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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.


 

Myth Busting

Myth Busting Monday: Cloud Lacks Security

Office365-Logo-and-textSecurity is still the biggest fear across SMBs considering the cloud.  IT leaders and C-level execs worry about spies, cyberthieves, governments, and vendors access their company’s data. This fear is unfounded.

You are the Sole Owner of Your Data; You Manage and Control Privacy and Access.

Like most reputable and trustworthy cloud providers, Microsoft runs the Office 365 based on several key principles:

  • Microsoft never mines your data for any reason other than to provide you with the Office 365 services
  • Microsoft’s staff does not have access to your data
  • If you leave Office 365, you can always take your data with you
  • You control the security and privacy settings; you determine who has access to what
  • Auditing and supervision prevent your admins from unauthorized access to your data

Beyond the core security and privacy capabilities of Microsoft Office 365, we offer additional configuration, tools, and services to ensure compliance with privacy regulations and/or your internal policies.

Fear not the lesser known security of the cloud. Learn, trust, and go.


This is the sixth of a multi-part series designed to help companies better asses the opportunity and value of cloud-based solutions. Contact us to schedule a free, no-obligation Cloud Advisor session to discuss your priorities and plans.


Rethinking Risks and Responses

Malware, Ransomware, Natural Disasters and More Keep Hitting SMBs Hard

Never have we had a greater ability to work together to get things done than we do right now. As our cloud and hybrid environments expand, the ease-of-use encourages us to share ideas and information and to collaborate in new and exciting ways.

Never have we been under attack from so many directions. Changing weather patterns and aging infrastructure leave businesses without power for days instead of hours. Fading employee loyalty means more chances for information to walk out the door. The same features that let us easily share information also let us accidentally share information we shouldn’t. Malware and viruses have evolved from a nuisance to potentially existential threats with the increase in ransomware and advanced persistent threats.

Our Businesses, Employees, and Customers Need and Expect Protection

With the risks and impacts on the rise, we as small and midsize business owners and technologists should rethink how we both prepare and respond. Since the dawn of business computing, large enterprises have built expensive solutions to ensure that their businesses keep running “no matter what”.  Now that we are in the cloud, and solutions are incredibly affordable, we need to adopt the same approach.

Business continuity is no longer just being able to keep your business running after a disaster.

Business continuity means that you are able to prevent business disruptions and distractions, regardless of the cause. Business continuity means …

  • You actively work to minimize the chance of a ransomware attack, and that you can respond and recover quickly should it happen.
  • You have systems and procedures in place to prevent data loss and privacy breaches, and that you can detect and mitigate issues quickly and effectively.
  • You and your team are no longer tethered to the hardware, Internet access, and electricity in your offices.

For SMBs, now is the time to consider the tangible and intangible costs of business interruptions of all types and to see the value in solutions to prevent and recovery. Understand the value proposition of that goes beyond dollars and cents to include the customer relationship impact and the toll that business disruption has on your team.

Food for Thought:

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.


 

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.

 

Tuesday Take Away: DLP in Google Apps

In at least one prior post, we have written about the nature of data protection and the reasons for backing up information in the cloud.  Backupify, one of the vendors we work with often, recently conducted  a study of known data loss incidents in Google Apps with known resolutions.   Here is what they learned:

  • 0.00% = Due to Google systems or software
  • 4.05% = Due to an integrated, third party application
  • 10.81% = Due to unauthorized use of a users’ credentials
  • 85.14% = Due to user action

What does this mean?

For most Google Apps users, the best mechanism for Data Loss Prevention (DLP) is to protect your data from user error and malicious acts.  In other words, back up your data!  Assess your needs with respect to retention period and retention points, and pick the backup solution that best meets your business needs.  And remember, backups solutions for Google Docs should do more than export with conversion.

In addition, users should understand the importance and risks involved in sharing account information or using weak passwords.  If you want to enforce best practices, consider Google Apps Directory Sync or an affordable Single Sign-On (SSO) solution.

Drop us a note if you want to know more.