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Lessons Learned: Remote Workforce Security

As part of its Global Year in Breach – 2021 report, security firm ID Agent found that remote workforce security is more difficult than generally thought. With many of the changes in how we work expected to continue, as business leaders we need to embrace hybrid work as the way of the future.

Pandemic Triggers Panic

2020 and the onset of the global COVID-19 pandemic presented new challenges. The biggest challenge was cybercrime. The mix of understaffed IT departments, maintenance failures, unpreparedness, record-breaking cybercrime, and employee stress taxed IT teams and services. Cybercriminals took advantage of this golden opportunity, and businesses were hit hard.

Businesses needed to rapidly shift to remote operations. For those with older technology, this shift was especially difficult. Everybody became a remote worker. IT teams needed to become instant experts in remote workforce security. For too many businesses, it was a mad scramble to to get their teams remotely or face shutting down entirely. Many employees lacked training in remote work; many IT teams had never managed remote security at scale. A barrage of unintentional, insider threats assaulted IT teams daily.

Stress Creates Vulnerabilities

Why was the massive shift to Work from Home such a boon to cybercrime?

IT departments were unprepared and understaffed.  Only 39% of IT executives polled felt they have adequate IT expertise on staff to assist with remote work issues. Only 45% of organizations reported having and adequate budget to support remote work.

At the same time, employees were dealing with unexpected stress at home and more likely to make cybersecurity mistakes. Over 50% of respondents admitted they were more error-prone while stressed. 40% said they made more mistakes when tired or distracted. Altogether, 43% of workers surveyed acknowledged mistakes resulting in cybersecurity repercussions for themselves or their company while working remotely.

Cybercrime Complications

Chaos and confusion created opportunities for cybercriminals. Experts estimate that overall cybercrime was up by 80% in 2020. Much of that increase was from phishing attacks. Cybercriminals took advantage distracted, stressed workers, with limited IT support, and immense numbers of email. In 2020, phishing attacks skyrocketed by more than 650%. Attacks hit 75% of companies and accounted for almost 80% of all cybercrime.

Successful ransomware also jumped more than 145%. In 2020, 51% of all businesses and 40% of small and midsize businesses experienced a ransomware attack. 50% of attacks on SMBs used vicious double extortion ransomware. Ransomware will continue to top the list of cybercrime trends in 2021.

Next Steps to Stay Ahead of Remote & Hybrid Workforce Risk

Stopping ransomware and decreasing your company’s risk of a successful cyberattack against remote and hybrid workers starts with stopping phishing and its destructive effects. We have tools that help your IT team support and protect your people and your business, while also protecting your budget.

To learn more about you cyber risks, and solutions to fit your needs and budget, contact us and schedule a complimentary Cloud Advisor Session.

 

Business Email Compromise: 10 Stats; 5 Solutions

Business Email Compromise (BEC) is a type of phishing-related fraud with far-reaching consequences. Not only can BEC attacks hurt your business, companies you work with can be damaged as well. BEC threats are hard to detect and mitigate, given the a byzantine structure of the attack.

Here are 10 statistics that demonstrate the increasing risk of BEC attacks, along with 5 solutions that reduce the chance of your business becoming a victim.

10 BEC Statistics

1Business email compromise rose by 14% overall in 2020 and up to 80% in some sectors
265% of organizations faced BEC attacks in 2020

3In 2020, BEC costs increased rapidly, from $54,000 in Q1 2020 to $80,183 in Q2.
4The energy and infrastructure sector topped the 2020 list with 93% of attacks
560% of the information on the dark web could potentially damage businesses

6In 2020, 80% of firms experienced an increase in cyberattacks

762% of BEC scams involve the cybercriminal asking for gift or money cards.
8The most common type of BEC scam is invoice or payment fraud
9Payment/invoice/billing scams skyrocketed by 155%, in 2020

10The average amount requested in wire transfer-based BEC attacks nearly doubled to $75,000 in the fourth quarter.

