Posts

Data Protection

Customer Notice: Email Advanced Threat Protection

Data Protection

We continue to witness the devastating impact of ransomware, crypto attacks, and other forms of cyber attacks on our customers.  The recovery cost and frequency of attacks are increasing at alarming rates. The average cost for a small or midsize business (SMB) to fully recovery from a cyber attack has increased to between $145,000 and $180,000. This includes loss of direct business, remediation costs, damage to reputation, and employee downtime.  At the same time, the number of ransomware attacks so far in 2019 has doubled when compared with the same period in 2018.

As a managed cloud service provider, you have heard from us that you “should” have more protections in place. Our position is changing: these protections are a “must”.

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) and email Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) are necessary, baseline services for protecting your business. 

Beginning January 1, 2020, we will require and will begin adding Advanced Threat Protection to all of our customers’ email service unless you specifically opt out. If you opt out, the cost of our data recovery efforts will not be covered under our unlimited support plans (See our Support Services SLA). When we add ATP to your service, we will discuss with you when we can add MFA.

We will mitigate the cost.

We are sensitive to your budget.

  • ATP requires a technical setup and typically incurs a setup fee along with the monthly or annual subscription.  We are discounting both the setup and subscription fees for all customers. For customers requesting Priority Opt-In, we will waive the ATP related setup fees completely.
  • MFA implementation is covered by our support plans as an administrative change.  If you do not have on of our support plans, we will provide an affordable, discounted quote for the project.
  • For customers without an unlimited support plan and/or those that choose to Opt-Out, we will discount our hourly fees for recovery work.

For more information on specific discounts and pricing, and to let us know if you want to Opt-In, to have Priority Opt-In, or to Opt-Out, please visit this web page and complete the form.

We realize that this is a significant change for most of our customers.  We also understand the importance of these protections.  Please contact us with questions or concerns

Thank you for being part of our community,
Allen Falcon
CEO & Pragmatic Evangelist

Best Practices

Cyber Protection: Time for New Best Practices

Best PracticesAccording to a recent survey* of IT service providers, ransomware attack downtime costs 23 times more than requested ransom. The average ransom for small and midsize businesses (SMBs) victims jumped 37% to $5,900 from 2018 to 2019.  The average cost of ransomware downtime jumped from $46,800 to $141,000, and increase of more than 200%.

To add to your concerns, SMBs fall victim to cyber crime and ransomware attacks even when they have traditional antivirus, email/spam, ad/pop-up blockers, and endpoint protection in place.  67% of IT service providers report their SMB customers fall victim to phishing emails; 30% report that most customers still rely on weak passwords and access management.

Traditional cyber security solutions are no match for many cyber attackers. We need a new approach to ransomware, with business continuity at the core.

Using business continuity as a guiding principle drives new best practices for preventing and responding to cyber security attacks. With a business continuity mindset, you focus on what is needed to keep the business running, and how quickly you can “return to operations”.  When we discuss business continuity, we understand that we need to take steps to prevent disruption, mitigate the scope of potential disruptions, respond effectively when disruptions happen, and have the systems and processes in place to recover quickly.

For over a year, we have promoted and refined our CPR model:

Communicate and Educate: Involve everybody in the solution by educating your team on the risks, how to spot and report fraudulent content, and how their behavior can prevent or help an attack.

Protect and Prevent: Implement multi-layer, multi-vector protections that focuses on your people (identities), data, applications, and systems. Our data, our businesses, no longer sit comfortably hidden in a computer room behind a firewall.

Respond and Recover: No defense is perfect. Have services in solutions in place that let you recover and return to operations within a time frame that protects the health of your business. More than getting data and systems back on line, put in place the forensics, legal, public relations, and customer service resources you will likely need in a cyber attack emergency.

