If you are seeking out a way to improve your business’s cyber security, both for your business itself as well as for your customers, you are likely looking at your authentication process. Two-step and two-factor authentication are two of the most commonly used options in cyber security. And in current cyber security, many businesses use the terms two-step and two-factor authentication interchangeably.

There are, however, subtle differences between the two. A two-step authentication process requires a single-factor login (such as a memorized password or biometric reading) as well as another of the same type of login that is essentially sent to the user. For example, you may have a memorized password for your first step and then receive a one-time-use code on your cell phone as the second step.

Two-step authentication does function to add an extra step in the authentication process, making it more secure than a single-step authentication (i.e. just the password). However, if a person or business is hacked, it will do only a little to stop hackers from getting a hold of whatever they are looking for.

On the other hand, there is two-factor authentication (sometimes referred to as multi-factor authentication), which is significantly more secure. This type of authentication requires two different types of information to authenticate. For example, it could be a combination of a fingerprint or retinal scan as well as a password or passcode. Because the types of information are different, it would require a hacker a great deal more effort to obtain both forms of authentication.

In essence, every two-factor authentication is a two-step authentication process, but the opposite is not true. With this information in mind, you can be certain that you are using the right type of authentication in your business to keep your business and customer information as secure as possible.

Your network needs the best security technology has to offer. What type of authentication that results in is just one of hundreds of choices that must be made to achieve that end. To take the stress out of securing and protecting your network, call us today for all the help you could ever ask for.

To learn more about how to safeguard your business, or if you are looking for an expert to help you find the best solutions for your business talk to GCInfotech about a free technology assessment.

Published with consideration from TechAdvisory. SOURCE

While a vast majority of ransomware that’s been developed targets Windows computers, malware authors have begun to attack Mac devices. Recently, researchers discovered a new ransomware strain, OSX/Filecoder.E, which encrypts Mac files and keeps them locked even after the victims have paid the ransom. But don’t worry, there is still hope if you follow the security advice below.

According to ESET security researchers, even though the Filecoder ransomware was written in Apple’s programming language, the malicious code is not as potent or as skillful as other viruses. In fact, it’s so poorly written that hackers never developed a method to retrieve the encryption key once the ransom has been paid.

In any case, whether you’re dealing with Filecoder or some other ransomware, we advise against ever giving in to the hacker’s demands.

 

Avoid Filecoder
So far, Filecoder isn’t given out via phishing emails like most ransomware; instead, it’s distributed on Torrent sites and goes by the name “Patcher.” Therefore, it’s best to stay away from these highly unregulated (and mostly illegal) websites and stick to trusted app stores like Mac, Microsoft, and Google.

Even if the ransomware is not sent out via phishing campaigns, you should still be careful of any unsolicited emails with strange file attachments in case the malware authors decide to branch out.

Install preventive measures
Like with any other malware, being proactive with your cybersecurity solutions is the best way to defend against Filecoder. Install reliable antivirus software, intrusion prevention systems, firewalls, and update systems whenever possible.

You must also maintain backups and have a disaster recovery plan to keep your business running in the off chance that ransomware or any other cyberattack successfully infiltrated your systems.

Defeat the ransomware
Given the ransomware’s shoddy code, security researchers have found a way to decrypt files without paying. Free cracking tools like PKCRACK can recover Filecoder-encrypted data if you have one original version of the affected files. The recovery process, however, does require some programming knowledge, so contact an IT expert or a managed services provider to unlock the ransomware for you.

Filecoder may not be the strongest malware around, but this could just be the start of Mac-based attacks. To protect your business from the onslaught of cyberattacks, you need security experts. Contact us today.

To learn more about how to safeguard your business, or if you are looking for an expert to help you find the best solutions for your business talk to GCInfotech about a free technology assessment.

 

Published with consideration from TechAdvisory.org SOURCE.

Legal and business professionals today face many challenges. They need to ensure compliance, and make sure their documents are secure and easily shared with teams and clients. They expect their technology solutions to reduce overhead, increase billable hours, enhance productivity, and provide the ability to work anywhere, anytime.
Office 365 provides solutions to address these challenges and more, helping to increase the number of hours that lawyers have available to spend on their client’s needs resulting in increased client referrals and revenue.

