Category: Cybersecurity

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.

Important Steps to Take Before You Recycle a Mobile Phone Number 

It’s not unusual to change a mobile phone number from time to time. For example, when you move, you may want a number that is local to the area you just moved to. Companies also may end up recycling mobile numbers throughout their staff as people come and go.

We here at Firewell Technology Solutions are most concerned what happens when your former number goes to someone else. If you don’t properly detach your mobile phone number from all the accounts it’s used with, you can leave yourself open to identity theft, credit card fraud, and other crimes.

In a 2021 Princeton University study, it was found that 66% of mobile numbers listed as available by major mobile service providers were still connected to accounts on popular sites (Amazon, PayPal, etc.). 

So, after the former owners had turned in the number, it was available for someone else to use when signing up for mobile service. And that number was still being used on the former owner’s cloud accounts, allowing those accounts to easily be breached.

Because our mobile numbers are connected to much of our online and offline life, it’s important to take certain steps to ensure that you don’t leave yourself at risk when recycling your phone number.

Change Your Mobile Phone Number for Online Accounts

We all generally have more online accounts than we immediately remember. The average person must juggle 100 passwords, and most of those passwords will be to a website or cloud app service of some kind.

The first thing you want to do is begin visiting your online accounts and cloud applications to update your mobile phone number. Many of these apps now use a text message to your number as a form of verification if you’ve lost your password.

You want to ensure any password reset messages go to you and not someone that has requested your old number for the express purpose of identity theft or account compromise.

Change Your Number for Social Media Accounts

Technically, a social media account is also an online account, but many people think of them as a separate entity. When a Facebook or LinkedIn account is compromised, the hacker often will send social phishing messages out to your friend connections to try to gain access to sensitive data or scam them out of money.

Make sure to change the phone number listed in your social media accounts. If you are using WhatsApp, which is tied directly to your mobile number, make sure to follow their instructions on changing your number so your communications will remain secure.

Change Your Mobile Phone Number for Service Providers That Send You Texts

Text messaging is beginning to replace email for many types of communications. This includes things like shipping notices, confirmations of payments from utility companies, appointment reminders, and sale notices from retailers.

This puts you more at risk if you change your mobile number because the texts you receive from various service providers can be used for identity theft.

Make sure to connect with any services you use that contact you by calling or texting your mobile number to update your information. These offline services could be a:

  • Plumbing or HVAC company
  • Dentist or doctor’s office
  • Pharmacy
  • Local retailer
  • Utility company

Double Check All Your Multi-Factor Authentication Prompts

One of the big dangers of having a stranger able to receive your text messages is that they could have access to your codes for multi-factor authentication (MFA).

MFA is designed as a safeguard to help prevent an account breach, even if the perpetrator has your username and password. But if the criminal gets the MFA codes sent to your old number, they can easily get in and change your password, locking you out of your own account.

As you go through the process to update your mobile number in your online accounts, double-check the MFA prompt for any that use this form of authentication security. You want to make sure it’s been properly changed to send a message to your new number.

Review Your Text Message History for Anything You’ve Missed

Inevitably, there will be online accounts or service providers that you’ve missed. For example, that place you always order flowers for on a loved one’s birthday every year but never visit at other times.

Scroll through your text message history to find any other accounts that you may have forgotten to update.

Text Friends, Family & Colleagues from the New Mobile Phone Number

Once your online security is taken care of, you want to stop friends, family, and colleagues from accidentally texting your old number. This can happen in both one-on-one and group SMS chats.

Send a text message from your new number asking them to immediately update your contact with that number when they receive it. Then go the additional step by asking them to delete any messages that used your old phone number. This can help prevent them from accidentally grabbing that message instead of your new one when texting you in the future.

How Secure Is Your Mobile Device?

Mobile devices are increasingly being attacked by malware and phishing. Is your device properly secured? Don’t leave yourself at risk. Contact Firewell Technology Solutions today to request a mobile security check to protect your personal data and identity.

 


Featured Image Credit

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

Top 5 Cybersecurity Mistakes That Leave Your Data at Risk

The global damage of cybercrime has risen to an average of $11 million USD per minute, which is a cost of $190,000 each second, a cost we can save by preventing simple cybersecurity mistakes.

60% of small and mid-sized companies that have a data breach end up closing their doors within six months because they can’t afford the costs. The costs of falling victim to a cyberattack can include loss of business, downtime/productivity losses, reparation costs for customers that have had data stolen, and more.

You may think that this means investing more in cybersecurity, and it is true that you need to have appropriate IT security safeguards in place (anti-malware, firewall, etc.). However, in our view at Firewell Technology Solutions, many of the most damaging breaches are due to common cybersecurity mistakes that companies and their employees make.

