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Security

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. 

 

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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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BACS IT Top Five Cybersecurity Threats Facing the Financial Services Industry

Top Five Cybersecurity Threats Facing the Financial Services Industry

By | Data Protection, Security

The digital age has opened up an array of new and potentially vulnerable access points for cybercriminals to infiltrate your networks and its devices. Whether caused by a deliberate attack, human error, or a technical failure, a single data breach can prove catastrophic for businesses across industry sectors.

What Makes Financial Organizations Different? 

While all types of businesses are potential attack targets, financial services organizations face unique and elevated risks in terms of information security and data loss. According to one study, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is compounding the problem and is being blamed for a 238 percent increase in cyberattacks against banks and other financial organizations1.

As online banking and digital transactions continue to grow, safeguarding financial data and mission-critical systems becomes increasingly more challenging. Meanwhile, cybercriminals are uncovering new vulnerabilities and methods of exploitation, such as using artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things (IoT) to penetrate security defenses.

From reputational damage to ransomware and phishing attacks, financial institutions have a lot to worry about. Despite diligent planning and robust security practices, the financial services industry makes up 35 percent of all data breaches, earning it the unfortunate title of the most breached industry sector.

Maintaining consumer trust in the safe handling of their confidential data and assets is paramount for financial services companies. To ensure optimum protection and sustainability, security teams must implement robust defenses and be prepared to respond quickly to minimize damage, restore lost data, and ensure ongoing operation of systems and services. 

While technology and markets continue to evolve, one constant remains: The more sensitive the data is, the more it’s potentially worth and the more determined criminals are to steal it. Following are five of the biggest threats facing the financial services industry.

 

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Identity Theft and Data Manipulation

One particularly sneaky type of security threat for financial services organizations is an account takeover. In this type of attack, a criminal will gain access to a customer account and then change information so the real owner doesn’t have access and is unaware of the change. Criminals will often take it a step further by using those same log-in credentials to access other accounts the customer owns across multiple platforms. In some cases, they’ll also use the data they’ve collected to commit identity theft.     

 

BACS IT Phishing Problems for the Financial Services Industry

Phishing Attacks

Despite the many sophisticated hacking techniques criminals have at their disposal, many security breaches are the result of employee error, not intentional wrongdoing. For example, an employee might open a phishing email that installs malware on the bank’s network. (Incidentally, this technique was the most common type of cyberattack in 2016). The reasons for these types of mental errors or lapses in judgement vary widely, which makes eliminating them particularly challenging. In some instances, insufficient training is the culprit. In other cases, companies simply neglect to establish well-defined email usage protocols and safe operating procedures. Adding to the risk is the fact that more employees today are working remotely and are using devices not managed or controlled by IT. 

 

Mitigate Potential Threats To Your Organization

 

Ransomware

Ransomware attacks have grown in popularity in recent years as a favored extortion tactic by cybercriminals and other bad actors. To gain access to a company’s mission-critical systems and confidential data, these attacks might begin with a phishing email or by exploiting vulnerability, such as an outdated operating system. The best protection includes strong access controls, advanced network monitoring and analysis tools, good employee training, and rigorous data backup and retention policies. Considering the potential monetary and reputational damage that can be inflicted, ransomware attacks are especially dangerous. Due to its high profitability potential and increasing effectiveness, this technique is expected to continue to be a heavy favorite for high-value targets.

Third-Party Vendors

The more network and device entry points an organization has, the more opportunities criminals have to penetrate its defenses. That’s precisely why working with third-party vendors can significantly increase the risk of a data breach. While banking and financial institutions typically have sufficient security resources and have invested heavily in data protection measures, many vendors themselves are usually smaller operations with fewer protections in place, less enforcement protocols, and less knowledge in cybersecurity technology. In addition, they often have their own IT security platforms and configurations that are outside your control, making it more difficult to secure your network and IT environment.

