all aspects of your infrastructure and devise a plan that provides the greatest amount of protection at the most reasonable cost. 

cybersecurity trends

TECH TALK: 7 Trends You May Have Missed About Cybersecurity

By | Data Protection, Security

At any given point in time, there are numerous trending topics in cybersecurity. Change is one aspect of technology that we can always depend on, and that’s a good thing. We’re able to do more in less time than ever before. Of course, advancements in technology goes together with the cybersecurity landscape. As someone who has a key role in IT, keeping up with changes in technology and cybersecurity should be a routine task. However, there trending topics that are just beginning to emerge that you may not yet be aware of.

Here are seven cybersecurity trends you may have overlooked:

1: Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)

2: Internet of Things (IoT) Devices

3: Fifth Generation (5G) Technology

4: Social Engineering

5: Bitcoin Ransomware

6: Smart Contracts

7: Insider Threat

1: Bring Your own Device (BYOD)

 

BYOD programs that allow employees to use their personal devices to access business assets on the job have been accepted by IT programs for a while now. They can be a bit unwieldy in terms of control, but the benefits to production and costs are difficult to ignore. Unfortunately, the security concerns are increasing. The main concerns with allowing personal devices to access a corporate network is that IT personnel are usually not aware of their connection to the network, there is usually minimal security features, they are easily stolen or misplaced, it is difficult to control how employees use them (they can easily download apps).

History has proven that the concerns listed above are serious. In 2017, the cryptocurrency firm Bithumb experienced a data hack that was traced to an employee’s home PC. That data breach exposed the personal information of 30,000 of the Korean company’s customer base.

If your organization supports a BYOD program, you can mitigate your risk by first developing a policy that outlines the requirements for use in the organization. It is a good idea to add controls to your organization’s Wi-Fi. These are often easily accessible by anyone who knows the password. There should be an acknowledgement before a device can connect to the organization’s corporate network. This could consist of requiring employees to register any device they want to connect to the network and implement security safeguards such as multi-factor authentication. You might also consider implementing a Mobile Device Management System (MDM) that functions like a global positioning system (GPS). These toe a fine line to privacy infringement, but there are MDM systems available that are less invasive.

 

2: Internet of Things (IoT) Devices

 

Wikipedia defines Internet of Things (IoT) as a “network of physical objects—’things’—that are embedded with sensors, software, and other technologies for the purpose of connecting and exchanging data with other devices and systems over the Internet.” While IoT devices include many of the popular smart devices that individuals use on a regular basis (watches, fitness trackers, alarms, biometric scanners), there is a growing use of these by organizations. For example, the healthcare industry uses IoT-connected sensors to improve the services they provide to patients.

The main security concern for IoT devices is the amount of data that is shared among interacting devices. According to a report by KPMG, 84% of IoT adopters have experienced a security breach. The advisory and audit firm offers the following three best practices for securing IoT devices:

  • Asset management – know the devices that connect to the organization’s network and the path they travel once they are outside the organization’s network.
  • Device Security – In addition to granting only authorized users access to business data using IoT devices, make sure these devices are protected by antivirus and encryption software, are kept updated with the lasts security software, and are monitored for suspicious activity.
  • create a vulnerability management program – “identify and fix weaknesses with a device”

 

3: Fifth Generation (5G) Technology

 

The growing use of IoT is stressing our mobile capabilities. The good news is fifth-generation wireless technology has arrived! Just as with its predecessors, this advancement in mobile communication offers faster download speeds, decreased latency, and more network capacity. The transition to 5G is just beginning and is predicted to reach full evolution by 2022.

Many of the cybersecurity risks associated with 5G networking will be addressed through the network’s builders. However, there are more responsibilities of IT departments. The increase in bandwidth that 5G provides also increases network monitoring tasks for IT departments. With data traveling much faster on the network, new strategies for monitoring the traffic will be necessary. 5G also transitions from a network that is based on hardware switching to one that relies on software digital routing. IT departments that are unable to keep up with the 5G advancements can expect an increased threat of distributed denial-of-service (DDoS), man-in-the-middle (MiTM), and botnet attacks.

 

4: Social Engineering

 

According to Verizon’s 2019 Data Breach Investigations Report, social engineering threat actions in data breaches have increased significantly more than any other type of threat in the past seven years. In the past, phishing (pretending to be someone else to persuade an individual to disclose their personal information) has been the most used form of social engineering.

The social engineering threats that are trending now include the following:

  • Smishing – Phishing via phone calls or text messages
  • SIM Swap – Fraudulently switching another individual’s mobile account information to gain access to bank and credit card accounts
  • Harpooning – Phishing by impersonating executives and using information from social sites
  • Pharming – Fraudulently installing malicious code on a PC or server. The code redirects any click to another fraudulent website without the user’s consent.
  • Deepfakes – Editing (using advanced AI technology) a legitimate video or voice clip for the purpose of acquiring personal information.
  • Vishing – impersonation via phone calls or voice message

Hopefully, your organization has already implemented email safeguards to detect and block suspected phishing communications.

Social engineering involves human interaction. The best safeguards are educating employees about the different types of social engineering tactics and how they should be cautious before responding to any type of communication, even if it appears to be from someone reputable. If possible, employees should use an alternate method to verify suspicious communications.

 

5: Bitcoin Ransomware

 

Using malevolent software for the purpose of blocking access to another’s system and requiring payment to unblock it is referred to as ransomware malware, or ransomware for short. This type of attack is often carried out by someone clicking a bad link that installs the ransomware on the system. The sophistication of the ransomware can vary. The most advanced types use encryption to prevent access to systems or files and require a decryption key. The latest form of requested payment for ransomware attacks is bitcoin because it is a digital currency that is quickly exchanged.

Ransomware is a serious problem. This was highlighted with the 2017 WannaCry ransomware attack that involved computer systems all over the world that had not applied a Microsoft software patch. Unfortunately, the trend is continuing. The most significant ransomware attacks as of June 2020 cost the victims more than $100 million to recover from the incidents.

Network and security monitoring software maker NetFort recommends the following five tasks to protect and recover from ransomware attacks:

  • Back up your data regularly
  • Make sure all systems that connect to the network have the most recent security updates
  • Implement anti-intrusion detection systems
  • Monitor network traffic for unusual activity
  • If a system is infected with ransomware, disconnect it from the network immediately and rebuild it

 

6: Smart Contracts

 

Blockchain, the technology that powers bitcoin, is being used in a variety of methods of exchange. Smart contracts are one of those. A smart contract is a daisy chain of encoded actions that are saved within a blockchain and digitally self-executing without the assistance of a third party such as a bank or attorney. Smart contracts are gaining popularity because of their transparency, speed, permanency, and non-editable characteristic. Although smart contracts are inherently secure (the data they contain are encoded), they are comprised of program code that is susceptible to vulnerabilities. The main security concerns with smart contracts are access control and undiscovered bugs in their programming code. One of the most newsworthy incidents occurred in 2017 when the code of a multi-signature wallet was exploited by a user by accident. The incident caused users of the wallet to lose more than $280 million because they were unable to withdraw funds from the digital wallet.