The 2021 Sophos Threat Report, which looked at thousands of global data breaches, found that what it termed “everyday threats” were some of the most dangerous. The report stated, “A lack of attention to one or more aspects of basic security hygiene has been found to be at the root cause of many of the most damaging attacks we’ve investigated.”

Is your company making a dangerous cybersecurity mistake that is leaving you at high risk for a data breach, cloud account takeover, or ransomware infection?

Here are several of the most common missteps when it comes to basic IT security best practices.

Cybersecurity Mistake #1: Not Implementing Muti-Factor Authentication (MFA)

Credential theft has become the top cause of data breaches around the world, according to IBM Security. With most company processes and data now being cloud-based, login credentials hold the key to multiple types of attacks on company networks.

Not protecting your user logins with multi-factor authentication is a common mistake and one that leaves companies at a much higher risk of falling victim to a breach.

MFA reduces fraudulent sign-in attempts by a staggering 99.9%.

Cybersecurity Mistake #2: Ignoring the Use of Shadow IT

Shadow IT is the use of cloud applications by employees for business data that haven’t been approved and may not even be known about by a company.

Shadow IT use leaves companies at risk for several reasons:

  • Data may be used in a non-secure application
  • Data isn’t included in company backup strategies
  • If the employee leaves, the data could be lost
  • The app being used might not meet company compliance requirements

Employees often begin using apps on their own because they’re trying to fill a gap in their workflow and are unaware of the risks involved with using an app that hasn’t been vetted by their company’s IT team.

It’s important to have cloud use policies in place that spell out for employees the applications that can and cannot be used for work.

Cybersecurity Mistake #3: Thinking You’re Fine With Only an Antivirus Application

No matter how small your business is, a simple antivirus application is not enough to keep you protected. In fact, many of today’s threats don’t use a malicious file at all.

Phishing emails will contain commands sent to legitimate PC systems that aren’t flagged as a virus or malware. Phishing also overwhelmingly uses links these days rather than file attachments to send users to malicious sites. Those links won’t get caught by simple antivirus solutions.

You need to have a multi-layered strategy in place that includes things like:

  • Next-gen anti-malware (uses AI and machine learning)
  • Next-gen firewall
  • Email filtering
  • DNS filtering
  • Automated application and cloud security policies
  • Cloud access monitoring

Cybersecurity Mistake #4: Not Having Device Management In Place

A majority of companies around the world have had employees working remotely from home since the pandemic, and they’re planning to keep it that way. However, device management for those remote employee devices as well as smartphones used for business hasn’t always been put in place.

If you’re not managing security or data access for all the endpoints (company and employee-owned) in your business, you’re at a higher risk of a data breach.

If you don’t have one already, it’s time to put a device management application in place, like Intune in Microsoft 365.

Cybersecurity Mistake #5: Not Providing Adequate Training to Employees

An astonishing 95% of cybersecurity breaches are caused by human error. Too many companies don’t take the time to continually train their employees, and thus users haven’t developed the skills needed for a culture of good cybersecurity.

Employee IT security awareness training should be done throughout the year, not just annually or during an onboarding process. The more you keep IT security front and center, the better equipped your team will be to identify phishing attacks and follow proper data handling procedures.

Some ways to infuse cybersecurity training into your company culture include:

  • Short training videos
  • IT security posters
  • Webinars
  • Team training sessions
  • Cybersecurity tips in company newsletters

When Did You Last Have a Cybersecurity Checkup?

Don’t stay in the dark about your IT security vulnerabilities. Schedule a Firewell Technology Solutions Cybersecurity Audit with to uncover vulnerabilities so they can be fortified to reduce your risk.

 


Featured Image Credit

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

Making Your VoIP Network Bulletproof (Six Tips to Protect Your VoIP from Cyberattacks)

 

Hardly any phone call system in a business beats VoIP when it comes to efficiency and flexibility. However, it’s not immune to cyberattacks. Discover how you can secure your VoIP ASAP.

What kind of communication system are you using for your business?

I ask because many modern-day businesses have now switched to the Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP). This technology allows employees to perform voice calls using only their internet connection.

We here at Firewell Technology Solutions believe VoIP is a wise choice considering that using VoIP comes with several benefits to a business. Among its benefits include lower operating costs, greater convenience than traditional services, increased accessibility, higher scalability, and the ability to multitask. VoIP also comes with advanced features for teams of all sizes. VoIP is completely portable, and VoIP offers superior voice quality.

However, VoIP systems also have limitations, with cyberattacks being their number one downside.

The good news is that it’s possible to protect a business’s VoIP system from hackers. And if you already implemented this in your business, it’s not too late to secure it.

