CyberSecurity

    SolarWinds Orion: The Biggest Hack of the Year

    Federal agencies faced one of their worst nightmares this past week when they were informed of a massive compromise by foreign hackers within their network management software. An emergency directive from the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) instructed all agencies using SolarWinds products to review their networks and disconnect or power down the company’s Orion software. 

    Orion has been used by the government for years and the software operates at the heart of some crucial federal systems. SolarWinds has been supplying agencies for some-time as well, developing tools to understand how their servers were operating, and later branching into network and infrastructure monitoring. Orion is the structure binding all of those things together. According to a preliminary search of the Federal Procurement Data System – Next Generation (FPDS-NG), at least 32 federal agencies bought SolarWinds Orion software since 2006.

    Listed below are some of the agencies and departments within the government that contracts for SolarWinds Orion products have been awarded to. Even though all them bought SolarWinds Orion products, that doesn’t mean they were using them between March and June, when the vulnerability was introduced during updates. Agencies that have ongoing contracts for SolarWinds Orion products include the Army, DOE, FLETC, ICE, IRS, and VA. SolarWinds estimates that less than 18,000 users installed products with the vulnerability during that time.

    • Bureaus of Land Management, Ocean Energy Management, and Safety and Environmental Enforcement, as well as the National Park Service and Office of Policy, Budget, and Administration within the Department of the Interior
    • Air Force, Army, Defense Logistics Agency, Defense Threat Reduction Agency, and Navy within the Department of Defense
    • Department of Energy
    • Departmental Administration and Farm Service Agency within the U.S. Department of Agriculture
    • Federal Acquisition Service within the General Services Administration
    • FBI within the Department of Justice
    • Federal Highway Administration and Immediate Office of the Secretary within the Department of Transportation
    • Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, Transportation Security Administration, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and Office of Procurement Operations within the Department of Homeland Security
    • Food and Drug Administration, National Institutes of Health, and Office of the Assistant Secretary for Administration within the Department of Health and Human Services
    • IRS and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency within the Department of the Treasury
    • NASA
    • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration within the Department of Commerce
    • National Science Foundation
    • Peace Corps
    • State Department
    • Department of Veterans Affairs

    YOU CAN READ THE JOINT STATEMENT BY THE FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION (FBI), THE CYBERSECURITY AND INFRASTRUCTURE SECURITY AGENCY (CISA), AND THE OFFICE OF THE DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE (ODNI) HERE.

    How the Attack was Discovered

    When Cyber security firm FireEye Inc. discovered that it was the victim of a malicious cyber-attack, the company’s investigators began trying to figure out exactly how attackers got past its secured defenses. They quickly found out,  they were not the only victims of the attack. Investigators uncovered a weakness in a product made by one of its software providers, SolarWinds Corp. After looking through 50,000 lines of source code, they were able to conclude there was a backdoor within SolarWinds. FireEye contacted SolarWinds and law enforcement immediately after the backdoor vulnerability was found.

    Hackers, believed to be part of an elite Russian group, took advantage of the vulnerability to insert malware, which found its way into the systems of SolarWinds customers with software updates. So far, as many as 18,000 entities may have downloaded the malware. The hackers who attacked FireEye stole sensitive tools that the company uses to find vulnerabilities in clients’ computer networks. The investigation by FireEye discovered that the hack on itself was part of a global campaign by a highly complex attacker that also targeted government, consulting, technology, telecom and extractive entities in North America, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.

    The hackers that implemented the attack were sophisticated unlike any seen before. They took innovative steps to conceal their actions, operating from servers based in the same city as an employee they were pretending to be. The hackers were able to breach U.S. government entities by first attacking the SolarWinds IT provider. By compromising the software used by government entities and corporations to monitor their network, hackers were able to gain a position into their network and dig deeper all while appearing as legitimate traffic.

    Read how Microsoft and US Cyber Command joined forces to stop a vicious malware attack earlier this year.

    How Can the Attack Be Stopped?

    Technology firms are stopping some of the hackers’ key infrastructure as the U.S. government works to control a hacking campaign that relies on software in technology from SolarWinds. FireEye is working with Microsoft and the domain registrar GoDaddy to take over one of the domains that attackers had used to send malicious code to its victims. The move is not a cure-all for stopping the cyber-attack, but it should help stem the surge of victims, which includes the departments of Treasury and Homeland Security.