Why Office 365?

Cloud-powered Office 365 has the applications you know—always up to date and accessible from virtually anywhere. It includes enterprise-grade services such as online storage for secure document sharing, real-time co-authoring to help improve collaboration, and productivity tools such as content management, enterprise search, and social, while simplifying IT management and reducing IT expenditure.

A secured enterprise-grade cloud-based platform

Office 365 is compliant with world-class industry standards, including ISO 27001, EU Model clauses, HIPAA BAA, and FISMA. It has built-in capabilities such as permissions, versioning control, eDiscovery, and records management to ensure documents are managed, controlled, archived and can be retrieved in one place with reduced overhead.

Get work done from anywhere and anytime

You can get to your applications and files from virtually anywhere—PC, Mac, tablets, and most mobile devices—and they’re always up to date. Collaborate on matters with teammates, share documents with clients, and connect with other lawyers.

Store, access, and share documents securely from anywhere

OneDrive for Business is your online briefcase. With 1 TB of cloud storage, you can store and access your matter documents at any time online or offline, and securely share them internally with your team or externally with clients. Reduce the amount of paper you need to carry and the time spent searching for the latest version of documents.

Simple administration and rock-solid security

With Office 365, your data is protected and control is even easier. There’s step-by-step deployment guidance, and you can manage your users and services from a single admin portal. Office 365 has built-in security that deflects malware, spam, phishing attacks, and other threats. And if you need to, you can connect with an Office 365 expert for migration, custom work, and ongoing support.

Migration to cloud on your own terms

Understanding that not all firms and organizations are the same; organizations can make their journey to the cloud at their own pace. Organizations can choose from a full cloud-deployed environment to a hybrid or full on-premises environment to best meet their needs or compliance requirements.

Why Matter Center for Office 365?

Microsoft Corporate, External & Legal Affairs developed Matter Center for Office 365, a SharePoint-based document management and collaboration solution. It takes advantage of all the deep enterprise content management capabilities that the SharePoint platform provides, and offers many additional benefits of being integrated into the Office 365 platform, including: integration with Outlook and Word, rich content search and discovery with Delve, analytics with Power BI, personal document storage and collaboration with OneDrive for Business, extensive compliance, management and security, and a growing list of capabilities as Office 365 continues to move forward.
Matter Center for Office 365 improves the way law firms and attorneys work together by making it easier to organize files by client and matter, review documents, and find information when needed, all without ever leaving Microsoft Word or Outlook.
Are you ready to embrace the cloud with a solution like Office 365? Give us a call, and talk with us about a cloud migration today.

Published with consideration from Microsoft SOURCE

As long as businesses host valuable data, cyber criminals will continue to bypass the security protocols meant to protect this data. The causes of security breaches range from device theft or loss, weak and stolen credentials, malware, and outdated systems that use ineffective security measures. And with these five tips, you can take the first step toward making sure a security breach never strikes at your precious business data.

Limitation of lateral data transfers

Employees not being educated on data sharing and security is one of the biggest reasons for internal data breaches. It’s a good idea to limit access to important data and information by restricting access privileges to only a small number of individuals. Also, you can decide to use network segmentation to cut unnecessary communication from your own network to others.

Keeping your machines and devices updated

Internal breaches might also occur when employees work with unguarded or unprotected machines. They might unknowingly download malware, which normally wouldn’t be a problem if machines were properly managed. Updating your operating systems, antivirus software, business software, and firewalls as often as possible will go a long way toward solidifying your defense systems.

Use monitoring and machine learning to sniff out abnormalities

It’s not all on your employees, however. Network administrators should employ monitoring software to prevent breaches by analyzing what is “normal” behavior and comparing that to what appears to be suspicious behavior. Cyber criminals often hide in networks to exploit them over a long period of time. Even if you miss them the first time, you should monitor suspicious activity so you can recognize impropriety and amend security policies before it goes any further.

