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When it comes to protecting small businesses from cyberattacks, there is a constant balance between managing risk and applying limited resources between security, operational budgets, and convenience. Small businesses face critical resource decisions every day. Can my business afford to deploy optimal, strong cybersecurity solutions? And will my cybersecurity policies be a burden for my employees, trading partners, and customers?

Small business owners face significant challenges, and their most important daily responsibility is ensuring their businesses grow and thrive. As an industry, we have not done enough to connect the benefits of strong cybersecurity practices and policies to business expansion, resiliency, and long-term survival.

There is no area of cybersecurity more indicative of the challenges we face in threading the needle between security and business-friendly policies than usernames and passwords. We still overwhelmingly rely on an insecure means of account and network access that has proven inefficient and insecure for more than 30 years.

Multi-factor authentication (MFA)

We know there are more secure methods that can be deployed. Multi-factor authentication (MFA) bolsters security by requiring users to present more than one piece of evidence (credential) whenever the user logs in to a business account (ex. company email, payroll, human resources, etc.). MFA usually falls into three categories: something the user knows (a 15-character password), something the user has (fingerprint), or something the user receives (a code sent to the user’s phone or email account).

MFA works, but companies remain extremely reticent to deploy. The Global Small Business Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) Study released by the Cyber Readiness Institute (CRI) found that only 46% of small business owners claim to have implemented MFA methods recommended by leading security experts, with just 13% requiring its use by employees for most account or application access.

Most companies implementing some form of MFA have not made it a requirement for all.

Only 39% of those who offer MFA have a process for prioritizing critical hardware, software, and data, with 49% merely “encouraging the use of MFA when it is available.”

According to Microsoft, 99.9% of account compromise attacks can be blocked simply using MFA. Yet, 47% of small business owners surveyed said they either didn’t understand MFA or didn’t see its value. In addition, nearly 60% have not discussed MFA with their employees.

Implementation of MFAs

Implementing MFA does not require hardware changes to company computers, mobile devices, or printers. Instead, there are numerous free and low-cost software-based tools users can download to their company and personal devices. For example, email providers usually offer (and encourage) MFA. Therefore, it can be as easy as clicking an option in email settings to turn on MFA.

There are several easy steps companies can take to implement MFA. First, organizations should update their policies and procedures with specific expectations. For example, all employees should implement MFA on their company email accounts. Next, hold workforce information sessions to communicate MFA policies and expectations. Employees need to know that it is easy to activate MFA on their accounts. Finally, designate someone in the organization who accepts the responsibility for cyber readiness to help employees troubleshoot as they begin using MFA.

Final Thoughts

At CRI, we fully believe strong cybersecurity is a business imperative, not an operational challenge. This requires a change in mindset from small business leaders, new questions must be asked, and behaviors need to change:

  • Can my business afford to suffer a cyberattack?
  • Will a cyberattack irreparably damage my brand?
  • Will a cyberattack burden my employees, customers, and trading partners?

Honestly answering these questions will change the importance of cybersecurity in a small business’s growth strategy.

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 SmallBiz Technology SOURCE

Watering hole attacks are on the rise, but many businesses are still unprepared against it. To avoid falling victim to a watering hole attack, it is crucial to know what it is, understand the risks, and take steps to defend your business.

How watering hole attacks work

The term “watering hole” colloquially refers to a social gathering place where a particular group of people often go to. As internet users, we all have unique “watering holes” or websites that we frequently visit. For example, a financial analyst is likely to visit websites related to financial investments and market trends.

In a watering hole attack, cybercriminals observe the watering holes of a specific demographic and infect their targets’ most visited websites with malware. A user who has the misfortune of visiting any of these compromised sites will then have their device automatically loaded with malware.

The malware used in these attacks usually collects the victim’s personal information and sends it back to the hacker’s server. In extreme cases, the hacker will also actively take control of the infected device.

But how does a cybercriminal choose which websites to hack?

With internet tracking tools, hackers find out which websites companies and individual users visit the most. Hackers then attempt to find vulnerabilities in those websites and embed them with malicious software.

