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Security Trends Will Impact Small Businesses

Security, Privacy, & ComplianceSpeaking at a recent CRN-hosted security summit for midsize enterprises, Paul Furtado, Gartner’s Vice President of Midsize Enterprise Security stated, “The only thing harder than defending yourself against a cyberattack is telling your executives and your partners why you didn’t do enough to protect yourself.”  His comments reflect current security trends from our historic “Trust but Verify” security model to one that is “Never Trust; Always Verify” — also known as Zero Trust.

Expectations are changing and our tolerance for breaches is dropping.  More than 56% of successful attacks exploit known vulnerabilities with patches available for more than 90 days.  Frankly, many of us are failing at the fundamentals of IT security and this needs to change.

While smaller in size, SMBs remain prime targets of cyber attacks.  With “Ransomware as a Service” readily available, finding and attacking vulnerable small businesses is inexpensive and effective.  SMBs are more likely to have fewer security protections; SMBs are less likely to be able to recover from an attack and more likely to pay ransoms.

Here are 7 security trends that warrant our attention and action:

1 Zero Day Exploits

As the name implies, Zero-Day  Exploits take advantage of newly discovered security holes before our tools and systems can be updated to prevent an attack.

Next Gen solutions are needed to protect from attacks on devices, in the flow of email, and in web traffic.

2 Insider Threats

Insider risk refers to every account that has access into an organization’s environment such as service accounts, custom integrations, and API accounts. Insider threats, meanwhile, are the small percentage of insiders actually doing something that will cause a security incident, intentionally or not.  For example, the increased use of QR codes allows attackers to create malicious QR codes that install keyloggers and screen grabbers to steal identities and multi-factor authentication tokens.

We need Security Awareness Training to help individuals understand the risks and build safe habits.

3 Regulatory Changes

As noted, security expectations are changing.  State and federal laws are changing. Passed by the Senate this year, the Strengthening American Cybersecurity Act will require businesses to report significant cyber events within 72 hours and ransomware payments within 24 hours. These requirements lay on top of other federal regulations, multiple states’ privacy laws (CCPA, MA PII, etc.), and industry regulations (PCI-DSS, etc.).

With cyber insurance and cyber response services in place, small businesses are more likely to avoid fines, losses, and legal actions.

4 IoT

Internet of Things devices, and similar automation technologies are popular and often lack basic security features.

As IoT-based solutions move into smaller businesses, we need to secure and monitor devices and the networks on which they run.

5 Supply Chain

Bad actors know that attacks on supply chains can be more effective than attacking an intended target.

If your smaller business is in the supply chain of a larger company, expect security to become an issue.  They are likely to request — or demand – additional security measures as a condition of your business relationship.  And, be ready to demonstrate (prove) that you actually do what you claim on the security checklist.

6 Data Mining

Data mining enables attackers to not only go after your business, but your vendors and customers as well.  Imagine attackers telling your customers their private data will be released if you do not pay the ransom.  Even more common, imagine your customers receiving emails “from” (impersonating) you instructing them to send money.

We need to start protecting unregulated data in the same ways we protect regulated data.  Encryption, for example, does not prevent a breach but ensures the data cannot be used.

7 Ransomware

It would be nice to think we are past the ransomware pandemic, but we are not.  Over 80% of ransomware attacks are on small and mid-size businesses. Because attacks have moved beyond encryption to data exfiltration, attackers are likely to understand your business and set ransoms that are steep, but payable (often 1% to 1.5% of annual revenue).  Businesses hit by ransomware average more than 20 days of significant business disruption. On average, they permanently lose more than 35% of their data.

A response and recovery plan that includes business continuity ensures that you can keep your business running while you recover from and respond to an attack.

Your Next Step

Please contact us to evaluate your security footprint and needs, and discuss possible next steps, or schedule a no-obligation introductory call with one of our Cloud Advisors.

Cyber Protection Solutions for SMBs

Data protection iconAs our businesses become even more reliant on technology and cloud services, the frequency and sophistication of cyber attacks continue to accelerate. Your Cyber Protection 

Cyber Protection Needs

We need our businesses — and our people — to be aware, protected, and able to recover.

At Cumulus Global, our CPR model maps the necessary components of cyber security into three areas.