Creating strong security passwords and credentials

No matter how often we say it, there’s always room for improvement when it comes to your passwords and login procedures. In addition to text-based credentials, you should require other methods whenever possible. Great for fortifying your network, fingerprints and smart cards, for example, are much harder for cyber criminals to fake. Regardless of which factors are used, they must be frequently updated to prevent breaches, accidental or otherwise.

Security Insurance

In the end, no system is perfect. Zero-day attacks exploit unknown gaps in security, and human error, accidental or otherwise, can never be totally prevented. And for this reason, small businesses need to start embracing cyber insurance policies. These policies help cover the damages that might occur even under a top-of-the-line security infrastructure. Considerations for selecting a policy include legal fees, first and third-party coverage, and coverage for reputation rehabilitation.

The field of cyber security is overwhelming — even for seasoned IT professionals. But not for us. We spend our days researching and experimenting to craft the best security solutions on the market. If you’re interested in one of our cutting-edge cyber-security plans, call us today.

To learn more about how to safeguard your business, or if you are looking for an expert to help you find the best solutions for your business talk to GCInfotech about a free technology assessment.

Published with consideration from TechAdvisory.org SOURCE

With all the recent hacking scares all over the world, you know and understand that your cyber security and your business’s cyber security are extremely important. However, when it comes to authentication processes, you may not be sure what the real deal is. There are two seemingly similar types of authentication that are often confused. Those are, of course, two-step and two-factor authentication. Find out more about the differences between the two here to ensure your cyber security will always be top of the line.

If you are seeking out a way to improve your business’s cyber security, both for your business itself as well as for your customers, you are likely looking at your authentication process. Two-step and two-factor authentication are two of the most commonly used options in cyber security. And in current cyber security, many businesses use the terms two-step and two-factor authentication interchangeably.

There are, however, subtle differences between the two. A two-step authentication process requires a single-factor login (such as a memorized password or biometric reading) as well as another of the same type of login that is essentially sent to the user. For example, you may have a memorized password for your first step and then receive a one-time-use code on your cell phone as the second step.

Two-step authentication does function to add an extra step in the authentication process, making it more secure than a single-step authentication (i.e. just the password). However, if a person or business is hacked, it will do only a little to stop hackers from getting a hold of whatever they are looking for.

On the other hand, there is two-factor authentication (sometimes referred to as multi-factor authentication), which is significantly more secure. This type of authentication requires two different types of information to authenticate. For example, it could be a combination of a fingerprint or retinal scan as well as a password or passcode. Because the types of information are different, it would require a hacker a great deal more effort to obtain both forms of authentication.
In essence, every two-factor authentication is a two-step authentication process, but the opposite is not true. With this information in mind, you can be certain that you are using the right type of authentication in your business to keep your business and customer information as secure as possible.

Your network needs the best security technology has to offer. What type of authentication that results in is just one of hundreds of choices that must be made to achieve that end. To take the stress out of securing and protecting your network, call us today for all the help you could ever ask for.

To learn more about how to safeguard your business, or if you are looking for an expert to help you find the best solutions for your business talk to GCInfotech about a free technology assessment.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org SOURCE

One of the biggest myths that I hear from our customers is that small businesses aren’t as susceptible to security breaches as large enterprises. The truth is, just because you’re small doesn’t mean you aren’t vulnerable. In fact, by 2019, the cost of cybercrime is expect to soar to $2 trillion.

Small businesses haven’t historically been the target of cybercrime, but that is changing: In the U.K. alone, nearly 75 percent of small businesses reported a security breach in 2015, an increase over the preceding two years. Why the change? Hackers prey on small businesses as opposed to larger ones because small businesses tend to have lower security defenses, which includes working on outdated software, often due to lack of financial and human resources.

This shift underscores how critical security is to businesses today. However, that small businesses aren’t at risk for security breaches is only one of the misconceptions I hear from our customers today.

Myth: The cloud isn’t secure

Chances are, if you’re a small business, you don’t have an in-house IT department. You might work with an external consultant, or you might just be doing it all yourself as many small business owners do. For this reason, many small businesses are moving their physical technology infrastructure to the cloud because of the many security benefits it provides. Cloud solutions give businesses peace of mind that their data is secure by providing automatic updates to ensure they are always benefiting from the latest security advances. And because business owners can rest easy knowing that they are always on the latest technology, they can spend their time doing what really matters – growing their business, acquiring new customers, etc.