Time for Action

Here are 10 Actions you can initiate today to improve your cyber protection:

  1. Ensure your computing environment is protected across multiple attack vectors: Identity, Endpoints, User Data, Cloud Apps, and Infrastructure.
  2. Deploy multi-factor authentication, advanced threat protection, next-gen endpoint protection, and DNS/web protection across your ecosystem for a comprehensive baseline or protection.
  3. Encrypt your data at rest and in transit.
  4. Educate your team on the risk and how their actions can impact the business.
  5. Actively manage your cloud and “as-a-Service” subscriptions, standardize on-boarding and off-boarding of staff and contractors based on role, application needs, and appropriate access to data.
  6. Understand how your team uses your business and unauthorized (“shadow IT”) applications and services.  Reign in shadow IT by ensuring your business systems provide staff with the necessary capabilities.
  7. Test your staff’s behavior related to cyber attacks and follow up with additional coaching and guidance. Discipline and, if needed, terminate those who are unwilling or unable to adapt to the current realities of behavior and risk.
  8. Upgrade from data backup/recovery to a business continuity solution that will get you up and running in minutes or hours, instead of days, should an attack get past your defenses.
  9. Arrange in advance for the legal, forensic, PR, communications, and customer service resources you need to respond to an attack with a potential or actual data breach.  Prepaid breach response services give you nearly instant access, reducing your risks and liability while bundling in baseline cyber insurance coverage.
  10. Get cyber insurance, either a baseline policy bundled with Breach Response services and/or a fully underwritten policy from your business insurance provider.

Please contact us for more information about your cyber protection, available assessments, and solutions. We are happy to schedule a free, no obligation Cloud Advisor Session.

* Global State of the Channel Ransomware Report. Datto, Inc. Oct. 2019.


 

Automation Cyber Security

Manufacturers Beware: Attacks on Industrial Equipment are on the Rise

Automation Cyber SecurityWe have seen the issue ourselves: A malware attack crosses the bridge from your network PCs to the controllers in your industrial machines. Your shop floor comes to a halt until you can recover. The effort is painful as you deal with embedded and stand-aside controllers running out-dated versions of Windows, limited network options, and compatibility issues.

The risk is so great, that ZDNet is reporting that the world’s largest and most well-known hacking contest, Pwn2Own, will focus on software for industrial equipment.  Reflecting the reality of current threats, the sponsoring organizations and the “white hat” hackers themselves see an urgent need to bring the issue of protecting your industrial equipment to the forefront.

Fortunately, best practices can help protect your operations.

While it is not always possible to protect your industrial equipment with “next gen” endpoint protection, you can take steps to protect yourselves from potentially devastating attacks and accidents.

  • Segregate
    • The network on which your production systems run should be physically or logically separate from other networks — office, voice, etc. — running in your business.
  • Isolate
    • Unless the equipment needs to communicate with the manufacturer, cloud-based systems, or other locations, the production systems network should not have paths to the outside world.
    • If the equipment needs to communicate externally, setup secure VPNs for all traffic.
  • Maintain
    • Whenever possible, update and maintain your industrial systems to run current versions of the manufacturer’s software and the underlying operating system.  Too many production machines are running obsolete versions of Windows that cannot be secured from attack.
  • Scan
    • Before moving any software or programming to a system, explicitly scan the files for malware.
  • Educate
    • Communicate with your employees about the risks and steps they can take to prevent a cyber attack to your industrial equipment as well as their computers and other devices.

Please contact us for more information or to assess your risk and discuss solutions.


 

Business Continuity

Risk and Reward – Protecting the Value of Your Business

Business ContinuitySeveral weeks ago, in a town not far from our headquarters, a massive fire destroyed a building housing six small businesses.  Our local business journal followed up a few weeks after the disaster with a poll asking business owners how prepared they are for a major disaster.

  • Fewer than 50% of responding business owners feel that they are fully insured, have an emergency plan, and could be up and running in a few days.
  • 39% feel that it could take a month or so, but they could eventually reopen
  • 17% felt they would be out of business or would required state and local aid to survive

While not a scientific sampling, the results are alarming.  Alarming for a few reasons:

  • Even with insurance, it can take days or weeks to get authorization so you can move forward with your emergency plan.  Securing a new location and replacing fixtures, inventory, etc. takes time, as does recovering computer systems and data.
  • More than 50% of businesses closed for 7 days due to a disaster fail within 6 months of reopening.  While many businesses might re-open in a month, the future will be challenging.