Read on to discover the most common threats to your network and tips on preventing them.

The Need for VoIP Protection

All VoIP systems require a stable internet connection to function properly. Unfortunately, their reliability on the Internet makes them vulnerable to various security issues.

Some of the most frequent ones include:

Security Issue #1: Denial of Service

Denial of Service (DoS) is a common threat to VoIP systems comprising attacks designed to shut down a machine or network and make it inaccessible for use.

When this happens, legitimate users of VoIP technology may not be able to access their information systems and devices. And call centers can be affected by lower call quality, uptime, and latency.

Security Issue #2: War Dialling

War dialing is an attack that controls the company’s private branch exchange (PBX) and scans for other phone networks. This means hackers can dial numbers and connect to modems and other extensions.

Security Issue #3: Toll Fraud

Toll fraud is a threat that consists of making calls to outside lines from a company’s existing system.

For example, hackers will dial costly international numbers intending to rack up toll charges to your business.

Security Issue #4: Phishing

This is a common threat wherein attackers send fraudulent messages designed to trick victims into revealing sensitive information. Often, the unsuspecting victims would divulge information about passwords, internal IP networks, and similar data.

Security Issue #5: Malware

This is a threat where attackers install malicious software via email or phone. A file or code gets delivered over a network and has the goal of infecting, stealing, or exploring the information contained within a system.

After infecting the system with malware, VoIP hackers can enter your network and access critical business information.

Security Issue #6: Call Interception

The call interception attacker uses unsecured networks to intercept the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) traffic that serves to initiate, maintain, and terminate real-time voice and video sessions.

A victim of a call interception attack can be redirected to another line hosted by the hacker, for example.

6 Tips for Boosting VoIP Security

Given the variety of threats imposed by attackers on VoIP systems, it’s necessary to optimize your VoIP security ASAP.

Here are 6 valuable tips to get you started.

Tip #1: Set Up a Firewall 

Secure firewalls are necessary for all VoIP systems. It’s important to make your VoIP software and hardware firewalls scan information that goes in and out of the system and ensure it’s secure.

If spam or a threat comes your way, the firewall will identify and gain control over it, shielding your system from the attack.

Also, a good firewall will allow the data packets you send to travel unhindered.

Ultimately, well-configured firewalls provide the perfect balance between open availability and security.

Tip #2: Use Strong Passwords 

Your VoIP system is no different from any other software or platform you use for handling sensitive information. For this reason, it needs to be protected with strong and regularly updated passwords.

Aim for combinations of at least 12 characters, including numbers, upper- and lower-case letters, and special symbols. And for ultimate protection, go for passwords consisting of a random character series.

It’s crucial to set a password as soon as you configure your VoIP system. Otherwise, you’re likely to forget about it later.

Also, remember that some VoIP phones come with pre-set passwords—often available publicly. That’s why you should change yours as soon as you get a chance.

Ideally, try to change your passwords every three months.

Tip #3: Restrict Calling

Many VoIP attacks happen due to toll fraud. So, if your business runs locally, there’s no need to have the international call option enabled. This allows you to be on the safe side and avoid paying expensive bills you weren’t even responsible for making.

You can let your VoIP service block 1-900 numbers to avoid toll fraud.

Tip #4: Encourage Your Team to Report Suspicious Behavior 

Many of the VoIP attacks arrive due to irresponsible behavior. To prevent this from happening, educate your team on how they can best do their job without affecting the system’s security.

For starters, they should know how to spot unusual network activity, handle passwords, and report suspicious behavior. They should also report ghost calls and missing voicemails whenever received. Staff also shouldn’t store voicemail for too long.

The reality is that sometimes, cybersecurity training during onboarding often isn’t enough. That’s why you should do periodical training to keep your VoIP safe at all times.

Tip #5: Deactivate Web Interface Use 

Ideally, you should deactivate the web interface used for your VoIP system.

Why?

Using phones on a desktop computer opens an area of weakness to attackers. It’s enough for a single phone user falling prey to leave the whole system exposed to an external party. All your data can be stolen in text format as a result.

So, unless it’s absolutely necessary for you to use the web interface, be sure to secure it very strictly.

Tip #6. Use a VPN for Remote Workers

Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) are great software that encrypts traffic regardless of your employee’s location.

You can set up such a network for your remote staff to prevent data leaks and breaches. The good news is that using this service won’t degrade the call quality.

(Re)Gaining Control Over Your VoIP Security

VoIP systems are a fantastic alternative to landlines, for they offer many more features and flexibility at a fraction of the cost. However, their reliability on the internet also makes them susceptible to cyberattacks.