The best way to mitigate your risk with smart contracts is to:

  • Make sure the smart contract is 100% encoded (every record from start to finish). Access via private key should only be distributed to specific users.
  • Don’t lose your private key! Even better, your organization should consider engaging in smart contracts that use multi-access so that there is more than one point of failure.
  • Ensure the underlying code is bug free. This means to test, test, and test some more to make sure there are no vulnerabilities that malicious actors could take advantage of.

 

7: Insider Threat

 

An unfortunate trend that is increasing is that people who have or previously had legitimate access to an organization’s data may intentionally or unintentionally cause destructive actions. Insider threat occurs through multiple methods. An example of the significant damage an insider can cause is the ex-Cisco employee who caused $1.4 million in damages. The criminal left the company in 2018 and shortly thereafter installed malicious code from his old Google Cloud Platform account and subsequently deleted the nearly 500 virtual machines hosted by Cisco WebEx applications. Within two weeks, 16,000 WebEx accounts were deleted. In this case, the ex-employee somehow managed to maintain his access to Cisco’s cloud infrastructure after he left. It is not known how.

The Insider Threat Mitigation Guide  published by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency provides the following tips for establishing an effective inside threat mitigation program:

  • Identify and focus on those critical assets, data, and services that the organization defines as valuable
  • Monitor behavior to detect and identify trusted insiders who breach the organization’s trust
  • Assess threats to determine the individual level of risk of identified persons of concern
  • Manage the entire range of insider threats, including implementing strategies focused on the person of concern, potential victims, and/or parts of the organization vulnerable to or target by an insider threat
  • Engage individual insiders who are potentially on the path to a hostile, negligent, or damaging act to deter, detect, and mitigate

 

Conclusion

 

Is your IT department equipped to address the emerging cybersecurity threats? If you’re unsure, now is the time to determine your level of vulnerability and implement the necessary safeguards to ensure your organization’s assets are fully protected.

If you require assistance with assessing your needs and implementing the “right” IT security solutions for your organization, BACS can help. We are an experienced team of IT service professionals that work closely with clients to assess, develop, and implement security solutions that offer an ideal level of protection.

The Anatomy of Great Cybersecurity

The Anatomy of Great Cybersecurity

By | Data Protection, Security

If security professionals were asked to define the anatomy of great cybersecurity, it would likely be significantly different than a few years ago. IT departments are allocating more resources to improve their cybersecurity outlook. This is due in part to the large number of security breaches that have exposed critical data. The developers of the  Norton anti-virus software report that of the 3,800 publicly disclosed security breaches reported in the first six months of 2019, a record number of 4.1 billion records were exposed (more than a 50% increase over 2018 for the same time period). There is probably a lot more that are not publicly disclosed. While there isn’t a single “right” way to implement a cybersecurity strategy, there are areas of importance in which you should direct your focus.

Here are three key tale-tale signs of effective cybersecurity:

1: Leadership Buy-In

2: A Comprehensive Cybersecurity Framework

3: Security Awareness

Leadership Buy-In

As a security professional, your ideas about the best cybersecurity strategy for the organization are important to leadership (typically includes the board of directors, executive team, and security officers and managers). The weight that an organization places on cybersecurity begins at the top. This is because the top executives usually have the final authority to approve the cybersecurity budget that is appropriate for an organization’s needs. However, it’s not enough that you have the knowledge and a good picture of your organization’s cybersecurity stance. You must also effectively communicate this information to leadership, often for the purpose of persuading them.

Here are ideas to help you communicate your cybersecurity plan to leadership and obtain their buy-in:

  • Focus on providing metrics instead of explaining technical jargon.
  • Outline your recommendations. Make sure you provide multiple effective options that vary in cost. Explain the pros and cons of each option.
  • Explain how increasing the cybersecurity budget fits in with the organization’s goals. Focus on revenue cost savings, ROI, and customer satisfaction.
  • Emphasize any weaknesses that your analysis or an expert’s assessment has uncovered and the potential threats that your organization could become victim to if the weaknesses are not addressed.
  • Highlight security breaches of organizations that are similar to yours and the devastating results. If your organization isn’t one of the top organizations that are threatened most often (financial, healthcare, manufacturing, or government), leadership may not worry about security as much. Do your research and point out an organization that is similar to yours that has experienced a devastating breach. For example, if your organization is a gaming company, you could point out the data breach of mobile gaming producer Zynga that resulted in 218 million records of customers (the largest data hack of 2019).

Once you’ve prepared your list of ideas, make sure you also prepare answers to questions that leadership may have. Think of the pros and cons of the ideas you present to them and any other questions that may come up. It’s also a good idea to communicate with other cybersecurity professionals who have successfully obtained leadership buy-in and how they obtained it.

A Comprehensive Cybersecurity Framework

A cybersecurity plan must address the methods of protecting information assets. Since this involves a variety of components, a comprehensive cybersecurity framework is the best choice. When you are considering your framework, you should focus on how you want to handle potential threats. You want a framework that helps you understand your organization’s needs (assessment and analysis), provides components for implementing and managing risk controls and enables you to continually monitor your progress.

When you are considering the cybersecurity framework to implement in your organization, you should also check if there are any regulations specific to your organization or industry. An example is  the Healthcare Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) that provides security requirements for healthcare organizations.

To implement a comprehensive cybersecurity framework, you will likely combine multiple systems and controls. Here are five notable cybersecurity structures that are available for organizations:

 

National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Cybersecurity Framework

This framework was developed specifically for organizations that manage critical systems in the United States but identifies five elements that any organization can use for managing and mitigating their cybersecurity risks. The five elements include Identify, Protect, Detect, Respond, and Recover. NIST provides the framework as downloadable files from their website. They also provide additional resources.

 

Center for Internet Security (CIS) Controls

These 20 controls are prioritized best practices that CIS has developed to help organizations prevent cyber attacks. The controls are prioritized as basic, foundational, and organizational and are downloadable in their entirety in PDF or Microsoft Excel format. CIS provides information for implementing the 20 controls as well as other cybersecurity resources on their website.

 

Information technology — Security techniques — Information security management systems — Requirements (ISO/IEC 27001)

This compliance specification, which provides requirements for managing information management systems (IMS), was officially adopted into the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) in 2005 and has been modified over the years to address the advancements in cyber threats. Organizations can choose to simply follow the requirements or request an audit to become ISO 27001 certified. Meeting these requirements can help organizations develop a cybersecurity framework. Companies that meet the rigorous requirements can choose to request an audit to become ISO 27001-certified organizations. This is an added benefit that provides proof to leadership, customers, and partners that a company has met a high standard for cybersecurity and is serious about protecting its information assets.

