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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

If you’re getting targeted with surprisingly relevant ads, there’s a chance your internet activity is being tracked and analyzed by market researchers. While this doesn’t bother most people, private browsing mode can offer you some protection against online marketers and data thieves.

What is private browsing?

Your web browser — whether it be Chrome, Edge, Firefox, Safari, or Opera — remembers the URLs of the sites you visit, cookies that track your activity, passwords you’ve used, and temporary files you’ve downloaded.

This can be convenient if you frequently visit certain pages, can’t remember your login details, or if you’re trying to recall a website you visited a few days ago. But if someone else uses or gains access to your computer, your most private (and embarrassing) internet activities are exposed for anyone to see.

With private browsing — also called Incognito Mode in Chrome and InPrivate Browsing in Edge — all the information listed above does not get recorded. In fact, all the websites and information you accessed in the private browsing session are immediately discarded without a trace as soon as you close the browser. This can come in handy when you’re using a public computer because you’re instantly logged out of all the accounts you accessed after closing the window.

Your cookies also won’t be tracked. In a normal browsing session, sites like Facebook will display highly targeted ads based on the sites and pages you’ve visited. But in private browsing mode, your internet activity can’t be tracked by marketing companies.

Another benefit of private browsing is that you can use it to log in to several accounts on the same site, which is useful if you need to log in to two different online accounts at the same time.

What are the limitations of private browsing?

Although private browsing does prevent your web browser from storing your data, it doesn’t stop anyone from snooping on your online activities in real time. If your computer is connected to the company network, system administrators can still track what you’re browsing, even if you’re in Incognito Mode.

Also, if spyware or keylogger malware is installed on your computer, hackers will still be able to see what you’re doing online. Even though private browsing has quite a few benefits, you shouldn’t solely depend on it for online privacy. Instead, you should use a virtual private network (VPN) when you go online. These encrypt your internet connection and prevent anyone from intercepting your data. And don’t forget to use a strong anti-malware program to scan your computer and keep spyware and other malicious web monitoring software at bay.

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

Cybercriminals are always looking for new ways to steal data and make a buck at the expense of someone they’ve never met. They don’t care if they ruin someone’s life or destroy a business in the process. This is why it’s so important to stay up-to-date with the latest technology.

Cyber security threats are constantly evolving. If you let your software or hardware – or both – fall behind the times, then you put your business at serious risk. Five years ago, your malware protection might have been the best on the market. If you haven’t updated since then, you need to change that. Here’s what you can do right now to protect everything you’ve worked so hard to achieve.

Stay updated. After a while, developers and manufacturers stop supporting their old hardware and software. Many of them simply don’t have the resources to keep updating older products. They need to make sure their current products are supported and secure. After five years, they may stop sending out security patches for their software. Or they might not offer help-desk support for a seven-year-old router.

If you run into this situation, you may need to invest in new equipment or software. It can be a tough pill to swallow, but it doesn’t compare to the cost of dealing with a hack or data loss. Data loss can be devastating for a business. Some never recover and have to close their doors because the cost is so high – and customers don’t want to give their money to a business that isn’t going to keep their data secure.

At the same time, you need to update your existing equipment and software. Make sure everything has the latest security patches. Most hardware and software come with an option for automatic updates. If you’re concerned that you’ll miss an update, then keep this option on. It is a good idea, however, to check everything periodically to make sure the updates are being applied, just in case.

Say yes to proactive monitoring. Proactive network monitoring can be your best friend in the fight against cyber-attacks. Many IT security firms now offer proactive services. Basically, they watch your network 24/7. If a threat is found, they can stop it before it does any damage. They act immediately to stop those threats.

You can sign up for real-time reports or just get updates once a week to stay informed so you know what’s going on with your network. Proactive monitoring can also make sure your systems are up-to-date (coming back to our first point). If they detect a vulnerability, then they can work to patch it. This means you have so much less to worry about so you can focus on what really matters: growing your business and taking care of customers!

Back up everything. If you don’t have data backups for your business, it’s time to change that. Setting up a data backup system – whether it’s local or cloud-based – can sound like a lot of work. You might have a ton of data, especially if you’ve been in operation for long. But not having a backup system can tear your business apart.

If a piece of hardware fails or a hacker gets into your data, you may have to dig deep into your pocket to recover it or you may just lose it all. There are a lot of scenarios where data can be lost.

Investing in a backup system, like a secure cloud backup, solves this. You can set up a secure system that backs up data daily (or nightly), weekly or whenever you need it. It’s good to keep backups off-site just in case anything happens on-site (electrical surges, flood, fire, theft, etc.). If data is lost or your network falls victim to ransomware, then you can restore your data and continue operations!

These tips can seem like a lot, but when you partner with a dedicated IT services company, you can overcome a lot of hurdles. Working with IT specialists is how to keep your business safe in a world where cybercriminals are actively trying to break in. You want someone with the expertise to secure your network watching over your shoulders.

