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Why Employees are the Weakest Link in Your Cybersecurity Business


When many business leaders consider the security of their operation, the first things that come to mind are locks on the doors, proper outdoor lighting, and perhaps a security guard on-site, then they begin to look inward and consider their cybersecurity. Toward that end, they invest in the latest and greatest firewalls, antivirus, anti-malware, firmware, and other software fixes while overlooking the most important aspect of their security integrity: their employees.  Why are employees your greatest cybersecurity threat and what are you to do about it?

The very nature of human beings with their curiosity and need for stimulation, information and novelty make them the prime target for hackers who want to infiltrate your business network and its data.  Therefore, full buy-in of the company security endeavors will require an alliance between IT, which should understand your operating needs and HR, which should comprehend the foibles and psychology of human beings that can make them gateways to cyberattacks. It is simply not good enough that your employees remember to update passwords regularly; they need to understand how a hacked company system affects them directly. To this end, your IT team should work with HR to develop training which garners staff support for the security processes that need to be implemented.

Here are a few of the issues this composite team needs to address:

Impact on the Company of Down Time and Security Breaches

Explain in the clearest terms how downtime in the company network affects everyone. Use examples such as Ransomware or Spear Phishing attacks or other situations in which your business could lose data or computer access – thus affecting the ability of your company to remain in operation and therefore to employ people!

Lack of Awareness

Simple though it may sound, regular training and reiteration of concepts like having strong passwords, proper storage of customer information, use of locking drawers or file cabinets, how the company uses multi-factor authentication and data access principles should be ongoing practices. In addition, all personnel should know how to properly dispose of drives, reports, etc. when they are no longer pertinent. Last here is the need to inform employees of the importance of system/software updates for both company equipment and approved BYOD mobile phones and other devices, as well.

Hazards of Using Unsecured Networks –

This is particularly problematic with BYOD environments including commuting vehicles (e.g., the train and subway), cafés, etc. which are typically unsecured networks. Your employees need to be aware that all online activity conducted on such networks can be visible, putting devices and sensitive company information in peril.

To minimize this risk, explain the difference between using HTTP and HTTPS prefixed sites – the later carries encryption protocols – on any device (laptop, smartphone, etc.) used for work related activities and help them to understand which work is best left to be performed in the office on company secured devices. Another off-site peril comes from Juice jacking (stealing data by monitoring public charging stations) in which a hacked wireless charging port can allow cybercriminals to record what is being written or watched on a device as well as download programs to said device. Personnel who frequently work outside the office should be trained to understand the risks of using public access networks and a few means of minimizing same, such as plugging into an electrical outlet or using their own powerbank, having different passwords for each app and device they use, and waiting to perform personal interactions until at home and only installing apps from official marketplaces. Best, have them use a VPN (Virtual Private Network) set up by your IT team that provides for encryption of data moving between them and any end user whether they are at home, traveling or otherwise working outside the office.

IoT (Internet of Things): a Door to System Access –

With the growing complexity of the business operating environment you may find you have manufacturing equipment as well as simple office equipment such as printers connected wirelessly to your server. These additional pathways offer opportunities for an employee to involuntarily undermine your security by tapping into equipment not meant to be part of their peripherals. In order to minimize this risk, have your IT team set up not only different passwords for this equipment but different router levels, as well, which prevents certain devices from ever ‘seeing’ other devices they shouldn’t. Turning off equipment when not in use will help to mitigate cross system access as well. These steps can also help prevent an unintended internally produced Denial of Service (DoS) attack or Distributed Denial of Service Attack (DDoS) in which equipment or websites crash from an overload of demand.

Don’t forget, your IT team consists of all your employees. To this end, think about the cybersecurity culture you want to create. For instance, have your IT team start broadly sharing new concepts learned trade events , which can keep lines of communication open between departments and can help your staff understand new threats and preventive actions they can take before your business is targeted.

In addition, savvy IT members don’t put all their eggs in one basket; they may like vendor X who provides software X and has worked with them for years but they stay aware for news of failures of this protective service and are willing to jump ship to vendor Y if that is in the best interest of your company. Better, working with an outside company, in addition to your in-house staff, who is not a single service provider and whose sole interest is in being knowledgeable about multiple software security tools, techniques and processes and is willing to embrace your company’s unique business protection requirements can be a valuable asset.

Finally, keep in mind that a disgruntled employee with any system access can pose a threat to your business (e.g., copying trademarked or other business sensitive information for purposes of corporate espionage) and containing them is the territory of HR. However, a coordinated effort between your employees and IT, with the help of training developed actively with HR, will strengthen the personnel link in your cybersecurity chain, in addition to bringing added value to your employee morale due to your consideration of their need to understand, so that they are able to actively participate in protecting your company and their jobs.

Be safe out there!

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cyber-threat

Does Cyber Threat Hurt My Business Reputation ?


I hope everybody is doing well and staying safe.

Holidays are around the corner.

Here I want to share a good question asked by a friend of mine.

He asked if the cyber threat can hurt his business reputation. Although I am familiar with the outcomes of cyber-attack, this concern is something I found worth sharing.

This is also important as a lot of people ignore the severity of cyber-attacks. They don’t have essential measures in place to protect their data.

Cyber-attacks not only threaten their data but also hurt their business reputation.

Living in a digital landscape where data is stored virtually has become a common practice.