  • Communicate & Educate
    • Ensure you team understands the risk, educate them so they can avoid falling prey, create a culture of security and data privacy.
  • Protect & Prevent
    • Leverage advanced and “next gen” technologies to prevent attacks and to protect your networks, systems, data, and people from attacks.
  • Recover & Respond
    • No system is perfect; make sure you can recover your data and systems, return to normal operations, and respond to the technical, legal, and communication challenges.

Successful Cyber Protection relies on your policies and procedures, technologies, and people working in sync. Across more than a dozen focus areas, you need to balance the level or protection you need with the costs and with the risks of not doing enough. You need to balance external requirements, such as government and industry regulations, with internal priorities.

Your Cyber Protection Solution

To design and implement an affordable, integrated, and effective cyber protection solution for your business, start with a Cyber Protection Assessment (CPA).  A CPA will assess your needs, within the context of your business, and preferred solutions across 15 areas of focus:

  • Written Information Security Plan
  • Patches and Updates
  • Email Encryption
  • Data Destruction
  • Background Checks
  • Written Information Response Plan
  • Antivirus and Intrusion Detection
  • Email and Web Security
  • Account and Identity Management
  • Employee Training
  • Firewalls
  • Backup / Continuity / Disaster Recovery
  • File Encryption
  • Network Access Security
  • Responsible Parties

Using the results of the Cyber Protection Assessment, you can plan and implement your levels of protection in each area to create the balance that is best for your business.

Next Steps and Resources

Your best next step is to contact us and discuss your cyber protection status and needs with one of our Cloud Advisors. Consider using our Cyber Protection Assessment to understand your needs, current protections, gaps, and priorities.

Related Resources:

Passwords – 3 Fails and 3 Wins

Data protection iconBad passwords are the cause for over 80% of cyber security incidents.

Bad passwords are bad for business.  ID Agent, a leading provider of Dark Web ID monitoring and protection services, recently surveyed over 2 billion passwords to find the worst problems and mistakes. The research boiled down the least secure passwords into three groups.

  1. Team Pride: Using your favorite team or team slogan is risky. This information about you is often easily found on social media.
  2. Rock and Roll: Your music preferences are also likely visible to the world on social media and in streaming services. As these services may or may not be secure, band names, song titles, and artists are high risk passwords.
  3. Heroes: Heroes are weak and vulnerable when they are part of your password. Our favorite hero — fictional or not — is easily discoverable and exploitable.

Bad password habits can lead to Dark Web exposure. Here are 3 ways to protect yourself.

Communicate and Educate: Consistently communicate with your team about cyber risks and the need for good password habits. Educate and guide your team to reinforce behaviors.

  • Discourage reuse, sequential, iterated, recycled, or simple passwords.
  • Encourage use of secure, company-approved, password vaults.
  • Solve access problems to prevent the need for sharing passwords for convenience.
  • Increase phishing training to avoid password compromises.

Prevent & Protect: One of the best ways to prevent breaches due to compromised passwords is to add multi-factor authentication (MFA) for every user.

  • Weak user-made passwords are stronger with a second identifier.
  • Stolen/compromised passwords are much harder to use with MFA in place.
  • MFA is a compliance tool with HIPAA, PCD-DSS, SJIC, and other industry and legal regulations.
  • Identifiers and tokens can be delivered via phone, app, or fob.

Other prevention and protection strategies include: advanced threat protection, encryption of data at rest and in motion, permissions management, and dark web monitoring.  Dark Web monitoring lets you know when personal or company data is circulating, even if you have not had a breach. Third-party partner and service breaches put your systems and data at risk. As such, you should:

  • Monitor the Dark Web for lists of you company’s potentially compromised passwords and available personally identifiable information (PII).
  • Spot compromised passwords that employees may be reusing on our systems.
  • Find password and credential threats quickly, to mitigate them faster.

Respond and Recover: Even with protections in place, cyber attacks can succeed.  Whether a data breach, denial of service attack, or ransomware, be prepared to respond and recover. You want and need to get your business up and running as quickly as possible.

  • Backup all company data, on premise and in the cloud, so that you can recover corrupted files quickly.
  • Have business continuity solutions in place for critical systems and applications, so that you can be up and running in minutes or hours, rather than days or weeks.

