Security | Smeester & Associates

Category Archives for Security

Are You Confident Enough in Your Organization’s Ability to Mitigate Risks?

Cybersecurity is a huge concern for all businesses. Companies understand that they need to prioritize their security methods in order to ensure they don’t experience major losses due to a potential data breach. Despite major headlines that have repeatedly demonstrated the impact these hacks have on companies, recent studies have found that people are still not as prepared as they need to be in order to mitigate such risks. While these companies may be confident saying that they believe in their organization’s ability to manage cybersecurity internally, according to the data, that doesn’t seem to be working (or entirely true).

Even companies who have the best IT teams and equipment understand the need for an outsourced CIO to handle cybersecurity, as well as other managed services.

Here’s why:

Many Risks are Internal

One reason that companies are unable to mitigate all the risks is because they are simply looking in all the wrong places. Every time we learn of another major breach, it doesn’t take long to discover that it happened due to something internal. Perhaps a firewall wasn’t updated, an employee used their personal unsecured device to access work, or the network infrastructure the company is using isn’t being maintained properly, leaving gaps all over. Companies don’t want to admit that they are a risk to themselves. And, even if a breach came from elsewhere, the fact that a hacker could get in is usually the company’s fault.

To fix this, an outsourced CIO can come in, take a look at your systems from an outsider’s point of view, and do what they need to do to patch it up.

Everybody Needs to be Vetted Before Being Onboarded

If your company hires contractors, partners, or interns to work with you, they will likely be given access to the company’s network. And, the more often you’re onboarding “strangers,” the easier it is for one of these people to let in a breach. Typically, it’s unintentional, but there are times where perhaps an employee who was recently let go seeks to take some kind of revenge on the business.

However, with the right network infrastructure (these days, it’s the cloud), security is placed on identities themselves, provided for new or temporary employees. When this is set-up by a managed service provider, HR and IT follows the process and works together with the outsourced CIO to prevent any leaks from occurring. Of course, proper vetting of the individual is necessary before providing them with company access as well.

Because Your Day to Day Job Doesn’t Involve Monitoring Security Risks

In general, 70% of respondents off the Marsh-Microsoft Worldwide Cyber Perception Survey reported that their IT departments are in charge of making important decisions about the company’s network. A lot of these decisions naturally have to do with the network’s security overall. As a business leader, this definitely isn’t your department, so you’re counting on the individuals over in IT to make the right choices. But, believe it or not, IT shouldn’t really have that kind of say, either. Their job isn’t just calling the shots on security measures.

While cybersecurity is certainly a task that involves a little work from everyone in the company, it takes a little more expertise than that. An outsourced CIO can help assign appropriate roles to each employee to make sure everyone is doing their part. Additionally, companies who have moved over to a cloud infrastructure are likely to face fewer risks, too, as cloud technology manages many risks on its own.

The Costs Alone Aren’t Worth the Risk

According to Business Insurance’s breakdown of the survey, 40% of respondents who reported a data breach in the last 12 months said that the worst-case scenario lost them $50 million or more. Out of that number, only 19% revealed “they are highly confident in their organizations’ ability to mitigate and respond to a cyber attack.” 

With that much money at stake, it doesn’t really seem worth it to take your chances. As a C-level leader, if you’re not totally comfortable in your company’s ability to mitigate such risks, then it’s time to find someone you can trust who can.

In the meantime, try our RiskAware™ Cyber Security Scan & Report to see where your security currently stands.

Pay Attention To These Top 5 Security Concerns for 2018

Cybersecurity is hands down becoming one of the most talked about issues today. Companies nowadays have to put their security before anything else they do, and this can be a costly venture if not done correctly. While one aspect of managing security involves hiring an unbiased third party to take care of it, it’s also important to know what you could be doing for yourself and your company to keep everything that matters secure. Each year, the cybersecurity conversation is constantly changing, though, due to the ever-increasing sophistication of data breaches that we typically see.

These are the security issues you want to pay the most attention to as 2017 comes to an end:

1) Machine Learning

It may not be Judgement Day yet, but we might be well on our way to the land of the “Terminators.” Machine learning is happening fast, and next year we will have technology that doesn’t need to be programmed to learn a new task. Sound scary? Well, the implications machine learning can have for people with bad intentions looks good for them, and very bad for everyone else. Hackers out there with such intentions can use machine learning to their advantage.