 

Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) Cybersecurity Framework

In 2016, the FDIC announced this framework to provide guidance to banking organizations for mitigating cyber risks that are specific to the industry. According to a report by the Keeper Security firm, of the thousands of IT professionals they surveyed, two-thirds of the financial organizations experienced cyber-attacks. This framework identifies four areas of focus to reduce cybersecurity risks: Corporate Governance of Cybersecurity, Threat Intelligence, Security Awareness Training, and Patch-Management Programs.

The FDIC also lists other cybersecurity resources on their website. In January 2020, the FDIC issued the Joint Statement on Heightened Cybersecurity Risk document to “remind supervised financial institutions of sound cybersecurity risk management principles.” The document outlines six areas of focus: Risk Management, Identity, and Access Management, Network Configuration and System Hardening, Employee Training, Security Tools and Monitoring, and Data Protection.

 

Plan-Do-Check-Act (PCDA) Methodology

Wikipedia defines PCDA as “an iterative four-step management method used in business for the control and continuous improvement of processes and products.” It was part of the ISO 27001 compliance standard for many years and has been incorporated in a variety of other cybersecurity frameworks. Organizations can use this system to improve their security implementation by using four steps: Plan, Do, Check, and Act.

Security Awareness

Security awareness refers to the ability to identify a potential threat and take appropriate action to alleviate it. An effective cybersecurity strategy would be incomplete without a plan for establishing awareness in employees. According to a study by the information security firm Shred-It, employee negligence poses the greatest information security risk to organizations. If employees in the organization do not understand security risks and make bad choices, leadership buy-in, and implementing a comprehensive cybersecurity framework will have a limited effect. Creating an environment characterized by employees having security awareness involves providing employees the information they need to understand the cybersecurity landscape and educating them on the behavior that is best in that landscape.

The following are the ways your organization can increase security awareness:

  • Develop a training program that identifies the types of cybersecurity threats and provides best practices for preventing security issues (recommended behavior when using email, social media, and company assets). The training should be mandatory for all employees and should be repeated and updated on a regular basis.
  • Make security policies (part of your cybersecurity framework) easily accessible by employees. Adding hardcopies to new hire packages is a good idea.
  • Send regular reminder notifications about cybersecurity best practices via email and text messages.
  • Hang up posters and security reminders in common areas of the organization.
  • Incentivize good employee behavior. For example, reward an employee that comes across a potential phishing email and performs the steps outlined in the training manual or security policy.

Next Steps

Developing and implementing an effective cybersecurity strategy can be a daunting task. Not only does it require resources, but it also requires an understanding of your organization’s needs in relation to the current cybersecurity environment. Developing an effective cybersecurity strategy shouldn’t be a singleton task. Engage your security team and other members of the organizations to perform specific tasks. If you decide to reach out to a security firm for assistance, choose one that is experienced in all facets of cybersecurity.

BACS specializes in providing a full spectrum of IT services to companies of all sizes. They can help you assess your security requirements and develop the most effective strategy to mitigate your organization’s security risks.

data protection - IT security services

TECH TALK: 3 Steps to Developing an Effective Cybersecurity Strategy

By | Data Protection, Security

Has the task of developing an effective cybersecurity strategy landed on your To-Do list? As the average worldwide cost of a data breach is estimated as $3.92 million (from The Cost of a Data Breach Report for by Ponemon Institute), it’s an important responsibility for all organizations that manage digital data. A cybersecurity strategy can be defined as a set of policies that outline your organization’s plan for mitigating the cyber risks to its assets. The key then to creating an effective strategy is aligning the plan to the specific needs of your organization. You can scour the Internet for a model to use for your organization’s strategy, but know that for it to be effective, you’re going to have to make it very personal to your organization. How do you do that?

Here are three basic steps:

1: Define Your Threats

2: Inventory Your Assets

3: Outline Your Protection Measures

 

1: Define Your Threats

The first step of developing a successful cybersecurity strategy is to identify the threats to your organization. If you’re not sure what the threats are, consider the general threats to all businesses, threats common to your industry, and the threats that are currently gaining momentum.

  • General Cyber Threats to Your Business

The technology company Cisco acknowledges the following six types of cyberattacks:

Malware

Malware, formally known as malicious software, refers to a group of computer software that cybercriminals design to gain access to a system and cause havoc, usually in the form of damaging or disabling the system. The most common types of malware are adware, ransomware, viruses, worms, and spyware.

Phishing

Cybercriminals use phishing attacks to obtain sensitive data such as social security numbers, credit card numbers, and passwords. This type of attack occurs via email or any other means of digital communication.

Man-in-the-Middle (MitM)

Just as it sounds, a MitM attack occurs when a cybercriminal gets in the middle of an exchange of data between two parties, such as a computer and a server, for the purpose of performing malicious acts.

Denial-of-service

One of the most dangerous types of threats to businesses is a distributed denial-of-service attack. A cybercriminal commits this threat by gaining access to a system, often by exploiting a vulnerability, with the goal is to overload it to the point of blocking people (your employees and/or customers) from accessing the system.

SQL injection

A SQL injection attack refers to malicious SQL code that is created to access and cause havoc to a vulnerable SQL database.

Zero-day exploit

A zero-day exploit is a cyber threat that is designed to exploit a vulnerability that has not yet been discovered and patched by the designer.

DNS tunneling

The domain name system (DNS) protocol is a legitimate method of exchanging data across the Internet. Cybercriminals can manipulate the DNS protocol to create a path or “tunnel” for infiltrating a network and exposing sensitive data.

 

  • Threats to Your Industry

You should also consider cyber threats that are specific to your organization’s industry. The following are common industries and the threats that they often face.

Financial

Organizations that handle financial transactions are big targets for cyber criminals. Insight, a cyber intelligence company, reported findings of  that malware attacks in 2019 were targeted more often in a specific area—financial institutions (25.7 percent). Malware isn’t the only threat to these organizations. According to a report by technology consulting firm Mindsight, the top three cyber threats to the financial industry are web application attacks, DDoS attacks, and backdoors and supply-chain attacks.

Healthcare

Healthcare companies are a common target for cyber criminals because of the large amounts of personal data they manage. The Fact Sheet of the Cybersecurity Act of 2015 lists the following as common threats to healthcare organizations: Ransonware, email phishing attacks, loss or theft of equipment or data, internal, accidental or intentional data loss, and attacks against connected medical devices that may affect patient safety are common threats to these industries.