Basically, if we don’t protect our data and we don’t have essential cybersecurity strategies in place, we are simply opening a big gate for threat actors.

As we uh we’re looking at that advanced technology, we need to put in mind that we definitely need to think about cybersecurity besides our marketing and our sales efforts.

Many businesses lack a budget for cybersecurity. Not getting serious about cybersecurity means you are just building a lot of fears that can be made true by one single cyber-attack incident.

Needless to say, it can bring your business down as well as its reputation. When your clients come to know about this, they are more likely to refrain from doing business with you. That’s why it is a serious issue.

Not All Cybersecurity Tools Can Work in the Future

We have an antivirus program for example, and we do have an anti-fishing program and it works.

But the program that did work yesterday does not work today.

Technology is advancing on a daily basis and threat actors are scanning everybody. They’re looking for the security loopholes and vulnerabilities that they can access your network and access your data.

So basically, if you have an antivirus outdated antivirus that used to work probably is not going to work today. So you need to have a vision for the future you need to look always at your business. You need to look at this. Okay.

Bottom Line:

Make sure to protect your asset and data. And it takes you to invest in the right tools as well as secure a little budget for security.

Setting aside a little budget for your cybersecurity might disturb your finances. But it won’t be anything compared to the expenditure you do to bring your business back after a cyber-attack. Cyber-attacks lead to the loss of money and reputation as well. It means that you are losing your trust with customers and hurt your business.

It is equally important to train your employees in cybersecurity. After all, they are the largest security vulnerability despite having the best security tool. They can visit malicious links, exposing your information to cybercriminals.

They can use infected devices that can inject the virus into your systems. And above all, they can pose an insider threat or your ex-employee can sell your information to your competitor. Conducting regular cybersecurity workshops are also an effective way to keep your staff educated on cybersecurity.

If you are a small enterprise, you can organize these events together with other local small businesses. Moreover, organizing cybersecurity workshops for your clients can be a great branding opportunity.

Therefore, invest in cybersecurity tools as well as cybersecurity training you can do right now to consolidate your data security.

I hope this information helps. Thanks for reading. Take care. Signing off!

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Raccoon-Malware

Raccoon Malware: A Threat to Cybersecurity


As if you didn’t have enough difficulty maintaining your cybersecurity, now there is a masked bandit on the loose – for a fee!

Raccoon (a.k.a. Mohazo, Revealer and Legion) malware appeared out of the former USSR in early 2019, is still very active, is available on the dark web for approximately $200 per month, and has a development team which not only creates frequent updates (such as the ability to steal FTP server credentials) but which responds to user requests for enhancements (e.g., keylogger as a possible upcoming feature). The ease of use via a simple dashboard and excellent customer service, if you can believe that, make this malware a long-term threat to your information systems. Unfortunately, its popularity with hackers appears to remain quite steady.

What does Raccoon do? It is an information stealer operating as a MaaS (Malware-as-a-Service) model. Creeping in through phishing and other attack modes, it is able steal data from up to sixty (60) applications, including the leading web browsers.

It has also been used to access cryptocurrency, credit card and e-mail accounts, plus other applications through which data is gathered in order to perpetrate financial and identity fraud against victims. Once the desired information has been accessed, whether it be screenshots, OS data, system settings, or simply the usernames and passwords from various browsers and activities, the data is sent by zip file to the hacker. This ease of use has created over 100,000 infected devices since even the non-tech savvy can operate this malware.

As noted above, Racoon often arrives through phishing scams, ones which can take many forms. It can be deployed within attachments to e-mail spam, a Dropbox .IMG file or even as “bundled malware” wherein it is attached as a rider to a legitimate software download. However, the most popular distribution vehicle for this software is the use of exploit kits, which can deliver the malware without the user’s knowledge while the user does something as routine as surfing the web.

How can your IT personnel work to protect your company and resources from this threat?

As usual, the emphasis on employee awareness of the need to protect company assets by not opening suspicious content (including malvertisments which may occur on legitimate sites) must be paramount. Training staff to recognize and resist social engineering lures which attempt to bait those clicks is also necessary.

In addition, the BYOD/T (Bring Your Own Device/Technology) environments which allow employees to use their own software, hardware, and/or cloud storage may create a Shadow IT situation which opens your business to these attacks. Your entire IT team, and especially the IT security group, should be aware of this possibility and be active in using up-to-date firewalls and other pertinent software to diminish unauthorized accessing of your systems. For remote employees, your IT team should install on their devices the same antivirus, anti-malware and other safety software as is used by the business at large. Employees using hardware or software not recognized by the protocols implemented by IT should not be allowed system access.

Finally, since Raccoon also scans the caches created by browsers and apps as well as broken downloads, recent files, and other junk that is problematic or infrequently used, a proper repair tool that can sort through and delete these items is essential.

Never forget, your team’s knowledge and skill is an invaluable part of safeguarding your data and business. Proper use of antivirus, anti-malware and other tools to search for and destroy these types of programs is essential. Moreover, their understanding that these threats, especially the ever adapting Raccoon, require constant vigilance; ongoing cybersecurity training meant to thwart those who seek to wreak havoc within your business is vital to your security and peace of mind.

Be aware and take care!