2) Digital Baggage

Remember all those Facebook photos you posted back in college? Okay, maybe you didn’t grow up during the Facebook age, but if you have children now that are online, it’s something you need to know. That’s because 2018 will be a year where we discuss “Digital Baggage” in terms of cybersecurity. These days, minors can essentially post whatever they want online, and there aren’t too many regulations in place to stop it. While some parents are very cautious with this, most are too busy to pay too much attention. Regardless, anything that you post online can have the potential to hurt you later on. Next year, companies will start looking into this when it comes to hiring new staff or getting rid of employees they already have.

3) Biometrics and Serverless Architectures

Technology is continuing to expand into realms that we have never seen before. Next year, we’re likely to see biometrics — such as face and fingerprint scanning — be incorporated into device verification. We will also start to see more serverless architectures which are apps that can be built without having to host them on a managed server.

What do these two things have in common? Well, whether it’s the ease of use, low-cost, or user-friendly interfaces, biometrics and serverless architectures are pretty attractive. However, while they seem to be some of the most secure methods out there, there are still some inconsistencies and questions being raised. For instance, how secure really is a face scan? And, aren’t serverless apps immune to DoS attacks?

4) Wireless Breaches

We are in an era now where everything is connected. You may have heard it described as the ‘Internet of Things.’ Pretty soon, things like smart homes will be the norm. We will be connected in every aspect of our lives, on every device possible. As we already know, Wi-Fi isn’t always as secure as we want it to be, and the more connected we become, the more we need to pay attention to our security on each of those devices.

5) A Closer Eye on Companies

It seems that no matter how many times big companies make headlines for data breaches, we still continue to see this happening in the news over and over again. Because consumers rarely read privacy regulations (often checking off the “agree to terms” box to get to the next step), companies tend to cut corners and take advantage of this in order to save themselves money. At the same time, companies who do experience data breaches seem to think that ignoring it or covering it up will keep customers on board. Unfortunately, after what we’ve seen with Yahoo!, Uber, and other companies, the more they’ve tried to hide it, the more they’ve made the problem worse.

Next year, you can be sure that there will be more watchful eyes upon companies when it comes to their cybersecurity. And, these watchful eyes won’t just be from auditors, but from the customers themselves. Therefore, the more you make security a priority, the better off you will be.

In 2018, anything involving data, machines, Internet, etc., will certainly have more streamlined processes. However, it’s important to keep in mind that there are two sides to everything. What’s easy in one aspect could be a nightmare in other aspects, in this case, security. Get ahead of the game and know what to look out for next year so you’re company is prepared. 

In the meantime, try our RiskAware™ Cyber Security Scan & Report to see where your security currently stands.

What Companies Do After Data Breaches That’s Causing More Harm

Data breaches can happen to any company. No matter what industry you work in, there’s always a threat out there. While companies can be doing a lot to stop a breach before it happens, they sometimes have to learn the hard way that they’ve made an error somewhere along the line.

But, it’s not always what companies do before a breach happens that’s a problem. Sometimes, it’s what they do afterward that results in more serious problems long-term. However, if companies can be aware of what mistakes they can make following a data breach, then they can do a better job of cleaning up the mess and getting back on their feet.

Of course, if you ignore this advice, then you could be making things much worse:

Trying to Keep it Quiet

When a breach happens, there’s no doubt that it’s embarrassing. You’re well aware of what people will say about your company, and that some customers may decide to stop buying your products and services altogether. But, it’s always important to remember that honesty is the best policy. And, in today’s world, if you fail to be honest, people will eventually find out anyway, and wonder why you didn’t come forward in the first place.

We’ve seen it in the headlines with major companies. Equifax, Target, Yahoo…all of these companies waited quite some time before reporting the breach to the news. Uber failed to say anything at all. But, often times, the public beat them to it, leaving customers asking, “Why?”

If consumers know about the breach, they have time to call their banks, change their passwords, and secure their information. Most people are also understanding that breaches happen. What they can’t understand is why the company would waste any time in helping them their consumers protect their data.

If your company experiences a data breach, inform relevant parties ASAP. If you’re still waiting for information, you can let your customers know that you will give them more details as soon as possible. Of course, having a protocol in place to deal with this is very important.

