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“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

Apple security threats

The hearsay that Macs cannot be infected by viruses or malware couldn’t be further from the truth. There are plenty of cyberthreats that pose risks to Macs, so if you’re a Mac user, you should prioritize your device’s security. The good news is that protecting your Mac is simple and easy. Just follow these steps.

Check your privacy settings

Make sure that your Mac settings are set up properly to keep your data safe. Manage the information your Mac makes available across the internet or on a network by going to Apple menu System Preferences Security & Privacy Privacy. From there, you can choose which information to share and with whom. For example, you can specify which apps are allowed to see personal information, such as your location, contacts, photos, or music.

Take advantage of the firewall

A firewall protects your Mac from unwanted contact initiated by other computers on a network or the internet. It protects your computer by allowing only authorized services and apps to communicate with your Mac, so be sure to enable macOS’s built-in firewall.

To do so, just go to Apple menu System Preferences Security & Privacy Privacy then, click Firewall. If the padlock icon at the bottom left is locked, click it and key in your username and password. Enable the firewall by clicking Turn On Firewall.

To modify Firewall settings, click on Firewall Options… just below the “Turn Off Firewall” button. You will find a list of services and apps that are allowed to receive inbound connections. If you want to add an app or service to the list, just click the “+” button below the list itself. However, we recommend keeping this list as short as possible, as the apps listed can be exploited by cybercriminals.

Another useful feature to enable is stealth mode. This option will make your Mac more difficult to find, thus keeping hackers and malware at bay. For instance, if you are in a coffee shop and connected to its unsecured Wi-Fi, enabling stealth mode will make your Mac invisible on that public network. To turn on this feature, just tick the box next to “Enable stealth mode” in Firewall Options. A dialog box will pop up, and you can click on the “Enable Stealth Mode” button.

Set up a firmware password

Every new Mac today has the FileVault encryption automatically enabled. This means that your device already encrypts the hard drive by default, and the only way your data can be accessed is by logging in. Keep in mind, though, that this feature won’t necessarily save your account in case someone reinstalls the operating system or uses a memory stick to boot the Mac and remove all data from your hard disk.

To increase protection, set up a firmware password. Do this by restarting your computer, then pressing and holding down Cmd+R before the Apple logo shows up on the screen. You can let go of the keys once the progress bar pops up.

When the utilities window appears, click on Utilities in the menu bar, then choose Startup Security Utility or Firmware Password Utility. Click on Turn On Firmware Password… and simply follow the succeeding instructions.

Finally, quit the utilities window, then choose Apple menu Restart. Make sure to never forget or misplace your firmware password, because only Apple technicians can recover it.

Ensure that your confidential data remains private by performing minor tweaks on your Mac’s system settings. It takes only a few minutes to ensure lasting online protection. If setting up a firewall or firmware password sounds a little too advanced for you, or if you need to set up more advanced defenses, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our experts.

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

Breaking Bad Habits

4 Ways Your Employees Are Putting Your Business At Risk Of Cyber-Attack

A couple years ago, TechRepublic ran a story with the following headline: “Employees Are Almost As Dangerous To Business As Hackers And Cybercriminals.” From the perspective of the business, you might think that’s simply inaccurate. Your company strives to hire the best people it can find – people who are good at their jobs and would never dream of putting their own employer at risk.

Your employees are instrumental when it comes to protecting your business from cyberthreats. But they can also become targets for hackers and cybercriminals, and they might not know it. Here are four ways your employees might be endangering your business and themselves — and what you can do about it.

1. They’re Not Practicing Safe And Secure Web Browsing. One of the most basic rules of the Internet is to not click on anything that looks suspicious. These days, however, it can be harder to tell what’s safe and what isn’t.

A good rule of thumb is to avoid websites that do not have “https” in front of their web address. The “s” tells you it’s secure – https stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure. If all you see is “http” – no “s” – then you should not trust putting your data on that website, as you don’t know where your data might end up.

Another way to practice safe web browsing is to avoid clicking on ads or by using an ad blocker, such as uBlock Origin (a popular ad blocker for Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox). Hackers can use ad networks to install malware on a user’s computer and network.

2. They’re Not Using Strong Passwords. This is one of the worst IT security habits out there. It’s too easy for employees to use simple passwords or to reuse the same password over and over again or to use one password for everything. Or, worse yet, all of the above.

Cybercriminals love it when people get lazy with their passwords. If you use the same password over and over, and that password is stolen in a data breach (unbeknownst to you), it becomes super easy for cybercriminals to access virtually any app or account tied to that password. No hacking needed!

