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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.

9 Cyber Security Tips

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, cyber threats and ransomware attacks have accelerated, exceeding 30,000 attacks per day in the US. Cybersecurity measures have never been more important. The move to remote working environments as well as the vulnerability of global economies in crisis has created an open-season for cybercriminals. No business—big or small—is safe.

Small and medium businesses (SMBs) seemingly have a target on their backs, so strengthening your security posture is essential right now. The good news: There are ways to protect your business against ransomware attacks.

Here are nine tips you that boost your business’ resilience to cyber attacks:

Communicate & Educate

1. Conduct a security risk assessment. Understand potential security threats (e.g., downtime from ransomware) and the impact they may have on your business (lost revenue). Use this information to shape a security strategy that meets your specific needs.

2. Create straightforward cybersecurity policies. Write and distribute a clear set of rules and instructions on cybersecurity practices for employees. This will vary from business to business but may include policies on social media use, bring your own device, authentication requirements, etc.

3. Train your employees. Because cybersecurity threats are constantly evolving, an ongoing training plan should be implemented for all employees. This should include examples of threats, as well as instruction on security best practices, and periodic testing.

Prevent & Protect

4. Protect your network and devices. Implement a password policy that requires strong passwords and monitor your employee accounts for breach intel through dark web monitoring. Deploy firewall, VPN, and next-gen antivirus technologies with advanced threat protection. Ensure your network and endpoints are not vulnerable to attacks. Implement mandatory multi-factor authentication. Ongoing network monitoring is essential, as is encrypting hard drives.

5. Keep software up to date. Be vigilant about patch management. Cyber criminals exploit software vulnerabilities using a variety of tactics to gain access to computers and data. Your IT provider should automate this for your businesses with a remote monitoring and management. Keep your mobile phones up to date as well.

6. Back up your data. Daily (or more frequent) backups are a requirement to recover from data corruption or loss resulting from security breaches. Consider using a data protection tools that take incremental backups of data periodically throughout the day to prevent data loss. Remember that you need to protect your data in the cloud as well as you protect your data on local servers and workstations.

7. Know where your data resides. The more places data exists, the more likely it is that unauthorized individuals will be able to access it. Use data discovery tools to find and appropriately secure data along with business-class Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications that allow for corporate control of data. Eliminate redundant and “Shadow IT” services.

8. Control access to computers. Use key cards or similar security measures to control access to facilities. Ensure that employees use strong passwords for laptops and desktops. Give administrative privileges only to trusted staff as needed.

Respond & Recover

9. Enable uptime. Choose a powerful data protection solution that enables “instant recovery” of data and applications. In fact, 92% of managed IT service providers report that companies with business continuity disaster recovery (BCDR) products in place are less likely to experience significant downtime from ransomware and are back up and running quickly. Application downtime can significantly impact a business’ ability to generate revenue. Can your business afford downtime costs that are 23X greater (up by 200% year-over-year) than the average ransom requested in 2019?

The best defense is a good offense. A robust, multi-layered cybersecurity strategy can save your business. Contact us to learn more and for a free Cyber Security Assessment.

Phishing Attacks Spike Amid COVID-19 Crisis

Cyber AttackIt should be no surprise to you that we are seeing a surge in phishing and other cyber attacks, as criminals look to take advantage of the COVID-19 crisis. A sample of recent news reports illustrates the scope of the problem.

  • In April, the FBI issued a warning about COVID-19 stimulus package scams (CNET).
  • In mid-April, Google reported the daily volume of malware and phishing attack emails jumped to more than 18 million per day (The Verge).
  • Last week, TechRepublic reported a surge in phishing emails trying to exploit DocuSign and COVID-19.
  • Hackers are impersonating Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Meet for phishing scams (The Verge 5/12/20).

Understand the Risk

The risk to your business, employees, and customers is greater at time when your systems may be less secure.

If your employees are using home computers while following stay-at-home orders and guidance, your risk of falling victim to an attack is significantly greater.  Most home computers do not have commercial-grade, next-generation endpoint protections and many run outdated versions of the consumer-grade products installed.

CPR is Still the Best Practice

Our model remains the best, holistic method of avoiding attacks at the human and tech levels, and for responding should something slip through.