Protecting Against BEC Attacks

The most effective way to prevent business email compromise attacks is a strong, multifaceted defense against the primary delivery system: phishing email.  Here are 5 solutions that help you mitigate threats and the risk of successful cyber attacks.

1 Phishing Resistance Training

An absolute must-have for any organization in today’s tumultuous world is a strong cybersecurity culture. Too many employees are still clicking on dangerous messages. Strengthen your security culture and reduce your risk of suffering email-based cyberattacks by up to 70%.

2 Advanced Threat Protection

Go beyond attack profiles and blacklist lookups. Take advantage of next-gen protections that assess content and context, leverage machine learning, and analyze the behavior of links and attachments.

3 DNS / Web Protection

Secure your DNS traffic to help prevent cyber attacks that spoof or use your identity.  Block known, dangerous web sites. Block malicious web content and downloads, even from trusted sites that have been hacked.

4 Identity Access Management

Secure your user identities over time with a comprehensive approach. Include multi-factor authentication, password vaults, and single-sign on for your best protection.

5 Dark Web Monitoring

Your team probably uses their work email address (identity) to log into third party services. Breaches in these services put your business at risk. Monitor you domain for potential breaches so you can take action before you become a victim.

To learn more about these Business Email Compromise, other cyber threats, and solutions to fit your needs and budget, contact us and schedule a complimentary Cloud Advisor Session.

 

Cyber Protection Solutions for SMBs

Data protection iconAs our businesses become even more reliant on technology and cloud services, the frequency and sophistication of cyber attacks continue to accelerate. Your Cyber Protection 

Cyber Protection Needs

We need our businesses — and our people — to be aware, protected, and able to recover.

At Cumulus Global, our CPR model maps the necessary components of cyber security into three areas.

  • Communicate & Educate
    • Ensure you team understands the risk, educate them so they can avoid falling prey, create a culture of security and data privacy.
  • Protect & Prevent
    • Leverage advanced and “next gen” technologies to prevent attacks and to protect your networks, systems, data, and people from attacks.
  • Recover & Respond
    • No system is perfect; make sure you can recover your data and systems, return to normal operations, and respond to the technical, legal, and communication challenges.

Successful Cyber Protection relies on your policies and procedures, technologies, and people working in sync. Across more than a dozen focus areas, you need to balance the level or protection you need with the costs and with the risks of not doing enough. You need to balance external requirements, such as government and industry regulations, with internal priorities.

Your Cyber Protection Solution

To design and implement an affordable, integrated, and effective cyber protection solution for your business, start with a Cyber Protection Assessment (CPA).  A CPA will assess your needs, within the context of your business, and preferred solutions across 15 areas of focus:

  • Written Information Security Plan
  • Patches and Updates
  • Email Encryption
  • Data Destruction
  • Background Checks
  • Written Information Response Plan
  • Antivirus and Intrusion Detection
  • Email and Web Security
  • Account and Identity Management
  • Employee Training
  • Firewalls
  • Backup / Continuity / Disaster Recovery
  • File Encryption
  • Network Access Security
  • Responsible Parties

Using the results of the Cyber Protection Assessment, you can plan and implement your levels of protection in each area to create the balance that is best for your business.

Next Steps and Resources

Your best next step is to contact us and discuss your cyber protection status and needs with one of our Cloud Advisors. Consider using our Cyber Protection Assessment to understand your needs, current protections, gaps, and priorities.

Related Resources:

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.

Ransomware: Prevention versus Cure

Looking at the frequency and scope of ransomware attacks, and the number of small and midsize businesses falling victim, we remain surprised at how many SMBs are not yet taking steps to prevent the problem.

A Ransomware attack with no data loss can still cost your business $1,500 per employee, or more, in recovery costs and lost productivity.