     

    According to FireEye, the seized domain, known as a “killswitch,” will affect new and previous infections of the malicious code coming from that particular domain. Depending on the IP address returned under certain conditions, the malware would terminate itself and prevent further execution. The “killswitch” will make it harder for the attackers to use the malware that they have already deployed. Although, FireEye warned that hackers still have other ways of keeping access to networks. With the sample of invasions FireEye has seen, the hacker moved quickly to establish additional persistent mechanisms to access to victim networks.

     

    The FBI is investigating the compromise of SolarWinds’ software updates, which was linked with a Russian intelligence service. SolarWinds’ software is used throughout Fortune 500 companies, and in critical sectors such as electricity. The “killswitch” action highlights the power that major technology companies have to throw up roadblocks to well-resourced hackers. This is very similar to Microsoft teaming up with the US Cyber Command to disrupt a powerful Trickbot botnet in October.

    5 Cyber Security Trends from 2020 and What We Can Look Forward to Next Year

    Today’s cybersecurity landscape is changing a faster rate than we’ve ever experienced before. Hackers are inventing new ways to attack businesses and cybersecurity experts are relentlessly trying to find new ways to protect them. Cost businesses approximately $45 billion, cyber-attacks can be disastrous for businesses, causing adverse financial and non-financial effects. Cyber-attacks can also result in loss of sensitive data, never-ending lawsuits, and a smeared reputation. 

     

    With cyber-attack rates on the rise, companies need to up their defenses. Businesses should take the time to brush up on cybersecurity trends for the upcoming year, as this information could help them prepare and avoid becoming another victim of a malicious attack. Given the importance of cyber security in the current world, we’ve gathered a list of the top trends seen in cybersecurity this year and what you can expect in 2021.

    INCREASE IN SPENDING

     

    It’s no secret that cybersecurity spending is on the rise. It has to be in order to keep up with rapidly changing technology landscape we live in. For example, in 2019 alone, the global cyber security spending was estimated to be around $103 billion, a 9.4% increase from 2018. This year the US government spent $17.4 billion on cybersecurity, a 5% increase from 2019. Even more alarming is the fact that cybercrime is projected to exceed $6 trillion annually by 2021 up from $3 trillion in 2015. The most significant factor driving this increase is the improved efficiency of cybercriminals. The dark web has become a booming black market where criminals can launch complex cyberattacks.  With lower barriers to entry and massive financial payoffs, we can expect cybercrime to grow well into the future.

     

    Learn more about how Microsoft is teaming up with US National Security to defeat threatening malware bot.

    COMPANIES CONTINUE TO LEARN

     

    Demand for cybersecurity experts continued to surpass the supply in 2020. We don’t see this changing anytime soon either. Amidst this trend, security experts contend with considerably more threats than ever before. Currently, more than 4 million professionals in the cybersecurity field are being tasked with closing the skills gap. Since the cybersecurity learning curve won’t be slowing anytime soon, companies must come to grips with strategies that help stop the shortage of talent. Options include cross-training existing IT staff, recruiting professionals from other areas, or even setting the job qualifications at appropriate levels in order to attract more candidates. 

     

    Most organizations are starting to realize that cybersecurity intelligence is a critical piece to growth Understanding the behavior of their attackers and their tendencies can help in anticipating and reacting quickly after an attack happens. A significant problem that also exists is the volume of data available from multiple sources. Add to this the fact that security and planning technologies typically do not mix well. In the future, expect continued emphasis on developing the next generation of cyber security professionals.

    THE INFLUENCE OF MACHINE INTELLIGENCE DEVELOPS

     

    Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) are progressively becoming necessary for cybersecurity. Integrating AI with cybersecurity solutions can have positive outcomes, such as improving threat and malicious activity detection and supporting fast responses to cyber-attacks. The market for AI in cybersecurity is growing at a drastic pace. In 2019, the demand for AI in cybersecurity surpassed $8.8 billion, with the market is projected to grow to 38.2 billion by 2026. 

     

    Find out how the US military is integrating AI and ML into keeping our country safe.

    MORE SMALL BUSINESSES INVEST IN CYBER PROTECTION

     

    When we think of a cyber-attack occurring, we tend to envision a multibillion-dollar conglomerate that easily has the funds to pay the ransom for data retrieval and boost its security the next time around. Surprisingly, 43% of cyber-attacks happen to small businesses, costing them an average of $200,000. Sadly, when small businesses fall victim to these attacks, 60% of them go out of business within six months.