To avoid this, your employees must use strong passwords, change passwords every 60 to 90 days, and not reuse old passwords. It might sound tedious, especially if they rely on multiple passwords, but when it comes to the IT security of your business, it’s worth it. One more thing: the “tedious” argument really doesn’t hold much water either, thanks to password managers like 1Password and LastPass that make it easy to create new passwords and manage them across all apps and accounts.

3. They’re Not Using Secure Connections. This is especially relevant for remote workers, but it’s something every employee should be aware of. You can find WiFi virtually everywhere, and it makes connecting to the Internet very easy. A little too easy. When you can connect to an unverified network at the click of a button, it should raise eyebrows.

And unless your employee is using company-issued hardware, you have no idea what their endpoint security situation is. It’s one risk after another, and it’s all unnecessary. The best policy is to prohibit employees from connecting to unsecured networks (like public WiFi) with company property.

Instead, they should stick to secure networks that then connect via VPN. This is on top of the endpoint security that should be installed on every device that connects to your company’s network: malware protection, antivirus, anti-spyware, anti-ransomware, firewalls, you name it! You want to put up as many gates between your business interests and the outside digital world as you can.

4. They’re Not Aware Of Current Threats. How educated is your team about today’s cyber security threats? If you don’t know, or you know the answer isn’t a good one, it’s time for a change. One of the biggest threats to your business is a workforce that doesn’t know what a phishing e-mail looks like or doesn’t know who to call when something goes wrong on the IT side of things.

If an employee opens an e-mail they shouldn’t or clicks a “bad” link, it can compromise your entire business. You could end up the victim of data breach. Or a hacker might decide to hold your data hostage until you pay up. This happens every day to businesses around the world – and hackers are relentless. They will use your own employees against you, if given the chance.

Your best move is to get your team trained up and educated about current threats facing your business. Working with a managed service provider or partnering with an IT services firm is an excellent way to accomplish this and to avoid everything we’ve talked about in this article. Education is a powerful tool and, when used right, it can protect your business and your employees.

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

Your employees are your first line of defense when it comes to protecting your business from cyberthreats. Human error is one of the single biggest culprits behind cyber-attacks. It comes down to someone falling for a phishing scam, clicking an unknown link or downloading a file without realizing that it’s malicious.

Because your team is so critical to protecting your business from cyberthreats, it’s just as critical to keep your team informed and on top of today’s dangers. One way to do that is to weave cyber security into your existing company culture.

How Do You Do That?

For many employees, cyber security is rarely an engaging topic. In truth, it can be dry at times, especially for people outside of the cyber security industry, but it can boil down to presentation. That isn’t to say you need to make cyber security “fun,” but make it interesting or engaging. It should be accessible and a normal part of the workday.

Bring It Home For Your Team. One of the reasons why people are often disconnected from topics related to cyber security is simply because they don’t have firsthand experience with it. This is also one reason why many small businesses don’t invest in cyber security in the first place – it hasn’t happened to them, so they don’t think it will. Following that logic, why invest in it at all?

The thing is that it will eventually happen. It’s never a question of if, but when. Cyberthreats are more common than ever. Of course, this also means it’s easier to find examples you can share with your team. Many major companies have been attacked. Millions of people have had their personal data stolen. Look for examples that employees can relate to, names they are familiar with, and discuss the damage that’s been done.

If possible, bring in personal examples. Maybe you or someone you know has been the victim of a cyber-attack, such as ransomware or a data breach. The closer you can bring it home to your employees, the more they can relate, which means they’re listening.

Collaborate With Your Employees. Ask what your team needs from you in terms of cyber security. Maybe they have zero knowledge about data security and they could benefit from training. Or maybe they need access to better tools and resources. Make it a regular conversation with employees and respond to their concerns.

Part of that can include transparency with employees. If Julie in accounting received a phishing e-mail, talk about it. Bring it up in the next weekly huddle or all-company meeting. Talk about what was in the e-mail and point out its identifying features. Do this every time phishing e-mails reach your employees.

Or, maybe Jared received a mysterious e-mail and made the mistake of clicking the link within that e-mail. Talk about that with everyone, as well. It’s not about calling out Jared. It’s about having a conversation and not placing blame. The focus should be on educating and filling in the gaps. Keep the conversation going and make it a normal part of your company’s routine. The more you talk about it and the more open you are, the more it becomes a part of the company culture.

Keep Things Positive. Coming from that last point, you want employees to feel safe in bringing their concerns to their supervisors or managers. While there are many cyberthreats that can do serious damage to your business (and this should be stressed to employees), you want to create an environment where employees are willing to ask for help and are encouraged to learn more about these issues.