Your Next Step

CPR With “CPR” in mind, learn how Cumulus Global can help you minimize your risks and maximize your recovery to ensure your business continues to run smoothly.

Schedule a complimentary cloud advisor appointment to learn more.

3 More Reasons You Are an Easy Cybercrime Target

Cyber AttackLast week, we gave you three reasons why you, as a small or midsize business, are a viable and desirable target for cyber criminals.

If those reasons don’t give you enough reason to act, here are three (3) more reasons SMBs, and you, a target for cyber criminals…

SMB data is increasingly networked

  • All of your systems — databases, email, documents, marketing, point-of-sale, and more — are likely running on a single network.
  • Access to one of your systems can lead to access to others. Target’s POS system was hacked using a security flow in the HVAC monitoring system running on the same network.
  • Moving data and systems into secure cloud solutions, and segregating network traffic minimizes the cross-over risk.

SMBs are using consumer products for business data

  • Consumer grade services are often more affordable, but often lack the security and data protection features of the higher-priced, business versions.
  • Separate work and home and use solutions designed for business, and, make sure to configure the security and privacy setting accordingly.

SMBs are often lax when it comes to security

  • Many small businesses operate in an environment of trust; people know and trust one another. This trust can be exploited by a disgruntled employee or an outsider.
  • Keep user identity management and passwords private and secure; Manage administrator and “super user” passwords so that they are unique, complex, and secure.
  • Keep servers and systems with sensitive data/access secure; enforce screen locking and passwords.
  • Educate your staff on security risks and behaviors.

 

Taking cyber security seriously is the first and best step in protecting your business, employees, and customers. Protection need not be overly complex; nor must reasonable protection be a budget busting expense. Reasonable measures balance cost and security.


Interested in ensuring you are protected, contact us for a free Cloud Advisor Session, or learn about our data protection solutions and our privacy solutions.


 

 

 

3 Reasons You Are an Easy Cybercrime Target

Cyber AttackAs we’ve mentioned before, more small and midsize businesses (SMBs) are falling victim to cybercrime.  According to HP’s Cyber Security and Your Business report, Cybercrime costs SMBs 4.2 times more per employee than larger businesses, and 60% of SMBs that experience a data breach are out of business in six months.

Why are SMBs, and you, a target for cyber criminals?

SMBs spend less on security while larger businesses are increasing their security protections.

  • Your business is an easier target because you are more likely to lack basic protections. In effect, you may attract cyber criminals because you are an easier target.
  • Budget for, and implement, reasonable protections covering user identities, access controls, user permissions, data loss prevention, and employee awareness and training.

SMBs do not have in-house security expertise.

  • Keeping up with risks and trends is time consuming above and beyond ensuring that your security measures are updated and working on a day-to-day basis.
  • Leverage technology and your IT partners for automated solutions and expertise, as well as on-going management of your security and privacy solutions.

SMBS are moving into the cloud.

  • Using cloud applications and storage makes sense. But, your data is no longer behind a physical or logical “firewall”.  Protecting your data means protecting the cloud systems and services you use.
  • Always select business-grade services over consumer services. Implement all security features, including 2 Factor Authentication. And, when possible, integrate access to cloud services into a single system for managing user identities. And, do not forget to train, and periodically remind, your staff how their awareness and actions can allow or prevent an attack.

 

Start the new year off right with a review of your IT security and data privacy policies, procedures, and systems.  Doing so is an affordable way to protect your business, your employees, and your customers from cyber crime. The cost of prevention is miniscule compared to the cost of a breach.


Interested in ensuring you are protected, contact us for a free Cloud Advisor Session, or learn about our data protection solutions and our privacy solutions.


 

The Google Apps / Gmail Breach That Isn’t

Health Check News over the past few days that hackers have posted almost 5 million email addresses and passwords on an online forum has caught the media’s attention in large part because about 4.7 million of the addresses appear to be gmail accounts.

This is NOT, however, a breach of Gmail or Google Apps.  

The information appears to be from other sites and sources for which users provide their email address as their login.  In fact, several people that have found their address on the list report that the information is not their login information for Gmail or Google Apps.  As reported by Mashable, your risk is low.

Given it is not a Google Apps or Gmail breach, are you at risk?