     

    Hackers go after small businesses because they know that they have poor or even no preventative measures in place. A large number of small businesses even think that they’re too small to be victims of cyber-attacks. Tech savvy small businesses are increasingly taking a preventative approach to cybersecurity. Understanding that like big organizations, they are targets for cybercrimes, and therefore adapting effective cybersecurity strategies. As a result, a number of small businesses are planning on increasing their spending on cybersecurity and investing in information security training.

     

    We have the ultimate cure to the ransomware epidemic plaguing small business.

    CYBER-ATTACKS INCREASE ON CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURES

     

    Utility companies and government agencies are extremely critical the economy because they offer support to millions of people across the nation. Critical infrastructure includes public transportation systems, power grids, and large-scale constructions. These government entities store massive amounts of personal data about their citizens. such as health records, residency, and even bank details. If this personal data is not well protected, it could fall in the wrong hands resulting in breaches that could be disastrous. This is also what makes them an excellent target for a cyber-attack. 

     

    Unfortunately, the trend is anticipated to continue into 2021 and beyond because most public organizations are not adequately prepared to handle an attack. While governments may be ill prepared for cyber-attacks, hackers are busy preparing for them. 

     

    Curious About the Future of all Internet Connected Devices? Read Our Blog here

    WHAT CAN WE LOOK FORWARD TO IN 2021?

    Going forward into a new year, it’s obvious that many elements are coming together to increase cyber risk for businesses. Industry and economic growth continue to push organizations to rapid digital transformation, accelerating the use of technologies and increasing exposure to many inherent security issues. The combination of fewer cyber security experts and an increase of cyber-crime are trends that will continue for some time to come. Businesses that investment in technologies, security, and cybersecurity talent can greatly reduce their risk of a cyber-attack and  increase the likelihood that cybercriminals will look elsewhere to manipulate a less prepared target.

    US Cyber Command & Microsoft launch attack on TrickBot Malware

    With one of the biggest, most impactful elections in United States history just hours away, there is growing concern over voter fraud, rigged election results, and involvement from third parties influencing the results. Sadly, one of these has become reality as the Trickbot malware botnet was caught. Recently, an alliance of major tech companies organized an effort to take down the backend infrastructure of the TrickBot.

    Companies fighting the good war against this bot include Microsoft’s Defender team, FS-ISAC, ESET, Lumen’s Black Lotus Labs, NTT, and Broadcom’s cyber-security division Symantec. Even the U.S. government cyber security teams got in on the takedown. Prior to the attempted takedown the companies launched investigations into TrickBot’s backend infrastructure of servers and malware modules. 

     

    Over a period of months, the team of tech corporations collected more than 125,000 TrickBot malware samples, analyzed the content, and extracted mapping information about the malware’s inner workings, including all the servers the botnet used to control infected computers. With evident to back their claims, Microsoft went to court asking for legal rights to counterattack and for control over TrickBot servers. 

     

    Read Microsoft’s legal documents  

     

    However, even with some of the most advanced tech giants in the world firing a counterattack against the malware bot, it still hasn’t gone away. The TrickBot botnet has survived a takedown attempt. TrickBot command and control servers and domains have been taken and substituted with a new infrastructure. The Trickbot takedown has been described as temporary and limited but gives its current victims time to breathe until a more permanent solution can be implemented. 

     

    Even from the early planning phases, the tech companies anticipated TrickBot making a revival, and actually planned ahead for it. But why not kill it off all at once instead of just taking it out slowly. This multi-phased method to dismantling TrickBot is a result of the botnet’s complex infrastructure, much of which runs on bulletproof hosting systems, which are unresponsive or slow to react to takedown attempts.

    Microsoft’s Victory in Court

    Unbeknownst to many, the attempted take down of TrickBot played another role, one that could have ramifications long down the road. The court case that paved the way for the takedown also helped Microsoft set a new legal standard. In court, the tech giant argued that TrickBot’s malware abused Windows code for malicious purposes, against the terms of service of the standard Windows software development kit, on which all Windows apps are used.

    Microsoft successfully argued that TrickBot was infringing on Microsoft’s copyright of its own code by copying and using its SDKs for unethical purposes.