If you have just set up a VoIP system for your company or are thinking of starting one, securing it should be your number one priority. Don’t risk falling prey to toll fraud, malware, phishing, and other attacks. Take some time to secure your business by following these tips from Firewell Technology Solutions.

And if you need more help to implement these changes or would like to further discuss securing your business’s VoIP system, reach out to us, and we can set up a 10-15-minute chat.

 


Featured Image Credit

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

Why Protecting Your Printers from Cybercrime Is a Must (And 8 Tips for Improving Printer Security)

Printing devices are often overlooked when it comes to security, but the reality is that cybercriminals can hack your printer to get confidential information.

Your printer is probably the last piece of computer equipment you thought needed protection from cybercriminals.

But the truth is quite different.

Attackers actively try to locate the weakest links in security to gain access to and exploit valuable data, and among the weakest links are probably your printers.

The thing with printers nowadays is that they have access to your devices, network, and the internet. Firewell Technology Solutions recognized the enhanced productivity features of this new technology, but this new open-access functionality makes printers an ideal target for cyberattacks.

Unfortunately, many business owners overlook the importance of securing their printers and mainly focus on computers and mobile phones.

Most people still perceive printers as internal devices that serve basic functions. For this very reason, they are an easy target for cybercriminals.

Other than performing unauthorized print jobs, hackers can access confidential information as well as all connected computers and networks all through a printer.

You may also not be aware of the amount of valuable data your printer can store about you – tax files, bank details, financial records, employee information, personal information, etc. All a hacker needs to do is get into the operating system of your printer, and they can collect this sensitive data.

If you’ve just realized the importance of securing your printer, keep reading. Firewell Technology Solutions has eight tips to help you secure your network printers.

Printing Security: The 8 Tips

Tip #1. Make Sure Your Printers Are Configured Correctly

Many things can make a printer vulnerable to cyber threats and security breaches, so you want to get the basics right to ensure the attacks don’t happen to you.

To start with, make sure to change the default password on your printer. Since anyone can access a printer remotely, a simple “123456” code won’t suffice.

Second, make sure you’re using your own router to print files remotely. Never connect to “Guest” networks.

Tip #2. Inspect Print Trays Regularly

This one is a no-brainer, but everyone could use it as a reminder. Make sure to check your print trays and get rid of unused pages carrying sensitive information. There’s no easier way to prevent data leaks than this.

Alternatively, you can get a shredder for your office and shred the papers you don’t want anyone to see.

Tip #3. Install Firmware and Malware Updates

Invest time and effort to ensure that your malware and firmware protection are up to date and can handle all types of hacks.

The good news is that many printers come with pre-built malware protection.

HP, for example, installs the HP “SureStart” software in their printers that monitors approaching targets when the printer is on. The software can shut down the device if an attack comes its way. This is a great way to prevent attacks from spreading further within the network.

Tip #4. Limit Access to the Network

Unprotected printers in a network are an extremely easy target for cybercriminals. Sure, businesses and offices require printers to access networks to perform remote prints. But if you can do the job by disabling the network access, make sure you do that.

If not, tweak the printer and network settings to only allow the device to take print jobs from the network you trust. This will help avoid outside interference and security breaches.

Tip #5. Update Your Printers

Updating a printer is equally as important as updating your phone to the latest software. Much in the way iOS developers look for bugs and fix them in a new update, printer manufacturers work toward known device vulnerabilities and update the software for added protection.

Look for printer updates so you can easily overcome known threats to the printer. Ideally, update your printers every quarter to get the most out of the security benefits.

Tip #6. Install a Firewall

If you run an office, chances are you already have a firewall. But in case you missed this requirement, now’s the time to do it.

Using a reliable firewall helps keep printers safe from cybercriminals.

Your computers most likely come with pre-built firewalls, and all you need to do is keep them enabled. But there are also specialized firewalls for homes and offices that offer advanced security and make it virtually impossible for anyone to break in.

Tip #7. Encrypt Your Storage

Printers with shared networks can perform distance printing. And when a print job is in transit and travels from a computer to a printer, hackers can intercept the data and exploit it.

To keep this from happening, encrypt your print jobs. Also, make sure the sensitive data on your printer’s hard or internal drive is encrypted as well.

Keep in mind that when you print a document, that file is often stored as an image within the printer and makes it an easy target for hackers. It’s why you should use an encryption tool to protect your data. Luckily, many modern printers have this tool pre-built.

You can use the tool to set up a secure password that allows printer storage encryption, remove user IDs and ex-employee access, delete documents from the print queue once they’re printed, and much more.

Tip #8. Educate Your Employees

If you work in an office, chances are you aren’t the only person using the printer. Everyone that has access to it needs to be aware of the responsibilities that come with its usage. Make sure to talk to your employees about ways to ensure both the physical and virtual safety of the printers.

