Are you still using that old computer that is not-so gracefully aging and devaluing? Maybe you are running important programs on older machines with old operating systems since they “still work fine.” While it might still help you get the job done, there may be hidden security risks that can lead to major problems later on.

What is firmware?

Firmware is a basic type of software that is embedded into every piece of hardware. It cannot be uninstalled or removed, and is only compatible with the make and model of the hardware it is installed on. Think of it like a translator between your stiff and unchanging hardware and your fluid and evolving software.

 

For example, Windows can be installed on almost any computer, and it helps users surf the internet and watch YouTube videos. But how does Windows know how to communicate and connect with your hardware router to do all that? Firmware on your router allows you to update and modify settings so other, higher-level pieces of software can interact with it.

 

Why is firmware security important?

 

Firmware installed on a router is a great example of why addressing this issue is so critical. When you buy a router and plug it in, it should be able to connect devices to your wireless network with almost zero input from you. However, leaving default settings such as the username and password for web browser access will leave you woefully exposed.

 

And the username and password example is just one of hundreds. More experienced hackers can exploit holes that even experienced users have no way of fixing. The only way to secure these hardware security gaps is with firmware updates from the device’s manufacturer.

 

How do I protect myself?

 

Firmware exploits are not rare occurrences. Not too long ago, a cybersecurity professional discovered that sending a 33-character text message to a router generated an SMS response that included the administrator username and password.

 

Unfortunately, every manufacturer has different procedures for checking and updating firmware. The best place to start is Googling “[manufacturer name] router firmware update.” For instance, if you have a DLink of Netgear router, typing “192.168.0.1” into a web browser will allow you to access its firmware and update process, assuming you have the username and password.

 

Remember that routers are just one example of how firmware affects your cybersecurity posture. Hard drives, motherboards, and even mice and keyboards need to be checked. Routinely checking all your devices for firmware updates should be combined with the same process you use to check for software updates.

It can be a tedious process, and we highly recommend hiring an IT provider to take care of it for you. If you’re curious about what else we can do to help, give us a call 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

 

As IT security consultants, we’re stuck between a rock and a hard place. Managed IT services providers (MSPs) such as ours want to provide clients with enterprise-level IT, but that requires that we specialize in overwhelmingly intricate technology. Explaining even the most fundamental aspects of cybersecurity would most likely put you to sleep instead of convince you of our expertise. But if there’s one topic you need to stay awake for, it is proactive security.

Understand the threats you’re facing

Before any small- or medium-sized business (SMB) can work toward preventing cyberattacks, everyone involved needs to know exactly what they’re up against. Whether you’re working with in-house IT staff or an MSP, you should review what types of attacks are most common in your industry. Ideally, your team would do this a few times a year.

Reevaluate what it is you’re protecting

Now that you have a list of the biggest threats to your organization, you need to take stock of how each one threatens the various cogs of your network. Map out every company device that connects to the internet, what services are currently protecting those devices, and what type of data they have access to (regulated, mission-critical, low-importance, etc.).

Create a baseline of protection

By reviewing current trends in the cybersecurity field and auditing your current technology framework, you can begin to get a clearer picture of how you want to prioritize your preventative measures versus your reactive measures.

Before you can start improving your cybersecurity approach, you need to know where your baseline is. Devise a handful of real-life scenarios and simulate them on your network. Network penetration testing from trustworthy IT professionals will help pinpoint weak spots in your current framework.

Finalize a plan

All these pieces will complete the puzzle of what your new strategy needs to be. With an experienced technology consultant on board for the entire process, you can easily synthesize the results of your simulation into a multi-pronged approach to proactive security:

  • Security awareness seminars that coach all internal stakeholders– train everyone from the receptionist to the CEO about effective security practices such as password management, proper mobile device usage, and spam awareness
  • Front-line defenses like intrusion prevention systems and hardware firewalls– scrutinize everything trying to sneak its way in through the borders of your network
  • Routine checkups for software updates, licenses, and patches– minimize the chance of leaving a backdoor to your network open
  • Web-filtering services– blacklist dangerous and inappropriate sites for anyone on your network
  • Updated antivirus software– protect your data and systems against the latest and most menacing malware

 

As soon as you focus on preventing downtime events instead of reacting to them, your IT infrastructure will increase your productivity and efficiency to levels you’ve never dreamed of. Start enhancing your cybersecurity by giving us a call for a demonstration.

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

Microsoft not only builds robust productivity solutions for its customers, but it also prioritizes their security above all else. This year, the company invested a lot of money to protect Office 365 subscribers from increasingly sophisticated phishing scams. Read on to learn more about what they did.