Communicate & Educate

  • Remind your employees to be on the look out for suspicious emails, phone calls, web links.
  • Encourage your team to get help and verification if a message or interaction appears or feels suspicious in any way (better safe than sorry).
  • Consider testing employees with simulated attack messages and identify those that may need additional training and guidance.

Prevent & Protect

  • Deploy multi-factor authentication (MFA) and, optionally, single sign-on (SSO) services to prevent the use of compromised accounts.
  • Install Advanced Threat Protection solutions for inbound and outbound email to catch phishing, ransomware, and other illegitimate message.
  • Deploy “next generation” endpoint protection on computers and mobile devices to detect, prevent, and undo damage from dangerous files and applications.
  • Put Web and DNS protection services in place to prevent downloading attacks from hacked websites and identity impersonation.
  • Monitor the “dark web” for direct and third party breaches that may compromise your employees’ business accounts.
  • Take advantage of data loss prevention features built into G Suite and Microsoft 365, and consider tools to identify and prevent unauthorized access, permission errors, and data loss.
  • Eliminate the use of “shadow IT” services, particularly free or consumer-grade services by providing those capabilities to employees and making sure they know how to use them.

Restore & Recover

  • Ensure that you back up and can recover your data, regardless of location.  Your data is not just on your physical or virtual servers, it resides in your Microsoft 365 or G Suite environment, in SaaS applications like Salesforce, on desktops and laptops, and on mobile devices.
  • Put business continuity systems in place with affordable services that let you spin up and run images of your servers and workstations in a cloud data center while you recover your primary systems.
  • Have a breach response plan and service in place as an increasing number of attacks are stealing information, as effective data breach response involves:
    • Forensic analysis and recovery
    • Legal compliance with reporting requirements
    • Legal strategies to minimize liability
    • Increased customer service demand
    • Communications with customers, stakeholders, and the media
    • A potential need to provide consumer protection services
    • Cyber Insurance claims management

Fortunately for most businesses, putting these protections in place is affordable and can be done with minimal impact on your employees and their productivity.  Understand your needs, assess the value proposition (include the risks and costs of doing nothing), and deploy a solution that is the best fit for your business.


Please contact us for assistance as you evaluate your risks, needs, priorities, and solutions.


 

7 Ways Downtime Hurts Your Business

A recent survey found that 40% of small and midsize businesses (SMBs) experiences 8 or more hours of downtime due to a severe security breach within the past year. According to the National Cyber Security Alliance, 60% of SMBs who experience a significant data breach go out of business within six months. These statistics are sobering. For many SMBs, however, the risks still feel foreign and not something that warrants action. To protect your business requires some knowledge and good advice, intent, action, small investments.

It is easier to rely on myths such as, “We are not a target for cyber attackers”, “We can run on pen and paper until we recover”, and “Our customers will understand” than it is to assess your risks and take action. Nevertheless, the risks are real and the number of SMBs hurt by downtime continues to rise.

Here are seven ways downtime can damage your business:

  1. Monetary Cost — Downtime leads to lost sales and lost productivity impacting top-line revenue and your bottom line. These costs hit your pocket in addition to the cost of recovery and returning to normal operations.
  2. Customer Trust — When you are unable to serve your customers, they lose faith in your business. While downtime for natural disasters is understandable, today’s customers have little tolerance for disruptions due to cyber attacks and breaches. Lost trust means lost customers.
  3. Brand Damage — Your brand identity and reputation drives customer loyalty and growth. Service disruptions from technology failures or breaches sends a message that your business may be poorly managed and is unreliable. These messages lead to loss of goodwill and create negative impressions of your business in the minds of your customers.
  4. Employee Morale — Disasters due to data loss or breaches means employees need to perform double duties. Employees spend time on recovery while working to keep the business operational. It often requires additional work hours. Recovery can be stressful and demoralizing.
  5. Business Value — Businesses that suffer data breaches and service disruptions are perceived as poorly managed. With the potential financial liability, public companies can see stock prices fall. All companies can suffer a loss of business value.
  6. Legal Action — Downtime creates the risk of legal action. This is particularly true for downtime that is perceived as preventable. System failures, data loss, security breaches, and other incidents can put your business in breach of contract. You may also be in violation of state and federal regulations.
  7. Compliance Fines & Penalties — As information privacy and security regulations expand, data loss and breaches create the real potential for fines and penalties related to regulatory compliance, privacy, and data retention requirements.

