Cyber Threats

cyberIs your network secure from intruders? Both internally and externally? Are your employees internet habits costing you money by introducing viruses and countering their productivity? Cybercrime is on the increase, and companies need to be vigilant and put security measures to combat these threats. Once you become the victim of cybercrime, the recovery costs are high. If it has not happened yet, you cannot put your guards down and expect it will be the same forever. 

Viruses and malware such as Ransomware can take over your computer, deny access to your data by locking it with sophisticated encryption code, and asking for money in a Bitcoin currency that cannot be traced, before giving you the key to unlocking it. Depending on the business’s size, the ransom can vary from a few hundred to thousands of dollars. There is no guaranty that even if you pay, you will get your data back. The payment only encourages these cybercriminals to continue doing their nefarious activities. 

There are three types of Ransomware, and each has a different severity level:

  1. Encrypting Ransomware, which uses sophisticated encryption software, which is legit, is not detected by the antivirus to encrypt all your files and drives, including network drives. The only way to unlock is to have the encryption key code. 
  2. Locker Ransomware that locks up your desktop and all the files and programs. Even if you reboot, the screen that comes up is the same containing the message about the ransom. 
  3. Scare-ware, again, a ransom message appears on your computer, indicating something is wrong with your computer. You need to call them, and sometimes they portray themselves from IRS or Microsoft or another legit company.  

What can small companies do to protect themselves? In a single word, multi-layer security is the best approach. Restricting physical access to your network from unauthorized personnel and outsiders is the first layer of protection. A firewall from a reputable company (such as Cisco or Sonicwall), with the latest firmware and regular updates, is the second layer. Anti-Virus & Anti-Spam; covering all the nodes connected to your server and network is the third layer. A policy-based security layer creates different policies and limits computer usage to the essential, for example, work file access only. The fourth level is Backup and Disaster recovery.  

Here are some essential first steps, all with the same priority to safeguard your data: 

  1. Have a disaster recovery plan and backup your data regularly on different media, primarily online. Nowadays, most backup software has the capability of taking an incremental (15 minutes or less) snapshots of your data and take a full image backup of your entire server (s). so in case of a disaster, it can be restored fully, and you will only lose a fraction or none of your data.
  2. Get up to speed on just where your network and internet security might be vulnerable and how to deal with it. Avoid clicking on email attachments or links unless you are sure that you were expecting it from a known source. Please do not go to websites and download files or click on links that you are not 100% certain of their authenticity. The most significant damage to your network usually happens when staff downloads unauthorized software, email attachments, or visiting suspicious websites. 
  3.  Be alert to the various internet security scams out there and how to deal with them. Fraud schemes include the increasingly popular ‘spoofing,’ which involves using special software known as a “Bot”, designed to falsify the sender’s address on an email. This can be used to obtain money, trade secrets, company research, passwords, and other businesses’ data.
  4.  A comprehensive antivirus program, such as Symantec or McAfee, is a must. There should be centralized (installed on the server pushed to workstations or cloud) and updated automatically. Remember to include all the devices connected internally or externally in your network.
  5.  A sophisticated firewall device that controls unauthorized access to your network and prevents staff from accessing unsuitable websites is necessary. Firewall from a reputable company such as Cisco or Sonicwall with the latest firmware and regular updates and other features such as content filtering is the first line of defense against ongoing cyber threats.
  6.  Hackers outside the company look for loopholes in your internet security systems, typically glitches in the software. Always apply the latest patches and updates to your servers and computers. Check with your software provider (usually via their Website) regularly for news of security loopholes and their remedies, such as downloadable patches. 
  7.  Review your security policy annually. The threat of severe theft or corruption, though, often comes from disgruntled employees. These will include password policy; this includes regular security software patches, system hardening, and vulnerability management.
  8.  Set up regular employee awareness training. Without adequate Cybersecurity, training employees are not prepared to fend themselves off against cyber threats. They will not know how to recognize these threats and how to report them and deal with a scammer.
  9. Cyber Insurance- no plan is 100% proof, and it makes sense to look into Cyber Insurance to protect you and your clients.  
  10. In this fight, you need help and assistance from a knowledgeable and experienced IT security company who can implement the multi layered security (Physical access, Firewall, Antivirus, anti-malware and Policy-based and backup and disaster recovery) for your organization. 

All your nodes (devices) need to be monitored, and in an instance where a problem occurs, they need to be responded to it immediately. An IT company can assist you in setting a budget for your IT security that is affordable and, at the same time, covers all the other IT needs of your organization. Call us for a free Security analysis.