Effective anti-phishing solutions must be able to recognize the key elements of a phishing attack, which includes spoofed (or forged) emails, compromised accounts, unsafe links, and harmful attachments. In April 2018, Microsoft upgraded Office 365’s Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) features so it can better detect these elements and prevent a wide variety of phishing scams. These enhancements include:

  • Anti-impersonation measures –ATP will now look for potential phishing indicators in an email, including the sender’s address, name, and links, to identify whether the user is being impersonated. You can specify high-profile targets within your organization, such as managers and C-level executives, so Office 365 can protect these users from email impersonation. Office 365 also utilizes machine learning to analyze a user’s email patterns and flag suspicious contacts that have had no prior correspondence with your company.
  • Anti-spoofing technology –This feature reviews and blocks senders that disguise their true email address. You can even enable safety tips that flag certain email domains that have strange characters. For instance, if your real domain is Acme.com, a spoofed domain could be Acḿcom.
  • Email link scanning –Office 365 launched Safe Links, which scans emails for fraudulent links and redirects users to a safe page in case it does contain harmful materials. This feature also applies to email attachments, ensuring you’re protected against all types of phishing scams.

 

Due to these improvements, Office 365 had the lowest phish rate among other well-known email services between May 1 and September 16, 2018. The company has stopped over five billion phishing attempts and protected users against seven billion potentially malicious links. If you’re looking for a secure email platform, Office 365 is the best option for your business.

That said, it’s not a substitute for good security awareness. No matter how secure Office 365 is, employees still need to be adequately trained to recognize a phishing email when they see one. Hackers are constantly changing their tactics to evade Office 365’s detection systems, so it’s important that everyone is alert at all times.

If you need a well-fortified email service, we can implement and manage Office 365 for you. We even offer practical security advice to make sure your business, employees, and assets are safe and sound.  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

When it comes to Internet security, most small businesses don’t have security policies in place. And considering that employee error is one of the most common causes of a security breach, it makes sense to implement rules your staff needs to follow. Here are four things your IT policies should cover.

Internet

In today’s business world, employees spend a lot of time on the internet. To ensure they’re not putting your business at risk, you need a clear set of web policies. This must limit internet use for business purposes only, prohibit unauthorized downloads, and restrict access to personal emails on company devices. You can also include recommended browsing practices and policies for using business devices on public wifi.

Email

Just like the Internet policy mentioned above, company email accounts should only be utilized for business use. That means your employees should never use it to send personal files, forward links, or perform any type of business-related activities outside their specific job role. Additionally, consider implementing a standard email signature for all employees. This not only creates brand cohesion on all outgoing emails, but also makes it easy to identify messages from other employees, thus preventing spear phishing.

Passwords

We’ve all heard the importance of a strong password time and time again. And this same principle should also apply to your employees. The reason is rather simple. Many employees will create the easiest to crack passwords for their business accounts. After all, if your organization gets hacked, it’s not their money or business at stake. So to encourage employees to create strong passwords, your policy should instruct them to include special characters, uppercase and lowercase letters, and numbers in their passwords.

Data

Whether or not you allow your employees to conduct work on their own devices, such as a smartphone or tablet, it is important to have a bring your own device (BYOD) policy. If your employees aren’t aware of your stance on BYOD, some are sure to assume they can conduct work-related tasks on their personal laptop or tablet. So have a BYOD policy and put it in the employee handbook. In addition to this, make sure to explain that data on any workstation is business property. This means employees aren’t allowed to remove or copy it without your authorization.

We hope these four policies shed some light on the industry’s best security practices. If you’d like more tips or are interested in a security audit of your business, give us a call.

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

 

Making the decision to migrate from an on-site system to a cloud-based Office 365 is easy, but the migration process itself presents numerous security challenges. By covering these essentials, you’ll minimize security breaches and ensure you can enjoy the benefits of Office 365.

Identify your company’s sensitive data…
Most files housed within your servers contain sensitive commercial and personal data that must be properly identified and protected. Do this by conducting a security audit before you undertake your migration.

Your audit should identify the types of data stored in the various parts of your company network, including which specific information needs extra safeguarding. Be sure to consider everything from trade secrets and contract details to the personal information of your clients.

…and then restrict access to it
Once you’ve worked out where your most precious data lies, you can check who currently has access to it and whether their access is appropriate. After all, it’s not necessary for everyone to be able to get at all the data your company owns.

Ensure that each of your employees has access only to the data that’s necessary for them to perform their duties. The great thing about Office 365 is it lets you conveniently set different levels of permissions based on user roles.