Maybe!  Google has already analyzed the list and found some users that may be using their Google account password for other sites.  Google has notified these users and is forcing them to change their passwords. For the bigger picture:

If you use the same username/email address and password for all of your services, and one service is breached, then you are at risk of hackers gaining access to some or all of your services.

If a service is breached and you have granted the service access to your Google Apps environment, your data may be at risk.

Recommended Actions

Step One:  It is not easy, but avoid using the same password for multiple services, sites, or accounts.  And don’t write passwords down to remember them.

Step Two:  Be careful when and how you allow services to connect with one another.  For example, LinkedIn needs your gmail.com password if you are going to import contacts. While this may be safe to do, other services may not be as trustworthy.

Step Three:  Read and understand security permissions when you install apps on your mobile devices.  Many apps recognize and request access to other apps and services already on your phone.  Human nature is to say “grant” or “allow” without reading or fully understanding the implications, risks, or the trustworthiness of the app’s creators.


Note for Businesses, Governments, and Schools running Google Apps: Users installing 3rd party apps, particularly on cell phones, may be granting access to data stored in Google Apps.  To see if you have a risk, we offer a Google Apps Security Health Check that will document access rights and evaluate your level or risk, if any.  

Click Here for Information

 

5 Security Threats SMBs Should Not Overlook: Malicious Web Sites

Security Puzzle
As more services move into the cloud, users bring their own apps to their work environment, and we see more integration and interconnect between systems, the nature security risks and threats are changing.  

This blog series looks at some of these threats, why the should be of concern to SMBs, and how SMBs can mitigate the risks.


Many small and mid-size business owners look past security threats in the belief that their businesses do not have trade secrets or other information coveted by hackers.  This view is naive.  Small businesses are ripe for attack because they often have personal, credit, or medical information about their customers and their employees.

Your business may at risk even if you are not a deliberate target. Hackers and thieves cast wide nets to capture personal information for identity theft. For identity theft, your business IT is no different than home computers.

Many businesses respond that they have security in place.  A well managed firewall, a big name malware suite that updates periodically, and spam/virus protection for their email service.

Unfortunately, users are 20 times more likely to suffer a malware attack from a corrupted web site or a phishing attempt then through the “traditional” means of email and file transfers. While traditional malware tools may catch these types of attacks, web-based malware often behaves more like acceptable code.  The recent outbreak of “crypto locker” malware, which encrypts your data and holds it for ransom, is an example of just how ineffective traditional malware prevention alone can be.

The overlooked solution to closing the web-enabled malware threat is known and simple: web filtering.  Web filters not only track sites known to be risky, insecure, or containing malware, they analyze web traffic and behavior in real-time, identifying sites that may be compromised, including those hacked without the site owner’s knowledge.

For most SMBs, adding web filtering to the ecosystem is an affordable increase in IT spending, typically less than $3.00 per employee per month.   Given that a single malware event can take 20 to 60 hours to mitigate at a cost of thousands of dollars, web filtering is a value-add component for most IT ecosystems.


Cumulus Global can assist in selecting a web filtering solution for your business.  Please contact us, or complete the form below, for more information.

Guest Post: Two Customer Reactions to a Data Breach

Originally posted by Bob Siegel, CEO of The Privacy Ref, this article looks at how a company’s response to a data breach can do as much damage as the breach itself.

TD Bank has notified their customers of a data breach through the  loss of a backup tape. Initial reports have said that the tapes contain  the account information and Social Security numbers of more than 267,000 customers on the US East Coast. The tape was not encrypted so, while the bank is unaware of any misuse of the information, anyone who does obtain the tape could easily read the information it contains.

I was with some TD Bank customers the day the data breach was acknowledged. There were two comments made that I hear anytime a breach occurs so I wanted to share them to help you protect your brand image in the event of a data loss.

It took too long to notify customers of the data breach

The first comment the people I spoke with made was that six months was too long for the bank to notify customers that a data breach occurred. TD Bank has said that they were investigating the incident during this period. The customers I spoke with took the view that the bank either had the tape or they didn’t, so why did it take so long to be notified. The customers felt that the delay put their accounts at further risk as well as increasing their exposure to identity theft.

Notice of a data breach to your customers needs to be timely. The definition of timely rests on the perception of the customer. Any time beyond the customers’ perception of timely may be seen as the investigation not having been a priority or, as seen by the comments above, that you are putting the customers at additional risk.