Not Giving Correct Information

Perhaps what’s worse than trying to cover up a breach is giving the wrong information about it. While you should give a press release as soon as you can, it’s never okay to jump to conclusions and then report those conclusions to consumers. Instead, you can say “We’re waiting for more information at this time,” instead of flooding the media with information that isn’t necessarily true. Many major companies have done things like this on various occasions, leading to more confusion and questions that could have been avoided.

Trying to Protect Your Reputation and Taking it Too Far

In addition to keeping a breach “hush-hush,” companies also make the mistake about fretting over their reputation too much. And, as we’ve all learned, sometimes putting in too much effort in anything has the opposite effect.

For instance, back when the Yahoo breach happened, CEO Marissa Meyer did not inform users to reset their passwords. She was too concerned that this would “annoy” customers when instead, it could have protected them. Additionally, when the Equifax breach occurred, the company profited off of consumers by giving them the opportunity to freeze their report for a price. Before that, they told consumers that they’d get a year of free credit score reports if they waived their right to sue the company.

If you experience a breach, there are always going to be consumers who have something negative to say about it. But, as long as you follow protocol, the consumers that are loyal to you will appreciate your cooperation and not let the breach ruin the relationship they have with you.

 Not Owning Up to Your Role in Causing the Breach

Although we know a breach can happen to anyone, the truth of the matter is that most companies can prevent a breach – or, at least minimize the magnitude of that breach – if they really wanted to. It’s also important to recognize that many breaches are a result of human error within the company and not external threats. Company leaders who fail to come clean and give a public apology for the breach, regardless of whether or not they actually had a role in the matter, are causing more damage long-term.

So, bite your tongue, apologize, and make sure whoever or whatever is responsible for the breach is held accountable, only after you’ve said your “sorry.”

If you can avoid these mistakes after a breach occurs, you will be better off.

In the meantime, try our RiskAware™ Cyber Security Scan & Report to see where your security currently stands.

How Secure is Password Managing Software Like Dashlane?

Any individual or company who wants to follow best security practices understands how important it is to make sure any passwords used are strong and hard to break. In addition to that, people try to utilize two-factor authentication whenever possible and are starting to stray away from sites that don’t offer this. However, as people are taking their passwords more and more seriously, it’s getting more difficult to remember all those passwords.

Password managing software, like Dashlane, has helped to find a solution to the “forgot my password” problem. At first, many people are skeptical about using it, and we don’t blame them. With all your passwords stored in one location, doesn’t that make it riskier?

If you’re considering using a password managing software, it’s good to know what you’re getting yourself into. So, here are some basic facts and how we feel you should move forward.

How Do Password Managers Work?

Websites like Dashlane have a variety of different features that keep it secure. First of all, your master password doesn’t get stored on the servers. That master password is the only key to your closet of passwords. Beyond that, each individual password you have on there is encrypted, so if a hacker really wanted to know your information, they’d have to decode each one separately – and that would take a really long time. Therefore, there’s no possible way for all of the passwords you have stored to be decoded – at least, not all at once.

Additionally, companies like Dashlane use some of the most reliable servers, such as AWS, which scatters data in a lot of different places. This means that if you were to visualize where your passwords are sitting in cyberspace, they aren’t in a room that’s labeled “John’s Passwords.” They are split up with other users’ information, too.

Lastly, these companies are generally working with cybersecurity providers on a constant basis so that security is consistently being audited.

How Can I Be Absolutely Sure My Master Password is Safe?

Unlike other websites, your master password for a site like Dashlane is unique. As mentioned before, it’s not stored on their servers. There are no password hints given, and once you create a master password, it can’t be reset if you forget it. This is to keep tricky hackers out there from easily resetting your password so they can then have access to everything else. Of course, these password managers also ask you to create a very secure password using a combination of letters, numbers, symbols, etc. – and, generally, won’t approve your account until the password is strong enough.

Is it Worth It?

There are a lot of proactive individuals and companies needing to utilize password managing software but are worried that the consequences of a hack are much worse than if just one password happened to be revealed. That being said, it seems as though that these managers are doing everything in their power to keep your information as secure as possible.

Does that mean it could still get hacked? Well, these days, it’s not impossible. But, it seems very, very unlikely.

If you’re still hesitant, one of the best ways to keep your passwords safe is the old – fashioned way; in a notebook, locked in a safe. Still, it’s also important to practice safe password protocol, and if you do use a notebook, make sure absolutely nobody untrustworthy has access to it!