Watch out for insider threats
It’s wise to consider everyone in your organization when it comes to auditing data access permissions – and that includes system administrators who may have master access to every element of your network infrastructure.

A rogue administrator is the stuff of nightmares, since their elevated position gives them much greater leeway to siphon off valuable data without being noticed – or even to allow others to conduct questionable business and bypass the usual built-in security precautions. You can mitigate this risk by monitoring your administrators’ data usage and activities.

Use machine learning to foresee security breaches
Every action performed by your staff within Office 365 is automatically logged, and with relative ease you can create detailed activity reports. But the sheer number of events taking place within Office 365 in the course of your business’s normal operations means that even attempting to identify questionable behavior will be akin to finding a needle in a haystack.

That’s not to say it’s unwise to be on the lookout for anomalies in normal usage – the export of unexplainably large volumes of data, for instance, could suggest that a member of your team is leaking intelligence to a competitor, or that they’re about to jump ship and take your trade secrets with them.

To make things easier, machine learning technologies can identify potential breaches before they happen by analyzing large swathes of data in seconds. Graph API is incorporated into Office 365, and allows for the integration of machine learning tools into your security environment to achieve just that. The same tools can also help you avoid being caught unawares by hackers, by identifying system login attempts from locations that are out of the ordinary.

By following these tips, you’ll be able to enjoy the powerful collaborative features of Office 365 while ensuring the robust security your business demands. To find out more about how we can help your Office 365 migration run smoothly, just give us a call.

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

Despite efforts to protect your data, some breaches are beyond your control. When an online company with your personal details gets hacked, you have no choice but to manage your risks on your own. These practical tips can help you reduce risks of identity theft and other threats.

Determine what was breached

Whether its names, addresses, email addresses, or social security numbers, it’s critical to know exactly what type of information was stolen before determining what steps to take. For example, if your email address were compromised, you’d take every precaution to strengthen your email security, which includes updating all your login credentials.

Change affected passwords immediately

Speaking of passwords, change yours immediately after any breach, even for seemingly safe accounts. Create a strong password comprised of alphanumeric and special characters, and make sure you never reuse passwords from your other accounts.

Once you’ve changed all your passwords, use a password manager to help you keep track of all your online account credentials.

If the website that breached your information offers two-factor authentication (2FA), enable it right away. 2FA requires two steps to verify security: usually a password and a verification code sent to a user’s registered mobile number.

Contact financial institutions

In cases where financial information was leaked, call your bank and credit card issuers to change your details, cancel your card, and notify them of a possible fraud risk. That way, banks can prevent fraud and monitor your account for suspicious activity.

Note that there are different rules for fraudulent transactions on debit cards and credit cards. Credit card transactions are a bit easier to dispute because they have longer grace periods. Debit card fraud, on the other hand, is more difficult to dispute, especially if the fraudulent transactions happened after you’ve notified the bank.

Place a fraud alert on your name

Hackers who have your personal information can easily commit identity fraud. To avoid becoming a victim, contact credit reporting bureaus like Equifax, Experian, or Innovis and request that a fraud alert (also called credit alert) be added to your name. This will block any attempt to open a credit account under your name and prevent unauthorized third parties from running a credit report on you.

 

Putting a credit freeze on your name might result in minor inconveniences, especially if you have an ongoing loan or credit card application. Still, doing so will greatly reduce your risks of getting defrauded.

These steps will ensure you don’t fall victim to identity theft in the event of a large-scale data breach. If you want to take a more proactive approach to protect your sensitive information against breaches, contact our cybersecurity experts 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

When talking about cyberattacks, the first one that usually comes to mind is phishing, a scam that uses email to spread malware or steal personal information. But hackers have a new method to infiltrate your systems, and it’s surprisingly effective. Here’s what you need to know about watering hole attacks.

What are watering hole attacks?
Much like phishing, a watering hole attack is used to distribute malware onto victims’ computers. Cybercriminals infect popular websites with malware. If anyone visits the site, their computers will automatically be loaded with malware.

The malware used in these attacks usually collects the target’s personal information and sends it back to the hacker’s server. Sometimes the malware can even give hackers full access to their victims’ computers.

But how does a hacker choose which websites to hack? With internet tracking tools, hackers find out which websites companies and individual users visit the most. They then attempt to find vulnerabilities in those websites and embed them with malicious software.

Any website can fall victim to a watering hole attack. In fact, even high-profile websites like Twitter, Microsoft, Facebook, and Apple were compromised in 2013.

You can protect yourself by following these tips.