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application-of-virtual-machine

5 Applications of Virtual Machines


The word application is everywhere these days, typically shortened to “app,” particularly when one speaks of a mobile technology solution.  You have a weather app on your phone that allows you to dial up the weather anywhere in just an instant, another in your car to help you navigate to new locales, etcetera.

These specifically designed applications of technology serve you well but when it comes to creating a virtual machine (VM), the difference is that you are creating an application in the older sense of the word.  Per Merriam-Webster an application is: “an act of administering or laying one thing on another”.  When applying a virtual machine (or machines) onto your business computing system you are not necessarily seeking to create one specific new computing application but an overlay which will be used to enhance your overall system and so produce an environment that will serve your company and its’ employees better.

Given below are a few of the common benefits of VMs for organizations who use them:

The multiplicity of Operating Systems

A VM enables the running of operating systems (OS) that would not normally be compatible with your host system (e.g., Windows on a Mac or an Apple overlay on a Linux configuration).  By simulating multiple computer systems from one console users are able to toggle amongst systems and displays from a single workstation. Thus VMs provide the experience of using multiple computers at the same time; ideal for creating complex servers with multisystem needs.   An added advantage of this type of overlay is that users who are comfortable with one OS, perhaps an older non-supported version of Windows, can have their preference available, regardless of the overall company OS, thus aiding them to work efficiently.

Reduced Overhead

Overhead comes in many forms: salaries, benefits, hardware purchases, software licensing, etc. The ability to run multiple OS on a single piece of hardware reduces the need for office machinery as well as its upkeep and operational costs (say a utility bill for electricity to power and cool the machinery).  Fewer physical servers due to running more systems on each one also reduce costs via a reduction in floor space required!

Safety Net for Data – Rapid Disaster Recovery and Auto Backups

Since virtual machines are set up using a hypervisor (a piece of hardware, firmware, or software that creates your virtual machines, allocates resources to them, and then manages them) or similar technology which creates a layer between your physical computer and your virtual machine, the various systems remain entirely separate from each other; this adds an important layer of security to your operations which can help prevent faulty applications or corrupted files from infecting your host machine. For example, if you download a corrupted or infected file on your VM, the hypervisor will prevent the file from getting to your host machine.

In addition, since VMs make regular copies/snapshots of their operations history there is little risk of data loss – making for a highly effective disaster recovery solution as these copies can be revisited as necessary or, in more severe recovery scenarios, moved to another device.  Further, the negligible hardware overhead of your virtual environment poses a lower risk of system failure to your server in the first place.  Finally a VM set-up allows you to various applications while you determine what works best for your business needs during development.

Scalability

Since physical space for as well as maintenance costs of additional hardware are not a factor in a VM environment, your company and its systems can grow and change more easily.  VMs enable you to add and remove applications with no physical overhead, so that an expanding virtual infrastructure doesn’t require complex budgets for hardware resources. This simulated hardware is a flexible solution to an expanding company server, with multi-application, multi-user needs.

Centralization

The use of virtual machine environments can allow for the consolidation and more efficient management of your IT needs via a single console with commercially available VM software helping to monitor all of your systems, applications, and OSs from a single dashboard. Additionally, use of a VM performance monitoring tool to collect data and metrics for your network on a regular basis can help to ensure the system is functioning well and there are no impending issues. With proper centralization and monitoring you will be able to track trends (such as which VMs are consistently reaching resource limits), more effectively approach capacity planning and disk space usage as well as flag any VMs regularly experiencing crashes, delays, or application issues.

Before we conclude, note needs to be made of a special virtue of the flexibility of VMs, one highlighting many of the benefits noted above, which is their usefulness for Software Development and Testing.  Testing in-development software is enhanced as applications can be installed on the VM and then reset to a saved state whenever needed. Also, if you are trying out a new application and aren’t sure how it will perform under certain conditions, you can test it on a virtual machine and then reset it to a particular state if it crashes or you want to try something new. This is a definite advantage as doing this on a physical machine may leave you with unexpected crashes and issues even after you uninstall the test software. The isolation from the host OS of the test software on a virtual machine creates a much safer test environment. Plus, you can determine whether an application you are developing works well on all OSs or has bugs in some operating systems but not others.

As always, knowledgeable IT personnel can help you determine which hypervisor is best for your VM needs, what type of VM to create, how to optimize performance and maintain or increase network speed via proper resource allocation, how to reduce background applications, and which configurations are best for differing users. Use of proper monitoring tools can also enable your personnel to track network traffic and user experience to help prevent bottlenecks, maintain efficiency, and prevent frustration. A well developed VM is not just an efficient means of keeping abreast of changing business and IT needs but a thing of beauty.

Plan well and enjoy your new computing environment(s)!

Next Steps to Take

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Cybersecurity vs Information Security

Cybersecurity vs Information Security: What are the differences?


Cybersecurity vs Information security. I hear you thinking…, What!  I thought cybersecurity WAS information security!  Well, yes, and no.  Let us start with a detailed definition or two.

Cybersecurity vs Information Security

Cybersecurity protects from attacks via cyberspace (that nebulous entity we have all created to work and play in via our technological devices and linkages).  This form of security covers your computers, smart phones, laptops, and other hardware as well as the means of accessing, linking, and communicating through them (think LANs, the internet).

Cybersecurity attacks may target a website your company keeps but are more likely to target the data your company stores and uses to run your business.  This is why information security is important to understand.