Emerging Technologies

As technology continues to evolve, criminals are finding new security vulnerabilities and methods to gain access to confidential financial systems and records. Meanwhile, the opportunities for fifth-generation (5G) mobile networks in financial services present an array of new risks, including supply chain vulnerabilities and network breaches. Likewise, many of today’s new web-based applications can pose data security threats by circumventing normal security protocols. While these apps are intended to make it easier for users to share files and collaborate, they can be vulnerable to attack because of their reliance on users for proper input and their diligence in following defined security protocols.

 

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Staying Ahead of Cybersecurity Threats is Easier with BACS IT

Although companies operating in the financial sector understand the need to safeguard data, many struggle to implement effective protections without undermining other business priorities. Meanwhile, as systems and applications become more decentralized and dispersed, weaknesses and vulnerabilities become more difficult to recognize.

While there’s no single best strategy or surefire method of securing financial data and assets, a proactive approach can put your organization in the best position to mitigate risks while helping to ensure fast, effective disaster recovery. That’s why it’s critical to engage with an experienced cybersecurity expert who understands the unique security threats your business faces and can devise a plan that will effectively align with your priorities and support your long term goals. Reach out to us here at BACS IT today. We provide managed IT services for financial institutions and are here to help. Let us provide a free IT assessment to see where you stand!

Contact Us for a FREE IT Assessment

 

1 VMware Report, Modern Bank Heists 3.0: Twenty-five CISOs from leading financial institutions reveal their thoughts on the 2020 attack landscape, (May 2020).

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.  

 

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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.    

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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. 

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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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Financial Services Companies Face an Ever-Evolving Cyber Landscape

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Cyber Security

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

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

Infrastructure

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

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

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

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

Internet of Things

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

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

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

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

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The Cloud

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Network Security

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

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

 

Cyber Landscape

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

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

Privacy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Securing the Future

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

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

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

Artificial Intelligence

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

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

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

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

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

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

Machine Learning

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blockchain

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Five Reasons to Prioritize Cybersecurity as a Life Sciences Company

By | Data Protection, Security

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

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

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

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

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1 – Safeguarding Intellectual Property (IP) 

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

2 – Potential Exposure of Confidential Data

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

3 – Regulatory Compliance

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

4- Operational Performance and Business Continuity

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

5 – Smart Governance

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

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Best Practices for Life Sciences Companies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Making Security a Strategic Priority with BACS IT

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

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Solutions for a Remote Workforce to Keep Bay Area Businesses Safe

Solutions for a Remote Workforce to Keep Bay Area Businesses Safe

By | Data Protection, Security, Work Remotely

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

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

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

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

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Digital Transformation

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

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

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

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

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Trust No One

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

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

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

Zero Trust Security Design

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

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

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

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

 

Endpoint Management

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

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

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

 

The Cloud

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

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

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

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

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

 

Legacy Systems and A Remote Work Force

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

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

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

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

Overcome the legacy challenges:

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

Training

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

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

Focus on Goals, Not Tasks

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

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

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

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

 

Culture of Trust

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mitigate Potential Threats To Your Organization

 

Working In a Vacuum

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The successes of one elevates us all.

Connect with BACS, For Your Remote Workforce Requirements.

A Bay Area IT Solutions provider

 

Contact Us for a FREE IT Assessment

Ransomware Attacks: How To Prevent It and Safeguard Your Business

By | Data Protection, Security

It would be ill-advised to say that there is a 100 percent sure-fire way to prevent a ransomware attack on your business network, even with the best cybersecurity. However, proactively strengthening your cybersecurity policies and strategies will reduce the chances of a breach significantly. Working with IT experts gives you an even greater edge at blocking cyberattacks or minimizing their effects. Here’s a deeper look at how you can maximize your resources to guard against ransomware attacks, which have been increasing in recent years.

Starting with Proactive IT Support

Strong cybersecurity begins with awareness of cybercrime. Business owners typically don’t have time to follow to investigate less-publicized cybersecurity threats. Many people hear about just the biggest breaches, such as the 2021 Colonial Pipeline hack.