Government

The IT systems of governmental organizations, federal agencies in particular, are responsible for managing critical infrastructures and are often targeted by cyber criminals. According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, the Department of Homeland Security received more than 35,000 security incidents reports from federal executive branch civilian agencies in 2017. Of those incidents, the largest number (31%) were from an unidentified source. The remaining incidents were from improper usage (22%), email/phishing (21%), loss or theft of equipment (12%), web-based attack (11%), multiple attack vectors (2%), and attrition, external/removable media, and physical cause made up 1%.

Manufacturing

The infrastructures that are critical to keeping countries moving smoothly require manufacturing operations. Cyber criminals know this and have been increasing their threats on this industry. According to a study by Deloitte and the Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation (MAPI) nearly 40% of the surveyed manufacturing companies were affected by cyber incidents in the prior 12 months, and 38% of those impacted indicated cyber breaches resulted in damages of $1 million or less.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) identifies the following threats to manufacturing: Identity theft, phishing, spear phishing, spam, and compromised webpages

 

  • Trending Threats

As the world changes, we see old cyber threats improve and new ones emerge. Sometimes, we see threats increase on the radar of cyber intelligence trackers because of specific events. In 2020, for example, the COVID-19 global pandemic was associated with the following three significant cyber attacks, as reported by MonsterCloud:

Corporate ransomware attacks

Large corporations are often the target of ransomware attacks. During the COVID-19 pandemic, cyber criminals have been threatening doxware (extortionware), which is a type of ransomware that involves a cyber criminal threatening to sell or publish sensitive data.

Research and vaccines

As companies are in the midst of developing a vaccine for COVID-19, cybercriminals are increasing their attacks to obtain information to sell to other companies and governments wanting it.

Social engineering (Twitter)

In the summer of 2020, a teenage hacker managed to scam high-profile Twitter users out of more than $100,000. He was arrested, but not before obtaining $100,000 from his victims.

An additional threat that many companies neglect to acknowledge is within their organization. In the article “The Biggest Cybersecurity Threats Are Inside Your Company” , insider threats account for 60% of all threats to an organization.

2: Inventory Your Assets

Once you understand the threats to your organization, you should then understand your assets that could be threatened. The plan you develop will be effective only if you understand the assets you need to protect. The best way to learn this information is to perform an inventory. The National Initiative For Cybersecurity Career and Studies (NICCS) defines an asset as “A person, structure, facility, information, and records, information technology systems and resources, material, process, relationships, or reputation that has value.”

Here are a few examples of common assets within an organization:

  • Data that flows through your organization. This includes personal data (sensitive data about employees, vendors, and third-party companies and the work data the organization obtains or produces.
  • Physical assets or endpoints that employees use connect to your organization’s network.
  • Network that employees connect to.
  • Infrastructure resources such as databases and servers that store your data.
  • Software that employees use in the company (note the identifying information as well as dates).

A simple spreadsheet is a good way to manage the assets, but it shouldn’t be a laundry list of your assets. You should include details that help you determine the critical value of the asset. This includes adding information about its intended use, how it is accessed, by whom is it accessed, and an assessment of its value. You should devise a system for noting those assets that are critical to the business.

3: Outline Your Protection Measures

Once you understand the threats to your organization and the most critical assets you need to protect from those threats, you are ready to specify how your organization plans to protect its assets from cyber threats.

The following are examples of types of cybersecurity protection methods referenced in an effective cybersecurity strategy:

  • Training to develop cybersecurity awareness among all employees.
  • Security policies for every type of asset (examples listed below):
    • Perimeter security such as network security includes firewall and anti-virus protection, and encryption
    • Endpoint security that protects the systems that connect to your network
    • Application security methods such as sandboxing and encryption
    • Password security that requires employees to use strong passwords
    • Email security measures such as multi-factor authentication and email security gateway protection
    • Remote access security measures such as virtual private networks (VPNs) and end-to-end encryption
  • Insurance that protects your organization from liability should you suffer a cyber attack

Next Steps

The information presented above will help you develop your cybersecurity strategy. Keep in mind that your cybersecurity strategy is not a document that you develop and forget about. It should be a dynamic document that you revisit often to ensure it is up to date.

Seeking the assistance of a cybersecurity expert is a good plan of action to ensure that your cybersecurity strategy addresses all the needs of your organization. BACS is an IT services company that partners with organizations to help them solidify effective security strategies that are based on in-depth analysis.

data protection - IT security services

Reaping the Benefits of Proactive Data Protection

By | Data Protection, IT Support, Security

The rapid proliferation of digital technologies offers businesses vast potential for expansion and innovation, but it also creates a host of new security risks. As the growth in the number of connected devices continues to accelerate, one major challenge is determining the optimum level of security for certain types of data. Some assets require minimal protection while others may need more robust security measures.

Data breaches represent the most immediate need for effective enterprise data protection. Better protection means better compliance and reduced monetary losses and less risk of reputational damage. Improved security processes are also critical for emerging business priorities, including digital transformation, regulatory compliance, and privacy and reporting requirements.

While building an effective data protection strategy can be challenging, the effort can deliver immense business value on multiple levels. A robust data protection and privacy plan can help build and maintain stronger customer relationships, enhance brand value, and reduce the potential for non-compliance and its associated penalties. Whether through a targeted attack or an internal security lapse, businesses are at risk for potentially crippling loss of revenue through a single data breach.

Building a strong security foundation requires advanced tools and technology and an organizational culture that not only protects data and minimizes risk, but helps improve business agility, responsiveness, and transparency. It starts with a detailed assessment of your IT infrastructure and overall security requirements.

 

  • Assessment: First, it’s essential that you build a solid understanding of your data, including how it is stored, how it is accessed, how critical it is to your business, and the potential risks if were lost or stolen. What types of data are most vital to your business? What is the level of confidentiality of the data you manage? What are your current methods of storage and will this change in the future? What are the protocols for data access? This insight will provide the framework for defining your security requirements and shaping a solution that strikes an optimum balance between data control, protection and access flexibility.
  • Controls: The next step is to implement higher-level controls. These are enterprise data protection and security tools that will help protect data when it’s being accessed or used. Strong access control and user authentication methods help ensure only approved users can obtain access to your networks and data. Encryption is also critical to safeguard data and provide additional reinforcement barriers to network-based attacks.
  • Monitoring: At the center of a proactive strategy is the ability to record events and execute actions based on those activities. This is where ongoing monitoring can help, providing important insights that can help safeguards against gaps in application and perimeter defenses by notifying you of issues before any serious damage occurs. Automated monitoring tools track data access and usage details and provide important insight into areas of risk and vulnerability, helping to improve the likelihood that a potential intrusion will be quickly identified.

 

Implementing the right technology is critical, but it’s not the whole solution. The users who interface with IT systems must also be educated and instructed in how to perform their tasks. And, the policies and procedures that define the actions must be properly designed and consistently enforced.

