When we talk about the Internet, cyber security, and how all those things come together, we have to ask ourselves one main question:
Is the Internet really that dangerous?
At one time, maybe not so much. After all, when something so broad and capable is invented before the security aspect of it is created, there leaves a lot of room for not-so-safe possibilities. As more and more people are hooking up to the IoT, there’s a lot of potential for dangerous things to happen. And, we’re not talking about people losing a company’s sensitive data, or a customer’s identification being released. We’re talking about cyber security risks that can actually be physically dangerous to the people involved at a company.
We are already well aware of the dangers mobile devices present. The problem is, in the history of Internet technology, it has always been the product invented first, and the issue of security worried about afterwards. We’ve seen it in computers, laptops, and companies switching over to conduct business on mobile devices. But, what about when the IoT keeps growing and growing? As things constantly hit the market, we’re left wondering if security comes with the rest of the package. And, more often than not, it doesn’t.
So, when a hacker gets into a laptop or a phone, it’s one thing. But, what happens when we start having smart cars, smart light bulbs, smart planes, etc? We already have tablets, smart watches, and virtual reality. What happens when a hacker seriously wants to do harm to certain individuals at certain companies? There are some BAD hackers out there, that will go to any extreme to do what they need to do or get what they need to get.
These hackers could make your company’s self-driving car go off the road. They can make the electricity in your building start a fire. If you run a restaurant with smart appliances, a hacker could shut off everything, risking health and safety hazards for your customers. They could make security cameras go all haywire, making you a victim of something you didn’t do. Like Ransomware, they will extort you and blackmail you for all your worth, even taking it as far as putting your life, or the life of your co-workers and loved ones, at risk.
Things like this have already started happening, and for some reason, companies STILL are not seeing the need for cyber security. What more will it take?
Cyber security flaws are an absolute epidemic. We’ve seen large company after company be hit with terrible attacks that were very hard to come back from. We recently saw one happen with Yahoo!, and even our own presidential election. No matter how often companies are educated on the dangers of an attack, people in power still do not believe they are at risk. The United States, for example, doesn’t even have enough laws and regulations in place to protect ordinary users. Then, how can any of us be safe?
Is scaring people into spending money on cyber security the answer?
Maybe so. When we are asked whether or not the internet can be dangerous, the answer is yes. While it may sound rather drastic, it’s certainly not unreasonable to think that human life could be at risk as the future of the IoT grows. Is that what it will take for people to start taking their cyber security more seriously? It’s discouraging that seeing others get attacked is the only incentive companies have to rework cyber security into their protocol or budget. But, if that’s the only thing that works, then we’re doing the right thing by making everyone aware of the possibilities.
What do you think?
It’ll likely be some time before you start worrying about real Internet dangers. But, it’s never too soon to start taking charge of your cyber security, and staying away from IoT until you can fully implement cyber security on those devices.
If this has somehow got you into taking your cyber security seriously, then Smeester & Associates is here to get you on the right track.
As this year comes to an end, we have yet to see any type of decrease in cyber security threats and attacks. In fact, cyber attacks continue to grow at an alarming rate.
However, as we hone in on the types of attacks there are, it becomes a little bit easier to know what you’re looking for, and potentially stop an attack before it hits. That being said, hackers and the methods they use to take down even the biggest websites, like Twitter, are constantly changing. This is because when people find ways to stop attackers, the attackers find more creative methods to do what they set out to do. Just like any other vicious, drug-resistant virus.
And, as 2017 rolls around, we can expect to see different and more powerful types of attacks. So, the question is, will you be ready to fight them when they come?
Most hackers are motivated solely by money and will go to whatever means necessary to get a lot of it out of your company. This can be done through the use of ransomware, which is getting more advanced as time goes on. Hackers are going to find stronger types of ransomware attacks, and they will extort businesses for way more money than ever before. Thus, companies are going to have a hard time keeping up with proactive security measures enough to “deter” the ransomware. But, we’ll get to that later.
As people are using their mobile devices to conduct business more and more, we will be seeing more attacks via those devices. Along with this, however, we hope to see people taking their mobile security more seriously than they have in the past. But, despite the desire for protection, mobile device security just isn’t up to par with its stationary counterparts. We’re looking at all different kinds of threats in 2017, from theft of intellectual property to the potential destruction of critical infrastructure. Companies won’t be able to deal with these threats in real-time due to the minimal capabilities of mobile devices to do so. This, unfortunately, can mean bigger and broader attacks across the board than we’ve ever seen.