A strong way to guard against a ransomware attack is for your IT support team to take proactive measures by identifying system vulnerabilities. Conducting a system audit will set this process in motion. From there you can consider options for solutions that make sense for your infrastructure. Updating software regularly helps avoid security flaws that hackers discover until patches correct the problems.

Backing up data on a regular basis is another proactive measure that minimizes a ransomware breach that locks up data. By having backups in other places outside your main server, you never have to respond to ransomware demands about accessing your data. The attacker may choose to destroy the frozen data if you refuse to pay the ransom, but at least you won’t have to rebuild your data from scratch.

Building a More Secure Infrastructure

As businesses continue to transform into more digital operations, it’s important to rethink your infrastructure to make it more flexible and capable of integrating with new technology. You don’t necessarily have to tear down your existing network and start building a brand new one based on the latest tech trends. But with help from your IT team, you can plan ahead for upgrading your infrastructure so that it easily facilitates modern solutions.

Not only does the rise in cybercrime require better network monitoring and threat detection, it means you have to assess risks involving privacy, government compliance and asset protection. Here are some of the important ways your IT team can improve your infrastructure:

  • Architecture Planning and Upgrading – In the future IoT devices will become more widespread across multiple industries. AI and automation will also be more common. Each of these technologies are becoming more embedded in cloud-based ecosystems. That means investing in hardware that facilitates new software.
  • Develop a Data Backup and Recovery Plan – Backing up your critical data on a routine basis is one of the best ways to ensure ransomware attackers cannot control your data. Switching to a backup server is necessary sometimes to do maintenance on the main server or to respond to an attack. Working with a cloud provider with virtual solutions is an excellent safety net.
  • Going More Digital in the Cloud – There’s no question that moving to the cloud allows your business to track more digital processes and build intelligence from a wider base of sources. The cloud allows for remote access and collaboration, which requires more network monitoring. The more secure processes you run in the cloud, the more your company can increase productivity.
  • Maintain Local Hardware – Working with an IT firm in your local market helps connect you with support technicians who are familiar with your infrastructure. It’s important to move away from legacy hardware when you can to reduce vulnerabilities. Hackers target old systems the same way burglars target homes with broken windows.
  • Fixing Problems Quickly – You relieve stress in the workplace when you provide a 24/7 help desk that responds to technical issues or answers questions. The more you focus on providing a smooth seamless experience for customers and workers, the more you’ll understand why you can’t let glitches pile up.

 

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Planning Ahead to Maintain Business Continuity

You can mitigate the impacts of disasters that businesses face through their evolution by developing backup plans for emergencies. You never know when something beyond your control can disrupt your business, such as a utility company power outage. If you don’t have a backup plan in place, your business survival may cling to a fragile system that eventually falls apart.

But if you develop easy-to-follow backup plans, business continuity resumes and damage is minimized. One of the most important questions to answer is: what happens when a power outage or cyber attack shuts down your network? The most sensible plan is to maintain backup digital twin servers outside your business location, ideally through a secure cloud architecture.

To ensure you always have backups to your files, your IT team can implement scheduled backups for you. They can also test files to make sure they aren’t corrupted in the transfer. While an in-house IT team might skip essential steps due to how boring and redundant backup tasks can be, a professional IT team that builds its reputation on quality makes sure the entire process is done properly.

 

Related: What is a Business Continuity Plan? 

 

Understanding What Ransomware Attackers Prey Upon

Ransomware attackers target companies that rely on old equipment, use minimal data protection and neglect cybersecurity training. The phishing schemes they use to penetrate networks rely on unsuspecting employees responding to an “urgent” email that instructs them to click a link. Many times the attacker first establishes a friendly relationship with the victim to build trust. This process is known as “social engineering.”

