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Password Security

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) created many of the password best practices you probably loathe — using a combination of letters, numbers, and special characters. The NIST now says those guidelines were ill-advised and has changed its stance. Find out why and what this means for you.

The problem

The issue isn’t that the NIST advised people to create easy-to-crack passwords, but their previous advice inadvertently made people create weak passwords using predictable capitalization, special characters, and numbers, like “P@ssW0rd1.”

Such a password may seem secure, but the strings of characters and numbers could easily be compromised by hackers using common algorithms.

What’s more, the NIST also recommended that people change their passwords regularly, but did not specify how and when to change them. Since many people thought their passwords were already secure because they’ve included special characters in them, most only added or changed one character.

The NIST essentially forced everyone to use passwords that are hard for humans to remember but easy for a hacker’s algorithm to crack.

Eventually, the institution admitted that this can cause more problems than solutions. It has reversed its stance on organizational password management requirements, and is now recommending banishing forced periodic password changes and getting rid of complexity requirements.

The solution

Security consultant Frank Abagnale and Chief Hacking Officer for KnowBe4 Kevin Mitnick both see a future without passwords. Both security experts advise enterprises to implement multifactor authentication in login policies.

This requires a user to present two valid credentials aside from a password to gain access to an account. This could be a code sent to the account owner’s smartphone, a login prompt on a mobile device, or a facial or a fingerprint scan. This way, hackers’ login efforts are futile unless they fulfill the succeeding security requirements.

Moreover, Mitnick recommended implementing long passphrases of 25 characters or more, such as “recedemarmaladecrockplacate” or “cavalryfigurineunderdoneexalted.” These are much more difficult to guess and less prone to hacking. As for the frequency of changing passphrases, it will depend on a company’s risk tolerance.

Simply put, passwords should be longer and include nonsensical phrases and English words that make it almost impossible for an automated system to crack.

You should also enforce the following security solutions within your company:

  • Single sign-on – allows users to securely access multiple accounts with one set of credentials
  • Account monitoring tools – recognizes suspicious activity and locks out hackers

When it comes to security, ignorance is your business’s kryptonite. If you’d like to learn about what else you can do to remain secure, 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

The hacker’s message is urgent and aimed directly at you. We’ll teach you how to keep from getting duped.

Everyone has access to something a hacker wants. To get it, hackers might aim a targeted attack right at you. The goal might be stealing customer data that’s useful for identity theft, your company’s intellectual property or even your personal income data. The latter could help hackers steal your tax refund or file for unemployment benefits in your name.

Targeted attacks, also called spear-phishing, aim to trick you into handing over login credentials or downloading malicious software. That’s what happened at Twitter in July, where the company says hackers targeted employees on their phones. Spear-phishing attacks also often take place over email. Hackers usually send targets an “urgent” message and include credible-sounding information specific to you, like something that could have come from your own tax return, social media account or credit card bill. These scams aim to override any red flags you might notice about the email with details that make the sender sound legitimate.

Despite corporate training and stern warnings to be careful who you give your password to, people do fall for these tricks. In addition to the Twitter fiasco, there was the release of Hillary Clinton campaign chair John Podesta’s emails, including his technique for making risotto (hint: keep stirring!). Podesta reportedly entered his personal username and password into a fake form designed by hackers specifically to capture his credentials.

Another consequence of falling for a spear-phishing scam could be downloading malicious software, like ransomware. You could also be convinced to wire money to a cybercriminal’s account. So how do you avoid falling for a spear-phishing scam? By taking these security habits to heart.

Know the basic signs of phishing scams

Phishing emails, texts and phone calls try to trick you into visiting a malicious website, handing over a password or downloading a file. This works in email attacks because people often spend the whole day at work clicking on links and downloading files as part of their jobs. Hackers know this and try to take advantage of your propensity to click without thinking.

Despite corporate training and stern warnings to be careful who you give your password to, people do fall for these tricks. In addition to the Twitter fiasco, there was the release of Hillary Clinton campaign chair John Podesta’s emails, including his technique for making risotto (hint: keep stirring!). Podesta reportedly entered his personal username and password into a fake form designed by hackers specifically to capture his credentials.

Another consequence of falling for a spear-phishing scam could be downloading malicious software, like ransomware. You could also be convinced to wire money to a cybercriminal’s account. So how do you avoid falling for a spear-phishing scam? By taking these security habits to heart.

Know the basic signs of phishing scams

Phishing emails, texts and phone calls try to trick you into visiting a malicious website, handing over a password or downloading a file. This works in email attacks because people often spend the whole day at work clicking on links and downloading files as part of their jobs. Hackers know this and try to take advantage of your propensity to click without thinking.