One thing we may be seeing more of in 2017 are internal attacks. Because companies are bumping up their cyber security, hackers are needing to find more “undercover” ways to do what they want to do. This could be anything from placing actual insiders in the company to hackers deceivingly targeting your email and every move you make on your various social media outlets. These attackers will try to manipulate employees from the inside into letting in a major breach, causing a lot of serious damage in the process.
But, there is some good news…
Despite the fact that hackers will be more innovative in the coming year, so will security vendors and software overall. One trend we’ll start to see in 2017 is that companies will be spending more money on their cyber security than in the past; something that we’ve been certainly been hoping to see more of.
In addition to more spending on security, we’re also likely to see cyber security take a new route…a somewhat Israeli, Iron Dome, kind of route. IT professionals are looking for ways to deter attacks as they happen and stop one right in its tracks. This is a trend we may be seeing more of in the next year, and you’ll want to get on board as soon as this kind of security hits the market.
Cyber security should be a huge concern for any company. But, these companies need to keep up with the times. The data world is always changing and we need to be aware of the trends so that we’re not as vulnerable.
If you want to be sure you’re keeping up with these cyber security trends, then contact us at Smeester & Associates. We have all the tools necessary for you to make the right decision regarding your security methods. Try our RiskAware™ Cyber Security Scan & Report to see your current exposure level.
Every company no matter how big or small, needs a means of protecting their data and systems. Though, while many of us already know this, others have a hard time actually implementing a comprehensive security plan. The whole, “saying it is easier than doing it” kind of thing.
If you’re one of the many individuals who works at a company where cyber security still has not been put on the agenda or evaluated in the budget, it might leave you feeling frustrated every day you’re at work. You’re constantly wondering what could happen to all the important things you’ve been working on or what could happen to the sensitive information of the customers you’re dealing with.
No matter your position in the company, you feel concerned as to why your higher-ups aren’t taking security more seriously. It seems that despite the meetings, the discussions, and even the obvious need for protection, those in power just aren’t budging.
But, you care. So, here’s how to get the leaders of your company to start making moves on the company’s cyber security.
If you have been vocal about cyber security for a while, it may be that the person you’ve been talking to about this really isn’t the one calling the shots. Often times at larger companies, you have to go through a whole chain of people before you get to the one person that can actually do something. Whether this person is the CIO, CFO, or the CEO, try and get to know them. Additionally, try to get others in your company on board with you.
Meetings at companies are often brief, where the higher-ups try to get the point cross as quickly as possible. There’s little time to bring up other things, or sometimes to even talk at all. Therefore, if you want to bring up the need for cyber-security, it’s necessary that you organize a PROFESSIONAL meeting based solely on this topic. Approach your supervisor and say “Hey, I know we’re really busy, so can you tell me when would be a good time to discuss this issue?”
Some companies don’t see the need for cyber security until they are staring a data breach right in the face. As much as you may be aware of the need for preventative cyber security, it’s clear that that isn’t happening. Therefore, you need to take the initiative.
Find out exactly what it is that could be impacted if there were a data breach. Who would be affected? How much would it cost for the company, directly and indirectly? How much of the budget would it really take to prevent something major from happening, and why should employees like you be concerned? Essentially, design a presentation.
If you’re worried that your higher-ups may not see this as any of your business, you may have to start the conversation casually. “Wow, did you hear what happened to (so-and-so-company?) They just had a major, unexpected data-breach, which cost them (this much) money!”
Sometimes, people are really stubborn. Unfortunately, even after trying so hard to convince someone, they’d rather go with the “break and fix” model, even if it means a huge risk for a company. What you can do in the meantime, though, is take care of yourself. If you know basic proactive security measures, like running backups on your system, using two-step verification, and being cautious of BYOD policies, use them yourself, and try to encourage others to do the same. It may be a small step, but it will help.
If after all this it seems your company is finally ready to start talking about security, then contact us at Smeester & Associates. We have the tools and recommendations appropriate for a company who may just be getting their feet wet but may not want to jump the gun too quickly.