Basically, employees should know they won’t get into trouble if something happens. Now, if an employee is blatantly not following your company’s IT rules, that’s a different matter. But for the day-to-day activities, creating a positive, educational, collaborative environment is the best way to make cyber security a normal part of your company culture.

Plus, taking this approach builds trust, and when you and your team have that trust, it becomes easier to tackle issues of data and network security – and to have necessary conversations.

Need help creating a cyber security company culture that’s positive? Don’t hesitate to reach out to your managed services provider or IT partner! They can help you lay the foundation for educating your team and ensure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to today’s constant 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

A year ago, no one could have predicted that countless businesses would shift to a remote work model. The pandemic hit hard and fast, and small businesses had to think on their toes. Many had only a few weeks to adapt. It was stressful and extremely challenging.

Looking back on it, many SMBs wish they’d had a plan in place that would have made things easier. When the pandemic hit in February/March 2020, SMBs had to absorb the huge cost of getting their employees up and running off-site. Not only was it costly, but it also took a lot of coordination and on-the-fly planning. This meant things slipped through the cracks, including cyber security.

As they say, hindsight is 20/20. You may wish you had a plan in place or had more time, but you didn’t. A vast majority didn’t. However, you can still plan for the future! While you never know when disaster is going to strike, you CAN be prepared for it. Whether that disaster is a pandemic, flood, fire or even hardware failure, there are steps you can implement today that will put you in a better place tomorrow. Here’s how to get started.

Put Your Plan Into Writing.
First and foremost, you should have a standard operating procedure to call on should something go wrong. For example, in early 2020, many SMBs didn’t have a security plan in place, let alone a remote work security plan. They had to make it up as they went, which just added to the challenges they were already experiencing.

To get over this challenge, work with an experienced IT services company or managed services provider (MSP) to put together a plan. This plan should include a cyber security protocol. It should define what malware software employees should be using, what number they should call for 24/7 support, who to contact when they receive suspicious e-mails, how to identify suspicious e-mails and so on.

More than that, it should outline exactly what needs to happen when disaster strikes. Pandemic? Here’s how we operate. Fire? Here’s what you need to know. Hardware failure? Call this number immediately. The list goes on, and it can be pretty extensive. This, again, is why it’s so important to work with an MSP. They’ve already put together plans for other SMBs, and they know where to start when they customize a plan with you.

Invest In Security And Backups.
While every business should have network security already in place, the reality is that many don’t. There are a ton of reasons why (cost concerns, lack of time, lack of resources, etc.), but those reasons why aren’t going to stop a cyber-attack. Hackers don’t care that you didn’t have time to put malware protection on your PCs; they just want money and to wreak havoc.

When you have IT security in place, including firewall protection, malware software, strong passwords and a company-wide IT security policy, you put your business and all your employees in a much better place. All of this should be in place for both on-site employees and remote workers. With more people working from home going into 2021, having reliable IT security in place is more important than ever before.

On top of that, you should have secure backups in place. Investing in cloud storage is a great way to go. That way, if anything happens on-site or to your primary data storage, you have backups you can rely on to restore lost or inaccessible data. Plus, having a solid cloud storage option gives remote employees ready access to any data they might need while at home or on the go.

Where Do You Begin?
Some SMBs have the time, money and resources to invest in on-site IT personnel, but most don’t. It is a big investment. This is where partnering with an experienced IT services firm can really pay off. You may have employees in-office or you may have a team working remotely – or you may have a mix of both. You need support that can take care of everyone in your organization while taking care of the data security of the business itself. This is where your IT partner comes into play. They are someone you can rely on 24/7 and someone who will be there for you during a pandemic or any other disaster.

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

cloud data protection

Data breaches are a common occurrence in today’s business environment. While many businesses have turned to cloud applications for better productivity, scalability, and savings, some business owners worry that the cloud is more vulnerable to data breaches than an on-premises data center. The truth is that any computing environment is vulnerable if you don’t take steps to prevent a data security breach. Here are simple steps to protect your data in the cloud.

Know your cloud apps:

Get a comprehensive view of the specific threats that business apps pose. Ask questions like: Which ones render you more or less prone to a breach? Does an app encrypt data stored on the service? Does it separate your data from that of others to limit exposure when another tenant has a breach?

Migrate users to high-quality apps:

Cloud-switching costs are low, which means that you can always switch to another application that best suits your needs. Take the time to consult with your vendor before switching to another app to make sure the new app is secure and compatible with your systems. Now more than ever, you have choices.