Your staff should also be careful when using their mobile devices to print, as smartphones are easier to hack. Explain to them what phishing scams are and how they can avoid being the victim.

Finally, make sure it’s clear to them how they can use confidential information in your company.

It’s Time to Ensure Printer Security

Printers are the most overlooked devices when it comes to security. Given how most business owners consider them as merely internal devices whose sole function is to print documents, it’s no wonder they are a weak spot security-wise.

Whether you use printers in your office or at home, take a moment to see how you can enhance its security before your next printing job.

As cybercriminals are a growing concern, each of us is responsible for protecting our data; however, following these printing tips from Firewell Technology Solutions should help bring your printing security up to speed.

If you need more insight into protecting the security of your printers, get in touch with Firewell Technology Solutions today. We can set up a 10-15-minute chat to discuss how you can implement these changes and keep cybercriminals away.

 


Featured Image Credit

 

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

Why Having a Continuity Plan Is a Sign of Great Leadership (And How to Create a Foolproof Plan)

 

Your business faces all sorts of threats that can disrupt your operations. A comprehensive continuity plan can help address them. 

Carrying on with business as usual is easy when nothing out of the ordinary is happening. But the fact is, crises can strike anytime. And when it happens, you need to be ready to pivot your operations quickly, safely, and efficiently. This is why Firewell Technology Solutions recommends having a robust business continuity plan in place. 

It prepares you for the worst, such as market nosedives and governments shutting down entire countries. And in these cases, your plan allows you to embrace remote work, enabling you to keep functioning and servicing your clients. It also lets you support your team at home and make them feel comfortable through various predicaments. 

These are just some of the key benefits that a business continuity plan can bring to your business. This article will delve deeper into its significance and explain how to create one for your company. 

Why Your Business Needs a Continuity Plan

A business continuity plan details a process that your company should take to neutralize and recover from different threats. It can also help protect your business’s assets and personnel during disasters, allowing them to function uninterruptedly. 

Business continuity plans are usually developed as part of a company’s overall risk management. This means you should consider creating this plan ahead of time, not in the middle of a crisis. 

The most significant benefit of creating a business continuity plan is that it provides a clear picture of how to proceed should those threats happen. It also tells you how those circumstances can impact your operations and how to implement procedures to mitigate them. Furthermore, it helps you check if the systems work and are up to date. 

Another tremendous advantage of having a continuity plan is its ability to ensure secure and continued access to your systems. It dictates how your team and IT service provider can reach critical platforms, the available bandwidth, and whether you need to boost their network capacity. 

The overall effect can be a reduced risk of losing your business and team members. 

It can safeguard against financial loss, lost productivity, and a damaged reputation. On top of that, it helps protect your employees from injuries or death in case of threats. 

But what specific threats can you address with a continuity plan? 

Here’s a quick list:

Threat #1: Pandemics

As you’ve no doubt experienced, pandemics can affect your business plans in numerous ways. 

For example, they can force your employees to work from home, increasing demand for some services, and reducing demand for others. Moreover, they can prevent you from distributing your offerings due to supply chain problems. 

A business continuity plan can help you overcome these bumpy periods. 

It formulates how your team will communicate throughout the period and perform business off-site. And it can also provide several options in terms of service distribution.

Threat #2: Natural Disasters

Natural disasters are extreme geographic phenomena, including tornados, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, wildfires, and earthquakes. They’re tricky because they’re hard to predict and can leave disastrous consequences within seconds. 

Like global pandemics, they can disrupt the supply chain in affected areas, which is why you need a business continuity plan.

Threat #3: Utility Outages

Water shutoffs and loss of communication lines or power can hinder your daily operations. It’s especially true if such outages are predicted to last long. 

Without a continuity plan, the risk of asset damage and productivity loss is drastically higher.

Threat #4: Cybersecurity

Cyberattacks are computer-based attacks on your technical assets. The most common examples include data theft, ransomware, distributed denial of service, and SQL injections. 

In the best-case scenario, your infrastructure will function less efficiently until you resolve the issue. But in the worst-case scenario, you could lose access to all business data.

Create the Best Continuity Plan for Your Business

Developing a foolproof continuity plan requires a systematic approach. Here’s what your strategy should involve: 

#1. Identifying Goals for Continuity

Business continuity doesn’t just comprise your IT systems. It encompasses all essential business functions, like public relations, human resources, and operations.

Since your company is unique, you’ll need to create a plan according to your specific goals.

So, determine the most important processes and figure out how to back them up with recovery strategies.