Discover how much risk you’re exposed to and get a complimentary RiskAware™ Cyber Security Scan & Report today!
When it comes to technology, there’s no doubt that mobile devices have made both our personal and professional lives way easier. Because of smartphones, tablets, and other kinds of mobile devices, we can take our work with us anywhere and get things done on the go. We can be in constant communication with our employees, executives, IT management, and our customers.
But, while our phones help us in tons of ways, they can also hinder us in others. Conducting certain aspects of business on your mobile device can put you at a huge cyber security risk. Before you conduct any more business on your phone, read up on this.
Smart devices give us the incredible ability to manage money from anywhere. Whether it’s accepting money on Paypal, sending money on Venmo, depositing a check via your online banking app, or making an order on a website, there’s really no limit as to what you can do.
Unfortunately, sometimes convenience comes with a catch. The ability to do many transactions from a single device, a device that’s most likely not protected, can lead to attacks from all sides. Therefore, using your phone to handle any type of transaction can make you more susceptible to hackers and other cybersecurity dangers.
Nowadays, many companies are implementing BYOD, or a Bring Your Own Device policy. It’s a way for employees to have more flexibility with their work, as they won’t be limited to what they can do, how they can do it, and when and where they can do it.
While there are many great benefits to BYOD, there are also, of course, security risks. In fact, even though company executives certainly don’t want their employees to be distracted by their mobile devices, the primary reason companies are skeptical about BYOD is because of the risk associated with it. Someone who brings their phone to work can easily connect to a network anywhere they go afterwards. And, if one of those networks isn’t secure, a hacker can get in and access anything that the employee has access too. Most of the time, without the employee even knowing about it.
If there was something infecting your phone or mobile device, would you know it was there? Probably not. Detecting malware on a phone might not be easy for the ordinary user. But, it’s great for hackers who want a simple job. In general, most malware types that infect phones comes from suspicious apps. Hackers can get into the phone and easily take any sensitive information you have tied to your business. Again, this can be done without you even realizing it.
We’re not saying don’t download apps. But, if you’re using the same mobile device that you’re downloading apps on as you do for your business, you’re putting your company at risk. Additionally, if you have malware on your phone unbeknownst to you, and then you go and reconnect that phone to your company’s main network, you can infect others in your office as well.
Using your mobile device for business can put you at risk. Even if you’re trying to be proactive, at the end of the day, it’s more work for IT. And, that’s if you’re even running security measures on your phone in the first place. (Most companies don’t.) Your IT team or your security vendor is already doing all it can to protect your network and, most of all, the computers hooked up to that network. While adding on a couple of phones shouldn’t be too difficult, you don’t want to have IT lose their focus on the main action, just so you can bring work around with you (probably to somewhere you shouldn’t be bringing it, anyway.)
That old saying, “Don’t mix business and pleasure,” can be interpreted many different ways. But, in this case, it can’t be any more clear. Your phone may make business run smoother, but it may be only a matter of time before that changes. Sometimes, leaving your phone at home isn’t such a bad thing.
Smeester & Associates can provide you with everything you need to know in making important security desicions for your company. Like, whether or not you should run business on your mobile device.
Discover how much risk you’re exposed to and get a complimentary RiskAware™ Cyber Security Scan & Report today!
Nowadays, people find it a lot easier to do their shopping, especially their holiday shopping, online. But, when customers from all over the world are using their sensitive information to make purchases, there is always the risk that a security breach could occur. And, that that security breach could put you at a serious risk.
Black Friday is over, and so far, there haven’t been any major incidences. (At least compared to previous years.) While that’s all great to hear, that doesn’t mean it’s time to let our guard down just yet. The cyber threat is still prevalent and we need to be on guard.
If you plan on participating in Cyber Monday or any other kind of online shopping this holiday season, here are a few tips on keeping yourself safe behind the screen.
Though using your mobile device to make a purchase is definitely time-efficient, it’s not always safe. There are a lot of companies that use mobile apps to cater to their users. While this is a nice thing for both the company and the user, it can also be a nice thing for any hacker who won’t even need to lift a finger to take your information. Stick to a computer that you’re familiar with.