While there is no silver bullet to protect against all threats, new techniques and innovative approaches to blocking malware and securing endpoints can help safeguard your digital assets without hampering productivity or mobility.  Following some proven best practice measures can help protect against a barrage of new and emerging threats.

 

  • Strengthen access controls: Once an access point is compromised, attackers will often reuse the password to gain access to other systems. Authentication will help obstruct these attempts no matter how the hacker gains access to the password.
  • Utilize encryption: Encryption helps safeguards information in transit and on the endpoint devices, preventing attackers from copying or transferring that data. For even greater protection, consider full-disk encryption, which it encrypts the complete hard drive, safeguarding the data as well as the applications and operating system.
  • Tighten controls: Application controls can help prevent prohibited users from launching or downloading applications on endpoint devices. They also help shield the network from possible security threats with their ability to block departing employees from access to critical business systems and applications.
  • Use proactive scanning. Vulnerability scans provide reports on detected gaps in security and recommendations for security patches or vendor solutions. These reports describe the types of risks found and a potential cause for each area of vulnerability.
  • Ensure business continuity. In the event of a disaster or security breach, you need to be able to recover quickly. Work with a qualified security expert to assess your current environment and develop a disaster recovery plan that safeguards infrastructure and data and protects against ongoing threats
  • Monitor lifecycles. Network monitoring tools can help confirm the health of software and firmware throughout system startup, operation and during sensitive upgrade periods. Software updates and security patches should be delivered automatically by default.
  • Implement advanced threat detection. Advanced detection techniques, including machine learning and analytical tools, can help identify irregularities and weaknesses in ways that aren’t possible with traditional network security These tools analyze that data in real time to correlate events and spot individual anomalies or patterns of behavior that may indicate a security breach.
  • Define policies and procedures. Usage policies define what behaviors are and aren’t acceptable. Work with your internal team to define and implement policies and practices based on your usage preferences and requirements or mandates specific to your particular market.

As cybersecurity becomes more complex, many organizations lack the resources or knowledge they need to mount an effective defense. That’s where working with an experienced security expert can play a vital role, helping you define your business requirements, identify data priorities, and implement a security framework that aligns with your business goals.

The good news is that with the right mix of defensive measures, smart policies and sound technology planning, achieving a secure IT environment is possible. Establishing a secure and well-protected IT environment in today’s world requires a proactive approach—assessing vulnerabilities, updating technology and security defenses, and monitoring for vulnerabilities.

This is where additional proactive measures can prove critical, providing reinforcing layers of defense as part of a comprehensive security strategy.

 

  • Create a culture in which people talk about security, and make security a clear priority. Teach users about secure online practices such as how to recognize potential threats and phishing attempt. Check their security awareness with in-house hacking attempts and interactive security activities.
  • Simplify and streamline security with solutions that consolidate authentication, encryption and advanced threat protection into a single security suite. Compared with point tools, these integrated systems require a fraction of the IT resources required to maintain effective threat protection.
  • Deploy updated anti-malware to help prevent malicious software such as ransomware and viruses from sneaking into your network, and make sure your anti-malware software is consistently updated with the latest definitions.
  • Keeping patches current―make sure your practices include automated patching to help enforce policies and keep systems up to date and enforced with the latest software patching.

 

  • Make backups of all your data and software on a storage device that is not attached to your network or computer. Confirm that all your backups are operating properly and test them on a regular basis to make sure they will perform when you need them.

Cybercriminals are constantly looking for new ways to break through your defenses, which reinforces the need to create a strong culture of security knowledge, awareness and responsiveness.

Every IT environment is different, and hackers are constantly refining their techniques. Therefore, it’s imperative that you stay up to date on the latest techniques and remain diligent in your effort to shield your business and safeguard your infrastructure from today’s relentless barrage of cyberattacks.

A comprehensive data protection and regulatory compliance strategy is no longer a flexible option, but rather a must-have plan for businesses of all sizes. Although building an effective IT security framework is a long-term process, businesses cannot afford to wait. Plans are being developed today, and proactive organizations are already taking action now to help ensure their IT environment is ready to safely and securely support the rapid proliferation of connected infrastructure and devices.

Organization’s Cybersecurity Strategy.

Undeniable Proof That You Need to Improve Your Organization’s Cybersecurity Strategy

By | Security

Are you a new chief information security officer (CISO) or other senior cybersecurity officers in the process of evaluating your organization to determine if effective cybersecurity strategies exist? You undoubtedly are aware that a comprehensive cybersecurity plan will provide your organization with the best protection. However, the decision to improve cybersecurity measures requires resources that likely require the approval of the decisionmakers in the organization. While these individuals understand the importance of cybersecurity, they are careful about funding it without having sufficient proof.

The following are five security issues that can make your organization vulnerable to cybersecurity problems. These issues are considered serious and should make a good case for improving your organization’s cybersecurity situation.

  1. There are no threat detection or response systems in place.
  2. Employees use public networks to access company information.
  3. There is no data governance.
  4. High-priority assets aren’t protected.
  5. Employees aren’t provided security guidelines.

1. There are no threat detection or response systems in place.

The best cybersecurity defense for an organization is to see threats coming in and prevent them from unleashing a malicious attack. If your organization doesn’t have systems in place to monitor your network traffic for suspicious activity and react accordingly, you are in a vulnerable position. The really bad news about cyber threats is not that they can infiltrate your network, but that they can infiltrate your network and hang around to continuously wreak havoc on your network. This is important. Just one cyber attack can change a business forever. The good news is there are a variety of measures you can take to detect unauthorized intruders and deal with them appropriately.

There are several methods of detecting and preventing threats that range in cost and complexity. Organizations typically use a combination of the following:

  • Anti-virus/malware software – These basic solutions are easily deployed on all devices in an organization and can detect known viruses/malware. You can also specify settings for your needs. You usually have access to logs that you can use to investigate an issue further or determine if there is a developing trend.
  • Firewall – If employees in your organization connect to the Internet, a firewall is one of the best methods of protection. This system works like anti-virus/malware software but is specifically designed to monitor your network traffic and prevent suspicious and malicious activity. You should install a firewall on work devices that employees use to work remotely.
  • Intrusion detection system (IDS) – This system provides an advanced form of network monitoring. It is highly configurable to allow you to specify the level of monitoring, detection, and response your organization requires. This type of system usually offers a lot visibility into the activity on your network so that you can dynamically make changes, if necessary.
  • Endpoint detection and response (EDR) – This system works like an IDS, except it is designed for endpoints.

