Cyberattacks and security threats are on the rise. Is your business prepared?
Section 1: What is Network Security?
Network security is a set of policies and procedures designed to protect the integrity and usability of both your data and network. The increasing number of cyber crimes is amplifying the demand for network security. Using both software and hardware technologies to manage access to your network, it targets threats, stopping them before they enter or spread in your network.
Frequently Used Network Security Definitions:
Network Access Control (NAC)
NAC controls who can and cannot access your network. Therefore with NAC, you can identify all the users in your network and the type of devices they are using. Every time an unauthorized user attempts to access your network, NAC pings you with a notification, letting you enforce security policies that block any unauthorized devices. NAC also identifies any abnormal behavior in your network and notifies you by setting up a behavioral analytics tool.
Antivirus and Antimalware Protection
This kind of security protects your network against all types of malware including worms, viruses, ransomware, Trojans, and spyware. These can infect your network and stay dormant for up to several weeks before starting to attack. Antivirus and antimalware software scan for malware and keep tracking the files afterwards to identify and fix any anomalies.
Companies and businesses are opting for wireless networks that are more convenient but susceptible to attacks. Wired connections offer better security, but most users prefer wireless since it is more technologically advantageous. Hence, many businesses have little choice but to operate on wireless. Wireless security prevents cybercriminals from accessing your network and introducing malware or stealing information.
Data Loss Prevention
This prevents employees from copying or sending any sensitive information pertaining to the business outside the network. Data loss prevention also notifies you and prevents anyone from forwarding, printing or uploading information you deem critical in an unsafe manner. Leaked data in every business can potentially harm the business and should, therefore, be protected.
Businesses that exchange a high volume of emails are susceptible to receiving malware via email. Hackers may access financial or personal information belonging to you or your clients and use it to deceive clients, send them malware or even blackmail. It is important, therefore, to set up email security to prevent such breaches.
Application security is designed to protect all applications in your network. By targeting flawed applications, hackers can introduce malware straight into your network. Application security ensures all applications are safe and cannot be hacked.
Firewalls erect a barrier between your internal network that is safe and outside networks that are unsafe. It may allow or block traffic using a set of clearly defined rules. You can use either software or hardware to create a firewall, and both are effective in protecting your network.
Regardless of the kind of enterprise you run, network security is important for protecting your network and preventing any attacks. It combines several layers of defenses at every level to implement controls and policies that protect your network. A business with good network security provides a safe haven for both their employees and their clients, thereby protecting its reputation.
Section 2: What is Data Security?
Data is a collection of facts and statistics compiled for a specific purpose. Once collected, data can be stored in either hard or soft copy. Herein lies the need for data security. The level of data security your company requires varies with the sensitivity of the data you collect.
In our cyber age, most data is secured in soft copy. Hard copy data, though, can be secured by physical means only, but its disadvantage is that it can also be easily lost to events such as theft or fire. A soft copy has many advantages over hard copy but also comes with more vulnerabilities. For firms and other individuals, the security of data copy is becoming more and more complex. Fortunately, data security can be achieved by hardware and software methods.
Hardware Security Methods
Password Limited Access
A tiered system limits the data accessible on the network. Users can only access data germane to them, so they are not privy to extra information. Limiting password access is an effective approach, but it is restricted by a hackers’ ability to steal passwords and the trustworthiness of the password holder.
Some of the most common security measures, firewalls selectively prevent access to data. Unfortunately, they are vulnerable to attacks by circumvention, brute force attacks and a myriad of other weakness. They also need constant upgrading as hacker methods grow increasingly complex.
Encryption is just coding data in a way specific to the owner. It essentially makes data accessible only to those with a code key. Encryption is widely used, but recently, there have been major advancements in data decryption. To stay secure, encryption constantly needs to continuously complexify.
These are copies of the original data that ensure there is still an available copy in the case of data loss. In the case of highly sensitive data, however, one theft makes a back-up null and void.
Hardware data security methods can be the first line of defense as they prevent access to data on a basic level.
Software Security Methods
Controlled Access to Data Storage Devices
This means only people with the acceptable clearance can access levels of data. Access control is rudimentary but effective and depends largely on the trustworthiness of those with clearance.
Supervision of Peripheral Devices
Peripheral devices are those that can connect to the primary data storage devices and access or read data. These devices may carry a virus so they must be supervised to ensure that they can be safely allowed access.