There’s no clear answer about how secure password managing software is, so, at the end of the day, it’s up to your discretion. And, best security practices are constantly changing, so just make sure you stay up to date.

In the meantime, try our RiskAware™ Cyber Security Scan & Report to see where your security currently stands.

 

 

This is Why You Need a VPN – Even at Home

When people want to feel safe in their home, they take security very seriously. They move to a safe neighborhood, get some kind of security system set-up, and maybe even get an additional form of self-protection, whatever that may be.

But, in today’s world, there are other ways for bad people to infiltrate well beyond your household walls – and it’s all done through the Internet. Your Internet security is just as important as your physical home security, because you need to be protected from the dangers that lurk in cyberspace – as silly as that may sound.

One of the easiest and most effective ways to do this is by downloading a VPN on your network. It may seem as though a VPN is only necessary for businesses or people traveling abroad, but that’s not the case. If you use WiFi in your home, you’re just as much as a target as a major company – if not more.

Keep yourself safe, and consider utilizing a VPN for your remote access network.

What is a VPN?

VPN stands for “Virtual Private Network.” It’s a way to access the Internet through a private, secure connection, and it’s also a way to share information over the Internet while remaining protected. You could think of it as a firewall that protects you while you’re online, and stops hackers and viruses from getting in and taking your information.

If you need a little help visualizing how it works, it’s nice to think of a VPN as a “tunnel” – a tunnel that leads you right to where you’re intended destination is, without risking any detours, leaks, traffic jams, or accidents (hacks) along the way.

There are plenty of VPNs you can get for free online. However, some of those can slow down your connection and, in general, aren’t as useful or reliable as paid VPNs.

Why Everyone Should Use a VPN

Nowadays, people need to protect their business online just as much as they protect their physical, household possessions. The Internet can reveal a lot about an individual, and when that information gets into the wrong hands, you can find yourself in a lot of trouble.

As it is, people could be doing more to protect themselves online, like practicing better password strategies or staying away from harmful URLs. Adding a VPN is another layer of protection on top of all that.

Whether it’s to guard your private messaging conversations, hide your location from those who don’t need to know it, or even streaming your favorite TV shows at top speeds, everyone can find a good reason to use a VPN.

When and Where to Use a VPN

There are really no rules when it comes to when and where a VPN should be utilized. As we mentioned before, it certainly won’t hurt you to use a VPN at home when you’re accessing the Internet over WiFi. However, one could argue that a VPN is best utilized when you’re accessing a public WiFi network that is not trusted (perhaps at an airport or a cafe).

Additional Benefits of Using a VPN

One of the most important benefits of using a VPN is that you can do what you need to do online without having to worry. Whether you want to access your online banking, book a trip or make a purchase, apply for a mortgage, or stream a live event, a VPN lets you do all of this as safely as possible.

But, besides security reasons, using a VPN also has other benefits. For one, it helps you access certain websites from abroad, especially if those sites are unavailable in your location. For instance, if you’re traveling in a country where a website like Paypal or an app like Venmo isn’t yet available, a VPN can help you access it without any issues.

So, based on all this information, why NOT get a VPN?!

Want to go with the most trusted VPN out there? Then take a look at ExpressVPN!

Are Your Employees Hiding the Truth About Your Recent Security Breach?

Though company leaders would like to believe that their own employees wouldn’t do anything to put the company’s security at risk, sometimes, these employees are actually the most likely suspects. Though we tend to think data breaches are only caused by malicious hackers, usually, those aren’t the people you need to worry about. That’s because most of the potential problems are being caused by the people sitting right in front of you every day.

So, are your employees ignoring security measures deliberately? Probably not. But, they could be avoiding telling you about a cyber-security incident, that could ultimately result in a major loss for your company.

So, if it’s just a little mistake, why are these employees not saying anything? And, as a leader of your company, how can you get them to speak up so you can stop the problem in its tracks?

 5 Reasons Employees are Causing Data Breaches and Not Saying Anything

Typically, one of the biggest reasons an employee won’t tell you about a data breach is the same reason no human likes to admit he or she is wrong. After all, why bring attention to something when it might not be a big deal after all? This mentality, along with other things, is putting companies at major risk, resulting in huge losses that could have otherwise been avoided.

Besides that, there are other reasons why employees don’t say anything.

1) They’re scared of losing their job.