2. Employees use public networks to access company information.

Public Wi-Fi is a convenient tool when an employee must work outside your organization and the (hopefully) protected network. However, these public networks are often unsecure. While the manager of a public Wi-Fi can add security features, there is no guarantee. A case in point is the WeWork security breach. This breach involved the commercial real estate company’s Wi-Fi that was reported by a tech savvy customer in 2015 as being unsecure and exposing personal information, including financial documents from an insurance company, belonging to users. Four years after that initial report, it was determined that the Wi-Fi remained unchanged. Scans of the Wi-Fi traffic were analyzed, and it was determined that nearly 700 computer systems had accessed the public network and a large amount of data was exposed.

If employees in your organization must use a public network, share with them the following security tips from GlobalSign, a trusted identity and security solution provider:

  • Double check you’re accessing the correct network
  • Install antivirus software on your system
  • Enable firewall protection on your system
  • Disable file sharing on your system
  • Use a virtual private network (VPN) or limit your visits to websites that are encrypted (use HTTPS)

3. There is no data governance.

Wikipedia defines data governance as a “data management concept concerning the capability that enables an organization to ensure that high data quality exists throughout the complete lifecycle of the data, and data controls are implemented that support business objectives.” In terms of cybersecurity, this refers to performing an assessment of your organization’s data to obtain a thorough understanding of security risks to develop appropriate security solutions. Data governance is an important exercise for you because only when you have a thorough understanding of your data are you able to develop effective cybersecurity strategies.

An real-life example that shows the importance of data governance is the Equifax 2017 data breach, which is considered one of the worst data breaches of all time. This cyberattack involved a cybercriminal gaining access to Equifax servers and extracting the personal information for more than 145 million consumers. They were able to exploit a vulnerability that Equifax had overlooked, set up an encrypt channel, and run 9000 queries to obtain the personal information they desired.

Developing security policies can be an exhausting task, especially when you are starting from a weak cybersecurity position. The process consists of assessing your current situation and devising a security plan that covers all the assets in your organization. A popular model that organizations follow is referred to as CIA Triad. This model is based on three principles:

  • Confidentiality
  • Integrity
  • Availability

According to the CIA Triad, all data is susceptible to cyber threats based on or more of the above principles. When you evaluate your data assets using these three principles, you can better map out effective cybersecurity strategies.

4. High-priority assets aren’t protected.

A significant part of establishing data governance is prioritizing your organization’s assets. Although all the assets in your organization are important, some have greater value than others. All the assets in your organization should be assigned a priority. This includes software, hardware, and accounts. Understand that you’re not just creating a list. As mentioned in the discussion about data governance, you need to understand the risks that are associated with your critical data and determine the best strategy to mitigate those risks. Depending on the core industry in which your organization belongs, there may be compliance regulations that you must adhere to protect your critical assets, as well as employee and customer personal information.

In addition to limiting the users who have access, protecting your most critical assets should involve the following:

  • Implementing two-factor password authentication
  • Using complex, unique passwords and change them often
  • Using encryption to protect the data as it travels in and out of your network
  • Applying security patches immediately
  • Setting up automatic backups and save in a location that is separate from other assets
  • When not in use, storing critical hardware in a secure location
  • Installing monitoring, detection, and recovery software on the systems that access critical data

5. Employees aren’t provided security guidelines.

The prevalence of cyberattacks headlining news articles might lead you to think that the employees in your organization are knowledgeable about basic security measures they should employ when handling the organization’s data.  Symantec’s 2019 Internet Security Threat Report indicates this is unfortunately not the case. According to their report, spear-phishing emails (malicious emails that appear from trustworthy contacts) were the most common method of attack. Cybercriminals are likely targeting an area where they are most successful.

There are also numerous cyberattacks that demonstrate the importance of training employees about cybersecurity and the role they play to keep your organization’s critical data safe. An example is the 2018-2019 data breach of the bodybuilding.com website. The staff members of the online fitness shop received a phishing email, but it only took the action of one who clicked a link in the email to create an opening for a malicious attack that consisted of the cybercriminal accessing personal customer information. It reportedly took eight months for the company to learn about the attack.

Training programs are a great method for teaching employees the following security best practices:

  • Use strong passwords
  • Change passwords often
  • Avoid phishing and other scams
  • Never leave company assets unattended
  • Shun using public networks to access company data

Final Thoughts

If you’ve learned that one or more of the serious security problems listed above apply to your organization, your next step should be to share your findings with the decisionmakers in your organization and obtain their buy-in to implement policies to improve the security outlook of the organization. It’s a daunting task that you shouldn’t handle on your own. BACS is an IT company that specializes in developing effective cybersecurity solutions for companies of all sizes and across a wide variety of industries. Their expertise covers the spectrum of cybersecurity, which allows them to satisfy the specific needs of their clients.

Contact Us for a FREE Security Assessment

Managed IT services - IT security services

Managed Security Service Providers – Choosing The Right IT Security Vendor

By | IT Support, Security

As more and more employees are working from home in today’s environment, creating a secure network for a multitude of vulnerable devices is more vital than ever. Many businesses are turning to managed security service providers in order to handle all of their cybersecurity operations. There are thousands of managed security service providers on the market who promise the world. 

 

How can you know who is for real and who is fake?

Business owners may believe that every managed security provider more or less provides the same service. That statement could not be further from the truth. IT security vendors offer different packages, products, and services. Those without a background in IT will have difficulty discerning one managed security provider from another. They will not be able to properly vet their offerings and may end up choosing a vendor who is not the right fit. 

Thankfully, we are here to show you exactly what you should be looking for when choosing the right IT security vendor. These are some of the most basic criteria and questions to ask when reaching out to managed service security providers. 

 

Experience in Your Industry

There are vastly different cybersecurity regulations and considerations depending on the industry. For example, the healthcare industry has to deal with complex HIPPA laws. Your company does not want an MSSP that specializes in the banking industry if you have to deal with confidential patient information. Finding an MSSP with vast experience in your industry will give you confidence that they can meet your needs. But, some IT security vendors may be tempted to lie about their experience to get your business. 

 

Get references from other companies in your industry.

The vendor that you should be considering should be able to provide plenty of references to other companies that they have worked with. Testimonials are great, but speaking directly to another company will give you peace of mind. If they are doing a great job with another company in your industry, you will have the confidence to choose them as your MSSP. 

Additionally, your company needs a managed security provider that will be able to cater to your individual needs. 

 

A Customized Solution for Your Needs

A one-size-fits-all solution is not going to cut it in today’s world. Hackers are becoming more sophisticated by the day and are working to break down today’s cybersecurity solutions. Your security needs are different from nearly every other company’s. A big red flag would be a pitch about a generic solution. Their team likely does not understand your needs and are attempting to put a bandaid on a bullet wound. 

 

What are they going to do for your company? 

Good, honest communication will go a long way in creating a relationship that works for both you and your vendor. The right IT security vendor will be honest with you and your company. They should be able to showcase how they are going to add value to your company and outline the steps they are going to take. This will be a customized solution that will cater to your specific needs. 