    Some have applauded Microsoft for this strategic legal maneuver. In the past, Microsoft had to present evidence to prove that the malware was causing financial damages to victims, which resulted in the long and laborious task of identifying and contacting victims. The new legal tactic Microsoft used in court focused on the misuse of its Windows SDK code. This method was easier to prove and argue, giving Microsoft’s legal team a more agile approach to going after malware groups. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Microsoft or other tech companies use the same approach in the future. 

    Microsoft and Cyber Command Working to Save the US Election 

    Microsoft was largely concerned that the masterminds behind Trickbot would use the botnet to upset the US election through ransomware. Attackers could lock down systems keeping voter rolls or reporting on election night results. When Microsoft began their investigations into the malware bot, it wasn’t expected to coincide with the US government’s own investigation. United States Cyber Command, the relative of the National Security Agency, had already started hacking TrickBot’s command and control servers around the world back in September. Microsoft only discovered this effort while launching its own.

    In both investigations, the anti-TrickBot plans were meant to disrupt any possible Russian attacks during the next few critical days. However, it’s still not clear whether Russia intended to use Trickbot for a malware campaign, but this takes the option away before the vote on November 3rd.

    The collaborative efforts of both Microsoft and government agency fast-tracked cyberconflict resolutions in the final days before the elections. Cyber Command, following a model it created in the 2018 midterm elections, kicked off a series of covert pre-emptive strikes on the Russian-speaking hackers it believes could interrupt the casting, counting and certifying of ballots on election day.

    Trickbot and Malware as a Service (MaaS) 

    So now that we’ve gotten to the bottom of how the malware botnet was discovered and potentially thwarted enough to find by time to find a permanent solution, we can dive deeper into how the Trickbot operates. 

    The dual anti-threat efforts weren’t only dedicated to taking down TrickBot servers, which they knew would only be temporary, but also adding extra costs to TrickBot authors and delaying current malware operations. Additionally, security researchers also aimed to damage TrickBot’s reputation in cybercrime circles.

    TrickBot is currently ranked as one of the Top 3 most successful Malware-as-a-Service (MaaS) operations in the cybercrime industry. The innovative bot uses email spam campaigns to infect computers, downloads its malware, and then steals data from infected hosts that it later resells for profit. Even more impressive is Trickbot’s ability to rent access to infected computers to other criminal groups, which makes a substantial amount of its revenues. The customers that rent this unauthorized access include infostealer trojans, BEC fraud groups, ransomware operators, and nation-state hacking groups.

    A network bot like Trickbot that has potential to be disrupted risks revealing the operations of customers, most of which would prefer not to be exposed to law enforcement tracking. If Trickbot can be disrupted it would prove unreliable businesswise, especially for regular customers who are paying substantial fees to have access to infected systems at specific times.

    NCSAM WEEK 4 ; The Future of Internet Connected Devices

    A decade ago, the average household would not be able to answer their front door from miles away via a smartphone, or order dinner by simply speaking to a small box. These things may have been customary in Hollywood spy films, but now they can be found in nearly every home across America. These internet connected devices are what is known as the Internet of Things.

     

    The internet world is flourishing. It’s not just about computers, laptops, tablets, and smartphones anymore. There are now thousands of devices that are internet-connected. The list of devices has grown to washing machines, robotic vacuum cleaners, door locks, toys, and toasters. Because all of these devices are connected to one another through the internet, we must be more aware of these devices and their settings to protect our data and our privacy.

    New Internet-connected devices provide a never before seen level of convenience in our lives, but they also require that we share more information than ever. The cars we drive, appliances we use to cook, our watches we use to tell time, the lighting in our homes, and even our home security systems, all contain sensing devices that can talk to another machine and trigger other actions. We have devices that direct that control the amount of energy we use in our homes and the energy in our bodies by tracking eating, sleeping, and exercise habits.

    The security of the information users share with these devices is not always guaranteed. Once the device itself connects to the Internet, it is vulnerable to all sorts of risks. It is important than ever that we secure our devices, with more entering our homes and workplaces each day.

    Upgrading your organizations network devices is easier than ever with DTC

    Future Predictions about Internet Connected Devices

     

    There will be more than to 21 billion IoT devices by 2025.

    In 2016, there were more than 4.7 billion devices connected to the internet, and by 2021 it is expected to increase to nearly 11.6 billion devices.

    There will be more “smart” cities.

    Household consumers aren’t the only ones that use the power of internet connected devices. Cities and companies are also adopting smart technologies to save both time and money. Cities are able to automate, remotely manage, and collect data through things like visitor kiosks, video camera surveillance systems, bike rental stations, and taxis.

