Category: Cybersecurity

Simple Guide to Follow for Better Endpoint Protection

Endpoints make up much of a company’s network and IT infrastructure. This is a collection of computers, mobile devices, servers, and smart gadgets. As well as other Internet-of-Things (“IoT”) devices that all connect to the company network.

The number of endpoints a company has will vary by business size. Companies with less than 50 employees have about 22 endpoints. Small businesses with 50-100 employees have roughly 114. Enterprise organizations with 1,000+ employees average 1,920 endpoints.

Each of those devices is a chance for a hacker to penetrate a company’s defenses. They could plant malware or gain access to sensitive company data. An endpoint security strategy addresses endpoint risk and puts focused tactics in place.

64% of organizations have experienced one or more compromising endpoint attacks.

In this guide, Firewell Technology Solutions provides you with straightforward solutions focused on protection of endpoint devices.

Address Password Vulnerabilities

Passwords are one of the biggest vulnerabilities when it comes to endpoints. The news reports large data breaches all the time related to leaked passwords. For example, there is the RockYou2021 breach. It exposed the largest number of passwords ever – 3.2 billion.

Poor password security and breaches make credential theft one of the biggest dangers to cybersecurity.

Address password vulnerabilities in your endpoints by:

  • Training employees on proper password creation and handling
  • Look for passwordless solutions, like biometrics
  • Install multi-factor authentication (MFA) on all accounts

Stop Malware Infection Before OS Boot

USB drives (also known as flash drives) are a popular giveaway item at trade shows. But an innocent-looking USB can actually cause a breach. One trick that hackers use to gain access to a computer is to boot it from a USB device containing malicious code.

There are certain precautions you can take to prevent this from happening. One of these is ensuring you’re using firmware protection that covers two areas. These include Trusted Platform Module (TPM) and Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) Security.

TPM is resistant to physical tampering and tampering via malware. It looks at whether the boot process is occurring properly. It also monitors for the presence of anomalous behavior. Additionally, seek devices and security solutions that allow you to disable USB boots.

Update All Endpoint Security Solutions

You should regularly update your endpoint security solutions. It’s best to automate software updates if possible so they aren’t left to chance.

Firmware updates are often forgotten about. One reason is that they don’t usually pop up the same types of warnings as software updates. But they are just as important for ensuring your devices remain secure and protected.

It’s best to have an IT professional managing all your endpoint updates. They’ll make sure updates happen in a timely fashion. They will also ensure that devices and software update smoothly.

Use Modern Device & User Authentication

How are you authenticating users to access your network, business apps, and data? If you are using only a username and password, then your company is at high risk of a breach.

Use two modern methods for authentication:

  • Contextual authentication
  • Zero Trust approach

Contextual authentication takes MFA a step further. It looks at context-based cues for authentication and security policies. These include several things. Such as, what time of day someone is logging in, their geographic location, and the device they are using.

Zero Trust is an approach that continuously monitors your network. It ensures every entity in a network belongs there. Safelisting of devices is an example of this approach. You approve all devices for access to your network and block all others by default.

Apply Security Policies Throughout the Device Lifecycle

From the time a device is first purchased to the time it retires, you need to have security protocols in place. Tools like Microsoft AutoPilot and SEMM allow companies to automate. They deploy healthy security practices across each lifecycle phase. This ensures a company doesn’t miss any critical steps

Examples of device lifecycle security include when a device is first issued to a user. This is when you should remove unnecessary privileges. When a device moves from one user to another, it needs to be properly cleaned of old data. And reconfigured for the new user. When you retire a device, it should be properly scrubbed. This means deleting all information and disconnecting it from any accounts.

Prepare for Device Loss or Theft

Unfortunately, mobile devices and laptops get lost or stolen. When that happens, you should have a sequence of events that can take place immediately. This prevents company risk of data and exposed business accounts.

Prepare in advance for potential device loss through backup solutions. Also, you should use endpoint security that allows remote lock and wipe for devices.

Reduce Your Endpoint Risk Today!

Get help putting robust endpoint security in place, step by step. We can help! Contact Firewell Technology Solutions today for a free consultation.

 


Featured Image Credit

This Article, adapted, has been Republished with Permission from The Technology Press.

Insider Threats Are Getting More Dangerous! Here’s How to Stop Them

 

One of the most difficult types of attacks to detect are those performed by insiders. An “insider” would be anyone that has legitimate access to your company network and data. This would be via a login or other authorized connection. These types of threats are what we refer to as “Insider Threats.”

Because insiders have authorized system access, they bypass certain security defenses. Such as those designed to keep intruders out. Since a logged-in user isn’t seen as an intruder, those security protections aren’t triggered.

Firewell Technology Solutions recognizes three troubling statistics from a recent report by Ponemon Institute which illustrate the importance of addressing this threat. Insider attacks are getting worse, taking longer to detect, and becoming more extensive.

The report found that over the last two years:

  • Insider attacks have increased by 44%
  • It takes organizations 85 days to contain an insider threat, compared to 77 days in 2020.
  • The average cost of addressing insider threats has risen by 34%

We here at Firewell Technology Solutions believe it’s important for companies—including those in the Fresno and Visalia area—to understand what makes up an insider threat. That’s the first step towards mitigation.

4 Types of Insider Threats

One reason that insider threats can be hard to detect is that there is not just one kind. Employees, vendors, and hackers can all perpetrate insider security breaches. To further complicate detection, some may be malicious and others accidental.