Instead of relying on hacker software, the hacker relies on tricking an employee through email. Phishing schemes are built on statistics that suggest a high percentage of breaches are due to employee error. If an employee isn’t trained to watch out for suspicious emails, they may be easily persuaded by what seems to be a friend to click a link that unloads malware. The computer screen then freezes up and the victim is locked out of their account until they pay a stated ransom amount in cryptocurrency.

While some reports indicate that employee error accounts for a third of breaches in the United States, it’s as much as 60 percent of breaches among UK businesses.

The key to reducing chances of a ransomware attack is to make employees aware phishing schemes exist and to resist clicking anything that contradicts the company’s cybersecurity policy. This policy should be communicated to all employees who use the company’s network to access files and applications. A cybersecurity policy can mandate which sites are blacklisted and how employees are expected to use its digital resources.

 

Keeping Up To Date With BACS IT Consulting Group 

Keeping up-to-date with the latest cybersecurity technology and methods is helpful in staying a step ahead of cybercriminals; you can do that by following our newsletter here. Still, maybe you don’t have time to keep up with the various cyberthreats and solutions, but you can outsource to IT experts, like BACS who work with businesses every day just like yours. We have the expertise to analyze the weaknesses and fill in the gaps in your IT infrastructure, ensuring your systems, data and the data of your client’s is secure. It’s important to remember that while a big part of blocking hackers and schemers involves modern technology, safe data-sharing also depends on the actions of your IT team and workforce. Working with a dedicated team of IT professionals gives you the peace of mind that you deserve that your business is in good hands. 

Remember, hackers are looking for systems that are easy to penetrate, so don’t give them one. Use strong cybersecurity measures as a form of risk management.  Contact BACS for more information on improving your IT experience.

 

 

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wifi-security

Safeguarding Your Business from Wi-Fi Vulnerabilities

By | IT Support, Security

Businesses today must manage an ever-growing number of security risks. From client database breaches to malicious ransomware attacks, cybercriminals are continuously searching for new opportunities and methods of exploitation. One high-risk area that is often overlooked is your company’s Wi-Fi network.

While Wi-Fi offers the advantage of fast and easy access, this convenience is also its weakness. Unprotected Wi-Fi connections provide hackers with easy network access, allowing them to introduce malware onto any connected systems and devices. This malware can instigate a number of serious attacks, including phishing, DDoS, ransomware, and more.

 

Closing the gaps on Wi-Fi security

In the age of digital proliferation and broad network connectivity, creating a detailed, well-defined network security strategy is more critical than ever. It requires a holistic approach that effectively blends proven practices with cutting-edge techniques. Following are some common sources of Wi-Fi security vulnerabilities, along with some best practice strategies to address them.

 

Outdated firmware.

Keeping your business-critical data secure hinges on making sure your Wi-Fi network is operating with the latest firmware updates and patches. In some cases, your router will prompt you when an update is due. But for many IT teams, keeping firmware and drivers up to date can be a tedious, easy-to-overlook task. The best approach is to stay proactive. Periodically check the manufacturer’s website for any updates or patches for your device and keep this task high on your list of ongoing IT priorities. Today’s cybercriminals are persistent. Staying one step ahead requires ongoing diligence on your part.

 

A poorly protected print environment.

All devices connected to a business network, including copiers and printers, represent an area of risk that often falls outside the normal security responsibilities of an IT organization. Still researchers have identified print networks and printers as potential sources of security failures and data breaches. That’s why print security best practices should be given ample attention and action, including configuring appropriate IP addresses and status, and password-protecting connected printers, along with the entire print network.

Improperly managed user behavior.

A security system’s overall effectiveness hinges on correct user behavior within that system. Even robust systems can be compromised by an employee clicking on a phishing email, an ineffective firewall, or even accessing a network site on an unfamiliar device. Another area that demands business Wi-Fi attention is mobile device security. Inappropriate user behavior on a business network, including digital apps and email, can threaten a network’s security. Mobile device management focuses on both business-owned mobile device security protocols, and private or guest devices on a network.