    See how some cities are using AI to help crisis management

    Artificial intelligence (AI) will keep growing

    Smart home hubs, thermostats, lighting systems, and even TVs collect data on your habits and patterns of usage. When users set up voice-controlled devices, the allow them to record what is said and store the recordings in the cloud. The data is collected in the creation of what is known as machine learning. Machine learning is a type of artificial intelligence that helps computers “learn” without someone having to program them. 

    Network routers become more secure and smarter

    Most internet connected devices exist in the home and don’t have security software installed, leaving them vulnerable to attacks. As manufacturers rush to get their products to market in a rapid manner, security becomes an afterthought. 

    The router is the entry point of the internet and gate keeper into your home, giving it the ability to provide protection to all of the connected devices. A conventional router provides some security, like password protection, firewalls, and the ability to allow only certain devices on your network. In the future, router manufacturers will continue to find new ways to increase security.

    5G Networks Will Drive IoT Growth

    Wireless carriers will continue to implement 5G (fifth generation) networks, promising increased speed and the ability connect more smart devices at the same time. Faster network speeds translate into increased data collected by your smart devices to be analyzed and managed, driving innovation and growth. 

    Cars Will Continue to Get Smarter

    The emergence of 5G will impact the auto industry like never before. The development of driverless cars and internet connected vehicles will advance from data moving faster. New cars will increasingly analyze your data and connect with other IoT devices, including other high-tech vehicles on the road.

    5G Connected Devices Will Open the Door to New Security Concerns

    Eventually, 5G internet connected devices will connect directly to the 5G network than via a Wi-Fi router, making those devices more vulnerable to direct attack. Devices will be more difficult for in-home users to secure when they bypass a central router.

     

    For more information on CyberSecurity & how to be #CyberSmart, visit the CISA website today:

    Click Here: https://www.cisa.gov/national-cyber-security-awareness-month

    Securing Internet-Connected Devices in Healthcare

    Now more than ever, the healthcare industry is depending on internet-connected devices to improve patient care, organizational productivity, response time, and patient confidentiality. With the recent COVID-19 outbreak, the development of telemedicine and patient portal apps has come to the forefront in the industry. Along with digital health records and internet-connected medical devices, the healthcare industry has also never been more vulnerable to a cyber-attack.

    As the global epidemic spread across the nation, doctors, dentists, and other medical professionals such as therapists were forced to rely on online visits with their patients. The increase in virtual appointments also brings new concerns of patient confidentiality. Patients want to know how safe is the information shared during these online visits. Are cybercriminals able to steal their personal information? Unfortunate, the answer is yes. The healthcare industry is vulnerable just as is any other industry. However, there are steps healthcare providers can take to protect patient privacy during virtual visits.

    Read more about how we help the healthcare industry with their IT needs.

    What are the privacy risks associated with internet connected healthcare?

    With virtual visits becoming more common place, cyber criminals are licking their chops. Hackers look to take advantage of these opportunities by stealing the private medical and billing information of patients. Cybercriminals could try intercepting emails or video chats with information about preexisting conditions or personal problems you may be having. Once the information is obtained, they could potentially sell it on the dark web, use it for blackmail, or sell it to drug manufacturers who overload customers with advertisements.

    Healthcare records are particularly valuable on black markets due to the information they contain can be used to steal your identity. The information they hold might consist of your birth date, Social Security number, medical conditions, height, weight, home address, and even a picture of you. Hackers can use this information to take out credit cards or loans in your name. 

    Providers may give their patients the option of ending their virtual visit by receiving health records through email or the medical provider’s online portal. Hackers may be able to steal the contents of your email messages or track the keystrokes you use to log onto your medical provider’s online portal. Just as medical providers are required to protect user information, so are all business entities. 

    Learn more about how we can help your business stay compliant.