This kind of always-on security is what drew Romax, one of the U.K.’s leading marketing communications businesses, to the cloud. The company moved to a combination of Microsoft Azure, Office 365 and on-premises solutions (a hybrid model) for enhanced security because it needed to be in compliance with tight information security policies regarding retaining client data. The company’s move to the cloud provided Romax owner Wesley Dowding with peace of mind knowing he could focus on his business. “I can go to sleep at night knowing that if the place went down, we’d still be able to serve our clients and our data is secured,” he said.

Myth: I’m not big enough to be susceptible to security risks

At Microsoft, our customers’ security is always top of mind. That’s why we invest more than a billion dollars per year in security-related research and development and build best-in-class security features into all of our cloud solutions that protect against security risks that small businesses may not realize they are susceptible to, such as:

  • Lost and/or stolen devices: With employees working across multiple devices from multiple locations, it’s not uncommon for devices to get lost or even stolen. Microsoft BitLocker, included in Windows 10, encrypts all data stored on the Windows operating system, ensuring that even if an employee leaves his mobile phone on the bus or has her laptop stolen from her car, the data stored on it remains secure.
  • Employee error: It takes something as simple as an employee opening the wrong mail or clicking on the wrong link to compromise your systems and data. To help thwart the risk of this kind of employee error, Microsoft Outlook comes with built-in anti-phishing detection to help prevent fraudulent email messages from even reaching your employees in the first place.
  • Outdated technology: Running outdated solutions has a significant impact on small businesses – data shows that small businesses that are running the latest technologies can increase their annual revenues 15 percentage points faster and create jobs twice as fast as businesses using outdated solutions. On top of that, a different study revealed that 91 percent of consumers said they would stop doing business with a company because of its outdated technology. With Office 365 and Windows 10, security updates happen automatically so you never have to worry about whether or not you are protected against the latest threats.
  • Weak passwords: Hackers are becoming more and more sophisticated, and if your passwords (and your employees’ passwords) aren’t becoming more sophisticated at the same time, you could be at risk for a breach. Fortunately, Windows 10 users benefit from the Windows Hello & Microsoft Passport features that enable them to replace passwords with biometric authentication such as face, iris or fingerprint identification for greater security.
  • Data backup: Backing up your files can help reduce losses in the event of a physical security breach – like a break-in at your office or stolen devices – and get you back up and running quickly. Microsoft OneDrive for Business – included in all Office 365 commercial plans – provides a secure place to store documents in the cloud so you can always access them from anywhere or any device – even when you’re offline.

Myth: If I haven’t been compromised yet, what I’m doing is probably enough

Security experts like to say that there are two kinds of businesses in the world today: Those that have been hacked and those that don’t know they have been hacked yet. Data from a recent cybercrime study proved this to be true: according to the Ponemon Institute, it takes – on average – 170 days to detect a malicious attack.

It was just such a situation Chelgrave Contracting, an Australian maintenance and labor hire company, found itself facing. The company’s General Manager, Greg Scott, discovered the company’s antivirus software had expired six weeks before without triggering an alert. The lapse prompted a minor virus attack, with only luck preventing the company’s PCs from develop a major virus outbreak, Scott says.

Chelgrave turned to Microsoft Intune, which includes endpoint protection built on Microsoft’s powerful Malware Protection Engine, enabling Scott to provide all Chelgrave PCs with real-time security updates. Remote and mobile employees now receive these updates simply by connecting to the Internet, ensuring their laptops retain the highest levels of protection.

This example underscrores the importance of not letting your security lapse – after all, security breaches can be devastating to small businesses – and making sure you are using the right technology, like Windows 10, Intune and Office 365, that protects you 24/7.

Truth: Security is vital to small business success

Security will continue to play an increasingly vital role in the success of SMBs, which are targeted by hackers now more than ever before. Taking basic steps will make your business safer, but using Microsoft technology allows a business and its employees the peace of mind that their data — their own and clients’ — is secured.