Information security concerns itself with the actual raw data your company collects (such as a field requiring a date: MM/DD/YYYY) and the information derived from that data (e.g., a DOB versus a policy renewal date).  This information may be stored digitally (say on a server via the cloud), in an analog format (think about forms or photos in a file cabinet), or both (perhaps a thumbnail drive within a desk drawer).

It is the job of the information security staff to work with a company’s leaders to define and understand what data is most necessary to the successful completion of business tasks and how, in whatever format it exists, it should be protected.

Concerns with Information Security

The primary concerns of information security regarding data are: integrity, confidentiality, and availability.

Integrity – guarding against the improper or accidental modification or destruction of data.

Integrity can be maintained by making sure only permitted persons may edit, modify, delete, or destroy (e.g., shred aged documents) data.  It also includes ensuring authenticity (i.e., being able to verify the identification of a person or process) and nonrepudiation (making sure a sent message or signed document cannot de disputed).

Examples of integrity loss would be analog information not properly protected from environmental conditions (fire, flood, etc.) and so damaged beyond use or digital information improperly transferred or changed without approval.

Confidentiality – reserving access to data – think “need to know” – by preserving authorized restrictions to access and disclosure.

This is especially important for personally identifiable information (PII – such as social security and credit card numbers) and protected health information (PHI).

Here, again, restricting access to those who need the information to perform their job duties is important to protecting information content privacy

A breach of confidentiality may be brought about by human error, intentional sharing of data, malicious entry, etc.

Availability – ensuring that access and use of data is timely and reliable.

Availability is maintained through continuity and functionality of access procedures, backup or duplication of information, and maintenance of hardware and network connections so that data is accessible when needed by the users for daily applications and for business decisions.

As with integrity, a loss of availability can occur when networks are damaged due to natural disasters; or when client devices fail.

In addition, your Information Security personnel should be aware of the many legal and regulatory requirements (like NIST, GDPR [European Union law], HIPPA, and FERPA) of your industry that affect the company’s information security requirements and be able to develop and disseminate guidelines which inform employees on how to protect business sensitive information throughout their work cycle as pertinent to said guidelines.

As you can see, your data damage prevention/recovery and threat mitigation processes will span the information security and cybersecurity assignments making it essential for personnel from both teams to understand the needs of the other and work closely to develop protection protocols for your sensitive business information.

Therefore with the alignment of your cyber and information security teams employees can be trained in the whys and hows of information protection and be helped to understand how conscientious application of developed procedures – whether usually considered as pertinent to cybersecurity (e.g., strong passwords, multi-factor authentication), essential to information security (such as who is responsible for safeguarding sensitive physical material in an emergency), or both (whom to make a report to regarding suspicious activity, keeping mobile devices under lock and key when not in use),. – creates a safer environment for your critical and sensitive business data and aids in keeping your business up and running.

Read Also: Cybersecurity Best Practices for Small Businesses

Remember, one cannot have information security without having cybersecurity but cybersecurity has no true value without an understanding of the information to be secured.  And though information security covers digital data in cyberspace it must not forget the analog data lying around the company.

Plan well and take care!

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Cybersecurity Best Practices

Cybersecurity Best Practices for Small Businesses


There is a common misconception amongst small business owners that only larger enterprises are at risk of cybersecurity threats and hence they don’t follow cybersecurity best practices. Not unexpectedly, it is generally believed that if your business operates on a smaller scale, it will not be targeted and will remain protected from cyberattacks. 

However, this is far from being true. Any business, regardless of size, can become a victim of cybercrime. As organizations of all sizes conduct more business operations like marketing, communication with clients, processing transactions, etc. via the internet, they become even more vulnerable to security threats and are outdated as per the latest cybersecurity best practices.

Download Cybersecurity Best Practices Checklist! ( Ideal For Small Businesses)

Click Here To Download

Statistics show that cybercrime costs companies about 200,000 USD on average, resulting in many finding themselves out of business within a few months of a cyberattack. 

Typically, small businesses are much more vulnerable to cybersecurity threats because they lack the resources, such as funding and expertise, that are required to develop a strong defence system against cyber threats and following cybersecurity best practices is one of them. According to IBM, over 60% of small businesses experienced a data breach in 2019. Despite being the target of 43% of all cyberattacks, only 14% of small businesses are prepared to protect themselves against such attacks.

In today’s rapidly digitalizing world, it is crucial for enterprises to develop strategies against cyber-crime and avoid disruption to daily operations. So, what measures can small businesses take to protect themselves from cybersecurity threats and attacks? 

 12 Cybersecurity Best Practices for Small Businesses:

  • Know the Risks

One of the most important aspects of cybersecurity is being informed about and identifying all risks and cyber threats that could affect the business. Generally, data such as client personal information, client credit card information, company financial information and trade secrets are the things that are most at risk. Moreover, ensure that employees are aware of all threats that the business could potentially be exposed to. Consider also participating in the C3 Voluntary Program for Small Businesses, which contains a detailed toolkit for determining and documenting cybersecurity best practices and cybersecurity policies.

  • Conduct a Cybersecurity Risk Analysis

Once the risks have been identified, it becomes easier to develop strategies and procedures to mitigate any security threats. To conduct a cybersecurity risk analysis, small businesses need to first determine the methods used for data storage and identify the people who have access to this data.