    5 Ways to Secure Your Healthcare Connected Devices

    1. Control everything that connects into your network.  Managing network segmentation can help with risk mitigation and controlling a breach if one does occur. Network visibility is critical. And, in so many cases, the network acts as your key security mechanism to stop the spread of an attack. Network intelligence, scanners, and security solutions can all help reduce the risk of an attack or breach. 
    2. Create security based on context and layers. Your security platform must work for you and question devices coming in to really understand where they’re coming from. When it comes to IoT and connected devices, contextual security can help isolate IoT solutions to their own network. Set up policies to monitor anomalous behavior and even traffic patterns. Set up additional filters for extra security; like shutting the network segment down if there’s a sudden rise in traffic. 
    3. Centralize and segment connected devices. If you’re going to work with IoT and connected devices, create a separate network, monitor those devices properly, and set monitors to make sure you can manage all these connected tools and use IoT aggregation hubs that help further the control of devices. 
    4. Align users and the business when it comes to more connected devices in healthcare. Ensure there is complete alignment between business and IT leadership units. This is the best way to gain the most value out of these devices and ensure you don’t fall into an IoT device hole.
    5. Always test your systems and maintain visibility.  Never lose sight of your devices and build a good monitoring platform. The more things that connect into the network the harder it will be to monitor them all.

    A plan for guarding against ransomware in the healthcare industry

    So, what can hospitals, medical centers, dentists, and other healthcare providers do to guard against the threat of cyber-attack?  Here is a simple five-point plan that will go a long way to helping healthcare professionals secure their defenses.

    Stay up to date

    Make sure that servers and PCs are up to date with the latest operating systems and antivirus solutions.

     

    Retire unused IT assets

    Consider if older machines, which are beyond updates or support, could be replaced or retired. The cost of doing so, and inconvenience of replacing older equipment will probably be less than the impact of a data breach.

     

    Sell Your Retired IT Assets for Cash

     

    Educate employees

    Make sure everyone in the organization is familiar with ransomware methods and can recognize attempts to gain password credentials or circulate harmful links and attachments. Hospitals employ so many different and diverse professionals, covering a multitude of functions, that there needs to be a culture of vigilance across the entire organization.

     

    Be prepared for an attack

    Use different credentials for accessing backup storage and maybe even a mixture of file systems to isolate different parts of your infrastructure to slow the spread of ransomware. Healthcare organizations that follow the “1-10-60” rule of cybersecurity will be better placed to neutralize the threat of a hostile adversary before it can leave its initial entry point. The most cyber-prepared healthcare agencies should aim to detect an intrusion in under a minute, perform a full investigation in under 10 minutes, and eradicate the adversary from the environment in under an hour.

     

    Create an Airgap

    Three copies of your data, on at least two different media, with one stored offsite (e.g. cloud or tape) and one stored offline (e.g. tape). Having your data behind a physical air gap creates perhaps the most formidable barrier against ransomware. Tape can greatly speed up your recovery in the hours and days that follow an attack, especially if your primary backups have been disrupted. Tape is also supremely efficient for storing huge amounts of infrequently accessed medical records for a very long time. Tapes can also be encrypted so that even if they did fall into the wrong hands, it would be impossible for thieves to access or use the data.

     

    Learn more about how to create an Airgap

    NCSAM Week 2 ; Securing Devices at Home and Work

    Securing Devices at Home and Work

     

    According to a 2018 study by CNBC, there were over 70% of employees around the world working remotely at least one day per week. With the recent COVID-19 pandemic, many organizations have had to make full-time remote work an option just to stay in business. As full-time remote workers are progressively more common, there still aren’t many resources that focus on the cybersecurity risk created by working remotely.

    With the latest surge in working from home (WFH) employees, businesses are forced to rely on business continuity planning. This means that organizations must find ways to protect their customer’s sensitive data simultaneously granting workplace flexibility. Provided the current conditions we are all facing and in celebration of Cyber Security Awareness Month (CSAM), we thought we should share a few tips to help your business increase its cybersecurity.

    Security tips for the home, office and working from a home office

    Secure your working area

    The first and easiest piece of security advice would be to physically secure your workspace. Working remotely should be treated the same as working in the office, o you need to lock up when you leave. There have been way too many instances when laptops with sensitive data on them have been stolen from living rooms, home offices, and even in public settings such as coffee shops. Never leave your devices unattended and lock doors when you leave.

    See why laptop and home office security is so important. 

    Secure your router

    Cybercriminals take advantage of default passwords on home routers because it is not often changed, leaving any home network vulnerable. Change the router’s password from the default to something unique. You can also make sure firmware updates are installed so known vulnerabilities aren’t exploitable. 

    Use separate devices for work and personal

    It’s important to set separate restrictions between your work devices and home devices. At first it may seem like an unnecessary burden to constantly switch between devices throughout the day, but you never know if one has been compromised. Doing the same for your mobile devices, can decrease the amount of sensitive data exposed if your personal device or work device has been attacked.