Your Risks are Yours

A major fire in a block of retail and service businesses creates specific challenges, as do storms and floods.  Many more businesses, however, experience disasters equal or greater in scope even if they do not have the same level of physical damage. Some examples we have seen.

  • A distributor of customized office supplies lost all electronic business records for the past three years when they where hit by ransomware. The attack corrupted their on-site backup servers as well as their main file and database servers.
  • A news publisher lost all of their physical servers, firewalls, and networking equipment when a sprinkler head failed in their small equipment room.
  • A small plastics manufacturer lost the ability to use their process control systems when embedded Windows workstations were corrupted by a malware attack.

In each of these examples, businesses with customer commitments, production schedules, and deadlines were idled for days. For some, full recovery can take months.  Beyond the hard cost of recovering systems and data, these businesses suffered from soft cost losses.  Missed customer commitments, delayed invoicing and collections, and the time employees spent on the recovery effort all have lasting impacts on your business.

Business Continuity is a not just a good idea, it is a responsibility. 

As business owners, our employees, vendors, and customers count on us.  While people can empathize with the impact of a fire, there is less understanding for businesses that fall victim to cyber crime.  Malware, phishing, ransomware and other attacks are generally preventable when your team is alert and aware of the risks and when you put reasonable identity, data, and system protections in place. And since no protection is perfect, you need to be able to recover quickly enough for your business to continue operating smoothly.

Here is some food for thought:

  • Know Your RTO:  Understand how quickly your business needs to Return to Operational.  Maybe you can work on paper for a few days. Maybe you need to be up and running in a few hours because you are at a standstill until systems are back online. Your RTO goal will guide your decisions on what protection and recovery/continuity services are the right match for your needs and budget.
  • Assess Your Risk: Understand the different disaster scenarios and how they may impact your business.  Think about physical issues, such as loss of power and catastrophic system failures, as well as other disruptions, such as cyber attacks and potential actions by a disgruntled employee.
  • Watch Your Flank: Asses how different types of threats could impact your business.  We are beyond hiding our computers behind firewalls. We still have physical threats, but we also have threats focused on networks, user identities, access control, third party services, and data sources and services. Each threat vector needs a plan for protection, response, and recovery.
  • Factor in Humanity: We used to talk about balancing security with ease of use.  Today, the humanity equation is different as most IT disasters take advantage of human factors like our fundamental desire be helpful when asked. In many ways, your team is your best defense. They need to understand the risks, the methods of manipulation, and the signs that something is not quite “right”.  Your team needs to understand the value of inconveniences like multi-factor authentication and enhanced privacy and access controls — that these protect them as well as the company.

Your next step.

Contact us.  It is time for a serious conversation about protecting the value of your business.  A basic assessment of your business continuity profile will identify risks and gaps. From there, we can discuss improvements and their business value so you can make informed decisions that balance your risks, needs, and budget.  Business Continuity solutions — from disaster prevention through recovery — do not need to bust your budget.   For most business, changes in security settings on existing systems paired with modest, incremental services provide the protection and recover-ability you need.

Cyber Attack

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.


 

 

 

Cyber Attack

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.


 

Yahoo Mistreats Customers

Yet Another Yahoo! Breach

Yahoo Mistreats CustomersFor the second time this year, Yahoo! acknowledges a major security breach.  This time, the breach occurred in 2013, resulting in the data loss of roughly 1 billion, (Yes, BILLION) accounts.  More than usernames and passwords this breach included security questions and answers.

But, here are the scary facts:

  1. Yahoo! was unaware of the breach until a third party notified them that their user information was for sale on the “dark web”
  2. Yahoo! admits it was unaware of the breach and does not know how it happened

Because Yahoo! accounts are used behind the scenes in multiple services, and you may be using your Yahoo! identity for other sites and apps, the potential impact of the breach is just plain scary.


Maybe it is time to Move From Yahoo!.  Contact us to learn how.