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

Today, Wi-Fi isn’t only crucial for your employees to get work done; it’s also a necessary amenity for your office guests. But there’s a right way and a wrong way to set up guest Wi-Fi, and the latter can result in a frustrating experience for you and your users. So, how do you set up your guest Wi-Fi properly?

Never give guests access to your primary Wi-Fi

Giving your guests access to your company’s main Wi-Fi connection might seem like a good idea, but you should avoid this at all costs.

Anyone with a little technical know-how can potentially access everything on your company network, including confidential data. In addition, if any of your visitors’ mobile devices have been compromised, it’s possible that they can transmit malware to your entire network.

Ways to create secondary Wi-Fi for guests

If your router comes with built-in guest Wi-Fi support (you can check this feature through a quick web search), you can use it to create a separate “virtual” network. This means guests will have access to the internet without directly connecting to your company’s primary network.

If your router doesn’t support multiple Wi-Fi networks, you can implement a separate wireless access point that bypasses the rest of your network and connects directly to the internet, thus preventing any outsider from accessing your company’s private data.

Keep in mind that guest Wi-Fi still uses your ISP connection, so you should limit bandwidth usage on your guest network. Visitors streaming videos can slow down your internet connection, which can affect the productivity of your employees. With that in mind, you can even have your employees use the guest Wi-Fi on their mobile devices to minimize the chance of them hogging company bandwidth for personal use.

Remember, your guest Wi-Fi should only provide outsiders with internet access, nothing more. While the proper setup isn’t rocket science, it can be a tedious process. Having said that, if you need a team of experts to take care of it, or if you simply have questions about how else to leverage your hardware for better efficiency and security, 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

Lax bring your own device (BYOD) policies are a growing concern for businesses. If not managed properly, these can pose security risks to your organization. How can you mitigate the risks associated with the BYOD trend?

Whether your employees are using smartphones, tablets, or laptops, you need a BYOD security policy. Additionally, you need to be aware of the key BYOD security risks:

  • Loss or theft of device – Employees often bring their personal devices wherever they go. This means there’s a higher chance of devices being lost or stolen, and a greater risk of the company data that’s stored or accessed on these being compromised.
  • Data loss – In the event that a device is lost, stolen, or damaged, any locally stored data may be lost permanently if it’s not backed up in real time.
  • Man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks – Public Wi-Fi spots are convenient for getting some work done, but they’re also popular hunting grounds for cybercriminals who use MITM to intercept data being transmitted over public networks.
  • Jailbroken devices – Jailbreaking is the process of removing the restrictions imposed by the manufacturer of a device, typically to allow the installation of unauthorized or third-party software. This increases the risk of an employee inadvertently installing malicious software on a personal device.
  • Security vulnerabilities – Every operating system (and the software that runs on it) has its own unique set of security flaws and vulnerabilities, which means that allowing staff to use any device and operating system increases the risk of a data breach or malware infection.
  • Malware – A personal device that has been infected with malware can spread that malware to other devices connected to the company network and cause data loss and downtime.

To mitigate risks, it’s important to devise a BYOD security policy that works for the needs of your business as well as the needs of your employees. Here are some tips:

Make passwords compulsory on all BYOD devices

Prevent unauthorized access to company data by enforcing the use of passwords on all BYOD devices. Passwords should be long and unique.

Create a blacklist of prohibited applications

Blacklisting involves prohibiting the installation of certain applications on BYOD devices that are used for work purposes. This includes applications such as file sharing and social networking apps. The simplest way to blacklist applications is through a mobile device management platform that enables IT administrators to secure and enforce policies on enrolled devices.

Restrict data access

Adopt the principle of least privilege on both BYOD and company devices. This means that a user is able to access only the data and software required to do their job. This can reduce the effects of certain types of malware and limit the fallout in the event of a data breach.

Invest in reliable security solutions for devices

Protect BYOD devices with reputable antivirus software to identify and stop threats before they can make changes to the device. This is vital for protecting mission-critical data and avoiding downtime.

Backing up device data

A well-thought-out BYOD policy can go a long way toward minimizing the risk of a security breach, but if something manages to slip past your defenses, you need a process in place for restoring your data to its former state. Have a comprehensive backup strategy to ensure that any data stored locally on a BYOD device can be quickly recovered.

Educate your staff about security

The vast majority of BYOD-related security risks involve human error. Educate your employees about proper mobile safety. This includes how to spot apps that could contain malware, sharing security threat updates, and teaching them how to secure their devices by going beyond default security settings.

It’s also a great idea to work with an IT partner like us. As experts, we keep tabs on the latest trends and innovations related to BYOD and will recommend solutions that work for your company. Contact us today to see how we 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