Consider Alternative Payments
If your browser asks you if you want it to remember your card information, don’t check off that box. Even if it’s your own personal computer, this kind of thing makes it easier for anyone to take your information. And, even if you opt out of having your credit card memorized, you should consider leaving the credit card or debit card behind altogether. If you have gift cards, Paypal, or a prepaid card, it’ll keep you a little safer.
Go With Companies You Know
Maybe a lot of those third-party, out-of-country eCommerce sites have some really good-looking deals. And, while some of those sites may be very well legitimate, you should never buy from a company that you haven’t heard of. Stick to the places and the names you know and love. There’s a better chance their online shopping platform is just safer, and if a breach were to happen, that they would at least do their best to make sure you’re protected.
Trust Your Gut
Cyber Monday and the holiday season, in general, are pretty overwhelming days to be on the Internet. There are a lot of good deals out there that are really convincing. But, not all deals are what you think they are. Some are really deceiving. It may not be that there is a hacker running a fake website with fake deals directly behind the screen. But, it may mean that the website you see one of these “deals” on may not be one that’s safe to use, for one reason or another. Therefore, just remember the old advice, “If it looks too good to be true…” Trust your gut before trusting these people with your bank information.
And, if you’re a company…
If you’re a company who is selling products online on Cyber Monday, or any other day for that matter, make sure you’re taking every possible cyber security precaution there is to protect you and your users. You should also consider taking out cyber insurance or consulting with your provider about additional measures. Remember, your customers are trusting of you, and they wouldn’t want a little purchase on your website to lead to a complete loss of their identity.
Cyber Monday is just a few days away. Are you prepared? No worries! Smeester & Associates is here to help.
Discover how much risk you’re exposed to and get a complimentary RiskAware™ Cyber Security Scan & Report today!
Last month, the whitepaper of the Sixth Annual Survey on the Current State of and Trends in Information Security and Cyber Risk Management was released. As we can see, the survey had a lot of interesting and important information to help small businesses and CIOs make meaningful decisions regarding their approach to cyber security. It discussed key themes, like evolving threats and how companies can build up resilience to those threats. In addition to all the findings and suggestions in the survey, there were also some facts that readers and business owners may find very interesting.
Let us know what you think!
According to the survey, 78 percent of respondents from personal data-driven industries purchased a security & privacy insurance policy, compared with only 59 percent from all other industries. Data-driven industries certainly have more sensitive, customer data to protect, which may be why their number is higher. But, either way you look at it, more than half of the industries surveyed take out cyber insurance. That’s a lot.
The study revealed that approximately 60 percent of pre-breach services are provided by internal resources such as IT, risk management, human resources (HR) and legal. While it’s a good idea to outsource security management, we can see that some companies are still relying on their in-house staff for pre-beach services.
According to the survey, when asked to what extent an internet, cloud or technology disruption would impact their daily business operations, 87 percent said it would have a moderate-to-significant impact. That’s a whole lot of people that feel if a breach were to happen, they would really be in a bad situation.
76 percent of respondents in the communications, healthcare, finance and banking, and retail industries viewed cyber risk as a significant threat compared to only 55 percent of all the other industries. If your industry falls into that 76 percent, then you may want to consider what aspects of your industry make it more vulnerable and assess your company’s cyber security measures based on that.
A question was asked in the survey, “In your experience, are cyber risks viewed as a significant threat by your organization’s leadership?” In response, 83 percent said “yes” for Board of Directors, which is 15 percentage points higher than in 2015. Just a year ago, it seemed as though higher level executives and other leaders simply did not see cyber security as much of a threat that they needed to consider it in their budget. It looks like that’s starting to change.
According to all respondents, “employees unintentionally infecting the company’s network with malware” is the top concern with 50 percent rating it a high or extremely high risk. So, if you’re an employee, your higher-ups may be worried more about you making a mistake than a dangerous hacker.
When asked which services are utilized in response to a cyber-security breach, it’s no longer the IT guy. Based on the survey, for the first time, the general counsel is the department most frequently responsible for assuring compliance with all applicable federal, state or local privacy laws, including state breach notification laws. While the IT person at your company should be fully aware of policies, it may be better to play it safe and go with the general counsel for any of your cyber-security questions, comments, or concerns.
Smeester & Associates understands the questions that arise when it comes to protecting your own company’s cyber-security. We’re here to answer those questions and provide you with the tools and recommendations necessary in order to make the best decisions for your company.
