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G Suite: Modern Security for Modern Threats

Google CloudIn multiple blog posts over the past 2+ years, we have covered the changing and growing nature of threats to your organization, systems, and people.  For us the answer is CPR

Communicate and Educate;

Prevent & Protect;

Recover & Review. 

Once you have these basics in place, the challenge becomes keeping up with the times.  As the nature of threats change, the protective capabilities of our key systems should evolve as well.

For those of us running G Suite, we may understand that Google has expanded the security footprint and capabilities, but have we altered our configuration to properly protect ourselves?

The first step in assessing your protections is to understand the risks.

  • 91% of attacks start with a phishing email
  • 66% of malware was installed via malicious emails or attachments
  • 90% of all reported breaches caused by employee negligence, extortion, and external threats

These statistics, while not unfamiliar, point to the change in risk from physical devices to data and human interactions.

As people can be your greatest risk, the best protections compensate for human behavior.

Step two is mapping your security needs to the right version of G Suite. Each version adds additional protections, allowing you to move up to the version that best meets your needs and priorities. Understand what each version offers and map them back to your regulatory and business requirements.

G Suite Basic

  • Encryption in transit and at rest, including policy-based TLS enforcement
  • 2-Step Verification via prompt, SMS, Security Key,or Authenticator app
  • Single Sign-on (SAML 2.0)
  • OAuth 2.0 and OpenID Connect
  • Restrict emails to authorized recipients
  • Drive audit logs

G Suite Business

  • Vault for compliant archiving and e-discovery for Gmail, Drive, and Hangouts Chat
  • Team Drives for centralized access controls and permissions management
  • Domain white-listing for Drive with alerts
  • Basic Information Rights Management (IRM) to manage scope of sharing by Organizational Units

G Suite Enterprise

  • G Suite Security Center with a unified security dashboard
  • Advanced Data Loss Prevention for Gmail and Drive files
  • Email content compliance and objectional content filters, with OCR
  • Security key enforcement
  • User S/MIME Certificates for Gmail encryption
  • App white-listing to control 3rd party data access
  • Sandboxing (pre-delivery deep scanning) or email attachments

Moving the right version of G Suite has never been easier.

While no one product or service will meet all of your security, privacy, and data management needs, moving to the right version of G Suite improves your security footprint and can mitigate the need for 3rd party solutions. To help you move, we are partnering with Google to offer pricing incentives.

Your next step is to contact us to schedule a complimentary Cloud Advisory Session to assess your needs, priorities, and options.


 

 

 

Rules and Regulations

Rules, Regulations, and Results

Rules and RegulationsFor Small and Midsize Enterprises (SMEs), the regulatory landscape remains in a perpetual state of flux with changes originating at the Federal, state, and local levels. While some rules and regulations can severely impact your business’ operations, and profitability, many create requirements that you can easily satisfy at a nominal cost.

Three regulations with upcoming deadlines or increased enforcement include:

HIPAA

HIPAA compliance is a requirement for any organization that works with personal health information of individuals — not just medical offices and insurance firms. If you are sharing employee information about benefits, insurance coverage, medical leaves, or other items that involve personal health information (PHI), you have an obligation to protect the PHI. Failure to do so can result in heavy fines and, in a few instances, criminal charges.

Historically, HIPAA compliance has focused on medical practices, insurance, and brokers. We are starting to see audits of non-medical companies, along with fines for those not in compliance. 

Fortunately, you can protect PHI by focusing on the individuals that are authorized or likely to handle sensitive employee information.  By focusing on HR, payroll, and key executive and leadership roles, you can deploy services like message-level email encryption.

What to do:

  • For as little as $5 or $6 per user per month, you can ensure that specific individuals protect PHI and sensitive information while preventing accidental disclosure
  • Contact us for information about encryption, DLP, and other HIPAA solutions.

ELD

Starting December 18, 2017, all interstate trucks in the US must use an Electronic Logging Device (ELD) to track operations and required reporting.  According to the US Department of Transportation (USDOT), fewer than 1/3 of interstate trucks have installed ELDs as of mid-November. Failure to comply can result in heavy fines, impounding of vehicles, and disruption of delivery schedules.