Back in July, our 3T@3 Webcast focused on Ransomware, we published a Business Guide to Ransomware.  Both highlighted the need for CPR:

  • Communicate:
    • Educate and train employees on how not to fall victim; provide clear policies and procedures that reinforce positive behaviors.
  • Prevention:
    • Deploy technologies in support of your policies and procedures with multi-layered protection against malware and, specifically, ransomware.
  • Recover:
    • No prevention is perfect; have backup and continuity systems in place that enable a quick return to normal operations.

While most of the SMBs and schools we speak with understand and have some of the prevention and recovery solutions in place, the up-front education is missing. These businesses and schools remain vulnerable targets.


Earlier this October, we announced a strategic partnership with Privacy Ref, offering affordable Privacy Solutions for SMBs, including a subscription-based Privacy Education Program. For a small base fee and $10 per employee per year, we help ensure your team understands the risks, the importance of awareness, and how to avoid becoming a victim.

For a fraction of the cost of an attack, you can empower your team to avoid and prevent it from happening.

Contact us for more information.


 

 

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:

Lots of Bots; Not so Many People on the Internet?

bot-traffic-report-2013
As recently reported by CloudTweaks, a recently published analysis tells us that only 38.5% of Internet traffic is from humans.  The rest is from Bots — good and evil.

Good Bots are primarily search engines and data aggregation services.  These represent 31% of Internet traffic.  This leaves 30.5% of traffic originating from Bad Bots.  

What are the Bad Bots?

  • Scrapers: These bots scrape web sites, capturing text to steal email addresses for spam purposes or to reverse-engineer pricing and business models
  • Hackers: These bots break into sites to steal credit card data or inject malicious code
  • Spammers: Email addresses are the target for these Bots, enabling billions of useless and annoying email messages and inviting “search engine blacklisting”
  • Impersonators: These bots specialize in intelligence gathering, DdoS attacks and bandwidth consumption

The result?  Web sites, email systems, and other online activities should be secure.  Our defenses must continue to evolve and all technology users should have a basic understanding of the threats at hand.

Focusing on protecting users and data, rather than devices, creates a mindset that enables a more integrated approach and solutions.

Contact us to explore solutions that fit your business and budget.

Webcasts

Next Normal: IT Efficiency

3T@3 Webcast Series: Tuesday, Feb 23rd at 3:00 PM

COVID-19 and the events of the past 10 months have, and continue, to change the way we run our businesses.  While some of these changes are temporary, many will become part of our next normal. For many of us, these changes came in a scramble to work from home. With respect to IT, this has many businesses using new, often redundant apps and systems.

Are the IT choices made during the crisis the best for your business in the long term?

This month’s 3T@3 Webcast, is the first in our “Next Normal” series looking at how we adapt, prepare, and respond to economic, social, and business changes.  We start the series exploring “IT Efficiency.”  We see where many small businesses signed on to services in order to adapt to mandatory closures, reduced office capacity, and parents’ need to be present for children learning remotely. Many of these service duplicate features in other systems, resulting in excess cost and lost productivity.  Join Cumulus Global CEO Allen Falcon to identify how you may streamline your IT services, reduce costs, and improve efficiencies.

Watch the recording on-demand



Data Protection & Security

library

15 Best Practices for Cyber Protection

eBook Source: Cumulus Global

As our businesses become even more reliant on technology and cloud services, the frequency and sophistication of cyber attacks continue to accelerate. We need our businesses — and our people — to be aware, protected, and able to recover.

At Cumulus Global, our CPR model maps the necessary components of cyber security into three areas.

  • Communicate & Educate
  • Protect & Prevent
  • Recover & Respond

Policies and procedures, technologies, and people are all part of the equation, as is cyber insurance for financial protection. Deciding where and how to invest is a value proposition balancing costs, benefits, and the risks of inaction. 

In this eBook, we look at 15 Best Practices for Cyber Protection. We rank solutions from “bad” to “best”. Your business may not need the “best” solution for every area; you can match services and costs to your risks and needs. 

These best practices improve your protection, mitigate liabilities, and facilitate affordable cyber insurance coverage.

Please confirm you information below to view and download the eBook.