It is also important to recognize how that data could potentially be accessed by an unauthorized person. Furthermore, the consequences of a security breach on the company should be examined, and appropriate policies should be developed to refine the security strategy of the business. Ideally, a Cybersecurity risk assessment needs to be conducted frequently to help the business develop a more comprehensive security plan. 

  • Train Company Employees

This is one of the easiest ways of preventing cyberattacks. When employees are aware of all the security practices and policies they need to adhere to, the likelihood of being the victim of cybercrime falls dramatically.

Topics that should be included in training include how to spot a phishing email, how to avoid downloading suspicious email attachments and how to create strong passwords. Strategies that can easily be implemented by employees include having strong passwords, knowing how to protect customer data, etc. 

Additionally, ensure that whenever there are updates or changes in company policies and protocols, employees are informed immediately. Employees should be careful about the information given to people about the business. It is important to be vigilant about any messages, calls, or emails that ask for personal information such as passwords. They should regularly monitor activities in the work environment and identify any changes that may seem suspicious. 

  • Develop a Cybersecurity Plan

For small businesses, in addition to training employees, it is critical to develop and implement a cybersecurity plan which takes into consideration all risks that the company could face. This plan should also define strategies that can be employed to manage these risks.

If the business has become victim to a cyberattack, the first response should be eliminating the threat, followed by investigating the reason behind the attack as well as the gaps that caused a security breach. All employees should know who to report any cyber attacks too, and what measures to take if an incident occurs. Penalties for violations of cybersecurity policies can also be put into effect in the case of non-compliance.

  • Enable a Firewall

A firewall is one of the most important cybersecurity practices. It has been recommended by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that all small businesses should enable a firewall in order to block cybercriminals from accessing data. Firewalls also offer added protection from other threats, like malware and viruses, which can compromise cybersecurity.

Moreover, businesses can configure internal firewalls as a means of further increasing security. If employees are working from home, or the company has shifted to remote work during the current COVID-19 pandemic, ensure that a firewall is installed in home networks as well. 

  • Invest in Up-to-Date Technology 

Although this seems like an obvious practice, many small businesses do not prioritize investing in good technology for securing their systems. As the methods used by hackers and cybercriminals are continuously evolving, it is crucial for companies to install the latest cybersecurity software.

It is also important for businesses to ensure that this software is regularly updated. All systems used for business operations should have protection against viruses and spyware. Additionally, only authorized users should have access to the networks within the business so that confidential data remains secure.  

  • Secure Wi-Fi Networks

Almost every business utilizes wireless networks for their daily business operations. This puts them at risk of cybercriminals attempting to gain access to data transmitted through Wi-Fi. Therefore, the network used by the company should be password protected and encrypted to mitigate this risk. Businesses can also hide the Service Set Identifier (SSID) so that the name of the network is not broadcasted. 

  • Strong Passwords and Multi-Factor Authentication

Ensure that everyone working in the business uses strong, unique passwords. Employees must be informed of the importance of not using passwords that can be easily guessed, such as those that include names and birthdates.

All passwords should have a minimum of ten characters, with symbols, numbers, as well as uppercase and lowercase letters. It is recommended that each employee should change their passwords every three to six months for additional protection. For more sensitive data, multi-factor authentication can be added. Through this, cellphone numbers can be added to receive a pin code or password to access networks and emails. A password management system can be used to safely store all company passwords and restore them if needed. 

  • Make Regular Backups 

Even if all possible precautions are taken, there is still a slight chance of data being compromised. To avoid losing important information about clients and business operations, it is critical to regularly back up all data, including word documents, spreadsheets, files on finances, files on human resources, accounts etc. This way, important data can be retrieved even if the company’s system gets hacked and files are deleted or stolen. Data can be backed up in external drives as well as in offsite storage facilities. 

  • Secure Payment Processes

It is important to ascertain that all payment processes are secure, especially for small businesses that are heavily reliant on online transactions. Businesses should work with payment processors or banks which use trusted tools and services that prevent fraud. A separate system can be used for payment processes to further reduce the chance of threats to cybersecurity. 

  • Increase Email Security

Most malware and viruses come from emails. Employees may make the mistake of opening suspicious attachments and compromise the security of the company’s network and systems. To secure emails, sensitive and confidential documents should be encrypted so they cannot be accessed without a password. Additionally, employees should only open emails and download attachments from trusted sources.

  • Protection for Mobile Devices

Almost everyone is now using devices such as fitness trackers and smart watches. These are usually synchronized with smartphones or computer systems, and as they work wirelessly, they too are prone to cyberattacks. Employees must be required to have regular security updates for all mobile devices that use the company’s network. Devices should also be protected by passwords and be encrypted. Additionally, if they are lost or stolen, employees should report the incident according to the incident response plan of the business.

Conclusion

With cybercrime evolving with each passing day and the cybersecurity landscape changing continuously, there is no doubt that small businesses face a great risk of having valuable data compromised.

While using the latest technology and software is crucial to protect your business, it is just as important to implement strategies such as staff training and awareness amongst employees. Follow these cybersecurity best practices today to avoid jeopardizing the success of your business.

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Managed IT services

What is a Managed Service Provider and what do they offer?


What is an MSP?