Update your software
Watering hole attacks often exploit bugs and vulnerabilities to infiltrate your computer, so by updating your software and browsers regularly, you can significantly reduce the risk of an attack. Make it a habit to check the software developer’s website for any security patches. Or better yet, hire a managed IT services provider to keep your system up to date.

Watch your network closely
To detect watering hole attacks, you must use network security tools. For example, intrusion prevention systems allow you to detect suspicious and malicious network activities. Meanwhile, bandwidth management software will enable you to observe user behavior and detect abnormalities that could indicate an attack, such as large transfers of information or a high number of downloads.

Hide your online activities
Cybercriminals can create more effective watering hole attacks if they compromise websites only you and your employees frequent. As such, you should hide your online activities with a VPN and your browser’s private browsing feature.

At the end of the day, the best protection is staying informed. As cyberthreats continue to evolve, you must always be vigilant and aware of the newest threats. Tune in to our blog to find out about the latest developments in security and to get more tips on how to keep your business safe. 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

If you’re disturbed by advertisements and “helpful” suggestions that are based on your internet browsing habits, recent research has found yet another source of online tracking. It’s a sneaky tactic that also comes with serious security concerns. Let’s take a look at what you can do to stop it from targeting you.

Why auto-fill passwords are so dangerous
In 2015, the average internet user had 90 online accounts, a number that has undoubtedly grown since then. This has forced users to create dozens of passwords, sometimes because they want to practice healthy security habits and other times because the platforms they’re using have different password requirements.
Web browsers and password manager applications addressed this account overload by allowing usernames and passwords to be automatically entered into a web form, eliminating the need for users to hunt down the right credentials before logging in.
The process of tricking a browser or password manager into giving up this saved information is incredibly simple. All it takes is an invisible form placed on a compromised webpage to collect users’ login information without them knowing.

Using auto-fill to track users
Stealing passwords with this strategy has been a tug-of-war between hackers and security professionals for over a decade. However, it has recently come to light that digital marketers are also using this tactic to track users.
Two groups, AdThink and OnAudience, have been placing these invisible login forms on websites as a way to track which sites users visit. These marketers made no attempts to steal passwords, but security professionals said it wouldn’t have been hard to accomplish. AdThink and OnAudience simply tracked people based on the usernames in hidden auto-fill forms and sold that information to advertisers.

One simple security tip for today
Turn off auto-fill in your web browser. It’s quick, easy, and will go to great lengths to improve your account security.
• If you use Chrome – Open the Settings window, click Advanced, and select the appropriate settings under Manage Passwords
• If you use Firefox – Open the Options window, click Privacy, and under the History heading select “Firefox will: Use custom settings for history.” In the new window, disable “Remember search and form history.”
• If you use Safari – Open the Preferences window, select the Auto-fill tab, and turn off all the features related to usernames and passwords.

This is just one small thing you can do to keep your accounts and the information they contain safe. For managed, 24×7 cybersecurity assistance that goes far beyond protecting your privacy, 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

Whether it’s because of government surveillance or cyberattacks, internet users are more concerned than ever about the privacy of their online activities. Unfortunately, security measures like firewalls and antivirus software can’t help you in this case, but there’s one that can: Virtual Private Network (VPN).
 
What is VPN?
Simply put, a VPN is a group of servers you connect to via the internet. Once you’ve established a connection, your computer acts as if it’s on the same local connection as the VPN, making it seem like you moved to a different location.
When you surf the web through a VPN, all the data transmitted and received is also encrypted, preventing anyone — from hackers to government agencies — from monitoring your online activities.
 
Why should you have one?
Of course, security and privacy are major reasons why you would want a VPN. For example, if you’re connected to a public WiFi network — like the ones you typically see in local cafes and airports — using a VPN encrypts the information you’re sending or accessing online. This means things like credit card details, login credentials, private conversations, or other sensitive documents can’t be intercepted by a third party.
VPNs are also useful for accessing geo-restricted websites. If you’re traveling abroad and certain US websites are blocked in that region, you can simply connect to a VPN located in the US to access the sites you need.
 
Which VPN should you choose?
Given the increasing demand for secure online privacy, VPNs are surging in popularity. The following considerations can help you find the right one.
 
1. Cost
While free VPNs are available, we strongly suggest you avoid them. These keep logs of your internet activity, and in some cases sell them to the highest bidder. Maintaining a VPN service is also expensive, which means the free ones will likely plaster ads on your browser to make a quick buck.

Paid VPNs like SurfEasy and StrongVPN often come with more robust features and configurations that keep you secure. What’s more, they don’t keep a record of the sites you visit and hound you with pop-ups that lead to dangerous websites.
 