#2. Setting up an Emergency Continuity Preparedness Group

Choose several cross-functional managers and anyone else who can contribute to the plan, such as your IT service provider.

Determine the emergency response leader and make it clear they’re in charge of moving things forward when disaster strikes.

#3. Business Impact Analysis and Risk Assessment

Identify, research, and analyze your potential threats thoroughly. Discuss them with your team and see what would happen if you had to reduce, eliminate, or modify certain services.

Make sure to document all issues along the way.

#4. Focusing on Continuity for Customer Service

Your clients need empathy and transparency during crises. And the only way to meet their expectations in such trying times is to ensure your customer support team understands your continuity plan.

If necessary, hire more people to answer client inquiries.

#5. Addressing Business Function

Your plan should incorporate critical business functions. These include business risk, impact on customers and employees, emergency policy creating, community partners or external organizations, and financial resources during disasters.

This is vital to ensure business operations are functioning asap.

#6. Staff Training and Plan Updates 

Present your continuity plan to stakeholders and promote a proactive approach through trial runs to verify the plan works. This way, you can pinpoint any weaknesses or missing aspects. Then, based on your findings and feedback, train your staff to make the implementation smoother.

Following this tactic doesn’t leave much room for error.

Besides helping you maintain business operations and the supply chain, it also builds customer confidence. If your response to emergencies is effective, your customers will appreciate it. This allows you to preserve your brand, prevail over your competition, and mitigate financial loss.

Don’t Let Crises Cripple Your Business 

Disasters happen even in Fresno and Visalia, and they can be the ultimate test of your leadership abilities.

That’s why Firewell Technology Solutions believes that instead of leaving your company to chance, you should create an in-depth business continuity plan before emergencies arise. Make sure everyone is on the same page, and you’ll be able to come out stronger after any predicament.

If you need more insights into developing a continuity plan, get in touch with us today. Let’s set up a 10-15-minute chat to determine your goals and how to achieve them.

 


Featured Image Credit

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

Which Type of Hacker Is Endangering Your Business Data? (And How to Protect Your Sensitive Info From Them)

Your data is pivotal to running a successful company. If you don’t have proper security measures in place, hackers can easily steal your data and take you out of business.

Hackers and cybercriminals might be the biggest threat facing your company. Besides gaining access to your money and accounts, they can also take over critical software, preventing you from collaborating with clients.

Any organization can fall victim to hacking. However, small and medium businesses are particularly at risk.

Why?

Too often, their owners don’t always address cybersecurity when launching their company. Sometimes, they even just hire the first IT service provider they see. They also don’t know how to shield themselves from online attackers, making them low-risk targets.

As a result, these organizations often go under due to the loss of sensitive data and the fallout that follows. It isn’t a risk you can take.

Firewell Technology Solutions takes cybersecurity seriously, so we want to help you understand the distinct types of hackers and how to protect your business from them.

The 5 Types of Hackers to Watch Out For

Here’s a quick list of potential hackers, depending on what they’re after: 

#1. Hackers Who Are After Personal Information

Many hackers are dying to get their hands on the personal information of your clients and employees. It includes birth dates, financial data, and social security numbers.

Social security numbers might be the most valuable asset they want to get ahold of since cybercriminals can use them for various purposes. For instance, they can perform tax fraud, open credit accounts, and make other significant identity breaches.

In addition, financial data can be utilized for fraudulent activities and purchases, especially if it lacks robust digital security systems.

#2. Hackers Who Want to Get into the Digital Infrastructure

Storage and data servers are expensive – and hackers know that.

In order for them to cut costs, hackers may aim to store their applications and data on your infrastructure instead. The better your infrastructure, the more likely cybercriminals are to target it. This can strain your network to the limits and have devastating effects on your business.

Unsurprisingly, tech companies are some of the most common victims of this type of hacking.

The common indicators that a hacker has tapped into your digital infrastructure include:

  • Running out of storage faster than usual
  • Your network suffers slowdowns
  • You may have unknown devices on your network.

#3. Hackers Who Are After Confidential Information 

Few business aspects are as important as your intellectual property (IP). Your products and services enable you to stand out from the competition and strike a chord with the target audience.

A huge problem arises if hackers steal the design of your upcoming product before you launch it or submit your patent. A competitor may obtain the information, allowing them to hit the market first and undercut your sales.

#4. Hackers Who Want to Get Account Data

Sure, you and your IT service provider might have done enough so that hackers might not be able to obtain financial data. But are your employees’ accounts secure?

If hackers compromise them, they may let them run scams and gain information to disrupt your operations.

For example, losing CEO login credentials can be devastating. Besides granting hackers access to sensitive information, it also helps them impersonate the CEO. In return, they can solicit information from employees or clients and halt your operations.