A Managed Service Provider is an outsourced third-party vendor that assumes the day-to-day responsibility of a defined set of IT management services to its clients. It offers a computing framework platform that allows businesses to outsource the remote management of their IT infrastructure in order to focus on improving business operations. MSPs are usually retained via a monthly subscription model and are increasingly being engaged by small and medium-sized businesses, non-profit organizations, and governments who are looking to boost productivity.

What do MSPs (Managed Service Provider) Offer?

• IT infrastructure management
• Software inventory management
• Cybersecurity hardening of network systems
• Helpdesk technical support
• Management of user accounts on client systems
• Fully managed hardware outsourcing
• Remote storage or servers
• Backup and disaster recovery
• Compliance with HIPAA, CMMC, SOC2 and other cybersecurity standards

 

How does MSP boosts productivity

How MSPs Can Boost Business Productivity?

A lot of enterprises have not been able to fully leverage the benefits that technological advancements offer. While they deploy some of the modern tools available, they are often not maximized to achieve optimal productivity. In other instances, they invest so much in technology that other parts of the business suffer. MSPs are essentially a team of professionals that take responsibility for a set of IT services. This means clients no longer need to worry about their IT-related issues. Here are some of the ways MSPs can boost business productivity.

Round-The-Clock Technical Support

This a key service that MSPs offer, which boosts business productivity. Broken down on-site servers or malfunctioning company software will hamper business processes and, ultimately, business productivity. MSPs provide timely maintenance and support services to businesses that have such issues to fix them either physically or remotely. They can also offer 24/7/365 IT infrastructure maintenance, which can cover network aspects like performance and predictive failures, system changes, and intrusion detection.

All-in-One System Updates

It is essential that businesses update their security solutions regularly. This saves them from cyber attacks on their IT systems. A skilled MSP will offer a great patching plan for all business applications, which ensures that no updates are missed. These patches are also executed in a manner that does not impede business processes. With a knowledgeable MSP, critical patches are installed immediately after testing, while those termed non-critical, are installed soon after. This allows the MSPs to figure the “which” and “when” of patch installation on a company’s IT system.

Managing Potential Risks

Managed Services Provider use state-of-the-art hardware, software, and analytics to predict IT problems before they happen. This way, businesses can take proactive measures to safeguard their enterprises against downtime. This singular service allows an experienced MSP to scale IT operations, improve work quality, and increase business productivity for its clients in the long run. All this can be achieved without business owners having to relinquish control of their IT systems. With the management and maintenance of their IT systems being done by MSPs, businesses can avoid potential risks that can disrupt their business processes.

Improved Business Continuity

Downtime is the bane of even the largest organizations because of the losses incurred when it happens. MSPs offer backup and recovery services that prepare businesses for these downtimes that occur as a result of natural or man-made disasters such as fires, earthquakes, and cyber-attacks. MSPs back key files on geo-redundant off-site data centres, which ensures that in the event that their on-site servers are destroyed, businesses can still access their files, without experiencing any downtime. This ensures that business productivity is constant even when the inevitable downtime occurs.

Effective IT consulting

Businesses have to stay ahead of their competition. Today’s increasingly digitized business landscape can make that challenge more or less difficult depending on how effectively IT solutions are applied. Organizations that deploy the right tech stacks are better suited to succeed than those which run on outdated business processes. MSPs offer technology solutions that ensure that your business remains productive in the face of ever-evolving technology trends. They also offer IT consulting, which ensures that businesses effect the right solutions based on seasoned, expert advice.

Finally, MSPs provide cloud hosting services that allow remote workers to access company data and applications from anywhere as long as they have an internet-connected device.

Since Managed Service Provider monitor cloud-based servers round the clock, employees can remain productive even while working from home, which is, of course, a high priority in today’s world.

We at Cynexlink offers sophisticated Managed IT services in Los AngelesSan DiegoOrange County and other parts of Southern California.

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SD WAN Checklist

SD-WAN Checklist : Choosing an SD-WAN solution


The traditional WAN function often struggles with the current unprecedented explosion of WAN traffic due to widespread cloud adoption and as a result, is no longer the most effective way to provide satisfactory user application experiences.

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The need for SD wan Solutions

Hence, the introduction of software-defined WAN solutions. SD-WAN solutions are invaluable to companies seeking to upgrade their network and optimize user experience significantly. Most importantly, they offer security features that protect the traffic they manage, as well as functions that protect the offerings themselves. In this article, we will be exploring a checklist of capabilities that an enterprise should look for when choosing SD-WAN solutions. This SD wan checklist will help you to select the right SD wan Solutions for your company.

SD-WAN (Software Defined Networking) Checklist:

  • Accessibility
  • Cost of Ownership
  • Easy and remote deployment
  • Simple Management
  • Effective Pricing
SD WAN Checklist
                                                 SD-WAN Checklist

Accessibility

Cloud migration is, of course, fast-rising among enterprises and is the foremost reason for adopting SD-WAN solutions. In 2018, the cloud migration rate grew 15% more than the previous year and will keep rising. Businesses use hundreds of unique cloud services for apps, services, and platforms and expect SD-WAN to optimize their performance.

Service providers who are accessible to clients can provide hybrid cloud optimization, hybrid WAN, and granular policy-based network administration. The best service providers do not only offer cloud-based SD-WAN deployment but also create better WANs and networking strategies physically and in the cloud.