Find out where your data is going:

Take a look at your data in the cloud. Review uploads, downloads, and data at rest in apps to determine whether you have potential personally identifiable information (PII), or whether you simply have unencrypted confidential data. If you do have PII stored in the cloud, you need to make sure there are additional layers of security measures in place such as encryption. This is to avoid violating compliance regulations and paying hefty fines.

Look at user activities:

It’s important to understand not only what apps you use but also how these apps use your data. Determine what apps employees are using to share content and whether such apps have a sharing functionality. Knowing who’s sharing what and with whom will help you understand what policies to best employ.

Mitigate risk through granular policy:

Start with your business-critical apps and enforce policies that matter to your organization in the context of a breach. For example, block the upload of information covered by certain privacy acts, block the download of PII from HR apps, or temporarily block access to vulnerable apps.

The key to preventing a data security breach in the cloud lies in careful attention to your cloud applications and user activity. Analyzing your apps and looking into user activities might be time-consuming, but minimizing cloud and data security breaches makes this task worthwhile. Looking to learn more about today’s security? Contact us and let us manage and minimize your risks.

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 businesses have become more reliant on technology, they’ve also become a prime target of cybercriminals. If you want to protect your organization from cyberattacks, make sure your cybersecurity system doesn’t have the following flaws.

Open wireless networks

With just one main internet line and a couple of wireless routers, an entire office can get online. A wireless internet connection saves money, but there’s a risk that it might be unsecure.

It’s not enough to plug in a wireless router and create a basic network to secure your wireless network. If you have an open network, anyone within range can connect. With simple tools and technical know-how, cybercriminals can capture incoming and outgoing data, and even attack the network and any device connected to it.

Ensure that all wireless networks in the office are secured with strong passwords. Some service providers that install hardware when setting up networks will often just use an easy-to-guess password for the router. Change this password immediately to minimize the risk of unauthorized users gaining access to your network.

Unsecure email

Most companies that have implemented a new email system in the past couple of years are most likely secure. This is especially true if they use cloud-based platforms or well-known email systems like Exchange, which offer enhanced security and scanning.

The businesses that are at risk are those using older systems like Post Office Protocol, or systems that don’t encrypt passwords (also known as “clear passwords”). If your system doesn’t support encryption, anyone with the right tools can compromise your systems and data.

Unsecure mobile devices

Mobile devices help you stay connected and productive while out of the office. However, if you use your tablet or smartphone to connect to office systems without proper security measures in place, you run the risk of compromising your networks.

Imagine you have linked your work email to your smartphone but don’t have a password enabled. If the device goes missing, anyone who picks it up can have access to your email and your sensitive information. The same applies if you install a malicious mobile app. If you use this same device to connect to your company’s network, the malware will spread across your systems and disrupt your business operations.

Ensure that employee devices have adequate security, such as passcodes, and your company has sufficient security policies in place to regulate their use. Lastly, implement mobile device management solutions to prevent employee devices from being a security risk to your network.

Anti-malware software that isn’t properly maintained

Anti-malware software needs to be properly installed and maintained if they are going to stand a chance of keeping your systems secure.

If your anti-malware scans are scheduled during business hours, some employees may just turn the scanner off because it slows down their computers. This makes your systems vulnerable to malware.

The same goes for not updating your anti-malware software regularly. Updates are important for anti-malware applications because they implement new databases that contain recently discovered threats and fixes.

Lack of firewalls

A firewall is a security tool that filters network traffic and protects data from being accessed from outside the network. While many modems or routers include firewalls, they are often not powerful enough for business use.

Get a firewall that covers the whole network at the point where data enters and exits (usually before the routers). These are business-centric tools that should be installed by an IT partner like a managed IT services provider for them to be most effective.

How do I ensure proper business security?

The best way to secure business systems and networks is to work with an IT partner like us. Our managed services can help you set up cybersecurity measures and ensure that they are managed properly. Tech peace of mind means you can focus on growing your business. Contact us today to learn more.

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

authentication

A secure login process is an excellent way to protect your business from cybercriminals.
When it comes to verifying user identity, you can choose between two-step authentication and two-factor authentication. Learn the difference between the two so you can have a better appreciation of your cybersecurity options.
If you want to improve your business’s cybersecurity, you should take a closer look at your authentication process. Two-step and two-factor authentication are two of the most commonly used authentication methods. Many businesses use the terms two-step and two-factor authentication interchangeably, but there are subtle differences between the two.

Two-step authentication

A two-step authentication process requires a single-factor login (such as a password or biometric reading) as well as another similar type of login credential that a user must provide. This process typically requires entering a password for the first step and entering another security code for the second step, which may be accomplished by providing a one-time code generated by an authenticator app such as Google Authenticator.

