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...

FCC Approves Net Neutrality Rules

After a landmark vote on February 26, The Federal Communications Commission officially classified Internet providers as public utilities. The new net neutrality rules were approved 3 to 2 among party lines. The rules ban high-speed Internet providers, such as Verizon, AT&T, and Time Warner Cable, from blocking websites, slowing down content from particular sites, or selling-off faster traffic speeds to the highest bidders. The possible threat to small to medium businesses is the potential restricted access to broadband. If Telcos and carriers are able to charge extra for faster Internet service, smaller businesses could be at risk for paying more for faster speeds. Businesses using broadband for teleconferencing, streaming, collaboration, SaaS applications, and even backup and disaster recovery, could be looking at higher price tags for everyday business needs. The Argument for Net Neutrality Proponents of net neutrality argue that a fast, fair, and open Internet is a basic right. Net Neutrality has always been a big platform for President Obama, and in November, he called for the strongest possible regulations over cable and telecom companies. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler explained: “The Internet is simply too important to allow broadband providers to be the ones making the rules.” Net Neutrality’s Opposition On the other hand, some cable companies, telecommunications companies, and lawmakers contend that the move is an overreach of government intervention. They also feel that online companies, such as Netflix and YouTube, who monopolize a lot of web traffic, should have to share in the cost of expanding and maintaining the channels that deliver Internet content to consumers. The Future of the Internet Although the vote has taken...

Do You Have an Effective BYOD Policy?

According to new IDC data, vendors shipped 327.6 million smartphones in the third quarter, an increase of 25.2%, when compared to the same quarter last year. This means that global smartphone shipments have topped 300 million shipments for the second quarter in a row. Although there have been rumors of a slowing market, the data clearly states otherwise. As technology pushes small to medium sized businesses towards smartphones and other mobile devices in the workplace, it is more important than ever to establish an effective BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policy. 1.     Decide What Mobile Devices Are Allowed  If your company allows your employees to bring their own devices to work, it can be a nightmare for IT to have to support multiple platforms. Therefore, it is important to decide what devices are allowed to be used for work. Decide whether it is more cost-effective to purchase your own company devices to hand out to employees. 2.     Establish BYOD Security Policies It is important for your company to establish an “acceptable use policy” for their mobile devices. This will curb employee distractions and reduce risks for harmful viruses and malware. Your company should also develop a monitoring system and disciplinary action for employees who disobey the policy. Although this may seem harsh, it may avoid a security breach down the road. 3.     Employee Exit Policy In addition to creating an acceptable use policy, it is equally important to come up with an exit policy for when employees leave the company. Document in your employee exit checklist to ensure you remove the employee from access to information on the network,...

Are You Prepared for the End of Windows Server 2003?

If your business depends on Windows Server 2003, you and your colleagues have less than a year until Microsoft will discontinue Server 2003 R2. Server 2003 currently accounts for about 20% of total Windows Server installations, but on July 14, 2015, all Windows Server 2003 extended support will end. Although Windows Server 2003 comes in a number of editions to serve different sizes and types of businesses, all variants serve to provide email services, share files and printers, act as an application server, and many more tasks essential to everyday business. If companies transition from Windows 2003, there may be compatibility issues with older software, especially when it comes to moving your applications. Server migrations require a lot of planning and ample forethought, so make sure to do your research. Here are three important steps in planning your migration from Windows Server 2003: Take an Asset Inventory Take an inventory of which applications and workloads are still running on Windows Server 2003 and check with publishers to ensure all of your software is upgradable to the latest version of the Windows operating system. Plan your Windows 2003 Migration Choose a migration date and decide where each application and workload will go. Will they be stored onsite, on premise, or is it time to move to the Cloud? Consider moving non-mission critical systems and file data first. Moving applications is complex, and if you do not do it carefully, you could be putting your company at risk. Consider integration with legacy applications, broadband internet requirements, and security needs over a wide area network. Migrating from Windows 2003 When migrating your...

It’s Time to Take Cloud Security Seriously

While cloud security concerns are top of mind with many business owners, the benefits of the cloud far outweigh the risks. Nevertheless, as companies deploy cloud computing, taking cloud security seriously will ensure a smooth transition to the cloud. Top Cloud Security Concerns If you are moving your business to the cloud it is important to understand and address your security needs. For many companies, the top concerns of cloud security are cloud service provider’s encryption policies, business continuity and disaster recovery capability, data protection and data integrity. There are a number of other critical concerns, such as the physical security, identity and access management, and regulatory compliance. How to Protect your Data in the Cloud Create Strong Passwords An important step you can take to protect your data in the cloud is to create a policy for passwords within your organization. By requiring a string of text combining numbers, letters (both uppercase and lowercase), and special characters your employees will avoid common passwords that are easily hacked. Also, ensure that your company policy requires changes to passwords regularly and asks employees to use unique passwords when accessing the cloud from their desktops. Network Compliance In addition to creating strong passwords, it’s important for your company to keep your network in compliance. Your network is secure as its/ weakest point of access.  Ensure desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones are maintained with the latest operating system patches and are protected by up to date antivirus and antimalware definition updates. End User Training on Security Employees with a clear understanding of security policy and related risks will help keep your data...
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