Here are the four main types of insider threats faced by company networks.

Malicious/Disgruntled Employee

A sales employee that is leaving the company may decide to take all their contacts with them. This is a malicious theft of company data.

Another example of this type of insider attack is a disgruntled employee. They may be upset with their manager who just fired them and decide to do the business harm. They could plant ransomware or make a deal with a hacker to give over their login credentials for cash.

Careless/Negligent Employee

Some insider threats are due to lazy or untrained employees. They don’t mean to cause a data breach. But may accidentally share classified data on a non secure platform. Or they may use a friend’s computer to access their business apps. Being completely unaware of the security consequences.

3rd Party with Access to Your Systems

Outsiders with access to your network are also a very real concern. Contractors, freelancers, and vendors can all constitute an insider breach risk.

You need to ensure that these third parties are fully reviewed. Do this before you give them system access. You should also allow your IT partner to review them for any data security concerns.

Hacker That Compromises a Password

Compromised login credentials are one of the most dangerous types of insider threats. This has now become the #1 driver of data breaches around the world.

When a cybercriminal can access an employee’s login, that criminal becomes an “insider.” Your computer system reads them as the legitimate user.

Ways to Mitigate Insider Threats

Insider threats can be difficult to detect after the fact. But if you put mitigation measures in place you can stop them in their tracks. Being proactive keeps you from suffering a costly incident. One that you may not know about for months.

Here are some of the best tactics for reducing insider threat risk.

Thorough Background Checks

When hiring new employees make sure you do a thorough background check. Malicious insiders will typically have red flags in their work history. You want to do the same with any vendors or contractors that will have access to your systems.

Endpoint Device Solutions

Mobile devices now make up about 60% of the endpoints in a company. But many businesses aren’t using a solution to manage device access to resources.

Put an endpoint management solution in place to monitor device access. You can also use this to safelist devices and block unauthorized devices by default.

Multi-factor Authentication & Password Security

One of the best ways to fight credential theft is through multi-factor authentication. Hackers have a hard time getting past the 2nd factor. They rarely have access to a person’s mobile device or FIDO security key.

Couple this with password security. This includes things like:

  • Requiring strong passwords in your cloud apps
  • Using a business password manager
  • Requiring unique passwords for all logins

Employee Data Security Training

Training can help you mitigate the risk of a breach through carelessness. Train employees on proper data handling and security policies governing sensitive information.

Network Monitoring

Once someone has user access to your system, how can you catch them doing something wrong? You do this through intelligent network monitoring.

Use AI-enabled threat monitoring. This allows you to detect strange behaviors as soon as they happen. For example, someone downloading a large number of files. Or someone logging in from outside the country.

Need Help Putting a Stop to Insider Attacks?

A layered security solution can help you mitigate all four types of insider threats. We can help you with a robust yet affordable solution. Contact Firewell Technology Solutions today for a free consultation.

 


Featured Image Credit

This Article, adapted, has been Republished with Permission from The Technology Press.

Checklist for Better Digital Offboarding of Employees

Digital footprints cover today’s modern workplace. Employees begin making these the moment they’re hired. They get a company email address and application logins. They may even update their LinkedIn page to connect to your company.

When an employee leaves a company, there is a process that needs to happen. This is the process of “decoupling” the employee from the company’s technology assets. This digital offboarding is vital to cybersecurity.

You don’t want a former employee to maliciously email all your customers from their work email. Sensitive files left on a former staffer’s computer could leak months later.

20% of surveyed businesses have experienced a data breach connected to a former employee.

Digital offboarding entails revoking privileges to company data, and much more. This is a critical process to go through for each former staff member to reduce risk.

Firewell Technology Solutions has a handy checklist to help you cover all your bases.

Your Digital Offboarding Checklist

Knowledge Transfer

Vast corporate knowledge can disappear when a person leaves an organization. It’s important to capture this during a digital offboarding process.

This could be something as simple as what social media app someone used for company posts. Or it may be productivity leveraging. Such as the best way to enter the sales data into the CRM.

Make sure to do a knowledge download with an employee during the exit interview. Better yet, have all staff regularly document procedures and workflows. This makes the knowledge available if the employee is ever not there to perform those tasks.

Address Social Media Connections to the Company

Address any social media connections to the former employee. Is their personal Facebook user account an admin for your company’s Facebook page? Do they post on your corporate LinkedIn page?

Identify All Apps & Logins the Person Has Been Using for Work

Hopefully, your HR or IT department will have a list of all the apps and website logins that an employee has. But you can’t assume this. Employees often use unauthorized cloud apps to do their work. This is usually done without realizing the security consequences.

Make sure you know of any apps that the employee may have used for business activities. You will need to address these. Either change the login if you plan to continue using them. Or you may want to close them altogether after exporting company data.

Change Email Password

Changing the employee’s email password should be one of the first things you do. This keeps a former employee from getting company information. It also keeps them from emailing as a representative of the company.

Accounts are typically not closed immediately because emails need to be stored. But you should change the password to ensure the employee no longer has access.

Change Employee Passwords for Cloud Business Apps

Change all other app passwords. Remember that people often access business apps on personal devices. So, just because they can’t access their work computer any longer, doesn’t mean they can’t access their old accounts.