Two-step authentication adds an extra step in the verification process, making it more secure than single-step authentication (i.e., providing only a password). However, if a person or business is hacked, it won’t be enough to stop hackers from getting a hold of whatever they are looking for.

Two-factor authentication

Two-factor authentication, a subset of multifactor authentication, is significantly more secure than two-step authentication. This type of authentication requires two different types of information to authenticate a user’s identity. For example, it could be a combination of a fingerprint or retinal scan as well as a password or passcode. Because of the additional authentication information required, hackers would have great difficulty breaking into a network using a two-factor authentication system.

Which one is better?

Relying on a single-factor authentication process is no longer sufficient in ensuring the safety of your network. Securing the authentication process and making it difficult for cybercriminals to access your network should be on top of your priorities. Deciding whether to use two-step or two-factor authentication largely depends on your business’s specific security requirements. To take the stress out of securing and protecting your network, call us today for expert cybersecurity advice.

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 the cloud, small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are often presented with the choice of either a private or a public cloud. But there is a third option — a hybrid cloud. And this is the choice that provides SMBs with greater flexibility. How so? Read on to find out.

Hybrid clouds are a combination of private and public clouds. In private clouds, data and applications that require tighter controls are hosted either internally or privately in an off-site facility. Meanwhile, public clouds are managed externally by third-party providers with the express purpose of reducing a company’s IT infrastructure.

Here are three significant advantages of hybrid cloud environments.

Adaptability

Having the ability to choose between on-site or privately hosted cloud servers and public ones let you pair the right IT solution with the right job. For example, you can use the private cloud to store sensitive files while utilizing more robust computing resources from the public cloud to run resource-intensive applications.

Cost efficiency and scalability

Does your business struggle to meet seasonal demands? With a hybrid cloud solution, you’ll be able to easily handle spikes in demand by migrating workloads from insufficient on-premises servers to scalable, pay-as-you-go cloud servers whenever needed, without incurring extra hardware and maintenance costs.

So if there are last-minute computing demands that your hardware can’t support or if you’re planning for future expansion, hybrid cloud solutions allow for on-demand increases or decreases in capacity.

Security

Last but not least are the security advantages of a hybrid cloud solution. You can host sensitive data such as eCommerce details or an HR platform within the private cloud, where it will be protected by your security systems and kept under close watch. Meanwhile, routine forms and documents can be stored in the public cloud and protected by a trusted third-party.

To set up a hybrid cloud model based on your SMB’s requirements and the providers available to you:

  1. Employ one specialized cloud provider who offers comprehensive hybrid solutions.
  2. Integrate the services of a private cloud provider with those of another public cloud provider.
  3. Host a private cloud yourself and then incorporate a public cloud service into your infrastructure.

Our experts can help you transition to a hybrid cloud solution without interruption and huge costs. Contact us today to learn more about the benefits that a hybrid cloud can bring to your SMB.

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

Obsolete Firmware

Are you still hanging on to your old work computers since they “still work fine”? While they may still help you get the job done, their outdated firmware can make you vulnerable to security risks that can lead to major problems.

What is firmware?

Firmware is a basic type of software that is embedded into every piece of hardware. It controls the device it’s installed on, 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, the firmware of a TV remote control processes the button presses and sends that data into a format that the TV can understand.

Why is firmware security important?

To clearly explain the importance of firmware security, let’s use the firmware installed in a router as an example.

When you buy a router and plug it in, its firmware allows it to connect devices to your wireless network with almost zero input from you. However, if the router manufacturer is outside of California, then they might still be using the same username and password for the same router model, if not for all router models. If you don’t change these default settings, you could be exposed to hackers.

Default usernames and passwords is an example of a known vulnerability, and firmware could have other vulnerabilities that cybercriminals could exploit. Black hat hackers could use these to spy on you, steal or corrupt your data, or even damage your systems. Unfortunately, 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.

How do I protect myself?

The best way to defend yourself from firmware exploits is to immediately roll out firmware updates from the device’s manufacturer. With that said, you need to keep in mind that every manufacturer has different procedures for checking and updating firmware. For instance, if you have a D-Link 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. If you’re unfamiliar with your router manufacturer’s procedures, you can type “[manufacturer name] router firmware update” on any search engine like Google.

But remember, routers are just one example of how firmware affects your cybersecurity posture. Hard drives, motherboards, and even mice and keyboards need to be checked as well. We understand this can be extremely tedious, and that’s why 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