Intrusion Detection Devices
These devices are measures put in place to alert your team to any unauthorized access. One small disadvantage is that they work only post-intrusion or during an intrusion. They must be supplemented to act in real time in order to either prevent additional data loss or enforce security to stop the intrusion in process.
Storage of Data Offline
Storing data offline simply prevents intrusion attempts from online sources not in the vicinity of the data storage device.
Section 3: The Potential Threats to Your Business’ Security
As an executive, your enterprise runs on digital. You operate business programs, manage systems, and even store data online. That’s why 60% of small business owners named cybersecurity among their serious concerns according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The recent increase in cyberattacks — including tampering with voting systems — has only elevated business owners’ anxiety. Hackers are continually devising new tricks and tools to break through your cyber defense systems.
We’re long past the days when you could turn your system back to the old analog way. The best solution here is to identify the significant threats you face, learn how to counter them, and tighten your security measures.
The latest potential threats to your business’ security include:
Increases in Data Breaches
In 2017, Equifax credit reporting agency reported a cyberattack on their systems. People’s birth dates, social security numbers, and other data were stolen. The attack is proof that data hackers are thinking big when profiling their clients. Companies that hold crucial data can expect to be the target of these attacks. Data brokers who hold crucial information such as browsing habits are likely to be the most significant targets this year. Unfortunately, these brokers are unregulated, and if this data were to be stolen or even leak, businesses would be counting their losses in the millions.
As such, ensure you don’t save crucial information on your browser. Also, don’t let your employees access vital information on a public network.
Ransomware in the Cloud
In the recent months, ransomware attacks have been on the rise. Here, the hackers breach the defense and security systems in your computer files; they then lock the data with strong encryption keys. To decrypt the data, the hackers demand money in exchange for the keys. Most victims will pay, especially where the files encrypted haven’t been backed up or they’re sensitive files. Some companies that have suffered these attacks are FedEx, Britain’s National Health Service, and Light Rail Network in San Francisco. If their data can be encrypted, so can yours.
If you run a cloud computing company, you may want to tighten your security measures. Already Google, IBM, and Amazon, the most prominent cloud operators, have engaged the brightest minds in digital security.
Mining cryptocurrencies is the new trend in the economy. But if you — or one of your employees — uses a work computer to mine currency, how do you ensure the bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies you mine are safe from hackers?
When buying and selling cryptocurrency, use two types of wallets — the online portfolio and the hardware wallet. The online wallet is where transactions happen, and the hardware wallet is where you store the passwords and cryptocurrencies you mine. It remains offline. As a security measure, don’t store its password on any device or even online.
Weaponization of AI
Security companies and researchers are using AI to anticipate and spot attacks. Unfortunately, hackers are using the same strategy to strike back.
With AI, the hackers have a higher chance of succeeding in their mission. They can efficiently use the technology to craft convincing fake messages and replicate them with ease. The malware created by AI will be undetectable to various security systems in your company.
Final Thoughts on Security Threats
Despite increasing threats, white hat hackers and cybersecurity experts are managing to keep a lid on most systems. There is still more money in hacking for the good guys than in hacking for the underworld. Nevertheless, enterprise-level companies need to take cybersecurity seriously and plan for the future. Otherwise, they face the real and serious risk of losing money, customers, and even their businesses.
Section 4: Essential IT Security Equipment, Training, and Tips
Human error can predispose your enterprise to risks of cyber threats.
A report released by Enterprise Management Associates (EMA) showed that 56 percent of employees in most businesses and organizations don’t receive security awareness training (SAT). A Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR) emphasized the need for SAT last year when it found out that a big percentage of data breaches were caused by stolen information or credentials. Social engineering attacks and weak passwords also contributed to many data breaches.
Common cyberattack #1: Ransomware
One of the most common ways cybercriminals make money maliciously, ransomware may also be the most frustrating. A ransomware attack happens when a hacker uses malware to encrypt your stored data, and you have to pay a ransom fee to access the information. The most popular way of delivering ransomware is through a Trojan Horse, which is often spread through a legitimate-looking link in an email. Once your user downloads the malicious file, it quietly drops its payload onto your PC. The downloaded ransomware will start running and encrypting your files in the background until it’s too late.