Changing the passwords locks them out no matter what device they are using. You can simplify the process with a single sign-on solution.

Recover Any Company Devices

Make sure to recover any company-owned devices from the employee’s home. Remote employees are often issued equipment to use.

You should do this as soon as possible to avoid loss of the equipment. Once people no longer work for a company, they may sell, give away, or trash devices.

Recover Data on Employee Personal Devices

Many companies use a bring your own device (BYOD) policy. It saves them money, but this can make offboarding more difficult.

You need to ensure you’ve captured all company data on those devices. If you don’t already have a backup policy in place for this, now is a good time to create one.

Transfer Data Ownership & Close Employee Accounts

Don’t keep old employee cloud accounts open indefinitely. Choose a user account to transfer their data to and then close the account. Leaving unused employee accounts open is an invitation to a hacker. With no one monitoring the account, breaches can happen. A criminal could gain access and steal data for months unnoticed.

Revoke Access by Employee’s Devices to Your Apps and Network

Using an endpoint device management system, you can easily revoke device access. Remove the former employee’s device from any approved device list in your system.

Change Any Building Digital Passcodes

Don’t forget about physical access to your building. If you have any digital gate or door passcodes, be sure to change these so the person can no longer gain access.

Need Help Reducing Offboarding Security Risk?

When you proactively address digital offboarding, the process is easier and less risky. Contact Firewell Technology Solutions today for a free consultation to enhance your cybersecurity.

 


Featured Image Credit

This Article, adapted, has been Republished with Permission from The Technology Press.

9 Urgent Security Tips for Online Holiday Shopping

The holiday shopping season is taking off! Alas, this also means that scammers have also revved up their engines, too—they’re primed and ready to take advantage of all those online transactions.

Don’t forget to stay safe online during the buying frenzy that occurs this time of year. We here at Firewell Technology Solutions believe that an ounce of cybersecurity prevention is definitely worth a pound of cure. It can also save you from a financial or privacy nightmare.

That being said, here are some of the most critical safety tips to improve your online holiday shopping.

Check for Device Updates Before You Shop

Computers, tablets, and smartphones that have old software are vulnerable. While you may not want to wait through a 10-minute iPhone update, it’s going to keep you more secure.

Hackers often use vulnerabilities found in device operating systems. Updates install patches for known vulnerabilities, reducing your risk. Make sure to install all updates before you use your device for online holiday shopping.

Don’t Go to Websites from Email Links

Yes, it’s annoying to have to type in “amazon.com” rather than just clicking a link in an email. But phishing scams are at an all-time high this time of year. If you click on an email link to a malicious site, it can start an auto-download of malware.

It’s best to avoid clicking email links; instead, visit the website directly. If you want to make things easier, save sites as shopping bookmarks in your browser. This is safer than clicking a text or email link.

Use a Wallet App Where Possible

It’s always a risk when you give your debit or credit card to a website. The risk is even higher if you’re doing holiday shopping on a site you haven’t purchased from before.

Where possible, buy using a wallet app or PayPal. This eliminates the need to give your payment card details directly to the merchant. Instead, you share them with the wallet app service (Apple Pay, Google Pay, PayPal, etc.). But the retailer doesn’t get them.

Remove Any Saved Payment Cards After Checking Out

There are many websites (including Amazon) that automatically save your payment card details. This is bad. Yes, it may make the next buy more convenient, but it puts you at risk. A hacker with access to your device or account could make purchases.

There is also the risk of a data breach of the retailer. These are common and can leak sensitive customer payment information. The fewer databases you allow to store your payment details, the better for your security.

Immediately after you check out, remove your payment card from the site. You will usually need to go to your account settings to do this.

Make Sure the Site Uses HTTPS (Emphasis on “S”)

HTTPS has become the standard for websites now. This is instead of “HTTP” without the “S” on the end. HTTPS means that a website encrypts the data transmitted through the site. Such as your name, address, and payment information.

You should NEVER shop on a website that doesn’t use HTTPS in the address bar. An extra indicator is a small lock icon in front of the website address.

Double Check the Site URL

We all make typos from time to time. Especially when typing on a small smartphone screen. One typo can land you on a copycat site (such as Amazonn(dot)com).

Hackers buy domains that are close to the real ones for popular retailers. Then they put up copycat sites designed to fool users that make a mistake when typing the URL.

Take those extra few seconds to double-check that you’ve landed on the correct website. Do this before you start shopping.

Never Shop Online When on Public Wi-Fi

When you connect your device to public Wi-Fi, you might as well expect a stranger to be stalking you. Hackers LOVE the holiday shopping season and will hang out in popular public Wi-Fi spots.

They spy on the activities of other devices connected to that same free hotspot. This can give them access to everything you type in such as passwords and credit card information.

Never shop online when you’re connected to a public Wi-Fi network. Instead, switch off Wi-Fi and move to your mobile carrier’s connection.

Be On High Alert for Brand Impersonation Emails & Texts

Phishing scammers were very active during the holiday shopping season of 2021. There was a 397% increase in typo-squatting domains connected to phishing attacks.

While you need to be careful all the time about phishing, it’s even worse during the holiday season. Attackers know that people are expecting retailer holiday sales emails. They also get a flurry of order confirmations and shipping notices this time of year.

Hackers use these emails as templates. They impersonate brands like Target, UPS, Amazon, and others. Their emails look nearly identical to the real thing. They trick you to get you to click and/or log in to a malicious website.