These days, companies have strict rules in place when it comes to their employees correctly managing the equipment. If employees are held accountable for a data breach, it’s certainly not the kind of news an employer wants to hear. Therefore, employees are under a lot of pressure and thus afraid of losing their job if they put the blame on themselves.

2) Policies are too loose and employees are taking advantage.

If your company has a BYOD policy or you have a lot of remote workers accessing the system from all over the world, you’re already at risk. If that device is not solely for work and thus lacks the proper security on it, you’re at risk of a data breach whenever that person uses their device at home, at a cafe, or while traveling. Don’t let your employees take advantage of your leniency, because once a BYOD policy is implemented, it’s very difficult to supervise.

3) They were uninformed or unaware that they even did something.

Perhaps an employee made a security error, but they didn’t even know they did. With technology being so advanced, even the best and most skilled employees may not be too read up in the IT department. In many cases when there’s a data breach, it’s very likely the person who is at fault isn’t even aware that they are. All employees need to have basic knowledge when it comes to protecting your company’s security.

4) They were actually careless.

While in most instances we want to believe that a potential cyber breach was really just an accident, we know that’s not always the case. There are employees who don’t follow guidelines and are quite careless. And, if that is what happened, that’s not something an employee is going to be so willing to admit.

5) They were doing it intentionally.

It’s hard to trust any one 100%, and when that one untrustworthy person has access to your company’s most sensitive data, there’s always a chance that you’ll receive an unfortunate surprise; that someone you hired has been intentionally stealing your company’s data or hacking your systems to their own benefit. As scary and unlikely as this may seem, it has happened before, and will continue to happen if employers aren’t more diligent.

How to Prevent Employees from Causing Serious Breaches

The first step in making sure your employees don’t cause a data breach is by screening employees before they start working for your company. It may seem obvious, but you don’t want any suspected hackers slipping through the cracks.

If your employees are all deemed trustworthy but you still want to prevent them from accidentally causing a breach, start by implementing strict security standards in the office. Make sure new employees are aware of how to use the systems securely and update current staff regularly. Secondly, make sure your employees feel comfortable letting you know that they may have made some kind of error. If they feel worried about losing their job, they aren’t going to be willing to talk. But, encouraging them to speak up and assuring them that it’s the right thing to do, will save your company from any serious breaches and leave your employees feeling secure in their job.

Additionally, it’s your job as a company leader to make sure you implement specific instructions given to you from your outsourced CIO. For example, if your CIO strongly advises you against using a BYOD policy, then listen. Most of all, make sure your CIO is doing their job of keeping your company’s security safe above everything else, and it will be much easier to prevent problems from happening altogether.

Don’t have time to worry about your employees making an expensive mistake? Your CIO will take care of that.

In the meantime, try our RiskAware™ Cyber Security Scan & Report to see where your security currently stands.

You Can’t Protect Your Network Without Knowing This About Passwords

When it comes to protecting a network from data breaches, there are many things a company can do to help secure themselves as best as possible. But, most of the time, it’s not what companies are doing, but what they’re not doing correctly that puts them at risk.

One of the most basic yet most important things that companies need to pay attention to is their passwords. There have been many reports over the years on what qualifies as a “good password.” However, according to recent reports, it seems that what we think we know about passwords is very, very wrong.

If company leaders don’t stay up to date on the latest security news, then they could be making big mistakes in their overall Internet security plan.

So, here’s the advice you need to update your passwords and upgrade your security.

Complicated Passwords are Hard for Humans, Easy for Computers

For a long time, the creator of the NIST Memo back in 2003, Bill Burr, suggested that the best passwords were those that used a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols. He also encouraged users to make passwords that were not obvious keywords in their lives, but maybe used the first letter of each word from their favorite quote.

This is why, nowadays, when you create a password, you’re asked to write a password that falls between 8-12 characters and includes different letter cases, numbers, and symbols.

Well, that’s a lot to remember. And, when we’re also encouraged to keep changing out passwords frequently, we forget. After all, how many times have you forgotten a password?

See, we might try our best to re-create fancy passwords every other month. But, the fact of the matter is, hackers using the right technology are able to figure out those kinds of passwords easily. In fact, it wouldn’t be a surprise if A.I. could guess your password faster than you can remember it.

So, what’s the new solution?