This will help clients to achieve long-term optimization of components such as network security and extensibility. Accessibility should also extend to the availability of account reps for face-to-face interactions, on-site support, and individualized guidance as customers’ satisfaction depends on it.

Cost of Ownership

SD-WAN solutions offer companies simpler administration jobs, better workload performance, avoided cost of MLPS, enhanced agility, fewer days bottlenecks, and as a result, instant return on investments and increased savings. However, not all vendors provide an equal ratio of value to cost. Businesses need to evaluate the TCO for SD-WAN solutions to determine which of the providers will most likely drive cost optimization and savings benefits.

They are searching for providers that will ensure cost savings on initial technology investments in hardware, software subscriptions, support monthly subscription costs for managed services and savings on security safeguards such as firewalls and so on.

Easy and remote deployment

Companies researching SD-WAN are often struggling with complex technical migrations and require a solution that would perform these tasks effectively. The right service providers offer easy deployment and intelligently designed solutions.

An intelligible SD-WAN solution should be built based on an in-depth investigation into the company’s network needs such as sites managed, budget, number of users, workload patterns, anticipated WAN usage and technology goals. They should also provide a deployment plan that includes a comprehensive strategy for monitoring network data after migration for continuous improvements.

Furthermore, companies want to provide remote users with secure, high-performing access to applications and data, without burdening IT resources. To do this, they require an SD-WAN tool that is capable of performing configurations remotely and enabling all users to connect a branch location to the network just by plugging in power and data cables. These solutions should also include security offerings that incorporate built-in firewall, encryption and filtering capabilities. According to a study on Next-Generation Networking, 66% of SD-WAN users intend to replace all their existing firewall branches with SD-WAN solutions.

Simple Management

Most SD-WAN technologies today provide a centralized and intuitive administration portal and allow configuration based on point-and-click workflows. However, these features don’t necessarily guarantee ease of successful management or simpler optimization of network performance. Hence, the best SD-WAN approach is one that fits the company’s needs and requirements for complexities. In other words, solutions must be able to provide improved user experience, integrate seamlessly with your existing designs and systems, offer appropriate accommodations for traffic prioritization and ensure transparency across WAN, users and hybrid environments.

Pricing

Pricing is another significant factor companies evaluate when choosing SD-WAN solutions. They want solutions that fit into their budget but most importantly, ones that offer clear cut value for their cost. Companies must keep in mind the cheapest service provider might not be the best in this regard because their features and support might be significantly limited and insufficient to drive ROI.

Instead, organizations should seek to identify providers with better TCO. These providers might appear slightly more costly but offer advanced support systems, expert engineering, active monitoring, optimized network agility and flexibility that will save money in the long run.

Conclusion

Choosing the right SD-WAN can be confusing and complicated but with SD-WAN Checklist You can. However, companies can unlock the full potential of SD-WAN by partnering with Cynexlink to find the best-managed services vendor. During the evaluation processes, we help companies review IT strategy, test-drive solutions, understand the ROI and develop an SD-WAN migration strategy that ensures success.

 

 

 

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ENDPOINT SECURITY BEST PRACTICES

Endpoint Security Best Practices


The proliferation of end-user devices and cloud systems in recent years has given rise to an increased volume and sophistication of cyber threats. Cyber attackers with malicious intents have developed new ways of infiltrating the data systems of all types of businesses and organizations.

In the 21st century, data is the most valuable asset of all companies and must be protected at all times. For this reason, many organizations are adopting endpoint cybersecurity services. Endpoint protection practices secure critical systems, intellectual property, customer data, employees, and guests of businesses. The following are the best practices for endpoint security.

Best Practices for Endpoint Security

  • Ensure Absolute Visibility of the Entire Network
  • Regular System Updates
  • Educate Employees
  • Enforce Least Privilege Access
  • Deploy SIEM solutions

Here is an Infographic Representation of (Endpoint Security Best Practices)

endpoint security best practices

Now let’s discuss them one by one:

Ensure Absolute Visibility of the Entire Network: It is vital to establish complete visibility of the entire network, especially the traffic to and from endpoints. Businesses should not only know what is traversing through their systems but also what it is doing. Fortunately, with real-time and historical data, they’ll have a clearer picture of their devices’ behaviours.

Regular System Updates: With more devices and applications on today’s networks and an ever-growing list of threats, patch management has become even more critical. You must establish a regular period to push updates to user workstations to protect against the vulnerabilities within your systems and thwart attacks.

Educate Employees: Employees are regularly targeted by cybercriminals to perform detrimental actions and divulge critical organizational information. The only way to stop this is by teaching every employee who has access to computers and the internet, basic security practices like the regular change of password, and ensuring their computers are locked when they leave their desk. It is also crucial to teach them how to detect the signs of emails and phone phishing scams.

Enforce Least Privilege Access: The least privilege approach to cyber threats involves restricting the access of every user and endpoint to only the minimum information and resources required to carry out its designated function. If a user tries to access something against the organization’s policy, it will immediately alert appropriate authorities. However, if elevated rights are required, the user must go through Multi-Factor Authentication in the process. Ensure that every event is logged correctly and looked through promptly and periodically to enable monitoring and improvement of existing systems guiding administration rights and ensure their accuracy and applicability.