Be on high alert for brand impersonation emails. This is another reason why it’s always better to go to a site directly, rather than by using an email link.

Enable Banking Alerts & Check Your Account

Check your bank account regularly. Look for any suspicious charges that could signal a breach. One way to automate a monitoring process is to set up banking alerts through your online banking app.

For example, many banks allow you to set up alerts for events such as:

  • When a purchase occurs over a specified dollar amount
  • When a purchase occurs from outside the country

How Secure Is Your Mobile Device?

Mobile malware is often deployed in holiday shopping scams. How secure is your device from malicious apps and malware? Contact Firewell Technology Solutions today for a security checkup.

 


Featured Image Credit

This Article, adapted, has been Republished with Permission from The Technology Press.

What Is Microsoft Defender for Individuals & What Does It Do?

We here at Firewell Technology Solutions love talking and writing about cybersecurity. Oftentimes we center on business cybersecurity. For example, when you hear about Microsoft adding security apps like Microsoft Defender to Microsoft 365, it’s often the business versions. But the pandemic has changed the way that we see the workplace. It’s now a hybrid world—one made up of several connected “mini-offices” located in employee homes.

The outsourcing market has also contributed to the change in company networks. Freelancers are often contracted to work the same hours as employees. This means less overhead and taxes to pay. Approximately 68% of large consumer products companies outsource a part of their workforce.

What we’re getting at is that the need for home devices and network security has never been greater. Company data is now at the mercy of employee devices, situated in homes across the globe.

55% of employees use their own devices and software to work from home.

Microsoft has been at the forefront of this huge shift in the work environment. Its latest release is another example of how it has positioned its products to address new needs.

The latest security offering by Microsoft is not for business plans. It’s for Personal and Family users of Microsoft 365. The company announced Microsoft Defender for Individuals on June 16, 2022. This is a brand-new digital home security tool.

The Basics of Microsoft Defender for Individuals

Microsoft Defender is a new app that Microsoft 365 subscribers can download. Anyone with a Personal or Family plan can access it for no extra cost.

According to Microsoft, there was a main driver for offering Microsoft Defender. It was to protect the digital life of small businesses and families. Small companies will often use consumer Microsoft 365 plans. This is because they are less expensive than the business plans.

This app brings many digital protections together into one dashboard. These include the following.

Online Security Visibility

Most families have several devices connected to their network. This includes computers, tablets, and smartphones. It can be hard to know which are vulnerable before a hacked device infects the others.

Microsoft Defender gives you visibility into the security status of your devices. It does this in a single place. So, you could see if that new phone of Sally’s has antivirus enabled. You can also easily add or remove devices.

Device Safeguards

The app includes extra protections from online threats. These are in the form of help from antivirus and anti-phishing protection.

You can use it to continually scan devices for threats, both new and existing. You also gain control of scanning customization. For example, you can note certain apps as safe and tell Microsoft Defender what to scan.

Real-Time Alerts & Recommendations

Hackers use automation and AI to unleash their attacks and help them spread. This means that it’s often a race against the clock to stop a breach from getting worse.

To react fast, you need to know something is wrong. Microsoft Defender helps you by giving you real-time alerts. These also come with recommended actions. So, you not only know something is wrong, but you also know what to do about it.

What Else Should You Know?

Here are a few other important things you should know about using Microsoft Defender for Individuals.

Where Can You Download It?

You can download Microsoft Defender for Individuals from Microsoft here. You need to have a Microsoft 365 subscription to either the Personal or Family plan.

What Devices Can Use It?

You can use Defender to secure and monitor the following devices:

  • Windows: Windows 10 version 19041.0 and higher
  • Mac: Intel Macs from Catalina 10.15 and higher, and Apple silicon-based devices from 11.2.3 and up
  • iPhone: iOS 13.0 or later
  • Android: Android OS 6.0 or later

How Many Devices Can You Add?

Microsoft Defender allows you to watch the security of many of your home or work devices. The M365 plan you have will dictate how many.

  • If you have Microsoft 365 Personal plan, you can receive protection on up to 5 devices at the same time.
  • If you have Microsoft 365 Family plan, you can receive protection on up to 30 devices at the same time. (5 devices per person, 6 people total)

What Are the Key Differences Between the Personal & Family Plans?

Both plans can access the many different Office and other Microsoft applications. The main difference is how many people and devices can use the Microsoft 365 services.

  • Microsoft 365 Personal: $69.99 US/year, 1 person, 5 devices
  • Microsoft 365 Family: $99.99 US/year, 6 people, 5 devices per person

So, if you want to sign up even 2 people, you’re saving quite a bit with the Family plan. Even more, if you have six people total using the service.

What’s the Difference Between Microsoft Security on Windows & Microsoft Defender?

Most Windows users are already familiar with the Microsoft Security app. It comes pre-installed on Windows. Microsoft Defender differs from this app in several ways.

Microsoft Defender:

  • Is not pre-installed on Windows. You must download it.
  • It’s a cross-device application used on many different devices
  • It includes features for online security
  • It includes alerts and security tips

Learn More About Defender & Microsoft 365 Today

Are you looking to get more from your Microsoft 365 subscription? We can help! Reach out today to schedule a technology consultation with Firewell Technology Solutions’ Microsoft 365 experts.