Longer Passwords

That’s right, folks. According to new reports, the current methods you’re using to create passwords aren’t exactly helping you stay secure. If you really want to protect your network, you should continue to be vigilant. Use two-step notifications, use different passwords for each of your programs, and make your passwords longer. Computers are less likely to guess longer passwords than the type of passwords we’ve been encouraged to use for years.

Only One Problem

Making longer passwords is no problem, right? Wrong. Because of what we know to be the “best” way to guard ourselves against hackers, most websites don’t even give you the option of creating longer passwords. As with most things, the status quo takes time to catch up to what we actually know to be true. Therefore, it might be quite a while before you’re even allowed to create longer passwords, and by then, maybe we won’t be using passwords much at all anymore.

So, How Can I Help My Company Stay Secure?

When you have the opportunity to create a longer password, go for it! But, in the meantime, you’ll have to continue to practice tight security measures for your company’s network. One way to do this is of course by staying on top of the news. See what current threats are out there, and what experts are saying you can do to protect yourself further.

And, speaking of experts, you don’t need to go at this alone. All the conversation surrounding appropriate security measures can be rather overwhelming. To combat it, seek the help of an outsourced expert in cyber security and risk management. This way, you can always be sure you’re doing everything you can to take your company’s network security seriously; whether that’s creating the right password or implementing other smart security tactics along the way.

The Role a CIO Can Play for Your Company and Why You Should Hire One Now

Technology has taken over the business world. Ever since we’ve become more reliant on technology, we’ve been seeing new jobs added to companies to help maintain it all. And, when it comes to that technology, those who will be managing it on your company’s behalf need to have the appropriate skills and expertise to do their job correctly.

You may already have an IT team, or maybe even a CTO. But, you as the CEO need to make sure the right decisions are being made for your company at all times (and at all costs). So, isn’t it about time to outsource a chief information officer?

Why You Need a CIO

While all roles in a company are unique and important, a CIO does a number of tasks that bridge all those roles together. Ultimately, the CIO is responsible for making sure technology is properly integrated throughout the company so that operations can run smoothly. He or she has the final say on how technology is managed so that the business can keep moving forward without any hold ups.

Why Outsourcing is Important

One of the biggest questions that comes up when a company integrates technology into their everyday tasks is the issue of cyber security. Though there are many ways in which a system could potentially be hacked from outside intruders, human error is still one of the main causes of breaches that we commonly see today. Certain protocols need to be followed in order to guarantee a network’s safety. To eliminate any risks of vulnerability or conflicts among high-level decision makers, a CEO should consider outsourcing their CIO. This way, any decisions that are made are unbiased and are therefore solely for the best interest of the company.

Also, don’t forget that one of the perks of hiring any type of managed service means that you have more time to run your business. Any worries you may have will now be dealt with by that service provider.

When is the Best Time To Hire a CIO? 

Most company leaders may think it’s best to wait until a company reaches a certain level before hiring a CIO. Perhaps when a certain number of sales have been made or a certain number of followers has been reached. But, it may be that it’s time to get one sooner than later if you’re noticing some inconsistencies at your company. This could involve anything from repetitive inefficiency, seeing your network has become vulnerable to attacks, disagreements among executives, or too many tasks being handled by a small staff. Whether it’s one of these reasons, a combination of these reasons, or you just feel the need to extend such an important role to someone else, then it might be time to hire a CIO.

In the meantime, try our RiskAware™ Cyber Security Scan & Report to see where your security currently stands.

How You Can Stay Safe from Future Ransomware Attacks Like Petya

In June 2017, yet another type of complex ransomware has infected computers worldwide. It goes by the name ‘Petya,’ and it caused companies like DLA Piper and Maersk to freeze up their systems. The only way for these companies to have unlocked their systems, is, of course, by paying a hefty ransom.

If your company was safe from Petya this time around, how can you continue to stay safe from ransomware attacks in the future?

What is Petya?

The interesting thing about the Petya virus is that the authors of Petya demanded the large ransom (100-bitcoin) only after many companies infected already resumed their operations. Though it looks like some victims had decided to pay a smaller ransom, Petya’s financial success didn’t amount to much.

While all ransomware viruses typically work in the same way, each one possesses a unique attribute that makes it stand out from the others. Perhaps it infects more companies, demands more money than other forms of ransomware, or is simply that much harder to prevent.