While enforcement is not expected to impact small and midsize trucking firms until late spring or summer of next year, your business can still be at risk.

Here are a few things to note:

  • If you have your own truck(s), they may be classified or registered as Interstate Trucks, even if you only deliver within your state.
  • If you use third parties for shipping, their failure to comply can disrupt your deliveries if trucks are stopped or impounded, or if drivers are pulled off the road.

What to do:

  • Check your own vehicles:
    • Determine if they are properly registered as Interstate Trucks, or if they should be registered as such
    • If you do not have ELDs yet, please contact us for low cost, self-install ELDs with logging software subscriptions
  • Check with your shipper(s):
    • Confirm their trucks, those of their subcontractors, and any owner/operators are properly registered and have ELDs
    • If not, have them contact us for help

GDPR

Effective May 25, 2018, the European Union (EU) General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) takes effect. While GDPR covers data protection and privacy for citizens of EU member states, treaties allow enforcement in action against US companies operating within the US.

If you have any personal data for citizens of EU member states, you are responsible for GDPR compliance.

GDPR means more than encrypting sensitive data.  GDPR includes processes and procedures for governance, including:

  • A named Data Protection Officer (DPO) responsible for oversight, compliance, and response to individual inquiries. The DPO role can be full time or part time, internal or contracted.
  • You must report suspected breaches within 72 hours of becoming aware of the issue.
  • You need to deploy privacy by design — any new system or change in systems requires primary consideration of privacy and information security.
  • You must be able to demonstrate that you mitigate risk, even in the absence of a privacy breach.

Fortunately for most SME’s the appropriate policy changes and the risk-mitigation technologies need not be expensive of complicated.

What to do:

  • Discuss GDPR with your team, and your legal counsel, to determine your required compliance
  • Provide training, education, and “cultural support” for a data privacy mindset within your organization
  • Review systems storing or processing personal information for security and privacy compliance
  • Select and deploy relevant data loss prevention (risk mitigation) solutions for your environment

Need help? Contact us for more information.


 

4 Lessons from the Q4 Data Breach Review

Last week, our strategic partner Privacy Ref held their quarterly review of recent data breaches.  In his presentation, Ben Siegel, CIPM, identified 4 lessons learned from recent data breaches, including: Google Android; Hillary Tentler, CPA; Folsom State Prison; and the Internal Revenue Service.

#1: Unauthorized Mobile Apps Create Risk

Issue: Users can download apps from sites other than the Google Play store. These apps are not “vetted” and gain access to tokens used to control users’ accounts.

Lesson: As the threat is outside of Google’s control, you need to put systems in place to prevent unauthorized apps from access your company’s data via mobile devices.

#2: Local Data is At Risk, Too

Issue: In the burglary of an accountant’s home, three hard drives were stolen and only one was recovered during the arrest.

Lesson: Physical devices, when stolen, can result in a serious data breach; While moving 100% cloud is more secure, it may not be a practical option for your business yet. You should ensure any local data is encrypted and subject to regular backup.

#3: Internal Breaches are Still a Breach

Issue: A file including names, social security numbers, and other sensitive data was saved to a shared location accessible to anybody in the organization.

Lesson: You can protect yourself from internal breaches with solutions that use defined business rules to automatically enforce permission restrictions based on the content of your files.

#4: It is Too Easy to Email Protected Information

Issue: Employees were sending emails with personally identifiable information (PII) clearly visible, in violation of regulatory requirements.

Lesson: You should not rely on people to do the right thing all of the time — mistakes happen and can be damaging and costly. System exist that scan and encrypt emails automatically if they contain sensitive or protected information.


Do you need a privacy assessment or a privacy plan review? Are you ready to better protect your data — on premise and/or in the cloud?

Contact us to discuss your needs.


 

Fast Fact

Fast Fact Friday: Ransomware Cloud Attacks

Fast FactAccording to the Datto’s 2016 Global Ransomware Report, a survey of 1,100 IT service providers …

70% report Dropbox being the target of the ransomware attack

44% of attacks targeted Professional Services

38% of attacks targeted Healthcare


Are you moving to the cloud? Is your roadmap in line with your business goals? Contact us for a no-obligation Cloud Advisor session.