These risks carry the potential for lasting damage. Whether by increased financial burdens or winning back customers, the impact of downtime extends well beyond getting yourself up and running again.

Is your business worth protecting?

Protecting your business will not break the bank. We offer practical, affordable solutions that help you and your team understand the risks, prevent problems from happening, and continue operating in the event something bad does happen.

If your business is worth protecting, contact us for a complimentary Cloud Advisor session to discuss how we can improve your business’ resiliency.


 

Cyber Insurance or Breach Response?

Cyber AttackThere is a large discussion, and no small amount of pressure, for businesses to obtain cyber insurance policies.  Articles appear in a range business and technology publications, from the Memphis Business Journal to the Wall Street Journal, and from Inc. Magazine to Forbes. But getting the right cyber insurance policy is not easy, and can be costly. And while cyber insurance helps cover damages, many policies do not provide immediate assistance with managing your response to an attack or data breach.

For SMBs, three key cyber insurance considerations are the barriers to entry, coverage exclusions, and coverage delays.

  • Barriers to Entry
    • Most cyber insurance policies go through underwriting to determine coverage limits and premiums. This means the insurer will want to review and audit your security related policies, procedures, and technologies. Insurance carriers may also demand that you invest in new or additional measures in order to qualify for a policy or to ensure the premiums will be affordable.  For many small and midsize businesses (SMBs), this process requires specialized skills, time, and money. Many SMBs will need to spend over $5,000, with some spending up to $20,000, in order to pass the underwriting process.
  • Coverage Exclusions
    • Cyber insurance claims are routinely reduced or declined due to non-compliance with policy requirements.  Even after the underwriting process, most cyber insurance policies include dozens of security requirements that must be in place and properly maintained.  Any gap or misstep can be costly.
  • Coverage Delays
    • If your business is the victim of a cyber attack, your response has legal requirements and requires specific technical expertise. Claims processing can delay your ability to secure the resources you need for hours or days.

Clearly, cyber insurance one piece of the solution, along with appropriate security measures.

Having a Breach Response plan and resources in place will save you time and money.

In any cyber attack, start by assuming the attackers have stolen information.  If an attack can encrypt your files, it can steal under-protected files and data from your systems.  With a data breach, federal and state laws dictate a range of reporting and communication requirements that, if missed, can trigger fines and legal action. With a data breach, you need a range of expert resources and you need them quickly.

  • Legal Expertise fluent in cyber security laws and regulations helps ensure you comply with reporting and communication requirements to minimize your legal and financial exposure.
  • Forensics Expertise can identify the cause, timing, and scope of the attack and any breach, and can help validate that the issues allowing the breach have been resolved.
  • Public Relations Services will help you communicate with employees, vendors, customers, and as is often the case — the press. Providing accurate and appropriate information can protect your business relationships and your public reputation.
  • Contact Center Services provide a place for customers, vendors, and associates to call for timely and accurate information.  You are further protecting your business relationships and reputation.
  • Credit Monitoring for individuals whose personal or business information may have been compromised can reduce litigation risk and may be required by law.

While cyber insurance policies generally cover these services, most do so as part of the claims approval process. As such, you may be out of pocket for thousands of dollars and fighting for reimbursement once your claim is processed.

By subscribing to a Breach Response service, the resources and expertise you need are available instantly,  7×24, without any additional cost over the monthly or annual fee.  These services often include basic cyber insurance policies that do not require any underwriting.  For many SMBs, the annual cost of this type of Breach Response service, with basic cyber insurance coverage, is significantly less than the cost of the underwriting process for a traditional cyber insurance policy.  Additionally, you can use this policy for coverage until they completing a policy with underwriting, or to cover initial loss coverage under a higher deductible (lower premium) traditional cyber insurance policy.


For more information about Breach Response Services and affordable Cyber Insurance, please contact us for a no obligation Cloud Advisor call.


 

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.