Deploy SIEM solutions: It is often challenging for companies to keep track and manage hundreds or even thousands of endpoint devices and also anticipate risks that might occur. As a result, there is a need for a centralized system. Thanks to SIEM solutions, companies can now centralize documentation for monitoring and compliance purposes and predict security events by identifying vulnerabilities, calculating risks based on the likelihood of an event, and automating security responses.

Endpoint Security Risks

Phishing Attacks: Phishing attacks aim at gaining access to a company’s records and stealing vital customer data and information that can be used for blackmail purposes or published through the media to damage their reputation. The public image of the company can also be damaged and the customer base may decline as consumers tend to avoid products or services that seem incapable of protecting their sensitive information.

Malvertising: Malvertising affects a company’s website by introducing malware and malicious software that disrupts users’ visits to the website or redirects them to other sites where other attacks await. This endpoint threat can also reduce the productivity of employees, who have to deal with intrusive advertisements or redirections as they work. If not detected and solved, malvertising can cause the company substantial financial losses.

Unpatched Vulnerabilities: One leading cause of cyber hacks is long unattended and unpatched system vulnerabilities. Through this window of neglect, hackers can access relevant company data and sell it on the dark web or carry out any other malicious activity that might cost the company its reputation and in some cases lead to its closure.

Data Loss and Theft: Between 2015 to 2019, the number of U.S companies that experienced a data breach doubled, and the numbers will likely increase in the coming years. Ransomware demands, increased regulatory fees, investigation cost, damaged reputation are some of the devastating effects data loss and theft can have on a company.

Conclusion

In conclusion, considering the numerous negative impacts of cyber attacks on organizations, both small and large scale businesses need to embrace endpoint security and implement the practices outlined above. Also, remember that endpoint security requires consistent improvements to fight the risks mentioned above. Threats will keep evolving using advancements in technology, and your company must be up to speed with the most recent innovations and security systems to adequately combat the latest attacks with the best patches and solutions.

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Voip Benefits

The VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) Benefits


What is VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol)?

VoIP – Voice over Internet Protocol – allows users to make and receive calls over Local Area Networks (LANs) or the internet. Although VoIP has been around since the 1970s, it has soared in popularity in recent years due to the many advantages it offers over the traditional phone system.

Here are some of the top VoIP benefits everyone should know.

  • Lower Cost
  • Simplified Conferencing
  • Worldwide Access
  • Clear Voice Quality
  • Security 
  • Scalability 
  • Extensive Additional Feature

Now let’s Discuss these advantages in detail:

Lower costs:

A significant advantage of VoIP service for businesses is that it can help your business save money. The initial setup and ongoing costs of operating a VoIP are far lower than that of operating a landline phone system (POTS). On average, a traditional phone system costs around $50 per line each month, and this figure is usually for local and domestic calls.

In contrast, a VoIP system is available for around $20, significantly cutting costs on domestic and international calls. It also helps eliminate other expenses such as up-front hardware purchases, repairs, and maintenance.

Simplified conferencing:

Another area in which VoIP trumps traditional phone systems is conferencing. For instance, a traditional phone system can, of course, support conference calls but hidden costs may occur. VoIP eliminates such fees by including conference calls as an added advantage to the service you already paid for.

What’s more, it also improves video conferencing as you can transfer files while you participate in online presentations or meetings.

Worldwide access:

As the world continues to come to terms with the new trend of working from home, VoIP can help your employees work remotely from anywhere in the world. With merely an average-speed data connection, your team can make and receive phone calls so you can stay productive regardless of the location.

And if that employee is temporarily unable to receive phone calls for any reason, calls can forward to a mobile phone, another person, or the voicemail can be received by email. Lesser mentioned VoIP benefits connected to this advantage is that your business will enjoy decreased utility costs as well as smaller office spaces.

Clearer voice quality:

One of the concerns of many business owners is the quality of calls using VoIP service. These concerns are not unfounded as poor call quality was one of the major disadvantages of VoIP as calls either ended abruptly for no reason or there was some level of distortion.

However, these issues no longer exist since we now have a fast and stable internet connection. Additionally, the VoIP telephone system offers HD voice that makes it nearly impossible for the person you are calling to tell whether you’re using VoIP or traditional landline.

Extensive additional features:

VoIP offers a range of features suitable for both small and big businesses. For small businesses, tools like auto-attendant and call transferring make it possible to project the image of a larger company.

In a similar vein, it can also help large businesses appear approachable since phone numbers with different area codes can be allotted to a company so that their customers can perceive them as local. Other notable features include call forwarding, call waiting, voicemail, caller ID, and many more you might expect.

Security:

One of the key advantages of VoIP is that it is very secure thanks to the standardized encryption protocols that make it impossible for a third party to intercept the calls – a feature that’s non-existent on the traditional phone system.

Scalability:

When it comes to any kind of technology, most businesses are concerned about the possibility of scaling up or down. With VoIP, you can scale your phone system in accordance with the needs of your business while remaining productive and keeping costs down.

The reason is obvious: you don’t need to make a budget for any hardware as you only pay for what you need. You can either add a new line or eliminate some lines instantly without worrying that the decision will take its toll on your business.

Advantages of VOIP

Conclusion: The advantages of VoIP in the modern business world are enormous and this is why many small and large businesses are now migrating from a conventional telephone system. If you are ready to explore VoIP benefits for your business, then your best option is to contact Cynexlink. Cynexlink provides all the features expected of a modern-day phone system for your business.

 

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