How Hackers are Targeting Your Small Business

How Hackers are Targeting Your Small Business

Hackers are always looking for ways to breach into small businesses and steal your information. 

It’s not uncommon to receive emails, ads, or other technology outlets with malware, viruses, and phishing attacks. Hackers are always trying to con owners and employees into handing over confidential or financial information. 

 Identifying how hackers target businesses can help you gain a deeper understanding of protecting yourself from these threats.  

Keeping up to date and following best practices is a great step in the right direction in protecting your assets and your reputation. Remember, your business is your customers. So here are some common ways hackers target small businesses and how you can protect yourself:  |

  • Ransomware Extortion 
  • Targeting Customer Records 
  • Targeting Financial Information 
  • Social Engineering 

Ransomware Extortion 

Attacks rise and fall in popularity.  

Fifteen years ago, computer worms were the most common attack that businesses faced. Security software wasn’t as advanced or as widely used at it is today. Computer worms were, at the time, an exceptionally low-cost and efficient way to inflict the maximum amount of damage for minimum cost.  

Today ransomware has seen an unfortunate boom in popularity.  

This technology aims to encrypt the target’s files on their personal computer. This technique denies the victim access to their own information and are charged a large fee in exchange for the key to retrieve the victim’s own data.  

The attack has worked so often because it requires minimal effort and can be used again and again. Many businesses have no option but to pay because the data is worth far more than the ransom demand the hackers have made. 

The best defense against these ransomware attacks: up-to-date offsite backup. One that is tested and examined by professional help. We help businesses develop a disaster recovery plan that way you are 

Targeting Customer Records 

One if not the most important thing you can do for your customers is take extra measures to protect their data.  

Records which include names, dates of birth, and other personally identifying details. These details are extremely valuable to hackers or criminals who, either use them personally or sell them on to someone who will.  

This is why you must be compliant. 

Many regions have strict laws and guidelines (compliance) about how this information must be stored, accessed and protected. Failing to follow these can result in severe penalties that could devastate any company.  

Targeting Financial Information  

Like personal information, a small business must take extreme care when storing customer financial information.  

This falls in line with compliance guidelines. Sensitive details such as credit card or banking information are a key target for hackers looking to steal money fast.  

The impact on your business reputation following a breach of financial data will be severe and devastating. Even a simple mistake can require years of advertising and great PR to repair. Many firms fail to recover after losing the trust of their customers.    

Social Engineering 

Most firms today run good IT security packages to protect against online attacks and other forms of malware. Attackers often know to take their methods offline to achieve the best results.  

Whether posing as a supplier, customer, or interested party; attackers can seek to gain information that you may be less than willing to hand over to a stranger. Keeping your staff properly trained is a great line of defense. 

Be particularly cautious of the information you provide when discussing business with individuals you haven’t spoken to before.   

Keeping Your Small Business Safe  

Each of these targets and attacks are just some of the most popular and hard-hitting attacks out there now. The list is forever changing, and the methods we use to protect against them always needs to change too.  

Some can be defended against with great security, backups, and software. Others, such as social engineering, need you and your staff to stay up-to-date and remain vigilant about the major attacks affecting small business today.  

If you need help tightening your businesses security, give us a call at (800) 2978293. 

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Protecting Your Customers and Your Business Too

Protecting Your Customers and Your Business Too

Security and privacy are at the very top of our priorities when considering business IT. Major data leaks of sensitive information are in mainstream news on a daily basis. You hear about data breaches affecting millions of businesses’ customers. You don’t want your customers or business to be a victim of fraud.

Your number one goal should be to keep your business out of danger.

It’s expected for your banks and credit card companies to handle your privacy data well. Unfortunately, less secured businesses need access to our data too.

Think about it, booking into a hotel often requires you to leave your name, address, date of birth, and credit card details. These few pieces of information are more than enough to steal your identity. Hackers could start a line of credit, and access many of your vital services. You can often only hope your chosen hotel network handles your information as well as your bank does.

Secure Your Business With Smarter Thinking

There is no way to change the cybersecurity practices of your favorite hotel, but you can improve the security of your business.

You don’t need the manpower or funding of a major banking chain to handle data security. With simple security adjustments, you can worry less about data breaches for good.

By stepping up IT security to meet modern threats, you can help to limit your liability. Taking a proactive approach puts customer’s minds at ease. Don’t start implementing IT security after you’re attacked. Forward-thinking gives your firm a competitive advantage. Should hackers attack, the work you do today will limit the damage and help you to weather the storm.

Limit Your Data Collection

The most important thing to consider when securing your business is how much data do you need to hold? Consider the value of all the personal information you collect in your transactions. Do you have a use for everything you ask for?

Emails, addresses, and contact numbers are useful for receipts and marketing! When you start to add more data than that, your data starts to become useless and wasteful. Each piece of unnecessary data you hold gives hackers more value. Thieves will find immense value in gathering more personal information. This increases your liability without adding any extra value. We recommend having a plan and policy to mitigate your risks of

Consider Your Access Requirements

Think about who has access to information within your business and why they need to access it. Often security problems begin when employees have privileges to access all your data.  

Access restrictions should be specific to the company structure. Lower-level employees should only have access to what they need. Managers, for example, will need access to more confidential systems than the lower staff.  

Zero-Trust restrictions should be critical too. All personnel should have some sort of way to verify their authorization. Especially in a remote environment. Computers and mobile devices must have a password or identity verification to log on.  