 

Network piggybacking. 

Piggybacking on network access is a way of creating a wireless connection by discretely tapping into another subscriber’s wireless service without their knowledge or permission. This can be done from any wireless-enabled computer, and depending on the location of your business’s wireless access point, and can be completed from up to 1,000 feet away. Once on your network, the unwanted users can hack into sensitive information, monitor web traffic, or conduct other illegal activities.

 

Ineffective firewall.

A properly implemented firewall plays a vital role in helping to keep your company’s networks separated from the Wi-Fi. It helps prevent potential hackers from breaching the Wi-Fi connection and making unwanted entry into your servers and company networks. In addition to your network firewall, consider installing a host-based firewall, which provides an extra layer of protection between the network and connected devices.

 

Lack of data encryption

Encrypting the data on your wireless network helps prevent those who might gain unauthorized access from actually viewing it. Should hackers breach the Wi-Fi connection, any data they obtain is scrambled and unreadable. Several encryption protocols are available to help enable this protection. The strongest encryption currently available is Wi-Fi Protected Access 3 (WPA3). While WPA and WPA2 are also available, the best approach is to implement technology that specifically supports WPA3, since other protocols lack the robust protection today’s networks require.

 

Reaping the benefits of outside expertise

Whether you are upgrading your existing Wi-Fi network or starting from scratch, the best protection can be achieved through careful planning and expert execution. That’s where the knowledge and experience of a competent managed serviced provider can deliver substantial value.

By outsourcing your Wi-Fi security to an outside expert, you benefit from a more robust network design, clear policies and procedures, and better awareness of potential vulnerabilities and weaknesses. These outside experts can suggest tools and techniques for improving network speed and efficiency and recommend the latest best practices for securing your Wi-Fi network. These include:

 

Network monitoring.

Monitoring is the first line of defense against unstable or unforeseen events that affect your network performance and security. Real-time monitoring of Wi-Fi traffic through routers and network servers provides IT teams with vital insight into user behavior and trends, and helps speed response time in the event of a breach. Proactive monitoring of your business Wi-Fi network can help your thwart issues before they become a more serious problem. Remote monitoring capabilities are particularly critical for satellite offices.

 

Router protection.

Keeping your router out of public reach can help reduce the potential for tampering or someone attempting to circumvent security protocols. It only takes a few seconds to restore the access point to factory default settings. For optimum safety, keep the router high on a shelf, secured behind a door, or otherwise out of reach where a bad actor could potentially gain access without authorization. Router ports can also be secured by properly defining the IP address.  Be sure your router access point is housed in a secure area, such as a locked room or closet.

 

Maintain antivirus software.

Be sure to install the right antivirus software and keep your virus definitions up to date. Make sure your practices include automated patching to help enforce policies and keep systems and networks up to date and enforced with the latest software patching. Also, 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.

 

Protect your SSID.

To help prevent hackers from gaining easy access to your network, avoid exposing your SSID. At the minimum, be sure to change your SSID to a unique identifier. Keeping the manufacturer’s default ID in place could open the door to an attacker skilled at identifying the type of router and possibly exploit any known weaknesses.

 

Employ a VPN.

Installing a Virtual Private Network (VPN) as part of your Wi-Fi infrastructure can be a highly effective way to bolster your overall network security strategy. VPNs conceal user identities by masking IP addresses and routing data through a, alternate IP address.  By encrypting connections and sending and receiving points, VPNs help keep out improperly encrypted traffic. Cybercriminals who manage to access to data via your VPN will find it useless, since it is encrypted on its way from sender to a receiver.

 

Bolstering your IT strategy

With losses from cybercrime now reaching epic proportions (up to $6 trillion globally), Securing every aspect of your network is more crucial than ever before, and that includes making special considerations for your Wi-Fi security. Wi-Fi security is not only essential to sound IT strategy; it’s a smart business practice.