 


Featured Image Credit

This Article, adapted, has been Republished with Permission from The Technology Press.

The Biggest Vulnerabilities that Hackers are Feasting on Right Now

Software vulnerabilities are an unfortunate part of working with technology. A developer puts out a software release with millions of lines of code. Then, hackers look for loopholes that allow them to breach a system through that code.

The developer issues a patch to fix the vulnerability. But it’s not long before a new feature update causes more. It’s like a game of “whack-a-mole” to keep your systems secure.

Keeping up with new vulnerabilities is one of  Firewell Technology Solutions’ top priorities. Building on that, we here at Firewell Technology Solutions believe that it’s important to know which software and operating systems are being attacked.

Without ongoing patch and update management, company networks are vulnerable. And these attacks are completely avoidable. 82% of U.S. cyberattacks in Q1 of 2022 were due to exploiting patchable vulnerabilities. This is a global problem.

What new vulnerabilities are lurking in products from Microsoft, Google, Adobe, and others? We’ll go through several. These were recently noted in a warning by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).

Make Sure to Patch Any of These Vulnerabilities in Your Systems

 

Microsoft Vulnerabilities

Microsoft vulnerabilities include those in three of its products. Internet Explorer (IE) is one of them. Microsoft discontinued IE in June of 2022. You should remove this from any computers that still have it installed.

You’ll see the acronym “CVE” used in the vulnerability names. This is an industry-standard naming structure. It stands for Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures.

Here is a rundown of these vulnerabilities and what a hacker can do:

  • CVE-2012-4969: This Internet Explorer vulnerability allows the remote execution of code. This is a “critical” vulnerability because of the damage it enables. Hackers can release this via a website. Thus, formerly safe sites can become phishing sites when hackers exploit this loophole.
  • CVE-2013-1331: This is a flaw in the code for Microsoft Office 2003 and Office 2011 for Mac. It enables hackers to launch remote attacks. It exploits a vulnerability in Microsoft’s buffer overflow function. This allows hackers to execute dangerous code remotely.
  • CVE-2012-0151: This issue impacts the Authenticode Signature Verification function of Windows. It allows user-assisted attackers to execute remote code on a system. “User-assisted” means that they need the user to assist in the attack. Such as by opening a malicious file attachment in a phishing email.

Google Vulnerabilities

Google Chrome and applications built using Google’s Chromium V8 Engine are also on the list. These applications are targets of the following vulnerabilities.

  • CVE-2016-1646 & CVE-2016-518: These both allow attackers to conduct denial of service attacks. They do this against websites through remote control. This means they can flood a site with so much traffic that it crashes.
  • Those aren’t the only two code flaws that allow hackers to crash sites this way. Two others, CVE-2018-17463 and CVE-2017-5070 both do the same thing. And like all these others, have patches already issued that users can install to fix these holes.

Adobe Vulnerabilities

People use Adobe Acrobat Reader widely to share documents. It makes it easy to share them across different platforms and operating systems. But it’s also a tool that’s on this list of popular vulnerabilities.

  • CVE-2009-4324: This is a flaw in Acrobat Reader that allows hackers to execute remote code via a PDF file. This is why you can’t trust that a PDF attachment is going to be safer than other file types. Remember this when receiving unfamiliar emails.
  • CVE-2010-1297: This memory corruption vulnerability. It allows remote execution and denial of service attacks through Adobe Flash Player. Like IE, the developer retired Flash Player. It no longer receives support or security updates. You should uninstall this from all PCs and websites.

Netgear Vulnerability

Netgear is a popular brand of wireless router. The company also sells other internet-connected devices. These are also vulnerable, due to the following flaws.

  • CVE-2017-6862: This flaw allows a hacker to execute code remotely. It also enables bypassing any needed password authentication. It’s present in many different Netgear products.

Cisco Vulnerability

  • CVE-2019-15271: This is a vulnerability in the buffer overflow process of Cisco RV series routers. It gives a hacker “root” privileges. This means they can basically do anything with your device and execute any code they like.

Patch & Update Regularly!

These are a few of the security vulnerabilities listed on the CISA list. You can see all 36 that were added here.

How do you keep your network safe from these and other vulnerabilities? You should patch and update regularly. Work with a trusted IT professional to manage your device and software updates. This ensures you don’t have a breach waiting to happen lurking in your network.

Automate Your Cybersecurity Today

Patch and update management is just one way that Firewell Technology Solutions can automate your cybersecurity. Learn how else we can help by scheduling a consultation today!

 


Featured Image Credit

This Article, adapted, has been Republished with Permission from The Technology Press.

Small Businesses Are Attacked by Hackers 3x More than Larger Ones

Have you felt less concerned about cybersecurity because you have a smaller business? Maybe you thought that you couldn’t possibly have anything that a hacker could want? They probably don’t even think about your small business, right?

A new report by cybersecurity firm Barracuda Networks, however, puts this perspective into context. Their report analyzed millions of emails across thousands of organizations. It found that small companies have a lot to worry about when it comes to their IT security.

We here at Firewell Technology Solutions found something alarming in the Barracuda Networks report: employees at small companies saw 350% more social engineering attacks than those at larger ones. The report defines a small company as one with less than 100 employees. This puts small businesses at a higher risk of falling victim to a cyberattack. Read on to explore why below.

Why Are Smaller Companies Targeted More?