Older operating systems are more vulnerable to ransomware than up-to-date ones Furthermore, cyberattackers are developing increasingly complex malware payload droppers and encrypted web communications to make it harder to detect the attacks. The cheapest solution to malware is to have your IT experts build robust backups of all files. That way, whenever you are attacked, they can remove the malicious files and restore them from the backup. Non-encrypting ransomware and wiperware are types of fake malware that are used to trick users into paying a ransom.
How to Prevent Ransomware
- Avoid opening emails from suspicious email addresses.
- Don’t verify the URLs of websites that you don’t recognize.
- Block Trojan Horse programs by blocking executable files in your email.
- Avoid opening links in a hurry.
- Run Deep Pocket Inspection on all traffic coming to your network.
- Update your antivirus and OS systems.
- Back up your data.
- Save sensitive information in cloud storage and/or network drives.
- Train all your employees on data security.
Common cyberattack #2: Phishing
Today, phishing attacks such as Office 365 Account Notice, Out of Office, and Spoofed Email Attacks that seem too good to be true are so common. Phishing attacks come in form of emails declaring that you have won competitions you didn’t even participate in. The goal of a phishing attack is to trick a recipient into believing that the email is from a legitimate source. For instance, cybercriminals send emails that appear like they are from the IRS to trick the recipient.
How to Prevent Phishing Attacks
- Invest in robust antivirus software for your computers.
- Avoid clicking or downloading a suspicious email before contacting the institution that is supposed to have sent it.
- Use a strong spam filter that can analyze emails before they get into your inbox.
- Check and verify the sender of any suspicious email before you open it.
- Don’t download any attachment from a suspicious email if you have opened it.
Cyberattacks damage the reputations of established businesses, are expensive to remediate, and cause stress to the affected individuals. Small businesses have also been affected by the rising rate of cyber threats. In fact, a report by IBM shows that small businesses are the target of 62 percent of all reported cyberattacks. Apart from the high cost of complacency, there are other soft costs of keeping data secure and recovering from data breaches. Approximately 60 percent of businesses that face a cyberattack close within 6 months of the breach.
Section 5: The Importance of IT Security Audits.
An audit can be defined as a deliberate and structured assessment of any particular situation. Audits can be proactive or reactive. Proactive audits are done before an incident occurs so as to prevent an undesirable future event while reactive audits are performed after an incident so as to determine the factors that allowed the undesirable past event to occur. IT security audits are centered on determining the strengths and weaknesses of an existing IT security system against the wide range of current and future threats to it.
Proactive IT security audits measure the current system and anticipate possible future threats.
They determine how up-to-date the current security system software is, available updates or options and potential threats. By exposing current faults in the system that can be manipulated by malicious software, the requisite changes can be made beforehand. This is vital as it may prevent a future breach and as such make the data more secure in real time. Reactive audits are done after a breach has occurred and reveal vulnerabilities in the system that were not identified in the past. Their only disadvantage is that data may have already been lost. They also prove that the security measures put in place previously were not adequate and that there needs to be a much better evaluation of potential risk levels. They are used to chart the way forward and may sometimes necessitate a total overhaul of the security system.
Security audits can be performed on a random basis where the audit is done with no real schedule, or they can be done on a regular, on-going basis.
Random audits are unpredictable and may not effectively prevent a breach because those are unpredictable too. Regularly scheduled audits are the more effective methods as they ensure that system protection is constant and always up-to-date. Threats to system security evolve rapidly and thus security measures get outdated very quickly. Security systems need to evolve faster or at par with security threats to maintain effective functionality.
Regular audits can be done physically or automatically.
Physical security audits are activated by the user while automatic security audits are activated by programs that have preset activation timings and instructions. An advantage of automated security assessments is that they reduce the element of human error, making them much more effective and consistent.
Security audits can give you a lot of peace of mind.
In this day and age where information is power, your team needs to be able to keep data secure to the highest possible degree. Constant appraisal of system security is key to ensuring the reliability of current systems. This means keeping abreast with threat levels and adapting to face new ones is crucial for small and mid-size enterprises. More effective security systems increase the overall value of an IT system and let you direct your energy toward the things you do best – like run your business.
Section 6: Security as a Service
Security-as-a-Service (SaaS) is a cloud-based security model of delivery applicable to the management of security solutions. Conventionally, businesses and organizations relied on locally available appliances and in-house responsibility to deliver and maintain spam filtering and virus protection security updates or policies. This is an expensive approach that involved upfront and ongoing costs in hardware and software license subscriptions. With the SaaS cloud model, security professionals can affordably deliver and manage security solutions via the web to the business in need of the security service, regardless of its location.