When it comes to contracts in the digital world, there are none quite as important as service level agreements, or SLAs. Service level agreements are the agreements outlined between a service provider and the user. It discusses what the user expects to receive from the service provider, and in turn, what the service provider will provide to the user. A strong SLA should erase any gray areas between the user and the service provider, clearly outlining what the relationship entails.
You do have a say in your SLA
Though the service provider should be the one to present the service level agreement, as the user, you do have a say in what you want it to include. If there’s an aspect of the job that you want to be covered but the service provider didn’t mention in the SLA, you can have them add it in. An SLA is certainly not one-sided.
An SLA provides targets for measuring performance
Whichever sector the service provider is in will determine the type of contractual agreements that are laid out in the SLA. Whether a service provider is providing an internet service, managed services, cyber security, of a combination of these services, the service level agreement should have observable and measurable objectives that are obtainable. If you, as the user, want to be clear about what you’re paying your service provider for, take a look at that SLA.
It explicitly outlines the “what happens when…?”
A good SLA should answer all the questions you didn’t know you had or perhaps the ones you don’t want to ask. Even if we trust our service providers to give us what they say they will, we still want to know “what happens when…” The SLA makes things more transparent, so you can be confident in your decision.
An SLA encourages responsibility and protection for both parties
Anytime we invest money as a user, we need to make sure we’re protected. Likewise, a service provider needs to look out for themselves, too. So, while an SLA can protect you from losing any money, it also protects the service provider from being held responsible for something that may not be their fault. Why would either party want to take a risk?
They can be continuously reviewed and updated
As technology continues to grow and more companies are moving over to the cloud, there’s no predicting what the cyber world holds for us in five years, or even one year, from now. The good news is, an SLA isn’t technically set in stone. While nothing should be changed without both parties’ consent, there is always the opportunity to sit down together and adjust the terms as things may change.
While cyber attacks can happen to anyone regardless of the size of your company or what sector you’re in, there are some exceptions. Though hackers are good at what they do, you can make it harder for them to target your company. Even if everyone is a potential victim, you can make sure you’re not at the bottom of the totem pole. Don’t be the low hanging fruit for cyber criminals.
Follow these tips to make you less desirable or less obvious to hackers on the prowl.
While you might want an easy way to remember all your passwords, keeping them all the same is essentially asking hackers to come knocking at your door. And, they probably won’t be so polite that they’ll knock first. Your passwords should not only be unique and very difficult to figure out, but they should be different for each one of your accounts associated with your website or business.
It’s also a good idea to use fake answers for security questions and two-step verifications, as any cyber criminal with a little but of time can figure out your personal answers. If you’re worried about remembering all these passwords, you can use a password manager to help. Additionally, think twice before saving your password on websites (and credit card information) when your browser asks you.
Use a VPN
Using a VPN is a great way to protect your connection, especially if you’re hooking up to a public WiFi network. That’s because a VPN hides your IP address and encrypts all traffic coming in or out over a certain internet connection. This is one of the easiest ways to avoid being the low hanging fruit for cyber criminals.
Don’t make your hard drive an open door. Encrypt it. There are thousands of ways hackers can get into your hard drive, sometimes even physically. Block it off and make sure you’re the only one that can access it.
In addition to encrypting your hard drive, you also shouldn’t keep everything in one place. Sensitive information should be spread out among different places to make it harder for a cyber criminal to really cause damage.
We shouldn’t have to say this, but if you need a reminder, please, oh please, don’t open anything in your email that looks suspicious. A lot of the times, hackers use phishing as an easy way to hack your system. Anything that looks out of the norm probably is. DELETE and notify the company that someone is using their name and logo to try infect you.
An easy way to be the low hanging fruit for cyber criminals is by simply ignoring the issue of cyber security. Even if you’re a small business (actually, especially because you’re a small business), you should really take advice from someone who knows best. Using a managed security service is one way to go about it. Another way is to talk to us at Smeester & Associates, because we can steer you in the right direction.
A data breach doesn’t discriminate based on the size of your company. Making sure you’re protected, therefore, is extremely important. This is more or less the reason why a lot of companies take out cyber insurance to help pay for indirect costs associated with a data breach. While it’s great news that companies are taking security very seriously, it comes at a bit of a shock once you see how much these claims actually cost. And, not only that, but also where those costs are coming from.