2. Location
The physical location of VPN servers is important if you want to access region-blocked websites. So if you’re planning on accessing a UK-based service, your VPN provider must at least have servers installed in London.
 
3. Capacity
Read through a VPN provider’s terms of service to determine how much data you’re allowed to use. If possible, find out how many servers a VPN provider has. If they have plenty of servers online, you can rest assured that they have the capacity to support your internet browsing.
 
4. Device compatibility
Another important factor to consider is whether the VPN can be used across multiple devices. Nowadays, employees work on laptops, tablets, and smartphones, so you’ll want a VPN that’s compatible with all these.
 
5. IP leaking
Finally, a great way to evaluate a VPN service is to sign up for their free trial service and visit https://ipleak.net/, which will allow you to check whether your real IP address is actually being leaked. If it manages to track your physical location, you need to opt for a more reliable VPN service.

VPNs are now a vital component of cybersecurity, and if you need help selecting the right one for your business, consult with our security experts today. We also offer comprehensive cybersecurity services so no hacker or third party can get their hands on your data.
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

Nearly 60 percent of small businesses have been the victims of a cyberattack over the past year, but the vast majority didn’t realize that they had been attacked, according to Nationwide’s third annual survey, released Monday.

The insurance company tapped 1,069 businesses with fewer than 299 employees for the study. Initially, only 13 percent of the participating companies said they had been victims of a cyberattack. However, after they were shown a list of cyberattack types — ranging from phishing scams to trojan horses to ransomware — that figure shot up to 58 percent.

“Cyberattacks are one of the greatest threats to the modern company,” said Mark Berven, Nationwide’s president of property and casualty. “Business owners are telling us that cybercriminals aren’t just attacking large companies on Wall Street.”

The companies that are targeted often have fewer cyberdefense systems, less money to invest in threat protection, and less name recognition at risk from a breach.
The most common forms of attack, based on the survey, were computer viruses, cited by 36 percent of respondents. Next came phishing attacks, cited by 29 percent, and then trojan horses, cited by 13 percent.

Lack of preparedness was a significant problem for the companies surveyed. About 57 percent of the firms did not have dedicated employee or vendor monitoring for cyberattacks in place. About 76 percent did not have a plan for dealing with such attacks. Fifty-seven percent did not have a plan for protecting employee data, and 54 percent lacked a plan for protecting customer data.

Recovery from cyberattacks in many cases was slow and expensive. About 20 percent of cyberattack victims spent US$50,000 and took more than six months to recover, while 7 percent spent more than $100,000 and took more than a year to recover.

Money Matters
Cyberattackers typically steal credit card information from companies with customers who make purchases from them, noted Karen Johnston, a technical consultant with Nationwide. They also steal personally identifiable information — such as addresses, names and Social Security numbers — that hackers can use to apply for new credit cards or loans, she told the E-Commerce Times.

Small businesses need to make sure their systems have proper antivirus and firewall protections, and make sure their systems are password-protected and properly patched and updated with the latest versions of antivirus and operating system software, Johnston said.

Companies also need to have up-to-date backups of their critical systems and customer data, and consider having cloud backups of this information, she suggested.

Further, most small businesses fail to have proper cyber-risk insurance, Johnston noted — or they think they are covered by existing business policies when they are not.

Protections Lacking
With their limited resources, small businesses tend to be more vulnerable to cyberattacks than larger enterprises.

“Small businesses are one of the most at-risk sectors of the market, in part because their data is equally valuable to an attacker and simultaneously their protections are significantly [less] than what you would see in a mid-size or enterprise business,” explained Kevin O’Brien, CEO of GreatHorn.

Cyberthieves are likely to sell whatever data they find on the Dark Web, and the price per item likely will be the same, whether the firm that was breached was a Fortune 500 or a much smaller firm, he told the E-Commerce Times.

The majority of attacks still arrive via email, but there recently has been a rapid increase in attacks via mobile devices and social media, observed Ryan Kalember, senior vice president of cybersecurity strategy at Proofpoint.

Technology firms and companies with complex supply chains, like manufacturers, are targeted more frequently, with about 40 email fraud attempts per organization, he told the E-Commerce Times.

“Small businesses can be a really sweet spot for cybercriminals. They have more money to steal than a consumer and less security in place than a large business,” said Kevin Haley, director of security response at Symantec.

“They are also often dependent on third-party vendors for their technology,” he told the E-Commerce Times. “Meanwhile, cybercriminals can be very successful specializing in breaching one technology or solution and working their way through the small businesses that use it.”

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 TECHNEWSWORLD.com SOURCE