Despite corporate training and stern warnings to be careful who you give your password to, people do fall for these tricks. In addition to the Twitter fiasco, there was the release of Hillary Clinton campaign chair John Podesta’s emails, including his technique for making risotto (hint: keep stirring!). Podesta reportedly entered his personal username and password into a fake form designed by hackers specifically to capture his credentials.

Another consequence of falling for a spear-phishing scam could be downloading malicious software, like ransomware. You could also be convinced to wire money to a cybercriminal’s account. So how do you avoid falling for a spear-phishing scam? By taking these security habits to heart.

Know the basic signs of phishing scams

Phishing emails, texts and phone calls try to trick you into visiting a malicious website, handing over a password or downloading a file. This works in email attacks because people often spend the whole day at work clicking on links and downloading files as part of their jobs. Hackers know this and try to take advantage of your propensity to click without thinking.

Because spear-phishing scams can be so tricky, there’s an extra layer of caution you should apply before acting on a request that comes over email or the phone. The most important of these extra steps: guard your password. Never follow a link from your email to a website and then enter your account password. Never give your password to anyone over the phone.

Banks, email providers and social media platforms often make it policy to never ask for your password in an email or phone call. Instead, you can go to the company’s website in your browser and log in there. You can also dial back to the company’s call customer service department to see if the request is legit. Most financial institutions, like your bank, will send secure messages through a separate inbox you can access only after you’ve logged onto the website.

Beat phishing by calling the sender

If someone sends you something “important” to download, asks you to reset your account passwords or requests that you send a money order from company accounts, call the sender of the message — like your boss, your bank or other financial institution, or the IRS — and make sure they really sent it to you.

If the request came by phone call, you can still pause and double check. For example, if someone says they’re calling from your bank, you can tell the caller you’re going to hang up and call back on the company’s main customer service line.

A phishing message will often try to make the request seem incredibly urgent, so you might not feel inclined to add an extra step by calling the sender to double-check. For example, an email might say that your account has been compromised and you need to reset your password ASAP, or that your account will expire unless you act by the end of the day.

Because spear-phishing scams can be so tricky, there’s an extra layer of caution you should apply before acting on a request that comes over email or the phone. The most important of these extra steps: guard your password. Never follow a link from your email to a website and then enter your account password. Never give your password to anyone over the phone.

Banks, email providers and social media platforms often make it policy to never ask for your password in an email or phone call. Instead, you can go to the company’s website in your browser and log in there. You can also dial back to the company’s call customer service department to see if the request is legit. Most financial institutions, like your bank, will send secure messages through a separate inbox you can access only after you’ve logged onto the website.

Beat phishing by calling the sender

If someone sends you something “important” to download, asks you to reset your account passwords or requests that you send a money order from company accounts, call the sender of the message — like your boss, your bank or other financial institution, or the IRS — and make sure they really sent it to you.

If the request came by phone call, you can still pause and double check. For example, if someone says they’re calling from your bank, you can tell the caller you’re going to hang up and call back on the company’s main customer service line.

A phishing message will often try to make the request seem incredibly urgent, so you might not feel inclined to add an extra step by calling the sender to double-check. For example, an email might say that your account has been compromised and you need to reset your password ASAP, or that your account will expire unless you act by the end of the day.

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 CNET.com  SOURCE

cyber security

And What You Need To Do NOW To Protect Yourself

Everybody gets hacked, but not everything makes the evening news. We hear about big companies like Target, Home Depot, Capital One, and Facebook getting hacked. What we rarely hear about are the little guys – the small businesses that make up 99.7% of employers in the United States, according to the Small Business Administration. It’s these guys who are the biggest targets of cybercriminals.

Basically, if you run a business, that business is a potential target. It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in, what you sell or how popular you are. Cybercriminals go after everybody. In 2018, a cyber security survey by the Ponemon Institute found that 67% of small and midsize businesses in the US and UK were hit by a cyber-attack.

For the cybercriminal, casting a wide net makes the most sense because it gets results. It puts them in a position where they are able to extort money, steal sensitive information and ultimately profit off of destroying the property, prosperity and reputation of others.

Why do cybercriminals love to target small businesses? There are a handful of reasons why small businesses make sense to attack.