Tips to defend against this threat

Hackers these days are so highly skilled that they can exploit any website using a watering hole attack. Even specific ethnic communities and demographics have become targets of this scheme.

Protect yourself and your business from watering hole attacks by doing the following:

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

Closely monitor your network
Regularly conduct security checks using network security tools like intrusion prevention systems that detect and contain suspicious or malicious network activities before they cause problems. Consider using bandwidth management software to enable you to observe user behavior and detect abnormalities that could indicate an attack, such as large data transfers or a high number of downloads.

Hide your online activities
Use a VPN and your browser’s private browsing feature to hide you and your team’s online activities. You can also block social media sites from your office network, as these are often used as share points of links to infected sites.

Watering hole attacks can be devastating to businesses of all sizes. By staying informed and taking steps to protect your business, you can minimize the risk of becoming a victim. Contact us today to learn more ways to keep your business safe from watering hole attacks and other cyberthreats.

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

“Know thine enemy” — it means to get to know them and their motives. In this blog, we take a close look at the five types of dangerous hackers, what their motives are, and how they operate.

Script kiddies

In terms of skill, script kiddies (or skids, for short) are at the bottom of the hacker totem pole. Their name comes from the fact that they use scripts or other automated tools written by others. They are often young people on a quest for internet notoriety or who are simply bored and in search of a thrill.

Script kiddies shouldn’t be dismissed so easily, however. The ILOVEYOU virus, considered one of the worst malware on the planet, was developed by skids.

Hacktivists

Hacktivists often hack into businesses and government systems to promote a particular political agenda or to effect social change. These so-called “hackers with a cause” steal confidential information to expose or disrupt their target’s operations.

Even if you’re a small- or medium-sized business (SMB) owner, you’re not immune to hacktivist attacks. This is especially true if your company is associated or partnered with organizations that are prime hacktivist targets.

Cybercriminals

Cybercriminals break into digital systems or networks with the intent to steal, destroy, taint, and/or lock away data. They usually target individuals, SMBs, and large companies that have exploitable weaknesses in their cybersecurity.

Cybercriminals attack using a number of methods, including social engineering tactics to trick users into volunteering sensitive personal or company data. This information is then used for identity theft, sold on the dark web, or leveraged to launch attacks against other businesses. Cybercriminals can also infect computers with ransomware and other types of malware.

State-sponsored hackers

True to their name, these hackers are backed by governments. The hackers’ goal is to promote their backer’s interests within their own country or abroad. In most cases, this involves taking down websites that criticize the state, swaying public opinion, cyber-terrorism, and leaking top-secret information, among others.

As they are, state-sponsored hackers are already dangerous to business owners, but even more so when they make it their goal to cripple an entire country’s financial system or disrupt commodity supply lines. This could involve interfering with the economy or disrupting business operations. Tech and pharmaceutical companies are a frequent target, but businesses in other industries aren’t safe from state-sponsored hackers either.

Insiders

The scariest type of hacker is the one that lurks within your own organization. An insider can be your company’s current and former employees, contractors, or business associates. Oftentimes their mission is payback. They’ll steal sensitive documents or try to disrupt the organization’s operations to right a wrong they believe a company has done to them. Edward Snowden is a prime example of an insider who hacked the organization he worked for — the US government.

Malicious hackers are always changing their tactics to meet their goals, making them an ever-present threat to any organization, including yours. It’s crucial that you stay one step ahead by working with cybersecurity experts who can help protect your company from dangerous hackers and other cyberthreats. Contact our team today to get started.

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 it comes to cybersecurity, you probably think of protecting computers, apps, or online databases first and printers last. Precisely because they’re overlooked in, printers can be exploited by hackers and used as a gateway to infiltrate your systems. Secure your networks against intruders by following these steps.

What makes business printers vulnerable to cyberattacks?