There are a variety of reasons why hackers see small businesses as low-hanging fruit and why they are becoming larger targets of hackers out to score a quick illicit buck.

Small Companies Tend to Spend Less on Cybersecurity

When you’re running a small business, it’s often a juggling act of where to prioritize your cash. You may know cybersecurity is important, but it may not be at the top of your list. Thus, at the end of the month, cash runs out, and it’s moved to the “next month” wish list of expenditures.

Small business leaders often don’t spend as much as they should on their IT security. They may buy an antivirus program and think that’s enough to cover them; however, with the expansion of technology to the cloud, that’s just one small layer. You need several more for adequate security.

Hackers know all this and see small businesses as an easier target. They can do much less work to get a payout than they would, trying to hack into an enterprise corporation.

Every Business Has “Hack-Worthy” Resources

Every business, even a 1-person shop, has data that’s worth scoring for a hacker. Credit card numbers, SSNs, tax ID numbers, and email addresses are all valuable. Cybercriminals can sell these on the Dark Web. From there, other criminals use them for identity theft.

Here are some of the data that hackers will go after:

  • Customer records
  • Employee records
  • Bank account information
  • Emails and passwords
  • Payment card details

Small Businesses Can Provide Entry Into Larger Ones

If a hacker can breach the network of a small business, they can often make a larger score. Many smaller companies provide services to larger companies. This can include digital marketing, website management, accounting, and more.

Vendors are often digitally connected to certain client systems. This type of relationship can enable a multi-company breach. While hackers don’t need that connection to hack you, it is a nice bonus. They can get two companies for the work of one.

Small Business Owners Are Often Unprepared for the Biggest Cybersecurity Threat: Ransomware

Ransomware has been one of the fastest-growing cyberattacks of the last decade. So far in 2022, over 71% of surveyed organizations experienced ransomware attacks.

The percentage of victims that pay the ransom to attackers has also been increasing. Now, an average of 63% of companies pay the attacker money in hopes of getting a key to decrypt the ransomware.

Even if a hacker can’t get as much ransom from a small business as they can from a larger organization, it’s worth it. They often can breach more small companies than they can larger ones.

When companies pay the ransom, it feeds the beast and more cyber criminals join in. And those newer to ransomware attacks will often go after smaller, easier-to-breach companies.

Employees at Smaller Companies Usually Aren’t Trained in Cybersecurity

Another thing is not usually high on the list of priorities for a small business owner. We’re talking about ongoing employee cybersecurity training. They may be doing all they can just to keep good staff. Plus, priorities are often sales and operations.

Training employees on how to spot phishing and password best practices often isn’t done. This leaves networks vulnerable to one of the biggest dangers, human error.

In most cyberattacks, the hacker needs help from a user. It’s like the vampire needing the unsuspecting victim to invite them inside. Phishing emails are the device used to get that unsuspecting cooperation.

Phishing causes over 80% of data breaches.

A phishing email sitting in an inbox can’t usually do anything. It needs the user to either open a file attachment or click a link that will take them to a malicious site. This then launches the attack.

Teaching employees how to spot these ploys can significantly increase your cybersecurity. Security awareness training is as important as having a strong firewall or antivirus.

Need Affordable IT Security Services for Your Small Business?

Reach out today to schedule a technology consultation with Firewell Technology Solutions! We offer affordable options for small companies. This includes many ways to keep you protected from cyber threats.

 


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This Article, adapted, has been Republished with Permission from The Technology Press.

Internet Explorer Has Lost All Support (What You Need to Know)

After being the main entry to the internet in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Internet Explorer (“IE”) is gone. As of June 15, 2022, Microsoft dropped the web browser from support.

IE ushered in the age of connection to the world in 1995 and held a majority of the browser market share for many years. But the release of newer technologies like Google Chrome made it less relevant.

In 2014, Internet Explorer still held about 59% of the global market share, with Chrome at 21%. But just two years later, IE lost its top spot to Chrome and trailed behind another newcomer, Safari.

In 2015, the writing was already on the wall when Microsoft released a new browser, Edge. Edge was clearly destined to take IE’s place as the official browser installed on Windows systems.

It’s inevitable that the longer technology is driving work and home life, we’re going to lose some of our favorites. Adobe Flash Player is another technology that used to be widely used but is now gone.

So now that IE has reached its end of life (EOL), what happens next? We here at Firewell Technology Solutions have put together a brief summary to help you navigate the transition from Internet Explorer to Microsoft Edge.

Microsoft Will Redirect Users to IE Mode in Edge

According to Microsoft, now that IE is officially out of support it will redirect users. Over the next few months, a new experience will happen. Those opening this outdated browser will instead land in Microsoft Edge with IE mode.

To ease the transition away from Internet Explorer, Microsoft added IE Mode to Edge. This mode makes it possible for organizations to still use legacy sites that may have worked best in IE. It uses the Trident MSHTML engine from IE11 to do this.

When in IE mode, you’ll still see the Internet Explorer icon on your device. But if you open it, you’ll actually be in Microsoft Edge.

Microsoft Will Be Removing Internet Explorer Icons in the Future

Microsoft isn’t yet getting rid of the IE icons that appear in places like the taskbar and Start menu on Windows. But it will in a future update. Users can expect to see those removed at some point.