To learn more about how to safeguard your business, or if you are looking for an expert to help you find the best solutions for your business talk to GCInfotech about a free technology assessment.

Published with consideration from Microsoft. SOURCE

Cyber security is an important topic to address, not only for your personal files and accounts, but also for your clients.

As mentioned in previous posts, both the ABA and many State Bars state that lawyers must take reasonable precautions to prevent client information falling into an unintended recipients hands as a part of their general guidance’s.

One of the first steps to ensure that your client’s information is safe is to make sure your personal accounts are safe.

I recently came across an article from The New York Times about just this topic: How to Devise Passwords that Drive Hackers Away. Besides the obvious red flags about hackers (such as avoiding suspicious links).

Here are some take-aways from the article to help better ensure both your personal files as well as your clients are protected.*

Never use the same password twice

Although it is much easier for you to remember 1 password for all 20 online accounts, it’s also that much easier for a hacker to get into all of those 20 online accounts from your Facebook Page to your online bank account.

Come up with a passphrase

Lengthwise, a password should be at least 14 characters (or more!). The longer your password, the longer it will take a hacker to crack it. Sometimes it is easier to remember a phrase (like your favorite movie quote) than a longer password.

Store your password securely

Just because you’ve now come up with clever, extremely lengthy passwords for every single online account you have, you’re not in the clear yet. Make sure you keep these passwords secure! That means avoid leaving any of them on a post-it note on your desk. If you keep the passwords on a file on your computer, make sure it’s a secure file that only you have access to. Or if you don’t want any ability to track your passwords on your computer, whatever you write them on, make sure it’s locked away. Also leaving password hints are typically better than writing down the actual password.

*Note: these take-away’s are tips to increase password protection; however, can still not ensure 100% protection.
Published with consideration from Thomson Reuters SOURCE

Employees are on the front lines of information security. The more that can be done to regularly educate yourself of the small things you can do can go a long way towards protecting your organization.

Since it is the beginning of the year, many people are returning to work and trying to get out of “vacation mode.” (Us too!) We’ve decided to outline some tips to help you throughout the year to stay safe online while protecting your company in the process.

General Best Practices

  • Avoid providing personal information when answering an email, unsolicited phone call, text message or instant message.
  • Never enter personal information in a pop-up web page or anywhere else that you did not initiate.
  • Keep security software and all other software programs updated.
  • Cyber Security Best Practices

  • Phishers will try to trick employees into installing malware, or gain intelligence for attacks by claiming to be from IT. Be sure to contact your IT department if you or your coworkers receive suspicious calls.
  • Don’t leak intellectual property- even accidentally. Sharing a picture with a whiteboard or computer screen in the background online could reveal more than someone outside of your company should see.
  • Report security warnings from your Internet security software to IT immediately, chances are, they aren’t aware of all threats that occur.
  • If traveling, alert your IT department beforehand, especially if you’re going to be using public wireless Internet. If offered, make sure you know how to connect to the company’s Virtual Private Network (VPN).
  • Be cautious of links and attachments in emails from senders you don’t recognize. Phishers prey on employees who open these without checking them out, opening the door to malware.
  • If you’re unsure about an email’s legitimacy, contact your IT department or submit the email to Symantec Security Response through this portal.
  • Online Behavior

  • Don’t steal. Taking intellectual property and releasing professional secrets are likely against corporate policies. Your company may track sensitive documents and you could get into hot water.
  • Read your company’s Acceptable Electronic Use (AEU) policy, and follow the policies for safe use of your devices.
  • When backing up to cloud services, be sure to talk to your IT department first, for a list of acceptable cloud solutions. Organizations can make this part of their AEU policy and make it a fire-able offense.
  • Best Practices for When to Contact Support

  • Call IT before you get in over your head. Often what starts as a simple update can be made more complex by attempting to “fix” the problem.
  • When you Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), ask your IT department if your device is allowed to access corporate data before you upload anything to it. Use authorized applications to access sensitive documents.
  • Learn the process for allowing IT to connect to your system. This can save time when you contact support and they need access to resolve an issue.
  • Learn basic computer hardware terms. This can save valuable time when you contact support and don’t have to describe the “mouse connector-thingy.”
  • Used with permission from Norton by Symantec by Nadia Kovacs

    As today’s companies are increasingly tending to run their business on the basis of digital assets, information security has become an even more critical factor of the business model, as it protects the most essential asset: information.