    Encrypt the device you are using

    Encryption is the process of encoding information so only authorized parties can access it. If your organization hasn’t already encrypted its devices, it should. Encrypting the devices prevents strangers from accessing the contents of your device without the password, PIN, or biometrics. 

    Below is a way to encrypt devices with the following operating systems:

    • Windows: Turn on BitLocker.
    • macOS: Turn on FileVault.
    • Linux: Use dm-crypt or similar.
    • Android: Enabled by default since Android 6.
    • iOS: Enabled by default since iOS 8.

    Check that your operating system is supported and up to date.

    Usually, operating system developers only support the last few major versions, as supporting all versions is costly and the majority of users upgrade when told to do so. Unsupported operating systems no longer receive security patches, making your device and sensitive data at risk. If your device does not support the latest operating system, it may be time to look into updating the device.

    Here’s how to check if your operating system is still supported:

    • Windows: Check the Windows lifecycle fact sheet
    • macOS: Apple has no official policy for macOS. That said, Apple consistently supports the last three versions of macOS. So assuming Apple releases a new version of macOS each year, each release of macOS should be supported for roughly three years.
    • Linux: Most active distributions are well supported.
    • Android: Security updates target the current and last two major versions, but you may need to check that your manufacturer/carrier is sending the security patches to your device. 
    • iOS: Like macOS, Apple has no official policy for iOS but security updates generally target the most recent major version and the three prior. 

    Read more about Android security here

    Create a strong PIN/password only YOU know

    Everything mentioned prior to this won’t matter if you don’t use a strong password. A common tip for creating a strong password is to avoid using repeating numbers (000000), sequences (123456), or common passwords such as the word password itself.

    More tips on creating a strong password include:

    • Avoid using anything that is related to you
    • Avoid using your date of birth
    • Avoid using your license plate
    • Avoid using your home address
    • Avoid using any family members or pets’ names.

     

     A good pin/password should appear arbitrary to everyone except you. Consider investing in a password manager. A good password manager can help you create strong passwords and remember them, as well as share them with family members, employees, or friends securely. 

    Learn more about how to create a strong password

     Install antivirus software

    An antivirus software is a program that detects or recognizes a harmful computer virus and works on removing it from the computer system. Antivirus software operates as a preventive system so that it not only removes a virus but also counteracts any potential virus from infecting the device in the future.

    Authorize two-factor authentication

    Two-factor authentication is an authentication method where access is granted only after successfully presenting two pieces of evidence to an authentication mechanism.  This method has been proven to reduce the risk of successful phishing emails and malware infections. Even if the cybercriminal is able to get your password, they are unable to login because they do not have the second piece of evidence.

    The first and most common evidence is a password. The second takes many forms but is typically a one-time code or push notification. There are several applications that can be used for two factor authentication such as Google Authenticator. 

    Erase data from any devices you plan to sell

    This should be the number one rule on any cybersecurity list. It is only a matter of time until your devices are obsolete, and it is time to upgrade. The one thing you don’t want is to have a data leak because you failed to properly erase the data from your device before selling or disposing of it. Returning the device to factory setting may not always be enough, as some hackers know how to retrieve the data that has been “erased”. Before doing anything, always remember to back up your data to multiple devices before clicking that “delete” button. 

    Consult with your operating system to see how to properly reset your device to factory settings. If you are certain you do not want the data on your device to be accessed ever again, we can help with that. Here is a list of data destruction services we provide:

    Security tips for employers handling a remote workforce

    Train employees on cybersecurity awareness

    As cybercriminals are always looking for new ways to bypass security controls to gain access to sensitive information, cybersecurity isn’t something that can just be taught once. It must be a continual learning and retention. Here are a few things that a business can teach their staff in order to help thwart a cyberattack:

    • Avoid malicious email attachments and other email-based scams
    • Identify domain hijacking
    • Use operations security on their social media accounts and public profiles 
    • Only install software if they need to 
    • Avoid installing browser plugins that come from unknown or unidentified developers

    Use a virtual private network (VPN)

    A virtual private network (VPN) extends a private network across a public network, enabling you to send and receive data across shared or public networks as if you are directly connected to the private network. They do this by establishing a secure and encrypted connection to the network over the internet and routing your traffic through that. This keeps you secure on public hotspots and allows for remote access to secure computing assets. 

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