  1. Small Businesses are the most vulnerable. Business owners, entrepreneurs and executives aren’t always up-to-date on network security, current cyberthreats or best practices in IT. They have a business to run and that’s usually where their focus is. Unfortunately, that means cyber security can take a back seat to other things, like marketing or customer support. This also means they might not be investing in good network security or any IT security at all. It’s just not top-of-mind or they may feel that because it’s never happened to them, it never will (which is a dangerous way of thinking).
  2. Small Businesses don’t take IT security seriously. Coming off that last point, it’s true that many businesses don’t properly secure their network because they feel that they aren’t vulnerable. They have the mindset of “It hasn’t happened to me, so it won’t.” Along those same lines, they might not even take password security seriously. According to research conducted by Trace Security, upward of 80% of ALL breaches come down to one vulnerability: weak passwords! Even in 2020, people are still using passwords like “12345” and “password” to protect sensitive data, such as banking information and customer records. Secure passwords that are changed regularly can protect your business!
  3. Small Businesses don’t have the resources they need. Generally speaking, medium to large companies have more resources to put into IT security. While this isn’t always true (even big companies skimp on cyber security, as the headlines remind us), hackers spend less time focused on big targets because they assume it will take more of their own resources (time and effort) to get what they want (money and sensitive data). Many small businesses lack the resources like capital and personnel to put toward IT security, so hackers are more confident in attacking these businesses.

Just because you haven’t had any major problems for years – or at all – is a bad excuse for not maintaining your computer systems. Threats are growing in number by the day. While many small businesses might think, “I don’t have the time or resources for good security,” that’s not true! You don’t need to hire IT staff to take care of your security needs. You don’t need to spend an arm and a leg securing your network. IT security has come a LONG way in just the last five years alone. You can now rely on an IT security firm, like GCInfotech, to handle all the heavy lifting. They can monitor your network 24/7. They can provide you with IT support 24/7.

That’s the great thing about technology today – while many hackers are doing everything they can to use technology against us, you can use it against them too. Work with a dedicated and experienced IT security firm. Tell them your business’s network security needs and they’ll go to work fighting the good fight against the bad guys.

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

In the past couple of months, just about everyone has been forced to shift priorities. If you’re like many business owners, you are intently focused on pivoting your business to accommodate today’s “new normal.” In fact, you are probably investing so much of your time in trying to retain your customers and generate new cash flow that you barely have time to even think about cyber security.

The problem is that cybercriminals and hackers know there’s no better time to strike than during a global crisis. In fact, they’re probably working overtime to craft new malware while the rest of us are trying to manage how our lives have been turned upside down. While you are so focused on your business, these cyber thugs are finding new ways into your IT network so they can steal data and passwords, compromise your clients’ private information and even demand large ransoms.

Cybercrime is already on the rise and is expected to cause $6 trillion in damages by 2021! But, if history repeats itself, you can bet hackers are already out in full force right now. We’ve already seen how headlines are changing from stories about COVID-19 to accounts of a frenzy of cyber-attacks on corporations and small businesses.

Here are solutions you can implement during these crazy times to help protect your business data, money and productivity:

  • Be more suspicious of incoming e-mails.

Because people have been scared, confused and not really focused for a while now, it’s the perfect time for hackers to send e-mails with dangerous malware and viruses. You probably have received a bunch of COVID-19-focused emails. Always carefully inspect the e-mail and make sure you know the sender. There has already been a CDC-gov e-mail address out there that’s not legitimate and has spammed inboxes across the country.

Avoid clicking links in the e-mail unless it’s clear where they go. And you should never download an attachment unless you know who sent it and what it is. Communicate these safeguards to everyone on your team, especially if they are working from home.

  • Ensure your work-from-home computers are secure.

Another reason to expect a rise in cyber-attacks during these times is the dramatic increase in employees working from home. Far too many employers won’t think about security as their team starts working at the kitchen table. That’s a dangerous precedent.

First, make sure your employees and contractors are not using their home computers or devices when working. Second, ensure your work-at home computers have a firewall that’s turned on. Finally, your network and data are not truly secure unless your employees utilize a virtual private network (VPN). If you need help in arranging or improving your new work-from-home environment, we would be happy to get your entire team set up. Our goal is always to help your business to thrive with greater cyber security and superior technology that improves efficiency.

  • Improve your password strategy.

During crises like this one, your passwords could mean the difference between spending your time working to grow your business and trying to recoup finances and private data that’s been hacked. Make a point now to reevaluate your passwords and direct your team to create stronger passwords.

Also, while it’s so convenient to save your passwords in your web browser, it also lessens your security. Because web browsers simply require their own password or PIN to access saved passwords, a skilled hacker can bypass this hurdle. Once they access your saved passwords, they can steal as much as they want – credit card information, customers’ private data and more!

Instead, you should consider a password manager to keep all of your passwords in one place. These password managers feature robust security.

You, your team and your family have enough to concern yourselves with at the moment. There’s no need to invite in more problems by letting your computer and network security slide during these times.

While this coronavirus scare has negatively affected countless businesses, we are proud to say we are open and continuously servicing our customers. If you need additional security advice or would like to have a consultation to discuss how to keep your data safe or how we can help you work more effectively, simply connect with 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