Edge Will Import Browser Data from IE

What about your favorites, saved passwords, and other settings that you have in IE? Microsoft Edge will import these from Internet Explorer for you, so they’re not lost. This will include things like your browsing history and other data stored in the browser. You’ll then be able to access these in the Microsoft Edge’s settings area.

With Internet Explorer Retired, What Do You Need to Do Now?

 

Uninstall the Browser

It’s risky to keep older technology that is no longer supported on your system. Cybercriminals love to exploit older tools that are not receiving any security updates. This leaves an open invitation to breach your network. Manufacturers are never going to address these because they retired the software.

Outdated technology costs enterprises approximately 47% more when they suffer a data breach. As compared to those with updated tools.

You should transition your stored information to Microsoft Edge (or another trusted browser). Then uninstall IE from your device or devices.

Ensure Employees Know How to Use Internet Explorer Mode in Edge

A scenario that businesses want to avoid is what happened to many organizations in Japan. Several government and corporate users weren’t prepared for the retirement of IE.

It was reported that IT and engineering departments received many calls for help. This was due to unpreparedness for the browser’s demise. Although it came with warnings, it was a shock to many that used legacy sites that need IE to work. This included the customers of government agencies, financial institutions, and other organizations.

This left them scrambling to try to figure out what to do at the last minute. They still needed access to employee attendance management, and other online tools.

Of course, with IE mode in Edge, this transition didn’t need to be so chaotic. But without communication or training, more than 20% of affected users hadn’t figured out what to do.

Make sure you communicate with your team what to do. Companies can automate IE mode for their users so that it launches automatically.

Train Employees on Microsoft Edge Features

Microsoft Edge has a lot of benefits over IE and other browsers. It’s faster and more responsive than Internet Explorer. It also has comprehensive security controls (including password breach monitoring). And has unique features such as “collections.”

But with all new tools, if you want employees to use them proficiently, they need to have a chance to learn them. Take the time to transition right, and have your employees trained on Edge.

Need Help Upgrading Your Digital Tools?

You don’t have to panic when a technology you use retires. We can help you upgrade well ahead of any deadlines. Reach out today to schedule a technology consultation with Firewell Technology Solutions!

 


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This Article, adapted, has been Republished with Permission from The Technology Press.

Work Computers and Personal Tasks: 5 Things You Should Never Do!

Whether you work remotely or in an office, the line between personal and work tasks can become blurred when working on your work computers. If you’re in front of a computer for most of your time during work, then it’s not unusual to get attached to your desktop PC.

Over time, this can lead to doing personal things on work computers. At first, it might just be checking personal email while on a lunch break. But as the line continues to get crossed, it can end up with someone using their work computers just as much for personal reasons as work tasks.

In a survey of over 900 employees, it was found that only 30% said they never used their work PC for personal activities. The other 70% admitted to using their work computer for various personal reasons.

Some of the non-work-related things that people do on a work computer include:

  • Reading and sending personal email
  • Scanning news headlines
  • Shopping online
  • Online banking
  • Checking social media
  • Streaming music
  • Streaming videos/movies

We here at Firewell Technology Solutions believe it’s a bad idea to mix work and personal tasks on your computers, no matter how much more convenient it is to use your work PC for a personal task during the day. You can end up getting reprimanded, causing a data breach at your company, or possibly losing your job.

Here are several things you should never do on your work PC.

1. Save Your Personal Passwords in Work Computers Browsers

Many people manage their passwords by allowing their browser to save and then auto-fill them. This can be convenient, but it’s not very secure should you lose access to that PC.

When the computer you use isn’t yours, it can be taken away at any time for a number of reasons, such as an upgrade, repair, or during an unexpected termination.

If someone else accesses that device and you never signed out of the browser, that means they can leverage your passwords to access your cloud accounts.

Not all older PCs are stored in a storeroom somewhere or destroyed. Some companies will donate them to worthy causes, which could leave your passwords in the hands of a stranger if the PC hasn’t been wiped properly.

2. Store Personal Data on Work Computers

It’s easy to get in the habit of storing personal data on your work computer, especially if your home PC doesn’t have a lot of storage space. But this is a bad habit and leaves you wide open to a couple of major problems:

  • Loss of your files: If you lose access to the PC for any reason, your files can be lost forever
  • Your personal files being company-accessible: Many companies have backups of employee devices to protect against data loss. So, those beach photos stored on your work PC that you’d rather not have anyone else see could be accessible company-wide because they’re captured in a backup process.

3. Visit Sketchy Websites on Work Computers

You should assume that any activity you are doing on a work device is being monitored and is accessible by your boss. Companies often have cybersecurity measures in place like DNS filtering that is designed to protect against phishing websites.

This same type of software can also send an alert should an employee be frequenting a sketchy website deemed dangerous to security (which many sketchy websites are).

You should never visit any website on your work computer that you wouldn’t be comfortable visiting with your boss looking over your shoulder.

4. Allow Friends or Family to Use It

When you work remotely and your work computer is a permanent fixture in your home, it can be tempting to allow a friend or family member to use it if asked. Often, work PCs are more powerful than a typical home computer and may even have company-supplied software that someone wouldn’t purchase on their own.

But allowing anyone else to use your work computer could constitute a compliance breach of data protection regulations that your company needs to adhere to.

Just the fact that the personal data of your customers or other employees could be accessed by someone not authorized to do so, can mean a stiff penalty.

Additionally, a child or friend not well-versed in cybersecurity could end up visiting a phishing site and infecting your work device, which in turn infects your company cloud storage, leaving you responsible for a breach.