    We know that security is not a goal, but rather a process. As such, prevention and constant reinforcement of the outer edge of the corporate system are vital elements in the defense of assets in cyberspace.

    But despite this, contingencies occur, and the risk of suffering a security breach must always be considered. So let’s look at what action we should take in the face of this type of scenario to overcome a situation in which the organization’s resources could be compromised.

    Here 5 steps to take after a company is infected:

    Step 1: Determine the scope of the infection

    Time and time again, companies that have been victims of infections assess the traces of the impact just by using their intuition, rather than by means of an analytical examination of the problem. Clearly, after detecting an infection at the company, reaction speed is extremely important. However, hurrying to make groundless appraisals can divert your attention away from the right actions to take.

    If the necessary precautions have been taken, and there has consequently been an investment into the development of robust contingency management systems, it is possible to quickly gather the bits of evidence you need to answer some of the first key questions.

    In this way, to be begin with it is necessary to establish which systems have been compromised and in what way. Is the infection limited to a single piece of equipment or subnetwork? Has any sensitive data leaked out? Are we talking about corporate data, or private data relating to employees and/or customers?

    Step 2: Ensure continuity of service

    In the case of a leak of information which might compromise employees or end users, the second step would be to give them a warning of the possible breach and advise them to watch out for any unusual movements they might notice regarding the data they have stored under your service.

    If any physical equipment has been seriously compromised, you must set in motion any processes to activate backup resources, in order to maintain customer service. For this reason, it is critically important to plan your defense against attacks on availability, creating redundancy of equipment and connections. This, together with an action plan suitably defined at the level of the organization, will enable a rapid response to any events that lay siege to corporate security.

    Step 3: Contain the infection

    The containment of an infection begins with isolation of the equipment that you know has been compromised. Shutting down the segments of the network that include this equipment prevents the infection from continuing to spread throughout the corporate network, and interrupts any connection that may have been established with the attacker for the purpose of stealing information.

    If the traffic generated by the malicious agent turns out to be encrypted, the analysts must try reverse-engineering it to obtain the cryptographic keys. However, if communication is taking place on non-confidential protocols like HTTP, it will be exponentially easier to track the commands used by the attacker.

    Either way, studying these commands can lead the investigation to the discovery of new infected equipment, and the generation of traffic patterns should be translated into firewall rules, to quickly generate a first line of defense.

    To achieve this, it is necessary to have correctly labeled traffic captures in order to speed up processing. Once again, it’s self-evident that proactive prevention and detection of threats are the cornerstone of information security and define a company’s capacity to respond in times of crisis.

    Given that most of the procedures mentioned involve non-automated analysis of information, it is crucial to put in place a comprehensive corporate security solution in advance. This will make it possible to instantly deploy actions to block any harm that a malicious agent might attempt to inflict after penetrating your defenses.

    The latest generation of ESET corporate solutions was developed to be a key factor in the containment process, thereby preventing the spread of infectious components through the company’s different transaction systems.

    Step 4: Mitigate the infection and eliminate the line of attack

    Removal of the malicious part is a complex procedure which initially involves a detailed analysis of the code in order to understand how it works. Antivirus solutions support this type of activity by enabling automatic disinfection and saving valuable time in the process of responding.

    It is essential to understand that if the attackers are not completely eradicated from the network, they can resume their fraudulent activity on the infected equipment through another line of attack. Because of this, it is of vital importance to isolate the flaw that allowed them to enter in the first place, and then remove it from the system.

    Even after equipment identified as compromised has been cleaned, there remains a risk that other undiscovered infected equipment is still in operation. To prevent this from occurring, we need to reinforce the analysis of the packets transmitted by the network, as we now have the advantage of knowing the communication protocols and commands used thanks to the previous analysis of the infection.