Understanding SaaS and SecaaS
Security-as-a-Service is a phrase commonly used in cloud technology. However, it’s important to note that SaaS (security-as-a-service) is a subcategory of Software-as-a-Service. Therefore, in some instances, SecaaS is used interchangeably with SaaS when referring to Security-as-a-Service. It is best to check the context in which SaaS is used to avoid confusion.
Why SaaS as a model is growing more popular
Businesses are shifting into operational models of paying only for what they need and leaving complex technology such as upgrading software and security systems to the experts. Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) know the benefits of having security delivered to their businesses as a service.
Advantages of Security-as-a-Service
- No need to spend money on user compliance because updates on virus definition and spam filters are done automatically.
- No need hire or invest in a dedicated IT resource to perform continuous system upgrades, end-user training, or maintenance.
- Specialized security solutions and tools are more resourceful than what is typically found within a business.
- There is greater speed, agility, and scalability as the security solutions are available on demand.
- Security solutions are available in a unified management console of a web interface, which makes it easier to control and manage even without specialized computer skills.
- The pay-as-you-go operating costs of a Security-as-a-Service model doesn’t require hardware costs and license fee, making it the most affordable way of fighting cybercrime affordably.
SaaS is the most mature segment of all cloud offerings and accounts for up to 89 percent of the total spend in this market. Although cloud computing is a market that is still a young market, it is experiencing rapid growth. According to Gartner Inc., cloud computing technology’s growth will soon form the bulk of new IT spending.
Section 7: Why Choose Wolf Technology Group?
With increasing dependence on advanced technology trends, the demand for credible security solutions has also grown tremendously. Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) are always embedding advanced security solutions into their organizations to curb the problem of cyber threats. Data breaches and different forms of cyberattacks are often tied to the vulnerability of applications or installed security systems. Security Awareness Training (SAT) is important to avoid inadequacies in the Information Security Department that could result in data breaches.
Hiring IT Managed Services Providers (IT MSPs) who are specialized and experienced in handling the ever-growing cyber threat landscape is often the most affordable option.
Wolf Technology Group’s IT Security Offerings
Firewall including intrusion detection
To protect your network from potentially malicious activity, you need firewall solutions. A firewall can control both incoming and outgoing connections. The system works by identifying and blocking any potentially hostile actions. The faster your business can identify these malicious actions, the faster it can react to prevent them.
Monitoring your servers and computers helps protect data and secure sensitive information. Data encryption coupled with computer/server monitoring can also protect your data while in transit. A data loss prevention solution will come in handy in ensuring that your data remains secure and accurate at all times. A credible system that can detect and mitigate threats, whenever they occur, will maintain your business’s integrity.
Antivirus/ Malware Software
An antivirus and antimalware software will scan your computers looking for potential threats. Our modern solutions can effectively detect previously unknown virus threats or potential attacks based on their behavior. Any computer that doesn’t have an antivirus software is vulnerable and can easily become infected with a range of malicious virus programs.
A big percentage of data breaches in most organizations and businesses are all due to mistakes by employees who have been obligated or authorized to handle sensitive data. Web filtering services will help all your employees to avoid accessing potentially harmful files or services accidentally. The filtering services will provide an additional layer of protection regardless of the browsing habits of the users. It is also important to use email filtering solutions in order to avoid opening malicious emails that look like legitimate links from credible senders through a phishing attack. Hosted customers can take advantage of our fully redundant Tier V data centre, N-1, SASE16 certified, General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) compliance in process.
User roles by job title for access
Identity and access management solutions are very important to limit unauthorized access to sensitive information or data. Authentication services are important for identifying user roles by job title in order to control access to different types of data. Tracking and limiting employee access to classified information will help you prevent malicious staff members from gaining access to certain computers or data storage programs.
Password complexity and change policies
According to a Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR), a majority of data breaches in organization occur due to the use of weak passwords. Creating complex passwords is a sure-fire way of blocking unauthorized users from accessing files in your computers or inbox. Today, small businesses need to concern themselves with risk and compliance management. Security auditing and risk management suites provide you with a dedicated resource that is specialized in ensuring compliance.
Contact Wolf Today!
Investing in cybersecurity is not an issue of if but of when. Creating a reliable and manageable IT infrastructure for your business involves investing in not only the latest cybersecurity technology but also in growing your capacity for more futuristic solutions.