A study done by NetDiligence on cyber claims costs tells us a lot of interesting information. Though the larger companies make up a higher total average of claims at six million dollars, it was actually the smaller companies with less than two billion dollars in revenue that represented a higher cost of claims individually. That’s a whopping 87% majority of the all the companies surveyed.
But, why? Why would a smaller company who makes a heck of a lot less than a larger one be claiming more money than their larger-company counterparts?
Here are a few possible reasons.
For many years, only Fortune 500 companies and government organizations were the main targets for data breaches. IT teams and managed service providers were still an up and coming career. Those who knew how to prevent hackers were mostly hired to protect large organizations like these. But, times are a changin’, and smaller companies are just as likely to get breached. Particularly, in retail and financial sectors.
Without putting any of you small-company folks down, these kind of companies just are not as aware of their exposure as much as large companies are. This means that not only are they unfamiliar with how much sensitive information they possess, but how much of that information isn’t safe from attackers.
When it comes to smaller companies, there aren’t as many resources available to guard against data breaches. Unlike larger companies, they might have a smaller budget or they may be currently preoccupied with getting their business off the ground or managing their customer relations. During these times, a small company may not realize how vulnerable they are. But, that doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t protecting themselves. When companies have less resources to invest in IT, they may just put that towards insurance. Hence why we see more claims from small companies.
You might wonder why a smaller organization with less to offer hackers would have more incidents than a larger organization. But, believe it or not, the size of your company has both a lot to do and very little to do with it. One thing to note is that hackers don’t really care about the size of your company. If you have important information somewhere in your ne
twork, then you can be a target.
That being said, the fact that you are a small company, in general, may mean you’re not quite up to par with larger companies when it comes to cyber security. That means more incidents can happen, thus leading to a higher cost of claims.
So, where does your company fall in all of this? Smeester & Associates is here to provide you with more information on these topics, so you can make the right decisions for your company.
Over the last few months, Samsung has made the news for their Galaxy Note 7, which has had its batteries exploding, causing danger for users. The problem has gotten so bad that you can now get into serious trouble for bringing one onto an airplane. Though, the recent round of total recalls on all devices should help prevent that from happening.
Besides the fact that a phone exploding in your pocket or under your pillow can be a serious physical risk to a person, it also presents a huge security risk. If you were one of the one million users who had to send their phone back, then you must know Samsung now has a ton of phones with sensitive information on it. One of them could be yours.
So, Samsung may care less about your information. But, this whole situation is a clear representation of the security risks mobile devices can present if not handled correctly. All it takes is one bad person to get their hands on a device to ruin your identity or your company. Whether you owned a Galaxy Note 7 or not, you might want to give more attention to your own company’s mobile security situation.
And, you can do it in less time than a phone blows up. Here’s how.
If you already have a current security plan managed by a service provider, you don’t need to take out a new one for your mobile devices. It’s easy to call up whoever is helping you run your network and ask them to add on security for any devices that are or will be connected. There’s no sense making things more difficult for yourself and your budget when you can keep everything simple.
If you rely on your IT team or an IT person to manage your security, then there are some things you need to understand. First of all, it’s time to consider outsourcing to a managed service provider, because then you can be sure your bases are covered. We live in a world where technology is rapidly changing and therefore mobile device security must be a priority. Unfortunately, not all IT personnel can keep up. If you’re still using your IT person or team, then that’s fine, but make sure you’re investing in their tools and resources which would be necessary to ensure you’re protected
A BYOD policy is definitely not something you want to take away from your employees if you’ve already implemented it. We know that having a BYOD policy allows for a happier and more efficient workplace. That being said, in light of the events of Samsung, you might need to tighten up your mobile device security until things get under control. This could involve anything from keeping very close tabs on who is starting to bring in their own devices, to having a stricter procedure altogether.
Does your company have a WiFi system that anyone can connect to? What about people who work at your company for a year, have access to everything, and then they just leave? Shouldn’t their devices be swiped of all company-related information and access before they’re gone for good? Remember, when it comes to cyber security, you can’t trust anyone. And, when mobile device usage continues to grow as such a fast rate, companies need to crack down.
Smeester & Associates can provide you with the tools and recommendations needed to make sure your company’s mobile devices aren’t putting you at risk.