This data breach can lead to widespread confusion, tarnishing your reputation.

#5. Hackers Who Aim to Have Network Control

In some cases, hackers aren’t after data. Instead, they want to gain control of the entire network. And to make it happen, they launch ransomware attacks.

These activities enable them to lock you out of the system and make data inaccessible until you pay a ransom. They’re typically initiated through spam, phishing emails, and online ads.

The average ransom amount stands at approximately $30,000, but the loss caused by business disruption is much more significant.

How to Protect Your Business

Now that you know how hackers can compromise your company, let’s check out 5 effective ways to protect yourself:

Way #1. Investing in Security Resources

A key factor ignored by many owners is the amount of money and time devoted to cybersecurity. Avoid this mistake by allocating enough resources to set up solid defensive measures. Make sure to invest in a reliable IT service provider to help you out.

This way, your online accounts, hardware, and network should be more secure.

Way #2. Training Your Team

Most security systems have weaknesses: employees are usually the biggest ones.

For this reason, HR managers and CEOs should ensure their staff follows optimal security measures, both in-office and at home. They must all remember that any phone or laptop they use for work can be a weak point and entryway for hackers.

To introduce your employees to the best security practices, consider arranging security education and training for a month once a year. You can talk about different aspects of your company and the steps necessary to deter cyber criminals, for example.

Sound education can go a long way in promoting a healthy security culture.

Way #3. Adding Authentication

There are many valuable tools you can use to fend off hackers. One of them is two-factor authentication (2FA) – a simple yet effective weapon against scammers.

This measure requires each user to verify their identity to access your system. You could use it on all business-related accounts to reduce the chances of cybercrime.

Furthermore, encourage your team members to activate 2FA on personal accounts. This way, they’ll be more likely to follow appropriate security practices through learned habit, reducing the risk of compromised devices and data breaches.

Way #4. Leveraging Software

Computer viruses are another go-to tool for hackers. And a great way to deal with them is to incorporate antivirus software.

Make sure your built-in antivirus software is up to date. Also, you can consider a corporate package from trusted companies like BitDefender, Norton, McAfee, Total AV, or Webroot.

Each machine that can access work resources should rely on this software. Plus, the user should conduct weekly antivirus scans to lessen the chances of computers getting infected by a virus.

Way #5. Performing Security Checks

Checking your system is vital for optimal cybersecurity. Solid antivirus software is practical, but you shouldn’t disregard manual scans. It’s crucial that your IT service provider does this periodically.

More specifically, check who’s accessed your network and make sure each point of access is authorized. Any suspicious activity must be reviewed and rooted out. Otherwise, these red flags can prove fatal for the company.

Stay on the Safe Side

Battling hackers may not be the most exciting part of running a business. However, neglecting cybersecurity turns your company into a sitting duck for scammers. You may lose money, data, and your reputation might suffer irreparable damage.

While there isn’t a bulletproof solution, adopting the outlined tactics should be a strong starting point.

Contact Firewell Technology Solutions today if you want to discuss your cybersecurity in greater detail and pinpoint potential risks. We can arrange a quick, non-salesy chat and figure out ways to help you.

 


Featured Image Credit

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

11 Effective Security Measures To Bolster Your Microsoft 365 Data Protection

Making the most of your Microsoft 365 apps requires you to adopt appropriate security measures.

Microsoft 365 is one of the best collaboration and productivity tools around. It provides users with seamless communication, scalability and supports remote work with various features. The security is also solid due to a wide array of defense mechanisms. 

But this doesn’t mean you’re impervious to cyberattacks. 

Data leakage, unauthorized access, and malware can still jeopardize your system and offer ideal entry points for hackers. Should your business fall victim, the consequences can be dire, ranging from operational disruptions to severe reputational damage. 

This is why we here at Firewell Technology Solutions believe that the only way to fend off hackers is to take your Microsoft 365 data protection to the next level. This article suggests 11 super effective security measures to help shield your data in Microsoft 365.

The 11 Effective Security Measures

Security Measure #1 – Activate Microsoft 365 Multi-Factor Authentication

Microsoft 365 users have just one method of verifying their identity when using a username and password. Unfortunately, many people don’t follow robust password protocols. If you’re doing the same, you’re exposing your organization to intrusions.

That’s where multi-factor authentication (MFA) comes into play.

It can boost your Microsoft 365 security with one-time passphrases or other factors to verify user identity. Best of all, this measure is easy to apply.

However, enabling MFA should only be your first step. The next one is to activate Security Defaults, a Microsoft feature that enforces MFA in each administrator account.

Another great idea is to implement MFA in all accounts without administrator permissions. It’s because these accounts can still endanger services and apps in your ecosystem.