What is their Plan When Something Goes Wrong?

We all want to believe that a managed security service provider will be able to defend against 100% of all cybersecurity attacks. But in reality, there will likely be a time when your company has been compromised by hackers. When that happens, your managed security service provider should have a customized plan of attack for your company. 

Here are a few questions you should ask when reaching out to potential vendors:

  • What is their plan and how detailed is it?
  • Are they transparent? 
  • Do they have a team dedicated to dealing with breaches? 
  • How do we prevent the issue from happening again going forward?

Mistakes are bound to happen. Learning from them and taking actionable steps to prevent them from happening again separates good MSSPs from great MSSPs. 

 

A Long-Term Relationship

Your company needs a long-term relationship with a managed service security provider. The worst thing that could happen is you choose an IT security vendor and they end up going out of business within a few months. This would lead to a massive headache for your company. You will have to start the vendor vetting process all over again and it will make the transition to the next MSSP even more difficult. Do not be afraid to ask for assurances that your vendor will be around for years to come. 

 

This is a partnership

You are partnering with an IT security vendor, this is more than just purchasing a tool from a company. Your MSSP is responsible for protecting your data, network, customers, and your staff. This needs to be clear to all parties involved. You and your MSSP need to work together in order to achieve the goals of your business. Your MSSP will be right by your side as your business continues to grow and your needs change. 

 

BACS is the Right IT Security Vendor

We create a tailored solution for your organization that will meet all of your specific needs.  We will gladly provide references to our happy customers who we have worked with for years. Our team will handle any cybersecurity crisis in a timely manner, so you can get back to running your business. If we are not the best fit for your company, we will happily recommend another MSSP who will be able to better service your business. 

 

Reach out to BACS today to learn more about how we can keep you and your business safe. Our team is dedicated to adhering to the highest cybersecurity standards and providing your team with the tools to keep your data safe and secure. 

Contact Us for a FREE Security Assessment

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.

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.

Essential Security Measures Every Business - Mobile Computing

Essential Security Measures Every Business Must Put In Place With Mobile Computing

By | Security

Prevention is always better than cure. This statement might sound like a cliché, but preventing a disaster is much better than dealing with the repercussions. Mobile Computing is no different. It is essential to put stringent security measures to avoid a disaster of your computer systems.

Mobile Computing, also known as wireless computing, is an impressive technology that permits computer transmission of data wirelessly or via the internet. It has revolutionized how we do business today. It has also improved access and efficiency, reduced costs, and made business operations very convenient. All these benefits can turn sour if you do not have a robust security system against data breach, data loss, or hacking.

Modern technology is advancing at a rocket pace. Similarly, thieves, cyber-terrorist, and hackers are also improving their game to grab any chance they get. If you are sloppy with mobile devices, you might encounter the wrath of these cybercriminals.

If you have a large team of employees using wireless computing, it becomes even riskier to your entire system. The chances are that employees might misplace their mobile gadgets or download the hacking Trojans that will invade your system.

I am sure you have heard instances where individuals have lost huge chunks of wealth through hacking. In numerous cases, news of the data breach has made the headlines in our newspapers and mass media. To avoid such incidents in your firm, you need to adopt the following essential security measures.

 

Instigate A Mobile Device Policy

One of the first steps you should undertake if you are considering the use of wireless computing in your business is implementing a mobile gadget policy. This preventative measure is essential if you and your employees are accessing emails, company information, and financial records using personal mobile gadgets. Family members, friends, or acquaintances of your employees can easily access their devices. You should, therefore, develop a policy that offers guidelines on how the employees can use their mobile gadgets when they are working remotely.

In case employees leave, the company should have measures that ensure that the company’s information will be secured. They should also ensure that information can easily be erased and cleaned up from devices for protection or theft. The client or critical data like credit details should always be secured, and out of reach since the consequences or misuse are significant and expensive. There should be a policy that restricts the employees from using the company’s devices for personal usage, rooting, or tampering.

 

Encrypt your Mobile Gadgets

It would significantly help if you encrypted the mobile gadgets with a password for data security. Encryption ensures that unauthorized persons cannot access data without a unique encryption key. Even when you lose a mobile device, you would not worry about a data breach.

Always Update Your Security Software

The rocket pace of technology comes with the accelerated emergence of threats. Thousands of new threats can emerge almost daily. If your software is outdated, it might not be able to fight against the surge of these new threats. Your mobile gadgets security setting should be updated as frequently as possible. Having an automatic update protocol for your employees will assist in ensuring devices remains up to date throughout.

Prohibit Your Staff from Downloading Unauthorized Files and Software

Cybercriminals are known to invade systems by introducing Trojan files and software. Barring employees from downloading software and data from unknown sources will prevent employees from unknowingly being duped into downloading malicious applications or files that can invade your systems.

 

Have A Backup System For Mobile Devices

I am sure you have, in one instance, lost an important contact or a file and lost it for good. Having backup systems saves you the pain of losing valuable information. Mobile gadgets can be lost or damaged when they have critical business information. Backup systems will come in handy to restore all that information. Cloud backup is becoming popular, and most businesses are backing up their data in the online cloud. It would help if you also considered sourcing for professional cloud systems for your business.

Implement A Remote Wiping Protocol

Remote wiping is an excellent way of protecting your company from data breaches in case of lost or stolen mobile devices. The remote wiping protocol prevents the retrieval of essential information regarding your business from the lost or stolen device. This security measure ensures that sensitive data cannot be accessed.

 

Implement Strong Password and Passcodes Protocol

Strong passwords are necessary for protecting unauthorized access to information. Employees should have passwords that cannot be easily memorized or guessed. An excellent password should contain numbers, capital letters, lowercase letters, and special characters. The length of the password should at least be eight characters as longer passwords provide more security to your device.

Educate your Employees on Cloud Computing Security

The saying ‘an informed person is a powerful person’ shows the need to be informed. If your employees are informed about cloud computing and the risks and threats involved, they will surely exercise caution when using mobile gadgets. You should conduct regular training and sensitization that keeps your staff informed and up to date with computing threats.

Are you using the above essential measures to secure your business? If you have not implemented these measures yet and you are using wireless computing, know you might be holding a ticking bomb that can explode at any time.

You don’t need to worry if you don’t know how to implement all of these measures. Our process involves documenting all mobile devices accessing your company, detailing your cloud software system, and formulating a backup protocol that protects data stored in third-party software. This thorough process will help you avert cloud-computing threats by securing the mobile devices of your employees.