    Together with a review of the firewall rules, changing the passwords on corporate networks is another preventive measure to take after detecting compromised resources, as this is one of the favored goals in corporate attacks. While the process of updating keys may take time and effort, it will prevent the attackers from using any stolen information to disguise themselves as a legitimate user.

    At this point, it is worth establishing whether the infection was the simple result of carelessness online, or whether it constitutes a successful link in a chain of persistent targeted attacks.

    If it is established that the infection was specifically targeting the organization, the real question to answer will be who lies behind these events, bearing in mind that another attack could be imminent.

    Step 5: Learn from any errors

    Carrying out an in-depth investigation into what happened will give cause for improving the processes within the organization. The removal of any vulnerabilities whose existence was previously unknown provides an opportunity to reinforce the perimeter of the corporate networks by identifying any other potential points of access to the system that had not previously been considered as falling within the scope of lines of attack.

    Infections are always absolutely negative events for a company; however, they offer opportunities to learn. They show which elements of the system’s design need to be strengthened and they allow you to discover the flaws in the current defense measures.

    Published with consideration from ESET. SOURCE

    Every time a stolen laptop leads to a data breach, you wonder why the business involved hadn’t set up any safeguards. When the unencrypted laptop was stolen from a former physician at the University of Oklahoma, for instance, or when a laptop was stolen from insurance provider Oregon Health Co-op containing data on 15,000 members.

    You’d think money would motivate them, if nothing else. In November, EMC and Hartford Hospital were ordered to pay US$90,000 to the state of Connecticut over the theft of an unencrypted laptop in 2012 containing data on nearly 9,000 people. The laptop was stolen from an EMC employee’s home.

    The problem extends far beyond the healthcare industry, too—such as the laptop stolen from SterlingBackCheck, a New York-based background screening service. The laptop contained data on 100,000 people.

    These types of breaches don’t quite grab the same headlines as major cybercrimes and hacking incidents, if only because a thousand employees affected by a laptop theft is less dramatic than 40 million customers at Target. But it’s a lot easier to steal a laptop than it is to hack into a corporate database, so the theft and loss of laptops, as well as desktops and flash drives, highlight the need for enhanced physical security and employee training.

    It’s easier to steal a laptop than to hack a database

    The organizations mentioned here have wised up. A spokesperson for the University of Oklahoma said it has launched an encryption program and new training for employees when it comes to handling sensitive data.

    SterlingBackCheck said it has updated its encryption and audit procedures, revised its equipment custody protocols, retrained employees on privacy and data security, and installed remote-wipe software on portable devices.

    Another threat to your data is the proliferation of Bring You Own Device (BYOD) policies and mobile workers.Gartner anticipates that half of all companies will have some need for a BYOD policy by 2017. Workers will be using their own devices as well as company-issued ones in the office or on the go. This opens up a new risk if devices are lost or stolen.

    Security firms like Sophos urge companies to put a robust policy in place for the handling of professional devices, including full disk encryption as well as encrypted cloud and removable media. A strong password is highly recommended too, but it’s not enough on its own.

    A greater sense of urgency wouldn’t hurt, either. In Oklahoma, the physician had actually left his position at the university before his personal laptop went missing. He couldn’t say for sure whether it contained sensitive data, but by the time that possibility arose, it was too late.

    In another incident, at manufacturer Tremco, an employee lost a company-issued laptop on a plane. It was several weeks before the employee realized that it contained spreadsheets of personal employee data.

    Encryption, remote wiping, better data tracking

    Companies need to know where their data is at all times—not just what device it is on, but where that device is located physically.

    This highlights the need for remote wiping tools, which SterlingBackCheck has put in place. If a laptop is lost or stolen, the company should have an easy way to remotely wipe the sensitive data to ensure it never leaks.

    Much like large-scale hacking attacks, it’s the consumer or the patient that really suffers when a data breach occurs. The onus lies with the company to handle this data responsibly, whether it’s in the cloud or on a laptop on the bus.

    Published with consideration from PCWorld. SOURCE