Before Petya, the big ransomware virus to look out for was WannaCry. Though WannaCry could fall into its own category of headline-making ransomware, it actually shares some similarities with Petya. Like WannaCry, Petya infiltrated networks through systems that used Microsoft Windows. And, although it seems that Petya’s main goal was to disrupt Ukrainian infrastructure (where the virus was sourced from) rather than just make money, it’s important for everyone to be aware of such a virus’ capabilities. Knowing what’s out there makes you less likely to become a victim yourself since you know how to prevent an attack in the future.

How Can You Protect Yourself Against Attacks Like Petya

It goes without saying that not all cyber attacks can be prevented. Because technology is so complex and because there is so much we cannot see on the Internet, hackers are finding new ways to get what they want. But, first and foremost, we must educate ourselves about what kind of hacks are out there, how we may possibly be vulnerable to those attacks, and how to protect ourselves in every way possible.

From what we know from this attack, only Windows systems were targeted. Those who haven’t updated their software were more at risk, as well as businesses. Home networks weren’t really a target in this case, which is pretty true for most cyber attacks (but not always).

Unlike WannaCry or other types of ransomware, Petya locks up entire data systems instead of individual files. A worm is sent out and encrypts machines. This on its own is a reminder that although we may not be able to prevent attacks, we can back up our data separately so that we can access it even if it gets hacked.

Lastly, it’s important that you’re doing what you can to protect your network. The first step is seeking out the help of a managed service provider that’s up to date on cyber attacks and knows how to evaluate your system for any inconsistencies. Generally, a good antivirus should work, but only if that antivirus’ usage is being constantly monitored by an expert.

And, Remember…

Hopefully, you’ll never fall victim to a ransomware attack like Petya. But, if you do, remember that you should never pay up to the perpetrator.  This only encourages these hackers to continue doing what they do.

Working together with your team and the expertise of a managed service provider, you can spend less time worrying about these hacks and more time doing what you do best; running your business.

In the meantime, try our RiskAware™ Cyber Security Scan & Report to see where your security currently stands.

Does Your Cyber Security Consultant Have the Right Expertise?

When it comes to cyber security, there are a lot of things one needs to know. Ultimately, business leaders choose to invest in the help of a cyber security consultant in order to make sure their network is properly managed by an expert. But, even if your consultant claims to be an ‘expert’ in cyber security, you need to ask yourself, “Do they have the right expertise?”  Often times, it’s not about what this professional has on their list of credentials; it’s about what they don’t have. And, what they don’t have could prove to be very bad news for your security situation.

What’s Their Background When It Comes to Internet Technology?

When you look for your cyber security consultant, it might be overwhelming to see everything they have to offer you. Just like when you buy a new TV or look through a brochure, you see all the beautiful advertising. If it’s done nicely, you would never really ask yourself, “Well, what does this not have?” or “What is it missing?”

Most cyber security professionals will have an IT background, which seems like that should be a given. However, an IT background isn’t all you should be looking for. After all, if that’s all they have, then why not just consult your IT department? Surely, they have all it takes to clean up a security problem, right?

Wrong. Most business leaders know that their IT team has other responsibilities, and not quite the right experience when it comes to specifically handling security concerns. This is why CEOs seek the help of a professional cyber security consultant in the first place.

So, what is it you want to be looking for in your cyber security professional?

Clearly Defined Software Development Expertise

While an IT background is certainly necessary, you want to make sure the consultant you’re looking into working with actually has a software development background.

The biggest reason for this is because hackers generally do their work by using scripts as their main tool to cause damage on the networks of unsuspecting targets. To even recognize something like this, a cyber security professional would have to have experience in software development. But, in addition to being able to recognize this kind of hack, you also want someone who could make sure YOUR software is protected, to begin with. They know exactly what to look out for and are read up all the different types of breaches that exist.

A person with solely IT experience probably won’t be able to see this as well as someone with a software development background.

Generally, although most cyber security consultants with software development experience also have a good IT foundation, those with solid IT experience can’t really say the same for themselves. Again, it’s not about what your potential cyber security has; it’s about what they’re perhaps lacking and how that could impact the quality of their service to you.

The Bottom Line

An avid cyber security approach is important for financial companies that collect the information of their clients or have their own data to store and protect. While there are a lot of great consultants and managed services out there, take your time choosing the one that’s best for your company. And, do yourself a favor and make sure they have experience in both software development and IT. Otherwise, you aren’t really getting what you’re paying for.

In the meantime, try our RiskAware™ Cyber Security Scan & Report to see where your security currently stands.

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