When assessing network security threats, companies primarily focus on servers and computers not only because they are the most exposed to external threats, but also because they get the bulk of cyberattacks. Printers are often at the bottom of the list since they are not prime targets. What’s more, their functions seem to be internal at first glance, as they don’t interact with external systems.

But it’s exactly because of their primary functions, namely printing and scanning, that make print devices perfect cybercriminal targets. Businesses run important documents such as tax forms, employee information, medical records, and financial statements through print devices, and hackers would definitely love to get their hands on them.

And they can — easily.

Network printers store previous print jobs in their hard drive, sometimes including those that have been canceled. If anyone accesses the printer — even remotely — they may be able to see those documents by hacking into the printer using a specialized tool.

Files can also be intercepted during wireless transmission, as modern printers can now be connected to the web. Not only can hackers exploit printers’ open network ports to view data, but they can also take over vulnerable printers and transmit their own data through the machine.

What can you do to protect your business printers?

Business printers should not be disregarded when planning a cybersecurity strategy. Keep your print devices secure by following these best practices:

  • Monitor your network continuously and promptly install printer software updates and patches. Printer manufacturers often release software support or updates, so regularly check for those.
  • Change the default password and administrator login credentials of printers with web management capabilities.
  • Only allow company-owned devices to connect to your printers.
  • Always connect to your printers using secure connections. Conversely, avoid accessing your printers through a public internet connection.
  • Restrict printer access by using a firewall.
  • If your wireless printer has the feature that requires users to enter a PIN before they can print documents, enable it to prevent unauthorized access.
  • If you don’t use your printer for fax and email, isolate your printer from your main company network and disable out-of-network printing.
  • If you handle classified data, do not connect your printer to any network. Instead, connect it directly to your computer using data cables, or print from a thumb drive.
  • Secure your printouts by enabling manual feed. This setting requires a user to manually input paper (or any material to be printed on), so there are reduced risks of the printed document getting stolen or being left in the printing area.

Another way to secure your printers is by partnering with an IT company that can take care of your printer-related worries. From thwarting attacks to reducing management costs to keeping your printer at optimal functionality, our experts can help.

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

There really is an app for almost everything — including one that cyber-criminals use to hack into businesses’ systems. Cyberattacks have become so advanced that they are now aided by an app, like this one that poses serious threats to Office 365 users. If you’re using Office 365, here’s what you need to know.

A phishing scam that harvests users’ credentials

The latest cyberattack on Microsoft Office 365 involves harvesting users’ credentials. Scammers use this previously unseen tactic by launching a phishing message to users, asking them to click on an embedded link. What makes this scam more insidious than traditional phishing scams is that the URL within the message links to a real Microsoft login page.

How does it work?

The phishing message resembles a legitimate SharePoint and OneDrive file-share that prompts users to click on it. Once they do, they are taken to an Office 365 login page where they will be asked to log in if they haven’t already.

After they’ve logged in, they’ll be prompted to grant permission to an app called “0365 Access.” Users who grant permission effectively give the app — and the hackers behind it — complete access to their Office 365 files, contacts, and inbox.

This technique can easily trick lots of users since the app that requests access is integrated with the Office 365 Add-ins feature. That means that Microsoft essentially generates the request for permission. No, Microsoft is not aiding hackers to breach systems. Rather, the scam is made possible by a feature that allows users to install apps that are not from the official Office Store.

Ways to protect your Office 365 account — and your business

Given their fairly advanced approach, these scammers could effortlessly prey on careless employees. There are ways to make sure that doesn’t happen.

  • Always check the email’s sender account before clicking on any link or granting apps access.
  • Implement a policy that prevents staff from downloading and installing apps that are not from the Office Store.
  • Regularly conduct security awareness training that covers essential cybersecurity topics. Educate employees on how to spot phishing scam red flags (e.g., unknown senders, grammatical and typographical errors, suspicious requests, and the like). Increase their knowledge about more sophisticated attacks and keep everyone informed about current and future cybersecurity risks.

Successful attacks could result in an unimaginable catastrophe to your company. For tips on how to spot this and other nefarious scams and how to plan thorough security practices, contact our 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