The Most Recent Data Breaches and Their Consequences

Big data breaches have been making headlines more and more frequently. It was announced last week that the computer systems at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management had been breached. This is the second computer break-in in the past year for the agency. An estimated four million current and former federal employee records may have been compromised. Guidance Software, a cybersecurity firm, used Einstein, an intrusion detection system, to trace the breach back to a machine under the control of Chinese intelligence. Is Your Network Protected? The hard truth about data breaches is that no one is safe: An individual, a small business, a Fortune 500 company, and government agencies can all be infiltrated. Costs from data breaches have grown tremendously in recent years. On average, a data breach will cost a large company about $640,000 to cover the cost of business disruption, information loss, and detection. It takes the average company about a month to recover. If you own a small to medium sized company, it’s doubly wise to be prepared. Small organizations can expect a higher per-capita cost than large organizations. So, what can your organization do to be better prepared for a possible data breach? Why Invest in Stronger Security Measures United States senators have added $200 million in funding to their proposed fiscal 2016 budget to fund a detailed study of the cyber vulnerabilities of major weapons systems. Smaller organizations would be wise to follow these footsteps and make data security a priority going forward. The biggest goal for SMBs when it comes to data security is education over technical improvement. Security education must be...

Protect Your Organization from Ransomware

It’s a moment every business owner dreads. A message appears on your organization’s computer screen alerting you that your files have been encrypted and the only way to access them is by paying a ransom. Security threats to computers and mobile phones have grown more sophisticated around the globe in the past few years. The United States in particular saw an increase in “ransomware.” What is Ransomware? Cypersecurity experts report that ransomware is one of the fastest growing forms of hacking, and the scary part is that no one is safe. An individual, a small business, a Fortune 500 company, and government agencies can all be infiltrated. It also attacks smartphones. Ransomware is malicious software that hackers use to extort money from individuals or businesses by preventing them from opening their documents, pictures, and other files unless they pay a ransom, usually in the amount of several hundred dollars. How Ransomware Works Similar to other hackers’ schemes, ransomware can arrive in emails or attachments with links that, when clicked, encrypt your files. Attacks can also occur during a visit to a website, as cybercriminals can attach computer code to even the most well known websites. It could happen during something as harmless as updating an application or downloading an app on your smartphone. Protect Your Organization Cybercriminals are starting to target small businesses more and more, because generally speaking, they are more vulnerable. While big companies have backups and separate computers for their different departments, small to medium sized businesses lack technology teams, sophisticated software, and secure backup systems to protect from ransomware. One of the best investments your...

The Cloud: The 3rd Platform of Computing

Around 2008, the IT industry started to experience a massive shift in traditional computing. The International Data Corporation (IDC) began referring to this change as the “3rd platform.” The 3rd platform is built on the four technology pillars for innovation and growth: Cloud, mobile, big data, and social technologies. Within this new era of technology, the Cloud is surely the biggest game changer, because it changes the way companies consume and pay for access to technology. Businesses large and small can now solve problems with the Cloud that were unsolvable before. Cloud technologies have become ubiquitous in business; this is why it is critical to understand what the Cloud is and comprehend its future growth. Models for Cloud Services: Public and Private Many people are confused about the difference between public and private Cloud models and what the best option is for their organization. Public Cloud services are designed for a market and not a single enterprise. It is open to all potential users and is shared among unrelated consumers. On the other hand, private Cloud services are shared within an enterprise but have restrictions on access. These Cloud services can be either onsite or offsite and can be managed by either a third party or in-house staff. Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) These three main Cloud solutions can leverage your IT business substantially. SaaS provides a way to deliver software and technical services that would otherwise be managed on premise. Most small businesses can adopt Cloud computing into their company using only SaaS services for email, sales...

Beware of Cryptolocker

Imagine you are on your personal or work computer, and you receive a seemingly innocuous email from a trusted source, such as your bank, your tax office, or even a friend. The source asks you to download a file to update important account information. But, when you click on it, your most important files become encrypted and you are threatened you will lose them unless you pay a sizable sum to get them back! This real threat is called cryptolocker. What is Cryptolocker? Simply, cryptolocker is malware that encrypts documents and asks for money to unencrypt them. It affects both personal data and company data stored on corporate files. If you’re tricked into downloading the infected file, the virus will target your most important applications and operating systems. Cryptolocker can bypass virus scanners and other security measures to infect your computer, so it’s important to be able to recognize the warning signs. Typical Warning Signs Beware of the following suspicious emails: Senders you do not recognize or known senders with unexpected content No recipient listed in the “To” line of the email Links in the email that do not match the title when you scroll your mouse over it “Zip” files you are not expecting How to Protect Yourself and Your Company The following tips will help keep your personal and company data free from cryptolocker: Delete suspicious emails right away and empty your trash bin Keep antivirus and anti-malware definitions up to data If you do get infected, remove the machine from the network to protect your organization from further damage Train your employees regularly on IT security...

How New Technology is Changing the Way Your Business Needs to Think About IT Security

New technology trends pose new security threats to businesses. CompTIA reports that 64% of companies report a “drastic or moderate” change to their security approach. In their survey, more than half of businesses recognize opportunities within their organization for security improvement. IT security priorities are currently focused on developing new corporate policies and educating employees. Businesses are no longer solely relying on annual security reviews; the majority of companies are seeking education that is more ongoing and interactive to avoid future security threats. Modern Day IT Security With new and evolving technologies, the overall approach to IT security must be re-evaluated from the top levels of a business. As more cloud solutions and mobile devices are being utilized within the workplace, new security products are attempting to meet the needs of modern day IT security, such as firewalls, Data Loss Prevention (DLP), and Identity Access Management (IAM). When strategizing your organization’s IT security plan, two main areas need to be addressed in order to be prepared in today’s security landscape: risk analysis and end user awareness. Balancing Risk and Security Risk analysis is becoming a critical activity as companies decide how to handle corporate data, but only 41% of companies are currently performing this in a formal way. Typical risk analysis includes determining the probability of a risk, estimating the potential impact, and then deciding on mitigation strategies. But, the growing trends of cloud computing and mobility have increased the need for careful risk analysis. Since with public cloud computing and personal smart phones and tablets, data resides outside of your company’s control, companies must re-evaluate which data and...
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