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Cyber Security Will Change Companies

Security, Privacy, & ComplianceAt a recent security and risk management summit, Gartner shared their views of how cyber security will change companies.  While Gartner’s predictions focus on larger enterprise, several of their observations will likely hold true for small and midsize businesses (SMBs).

Here are some observations and our view of how they will impact small and midsize businesses.

Through 2023, government regulations requiring organizations to provide consumer privacy rights will cover 5 billion citizens and more than 70% of global GDP.

Privacy regulations will continue to expand as more nations pass legislation establishing privacy requirements.  Within the US, we expect more states to follow California, New York, and Massachusetts with varying levels of regulations. Along with the regulations come the potential for fines and increase civil litigation. In many of the statues, the protection is afforded the customer based on the customer’s location, not the location of the business.

For SMBs, establishing an maintaining a sound security footprint is essential.  Beyond the technology tools, businesses need to educate employees and have the policies and procedures in place. These policies and procedures should define expectations for employees and for how the business will respond to an incident.

By 2025, 80% of enterprises will adopt a strategy to unify web, cloud services and private application access from a single vendor’s SSE (Security service edge) platform.

Protecting access to systems is more challenging as the proliferation of usernames and passwords continue.  As the human element can be the greatest security challenge, Identity and Access Management (IAM) solutions will become the norm.

For SMBs, Single Sign-On (SSO), centralized identity/password vaults, and other tools are available and are, generally affordable.  Many SMBs current hesitate given the incremental cost per user per month. As the cost and risk of missing becomes greater, we expect SMBs will see value of Identity and Access Management solutions. These solutions will become the norm, not an add-on.

By 2025, 60% of organizations will use cybersecurity risk as a primary determinant in conducting third-party transactions and business engagements.

With increased concern and scrutiny from customers, consumers, and regulators, businesses are under increasing pressure to monitor and protect against third-party cyber security risks.  This trend will impact SMBs in two ways.

  1. Given the prevalent use of business email addresses as identities for third party applications and services, SMBs will monitor for reported breaches. Third party breaches give cyber criminals an attack vector.
  2. Larger enterprises will see businesses in their supply chains as potential security risks. They will increasing include cyber security requirement in vendor authorization process and in contracts.

SMBs need to be ready to meet the security and risk management demands — people, process, and technology — of their customers.

By 2025, 70% of CEOs will mandate a culture of organizational resilience to survive coinciding threats from cybercrime, severe weather events, civil unrest and political instabilities.

As businesses adapted to the COVID-19 pandemic, the inability of most businesses to respond to large scale disruptions exposed flaws in traditional business continuity planning. The pandemic put a spotlight on the need for business resiliency and continuity plans for businesses that had not yet considered continuity to be a priority.  The level of planning to address the threats from cybercrime will need to be the same as the planning for other disasters and business disruptions.

For SMBs, leveraging cloud solutions will remain the most cost-effective business continuity option.  Moving systems and applications into cloud services increases security, adds redundancy, provides geographic diversity, and provides better remote access than on-premise systems.  SMBs are at greatest risk from local or regional issues. Cloud services … even if only a “lift and shift” of existing servers and applications … will be accepted as a cost-effective way to improve security and resiliency.

We expect small and midsize businesses will need to expand their security footprint. They will need to improve resiliency.  Appropriate solutions are available and are affordable.  Businesses can meet their security, resiliency, continuity, and operational needs effectively and affordably. The inherit advantages of cloud services and solutions make this possible.

To evaluate your requirements and readiness for better security and resilience against cyber attacks and other business disruptions, contact us for a consultation, or book some time with a Cloud Advisor.  The consultation is free and without obligation.


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.

Resources for Opening Safely

(Published 5/21/20)

As part of our commitment to collate and share COVID-19 response and recovery information , we have compiled resource list to help you safely and appropriately open your physical locations.

General Guidance

Worker Safety and Accommodations

Unemployment Insurance

Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFRCA)

Cleaning and Disinfecting

Social Distancing

Screening / Monitoring Employee Health

Business Travel Limitations

Protective Equipment


For more COVID-19 related assistance, please contact us.


 

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.