Email Encryption is Not Compliance

Security Key
While providing a reasonable level of protection from inappropriate access to your data, the built-in encryption is not sufficient to meet information privacy regulations. Laws such as the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (“HIPAA”), and industry regulations including the Personal Card Information (“PCI”) standards require more than data encryption.

Privacy laws and regulations typically include three components:

  1. Policies and procedures that, when followed, provide appropriate data protections
  2. A means to monitor compliance, with the ability to detect and mitigate potential violations of the policies and procedures
  3. A defined response and resolution procedure in the event of a breach

As explained in our eBook, Email Encryption in Google Apps, Technology can support the implementation of these three components, but does not offer a full solution on its own.


Contact us to assess your email encryption needs and to define an affordable solution.


 

The Human Risk with Cloud Storage

Cloud File DrawerA recent survey by WinMagic, a UK-based storage security firm, highlights some interesting, if not disturbing, information about employee use of cloud file and storage services. Speaking with over 1,000 employees at companies with at least 50 employees, the survey found that both users and businesses appear to be unclear about the need to protect cloud data, and how to do it.

Key findings of the survey:

  • Only 35% use a service sanctioned by their employer
  • 50% use personal equipment to access work information and services at least once a week
  • 65% of employees don’t have or don’t know the company policy on cloud storage
  • 5% use cloud services knowing that the service has been restricted by the company

The disparity between IT policies regarding the use of cloud storage and employees habits is troubling, particularly given the risk of data corruption, loss, and breaches.

The solution is not to avoid the cloud. Nor should you create a draconian culture around technology and cloud usage.

  • Create and share a clear, concise policy on the use of cloud services, and IT in general, for your company
    • Clearly require that work related to data to be stored only in sanctioned systems and services, and the work and personal applications and data be completely separate.
  • Provide a suite of services that meet users’ needs
    • Ask users which tools help their productivity and evaluate the secure, business versions. Remember that one size does not fit all and you may need or want multiple options.
  • Monitor and manage access, security, and privacy
    • Deploy systems that let you monitor  and manage access to company data, the security of the data, and your data privacy compliance. In addition to user identity and access controls, monitor and manage file permissions based on content along with 3rd party application (especially mobile app) access to your data.
  • Inform and educate your team
    • You do not need a series of boring lectures and meetings to indoctrinate your team into the new world order. A clear, concise discussion regarding appropriate use policies gets the message across.
  • Be nimble and communicate
    • Cloud is still fairly new and services are constantly evolving and launching. Users’ needs are changing constantly as well. If you can respond to your users with tools and services that meet their needs, you eliminate their “need” to circumvent the official tools. Communication about why certain

A balance of useful and secure cloud services, clear policies that promote responsible use, and tools that monitor and mitigate risks will improve not just your security profile, but your efficiency as a business.


We offer a range of data protection & security services, contact us to learn more.


 

 

Beware of Marketplace Apps on the Move


Last week, Google announced that the Google Apps Marketplace was open for business to all Google Apps users, not just administrators.

While this move opens up a wide range of personal productivity applications to Google Apps users, it is not without risks.

  • Your users can now commit you to paid apps and services that you may not want as part of your environment.
  • Apps may require permissions to data in your Google Apps environment that needs to be, or you want to be, private and secure.
  • Not all apps are from well-known vendors.

As we have written in the past, third party apps can present a risk to your data and your business.  And while Bring-Your-Own-App (BYOA) can be beneficial to staff efficiency and effectiveness, Google Apps administrators should careful and should understand the security health of the domain.

As such, consider turning off marketplace access to all users.  (Customers with a support plan: Ask us and we will do this for you).

We also recommend that you consider a Google Apps Security Health Check (special offer through Sept 30th) to ensure that Marketplace, mobile, and other third party apps are not already posing a risk.


If your current Google Apps reseller is not providing guidance on best practices, security and other important issues, contact us.  We would love to have you join us as a client. 

 

 

 

Cloud File Sync & Sharing: Risks and Solutions (Part 3)

Secure Cloud
This blog post is the third in a series on the data risks and solutions available for file sync and sharing services.