Security Measure #2 – Use Session Timeouts

Many employees fail to log out of their accounts and lock their mobile devices or computers. This can grant hackers unlimited access to enterprise accounts, enabling them to compromise your data.

Incorporating session timeouts into internal networks and accounts automatically logs users out after a certain inactivity period. That means hackers can’t take over their devices and access sensitive information.

Security Measure #3 – Refrain From Public Calendar Sharing

Calendar sharing enables your employees to synchronize and share schedules with colleagues. While this facilitates team collaboration, it can also give hackers insight into your operations and vulnerable users.

For example, if your security administrator is on vacation and this information is publicly available, attackers can use this window to launch malware.

Security Measure #4 – Employ Advanced Threat Protection

Advanced threat protection (ATP) is a robust solution that recognizes and prevents advanced threats that usually bypass antivirus and firewall defenses.

It grants access to a database that receives real-time updates, allowing users to understand the threats and integrate the data into their analysis.

ATP notifies you about attacks, the severity, and the method that stopped them, regardless of the source. It’s especially effective at preventing phishing.

It relies on machine learning and a massive database of suspicious sites notorious for malware delivery or phishing attempts.

Security Measure #5 – Leverage Policy Alerts

Microsoft 365 lets you establish your policy notifications in the compliance center to meet your company’s security needs. For example, they send your employees tips on sending sensitive information whenever they’re about to send a message to a contact outside your network.

These warnings can safeguard against data leaks while educating your team on safe data sharing methods.

Security Measure #6 – Secure Your Mobile Access

Your team often uses smartphones to access work email, contacts, documents, and calendars, especially if they work remotely. So, securing their devices should be your top priority when protecting data. 

The best way to do so is to install Microsoft 365 mobile management features. They can let you manage your security policy, permissions, restrictions, and wipe crucial information from stolen or lost devices. Firewell Technology Solutions believes this is an absolute must for healthcare providers and other service providers subject to HIPAA compliance regulations, yet all businesses should consider ways to manage corporate data on mobile devices.

Security Measure #7 – Deactivate Legacy Protocol Authentication

It’s worth noting that legacy protocols don’t support several security features in Microsoft 365 that reduce the chances of intrusion, such as MFA. This can make them perfect gateways for adversaries who want to target your organization.

That said, your best bet is to deactivate legacy protocols to mitigate risks.

However, you may not want to disable legacy authentication if your team needs it for older email accounts. The good news is that you can still make your network safer by restricting access to users who don’t need this protocol.

Security Measure #8 – Integrate Role-Based Access Control

Access management is a convenient security feature that can limit the flow of private information across your business. It allows you to establish the users who can access data in your company.

For instance, you can minimize data leaks by preventing rank-and-file team members from reading and editing executive-level files.

Security Measure #9 – Rely on Unified Audit Log 

Unified audit log (UAL) includes logs from several Microsoft 365 services, such as Azure AD, SharePoint Online, OneDrive, and Microsoft Teams. Enabling it can give the administrator insight into malicious activity and actions that violate organizational policies.

You may also want to incorporate your logs into an existing SIEM (Security Information and Event Management) tool. Doing so enables you to connect logs with current log monitoring and management solutions to reveal abnormal activity. Plus, it can improve the overall security of your Microsoft 365 suite.

Security Measure #10 – Encrypt Emails in Microsoft 365

Encrypting sensitive data is often the last resort when dealing with data breaches. But if cyber attackers access your emails, robust encryption tools can make them unreadable. That’s why email encryption is something worth looking into.

This feature is essential for Microsoft 365 users who share emails and files regularly.

Security Measure #11 – Train and Educate Your Employees in Microsoft 365 Apps for Business

The above measures are undoubtedly effective, but they may amount to nothing if you leave your employees out of the picture. In fact, human error is the leading cause of most data breaches.

One of the best ways to prevent security breaches in your business is to schedule employee security training and education. It can raise their awareness of potential threats and guide them on how to address them.

This is especially important when recruiting employees. Make sure they undergo in-depth security training before granting them access to sensitive data and organizational devices.

Don’t Leave Your Business’s Data Protection to Chance 

Microsoft 365 offers a bunch of intuitive and convenient tools. The experience can be so smooth that you may even forget about protecting your data.

However, you’re taking a huge gamble in doing so, as it leaves your system open for hackers.

With that in mind, applying the defense mechanisms mentioned in this article will dramatically decrease security threats to your business.

Firewell Technology Solutions can help you further ensure your security when using Microsoft 365 apps. Contact us for a 10-15-minute chat that’s obligation-free. Let’s discuss how you can keep cyber threats at bay.

 


Featured Image Credit

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