At least 20% of companies have experienced a data breach during the pandemic due to a remote worker.

5. Turn off Company-Installed Apps like Backups and Antivirus

If you’re trying to get work done and a backup kicks in and slows your PC down to a crawl, it can be tempting to turn off the backup process. But this can leave the data on your computer unprotected and unrecoverable in the case of a hard drive crash or ransomware infection.

Company-installed apps are there for a reason and it’s usually for cybersecurity and business continuity. These should not be turned off unless given express permission by your supervisor or company’s IT team

How Secure Is the Device You Use to Work from Home?

Whether you’re working remotely and worried about causing a data breach or are a business owner with multiple remote team members to secure, device protection is important. Schedule a device security checkup with Firewell Technology Solutions today!

 


Featured Image Credit

This article, adapted, has been republished with permission from The Technology Press.

Phishing Attacks: Troublesome Trends to Beware of in 2022

In 2020, 75% of companies around the world experienced phishing attacks. Phishing remains one of the biggest dangers to your business’s health and wellbeing because it’s the main delivery method for all types of cyberattacks. This is why Firewell Technology Solutions urges all businesses to take a proactive and layered security posture.

One phishing email can be responsible for a company succumbing to ransomware and having to face costly downtime. It can also lead a user to unknowingly hand over the credentials to a company email account that the hacker then uses to send targeted attacks to customers.

Phishing takes advantage of human error, and some phishing emails use sophisticated tactics to trick the recipient into divulging information or infecting a network with malware.

Mobile phishing threats skyrocketed by 161% in 2021.

Your best safeguards against the continuous onslaught of phishing include:

  • Email filtering
  • DNS filtering
  • Next-gen antivirus/anti-malware
  • Ongoing employee cybersecurity awareness training

To properly train your employees and ensure your IT security is being upgraded to meet the newest threats, you need to know what new phishing dangers are headed your way.

Here are some of the latest phishing trends that you need to watch out for in 2022.

Phishing Attacks Are Increasingly Being Sent via Text Message

Fewer people are suspicious of text messages than they are of unexpected email messages. Most phishing training is usually focused on the email form of phishing because it’s always been the most prevalent.

But cybercrime entities are now taking advantage of the easy availability of mobile phone numbers and using text messaging to deploy phishing attacks. This type of phishing (called “smishing”) is growing in volume.

People are receiving more text messages now than they did in the past, due in large part to retailers and service businesses pushing their text updates for sales and delivery notices.

This makes it even easier for phishing via SMS to fake being a shipment notice and get a user to click on a shortened URL.

Business Email Compromise Is on the Rise

Ransomware has been a growing threat over the last few years largely because it’s been a big money-maker for the criminal groups that launch cyberattacks. A new up-and-coming form of attack is beginning to be quite lucrative and thus is also growing.

Business email compromise (BEC) is on the rise and being exploited by attackers to make money off things like gift card scams and fake wire transfer requests.

What makes BEC so dangerous (and lucrative) is that when a criminal gains access to a business email account, they can send very convincing phishing messages to employees, customers, and vendors of that company. The recipients will immediately trust the familiar email address, making these emails potent weapons for cybercriminals.

Small Businesses Are Being Targeted More Frequently With Spear Phishing

There is no such thing as being too small to be attacked by a hacker. Small businesses are targeted frequently in cyberattacks because they tend to have less IT security than larger companies.

43% of all data breaches target small and mid-sized companies, and 40% of small businesses that become victims of an attack experience at least eight hours of downtime as a result.

Spear phishing is a more dangerous form of phishing because it’s targeted and not generic. It’s the type deployed in an attack using BEC.

It used to be that spear-phishing was used for larger companies because it takes more time to set up a targeted and tailored attack. However, as large criminal groups and state-sponsored hackers make their attacks more efficient, they’re able to more easily target anyone.

A result is small businesses receiving more tailored phishing attacks that are harder for their users to identify as a scam.

The Use of Initial Access Brokers to Make Attacks More Effective

We just discussed the fact that large criminal groups are continually optimizing their attacks to make them more effective. They treat cyberattacks like a business and work to make them more profitable all the time.

One way they are doing this is by using outside specialists called Initial Access Brokers. This is a specific type of hacker that only focuses on getting the initial breach into a network or company account.

The increasing use of these experts in their field makes phishing attacks even more dangerous and difficult for users to detect.

Business Impersonation Is Being Used More Often

As users have gotten savvier about being careful of emails from unknown senders, phishing attackers have increasingly used business impersonation. This is where a phishing email will come in looking like a legitimate email from a company that the user may know or even do business with.

Amazon is a common target of business impersonation, but it also happens with smaller companies as well. For example, there have been instances where website hosting companies have had client lists breached and those companies sent emails impersonating the hosting company and asking the users to log in to an account to fix an urgent problem.

More business impersonation being used in phishing attacks mean users have to be suspicious of all emails, not just those from unknown senders.

Is Your Company Adequately Protected from Phishing Attacks?

It’s important to use a multi-layered strategy when it comes to defending against one of the biggest dangers to your business’s wellbeing. Get started with a Firewell Technology Solutions Cybersecurity Audit to review your current security posture and identify ways to improve.

 


Featured Image Credit

This article, adapted, has been republished with permission from The Technology Press.