In the first two posts in this series, we focused on some of the risks and basic concepts for file sync and sharing services.  In this post, we focus on ways to mitigate risks.

Provide Employees with an Approved File Sharing Service. As we have noted in our prior posts, if you do not provide an approved service, employees will sign up for and use one of their own.  The difference?  With an approved services, you have access to your employees’ data and clear ownership of the information.  You can also monitor and manage for adoption, usage, and (if desired) adherence to policies.

Have a Clear Policy. Let employees know that personal and company data and systems are to remain separate, and why.  Provide a list of approved file sharing and sync services, as well as a clear an concise statement which other services may not be used (i.e., all others) and why.  The policy should include consequences for violations, along with a means for approved exceptions.

Block or Blacklist Unauthorized Tools. For many organizations without decent web filtering services in place, this recommendation will be difficult to implement.

Audit Workstations for Unauthorized Use.  Beyond application monitoring, when you scan workstations for application inventories, look to see if sync service agents have been installed.

With a moderate planning effort and reasonable monitoring and enforcement efforts, businesses can take advantage of the conveniences that file sharing and sync services offer, without exposing data to unnecessary risk and loss.

 

Cloud Backup: Small Businesses Hesitate at their Own Peril

Cloud Backup
According to a recent survey of IT service firms conducted by The 2112 Group, small and mid-size businesses (SMBs with up to 250 employees) do not respond to most marketing efforts.  The lack of interest appears to be due to underlying concerns about data security, bandwidth, availability, and recurring costs.

Not surprisingly, SMBs become interested in cloud backup after a data loss or downtime. Having experienced disruption or loss, SMBs better understand the cost of a failed recovery compared with the cost of adequate protection.

Businesses that move to cloud backup sited their primary motivations as:

  • Improved data protection and business continuity (34%)
  • Better overall IT reliability (20%)
  • Reduced IT costs (16%)

The challenge for us, as a cloud solutions provider, is to meet our customers’ objectives while addressing issues of security, bandwidth, availability, and cost.

The challenge for SMBs, as our customer or prospective customer, is to recognize the value of cloud-based backup before a crisis.  And, understand that by offering a range of solutions, we can ensure data integrity while keeping costs in-line.

 

Cloud File Sync & Sharing: Risks and Solutions (Part 2)

Secure Cloud This blog post is the second in a series on the data risks and solutions available for file sync and sharing services.

Your employees are using file sharing services. Ignoring reality or denying its existence will not change the fact that today’s tech users want to easily share files, and that they will circumvent IT if needed.

Understand the Technology.  Many organizations are using file sync services to share and backup files.  A poor understanding of how file sync services, however, can result in data corruption and loss.

Sync Basics. Most sync services keep a copy of your files on your local machine and in cloud storage, with synchronization happening for files saved in specific directories on your local machine.  In other words, you open and work on files locally.  When you save them in a sync folder (or folder tree), the file will be synchronized with the version in the cloud.  Files may also be used and saved using more traditional upload and download techniques. If you share a file with another person, they will download, or sync, a copy of the file to their local desktop.  This means that if you both are editing a document at the same time, you are both working locally on different copies of the file.  While some sync services offer basic file locking, most will allow the conflict to occur.  Data may be easily lost as each person syncs and overwrites the changes of the other. Better sync services offer multiple level or permissions, allowing you to restrict access to view versus edit.  Some services will also prevent downloading and printing.

Sync versus Backup. File sync is NOT backup.  If you overwrite or delete a file, those changes are synced to the server and to other users.  While some sync services offer version control with a limited ability to retrieve prior versions, most sync services quickly propagate errors and deletions. As such, sync is not a reliable technology for data restores.

When to Sync? Sync and sharing services can be part of a robust business continuity strategy. With near-real time updates, a local or remote service outage does not mean loss of access to files, or loss of operating data. Sync and sharing services are also useful for sharing files with outside parties, provided your users understand the limitations of the service. If you allow the use of sync and share services, however, make sure your team is using a company-owned and managed account and a business grade service.  We will discuss why this is so critical in our next installment.

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