Should you Invest in Cybersecurity

10 Signs You Should Invest in Cybersecurity

By | Security

With the increasing number of data breaches in the news, you or the decisionmakers in your organization may be weighing the benefits of investing in cybersecurity. As a security leader in your organization, you know the importance of protecting your organization’s digital assets but also know that the costs can be substantial. If you’re like most security leaders, you have the dilemma of trying to implement an effective security model with a limited budget. Instead of applying inadequate security solutions with gaps of protection, consider persuading the decisionmakers to increase your budget as appropriate. You may be apprehensive to do so but neglecting to provide sufficient security protection for your organization can be more costly than increasing your budget. According to the IBM 2019 Cost of a Data Breach Report, the average data breach costs an organization $3.2 million. If you’re motivated to approach your decisionmakers, before you approach them, conduct a risk assessment to determine the needs of your organization and the estimated budget necessary to invest in an applicable security model.

During your risk assessment, here are 10 signs that you need to invest in cybersecurity:

  1. You don’t have security policies.
  2. The structure of your organization has significantly changed.
  3. Your industry is heavily targeted.
  4. Your industry has new cybersecurity regulations.
  5. Your network downtime is costly.
  6. You don’t have an employee training program.
  7. Employees receive a lot of spam emails.
  8. Your security team is overworked.
  9. You are using outdated security solutions.
  10. Your organization has experienced a security incident.

1. You don’t have security policies.

You should develop a formal security policy that outlines the key assets and technologies that your organization uses and defines the protocols for securing each one. The basic elements to address in the policy are application security management, network security management, and remote security management. A best practice is to align the protocols with the five elements of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) cybersecurity framework: identify, protect, detect, respond, recover.

2. The structure of your organization has changed.

As your business grows, so should your security solutions. Moving data to the Cloud, employing remote workers, or implementing a new BYOD policy are changes that can increase the entry points to your data. These changes require additional solutions to address the increase in network access and methods of access. Moving data to the Cloud is especially significant because your data has moved to a location with less visibility. There may also be multiple third parties involved in managing your data.

3. Your industry is heavily targeted.

All organizations should implement security protections. However, there are organizations that should seriously consider investing in cybersecurity because of their industry. Cybercriminals tend to seek targets with the greatest impact. According to security certification and training firm Infosec, the following industries are targeted most often:

  • Healthcare
  • Manufacturing
  • Financial services
  • Government agencies
  • Education

4. Your industry has new cybersecurity regulations.

The continual increase in security breaches has resulted in regulations becoming more prevalent. If your organization has regulations, it’s a foregone conclusion that you should invest in cybersecurity. In most cases, regulations are designed to ensure that organizations with a greater security threat are implementing adequate security protocols to protect their clients. Security regulations are also executed to ensure that organizations employ a security policy that includes response and recovery components that expeditiously communicate information about a data breach to all affected parties. The New York State legislature passed the SHIELD Act in 2019. Other states have passed similar laws. Governments in other countries have also passed security laws. TCDI, a company that develops security software, provides a list of relevant cybersecurity regulations.

5. Your network downtime is costly.

Network downtime affects an organization’s bottom line. If the costs to restore your organization’s network are increasing, that is a red flag that you need to rethink your security model. Common reasons that a network goes down include outdated software, applying a patch or update that breaks existing software, and human error such as network misconfigurations. These tasks may seem mundane, but negligence in carrying them out is a common source of cyberattacks. According to a report by Ponemon Institute, 60% of the respondents to their survey stated that their security breaches were caused by neglecting to apply an available patch. We’ve already discussed the average cost of a security breach.

6. You don’t have an employee training program.

Employees are considered the first line of defense for cybersecurity because their behavior is linked to key entry points to the network.

The following are examples of improper employee behavior that can lead to an organization experiencing a security incident:

  • Responding to a phishing email
  • Losing a company laptop
  • Using weak passwords to access company applications
  • Downloading unapproved software onto a mobile device used for work

Developing a comprehensive training program that teaches employees proper security behavior and stresses the importance of practicing that behavior (and repeating that information often) will help to mitigate your organization’s security risk.

Here are some tips published in Government Technology magazine to help you create an effective cybersecurity awareness program:

  • Choose interactive versus static material
  • Focus on changing behavior and establishing a culture of cybersecurity
  • Make the training a requirement for everyone
  • Make the training fun
  • Solicit feedback from the trainees
  • Use a variety of methods, such as emails, newsletters, and posters to keep the message in front of employees

7. Employees receive a lot of spam emails.

Malware is becoming a common nuisance in the workplace. A highlight of the Cisco’s 2020 CISO Benchmark Report is that malware (and other types of malicious spam) occupies the first seat on the list of cited causes of security breaches. Ransomware is a type of malware that locks an individual or company from an asset and then requires payment to regain access to that asset. This type of threat is becoming more common due to the popularity of digital currency. Ransomware is particularly dangerous to organizations because it is responsible for causing the “most destructive amount of downtime (more than 17 hours)” according to the CISO report.

8. Your security team is overworked.

Cybercriminals are constantly looking for ways to infiltrate systems. A non-existent or stagnate cybersecurity budget can lead to problems. One of the side effects of implementing a cybersecurity model that is insufficient for your organization’s needs is that your security team must do more work. The tale-tell signs of an overworked team include constant network problems, significant amounts of overtime, and low morale.

9. You are using outdated security solutions.

Are your security policies full of manual processes that your IT team performs on a regular basis? Depending on manual processes for your security solutions creates a reliance on human input, which is a  common cause of security issues. This is more of an issue when the manual processes are performed for high-priority assets in your organization. A better plan is to use other solutions, such as automation, for your most critical assets and save manual processes, if you must keep them, for less critical assets. You should also determine if there are any compliance regulations that require you to use a specific level of security.

10. Your organization has experienced a security incident.

Security incidents, regardless of impact, are serious matters. They compromise the privacy of your organization’s employees and client’s, taint your reputation, and cost money (usually a lot) to resolve. Some organizations can’t return to business as usual after a security issue because their reputation in the industry has become questionable or they can’t absorb the resolution costs. Of course, it’s possible for an organization to recover from a security issue, but there are important steps you need to take. Digital Guardian, a data loss prevention software firm, interviewed data breach experts about their recommended next steps after a data breach.

The following are a few of the tips from the data breach experts:

  • Contain the incident
  • Communicate effectively with affected parties
  • Investigate the incident to understand the cause
  • Protect your business from future attacks

Takeaway

IBM’s statistic mentioned at the start of this post regarding the average cost of a security breach is a daunting figure that should motivate you to make cybersecurity a priority. By simply assessing your current situation, you can determine if your organization should invest in cybersecurity. The items listed above are great starting points for your assessment. To obtain a complete picture of your organization and learn the solutions that are best, an in-depth assessment will work best.

BACS provides a full spectrum of cybersecurity solution services that starts with understanding your goals, assessing the specific needs of your organization, and then developing an appropriate plan and strategy for your architecture. Our distinction in the industry is that we are a team of cybersecurity experts that are lead organizations on a path of successful IT infrastructure protection.