The more complex a breach is perceived to be the more time customers will tolerate for notification. For example, an intrusion into your systems is perceived to take longer to investigate than something that has been misplaced.

More should have been done to protect against the data breach

Hindsight is 20/20 and we begin thinking “if only we had….”. Hopefully we wil learn from each others’ experiences and improve our own programs.

In this case more should have been done to protect the data. TD Bank has customers in Massachusetts.  MA 201 CMR 17.00 provides standards of protection for personal information for residents of this commonwealth. Under this statute, the encryption of personal data that resides on portable devices is required. Personal information under the Massachusetts law includes financial account information or social security number in conjunction with first name or initial and last name. Massachusetts includes tapes as portable storage devices.

In my conversations with the bank’s customers they began to question the overall security procedures used in the bank’s data processing. This may be a large leap in thinking, but one that someone unfamiliar with IT practices may make.

Privacy professionals today recognize that for any organization it is not if a data breach will occur, but when will it occur. How the public perceives your communications about, response to, and the circumstances of the breach will have an impact on your brand image. Preparing a response plan before a data breach occurs is something every organization should do to minimize any impacts, including  brand damage, that may occur.

 

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Global Year in Breach – 2021

eBook | Source: ID Agent

Fundamental changes in the way we lived and worked made 2020 a wild year for cybersecurity professionals. The resilience of every company was tested in the midst of a pandemic-induced, volatile economy as threats snowballed in the wake of a rapid shift to remote workforce support.

Adding to, and perhaps fueled by, those challenges, a cybercrime boom that included record-breaking phishing and ransomware threats ratcheted up the stress. Sectors unaccustomed to being targeted by cybercriminals suddenly found themselves under siege while unprepared companies quickly learned the cost of failing to take cybersecurity seriously.

The Global Year in Breach 2021 report, gathers and analyzes data from industry-leading cybersecurity
solutions, combined with illuminating industry statistics to give you a clear picture of how the data breach landscape evolved in 2020.

Through this lens, this report provides insights into how global events can rapidly transform the cybersecurity landscape. The report forecasts continuing and emerging cybersecurity trends for 2021 and provides helpful advice about smart risk mitigations that fit every business and every budget.

Please confirm the information, below, to view and download the ebook



15 Best Practices for Cyber Protection

eBook Source: Cumulus Global

As our businesses become even more reliant on technology and cloud services, the frequency and sophistication of cyber attacks continue to accelerate. We need our businesses — and our people — to be aware, protected, and able to recover.

At Cumulus Global, our CPR model maps the necessary components of cyber security into three areas.

  • Communicate & Educate
  • Protect & Prevent
  • Recover & Respond

Policies and procedures, technologies, and people are all part of the equation, as is cyber insurance for financial protection. Deciding where and how to invest is a value proposition balancing costs, benefits, and the risks of inaction. 

In this eBook, we look at 15 Best Practices for Cyber Protection. We rank solutions from “bad” to “best”. Your business may not need the “best” solution for every area; you can match services and costs to your risks and needs. 

These best practices improve your protection, mitigate liabilities, and facilitate affordable cyber insurance coverage.

Please confirm you information below to view and download the eBook.



Webcasts

Next Normal: IT Efficiency

3T@3 Webcast Series: Tuesday, Feb 23rd at 3:00 PM

COVID-19 and the events of the past 10 months have, and continue, to change the way we run our businesses.  While some of these changes are temporary, many will become part of our next normal. For many of us, these changes came in a scramble to work from home. With respect to IT, this has many businesses using new, often redundant apps and systems.

Are the IT choices made during the crisis the best for your business in the long term?

This month’s 3T@3 Webcast, is the first in our “Next Normal” series looking at how we adapt, prepare, and respond to economic, social, and business changes.  We start the series exploring “IT Efficiency.”  We see where many small businesses signed on to services in order to adapt to mandatory closures, reduced office capacity, and parents’ need to be present for children learning remotely. Many of these service duplicate features in other systems, resulting in excess cost and lost productivity.  Join Cumulus Global CEO Allen Falcon to identify how you may streamline your IT services, reduce costs, and improve efficiencies.

Watch the recording on-demand



Data Protection & Security