Are You Safe?
Your company network serves as both the most effective means by which you operate and the most troubling means by which someone can gain entry. For you to keep your organization safe, you need to ensure your network security is sufficient to keep out the malicious actors. Reviewing your security system to identify weaknesses is a crucial step every company should take to protect yourself, your employees and your customers.
Your company generates, receives, and processes data every day. Whether this occurs through email traffic, e-commerce, or cookies collected and stored through your website. You can control some of this by setting up firewalls and proxy servers in your system. You may even run anti-virus and anti-malware software on your servers and individual computers connected to the network.
Unfortunately for some, these basic security measures are sometimes inadequate to prevent security breaches. The cost can range from loss of efficiency (profit loss) to complete failure of the business. Other consequences can result as well, such as loss of reputation, lawsuits from affected parties, and a host of other problems.
So then, why do security breaches occur if basic security protection is in place? Surely, every competent business leader would implement security measures they believe adequate to prevent security breaches. Before we rush to judgment, we should consider the difficulty of meeting this challenge. Cyber security breaches can and do happen to businesses with competent leadership at the helm. The primary reason, is the recurring and evolving nature of cyber security threats.
Resourcing Network Security
As security threats become attacks, solutions for avoidance, and repair of effected systems, are developed and implemented. Meanwhile, new threats emerge, rendering the previous security measures inadequate to provide sufficient protection. Thus, the cycle repeats, with businesses continually exposed to new threats. Maintaining up to date awareness, and responding to threats and attacks proves a difficult challenge. Most small to medium sized companies cannot afford to dedicate the resources required to provide adequate network security.
Ideally, your business will remain focused on meeting your key business objectives. Responding to external threats distracts from your daily business workflow. Regardless, you must attend to the external threats in order to avoid costly consequences of an unforeseen cyber-attack.
Below is a short list of some current and prevalent cyber security threats. You would do well to review your cyber security protection measures in place to learn whether you have adequate protection against these or other prevalent threats. A competent IT MSP can help you appraise the effectiveness of the cyber security measures you are currently implementing. This will not only reduce your risk of exposure, it will also free your time to remain focused on your daily business workflow.
For your general awareness, find below a list of current and emerging cyber security threats and measures for protection against these threats.
Data and Information Threats and Protection
This is not a new theme. Phishing has been a problem for several years. However, phishing schemes are becoming more sophisticated, and harder to detect. Additionally, increasing numbers of people with access to your business network are using the internet daily in their workflow. They are often encouraged to leverage the knowledge available online, to seek innovative solutions that may apply to your business objectives. Sophisticated hackers take advantage of these trends.
In one example, Wired.com (The Worst Cybersecurity Breaches of 2018 So Far), explains how Iranian state backed hackers are infiltrating large databases. The hacked databases are managed by US and foreign universities, the United Nations, the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and the states of Hawaii and Indiana. According to the DOJ, they have stolen over 31 terabytes of data, estimated to be worth $3 billion in intellectual property. The Iranians have accomplished this treachery by tricking professors and organization employees into licking on malicious links and entering their network login credentials.
A growing number of websites require a web searcher to provide contact details in order to gain access. Effective management of this threat includes appropriate anti-phishing protocol and training for your employees.
Most of us have learned about Russian hacking in recent history, whether related to the 2016 US elections, or to the US based electric grids. While these events are fairly recent, there is an even new cyber security threat arising from Russian sources. This new threat hacks into wireless routers globally, and links them to form what is described as a ‘botnet’. The official name of this ‘botnet’ is VPNFilter, which can hack into most of the mainstream routers on the market today.
Consider the range of exposure your company has to wireless routers, both in-house and external. Do your employees have laptops or other mobile devices with wireless access capability and access to your business systems? How many of these appliances have sensitive information stored on them? Your company may be exposed to a wide range of sources attempting to steal your data and information.
The FBI is working to disable the botnet. In the meantime, your company needs to consider its exposure to data and information theft from the botnet. You can start by reviewing your company’s protocol for use of wireless routers, and modifying policy to reduce risk of becoming a botnet victim. An IT MSP can provide some additional insights to controlling and mitigating this and similar risks.
Internet of Things (IoT)
Development of IoT applications is happening at a rapid pace. Use of data collection devices is abundant in modern society, on both personal and industrial fronts. The basic nature of IoT includes a large range of devices sending information to/from the internet, much of it without human intervention. Consequently, this situation results in great opportunity for unwanted interception of data.
Prevention of data hacking from IoT traffic requires regulation of data flow between the cloud and your company’s network. Any devices that are involved with transfer of your company’s information needs to be authenticated. Routine reporting of IoT traffic and alerts to potential security threats is imperative if your company uses IoT.
Beyond your data itself, you must be vigilant against threats to your infrastructure. Some current viruses and programs embed malicious code that attacks the system itself, rather than the information on it. You can have a threat shut down your entire network, rendering you unable to continue functioning.
Tools to work around this include cloud backup storage, redundant Internet service, and system mirroring. A remote network security expert can do more to implement and oversee such concerns. The expert can keep you operating smoothly and efficiently in the face of attacks growing in efficiency and effectiveness.
Network Security Audits
The whole process of identifying security concerns should begin with network audits. These examine your system both for current embedded threats and for vulnerabilities to physical and online attacks. You can take a proactive step toward protecting your organization. However, this means taking the time to understand every area of your network, and the physical structures you have in place to protect it. Absent a fully developed understanding of these areas, you will remain vulnerable.
These are just a few of the network security risk considerations you need to address. The entire scope of network security is a daunting challenge to manage, particularly without assistance from a professional IT partner.