Treating Data with Care

The way you treat your data reflects the impact hackers will have on your business. Do you know where your backups are, and when they were last tested? Firms often first know they are in trouble when they realize all their data is on a business laptop. Some firms maintain backups on USB drives or shuttle a portable hard drive between home and work.

Avoid these mistakes!

These solutions should have no place in a professional business environment. The best data care means ensuring backups are secure against fire, theft, or online hacks. Protecting your customers and your business is all about the smart application of IT.

We can help you to lock down your business to protect the most valuable assets your business owns, data. Call us at 800-297-8293 

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Top 5 IT Security Problems for Businesses 

Top 5 IT Security Problems for Businesses 

Companies that suffer a security breach usually have one of these IT security problems. Is your company guilty of any of them?  

1) Poor Backup Strategy

A shocking number of businesses are not backing up their data properly. According to market research company Clutch, 60 percent of businesses who suffer a data loss shut down within six months 

Not only should every business be fully backing up their data in regular increments, but their backups should be stored in multiple locations including offsite in the cloud. With data safely stored in the cloud, a regular restoration health check should in place to mitigate risks of lost data, along with gauging time to recover. Many businesses don’t find out that their backup can’t be used until it’s already too late.  

2) Reactive and Not Proactive

The world is constantly changing and in the IT world doubly so. Along with new business requirements for technology to help businesses grow comes the added risks associated, however many organizations do not take the proper precautions to mitigate their risks.

Cyber attackers are always figuring out new ways to attack your endpoint informtion.

Unless you are taking a proactive approach to IT management your network hardware is out of date allowing hackers to attack through well-known access points, which leaves all endpoint devices vulnerable for attacks on the network. A substantial number of businesses wait until these issues impact them directly before they respond. The result is higher costs, longer downtime, and harder hitting impacts. 

By maintaining a proactive approach to securing networks, devices, and information: IT can be done the right way. Being proactive about your IT needs means systems don’t have to break or compromised before they are fixed. The result for your business is less downtime, fewer losses, and lower IT costs.  

3) Weak Passwords

A surprising number of people will use the password “password” to secure some of their most important accounts. (Like, come on! DON’T ever do this!)

Even more, still will write their own password on a post-it note  next to their computer. In some cases, many will even use no password at all. Strong passwords act, not only as a barrier to prevent unwanted entry but as a vital accountability tool too. When system changes are made it’s often essential that the account that made changes is secured to the right person.  

With an insecure password or worse, none, tracking the individual responsible for reports or accountability becomes impossible. This can result in both auditing disasters on top of technical ones. By leveraging cloud technology an organization can control password policies across all company software platforms, allowing for an enterprise level cybersecurity solution.  

4) Insufficient Staff Training

Humans in the system are commonly the weakest point in IT security and malware attacks. Great IT security can be a bit like having state-of-the-art locks on a door propped open with a milk crate. If staff isn’t trained to use the lock properly, it’s worth nothing at all.  

Often businesses can justify spending big on security for the latest and greatest IT defenses. The very same firms may exceed their budget and spend zero on training staff to use them. In this instance, a little goes a long way. Security training can help staff to identify a malware threat at the endpoint, avoiding and mitigating damage, often completely.  

5) Weak Data Controls

Some companies can take an ad-hoc, fast and loose approach to the security associated with storing professional data. Often crucial parts can be spread across many devices, copied needlessly with multiple versions, and sometimes even left open for majority security threats. Customer data can be found regularly on employee users laptops, cell phones, and tablet devices leaving them potential open for malicious use. These are famously prone to being misplaced or stolen out in the field along with vital client and security data.  

It can be easy for both employees and firms to focus on the costs of devices and hardware purchased for the business. The reality is that the data held on devices is always worth many times more than the device that holds it. For many firms, their approach to data hasn’t been changed since the firm was first founded. Critical data is often held on single machines that haven’t been updated precisely because they hold critical data. Such machines are clearly vulnerable, outdated, and prone to failure.  

Common problems with simple solutions
 

Each of these common issues has simple solutions to secure against IT failure. With a professional eye and expertise in the field, every business should be defended against IT security issues that risk your organization.  

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5 Best Security Practices to Keep Your Small Business Safe  

5 Best Security Practices to Keep Your Small Business Safe  

A post-Covid world has taught us the need to be flexible in where we work. Whether at home, on a business trip, or a quick stop to check email in your favorite coffee shop using the public internet, working safely while remote may become the norm for employees everywhere. So, the best security practices should always be top-of-mind. 

The work from anywhere environment has become a must-have. But it does leave your staff vulnerable to more cybersecurity attacks while online. Most businesses’ office spaces have secure networks keeping things safe. Your staff isn’t protected under the same network when working at home. This leaves your staff vulnerable to security threats like a malware install or phishing attack. Security threats put your employees at risk, and your entire business as well.  

So, we put together the best security practices you should be implementing to keep each employee safe in the cyber world. Protect your employees in a work from anywhere environment and mitigate your risks of cybersecurity threats with a plan.  

1. Use Strong Passwords

An effective way of protecting your remote staff from security threats is by implementing complex passwords. In 2019, an alarming 42% of companies were breached by a bad password.If you want to protect your employees, email, and company data, try implementing a basic set of password policies:   

  • Passwords should not contain the username or parts of the user’s full name, such as their first name.  
  • Passwords must use at least three of the four available character types: lowercase letters, uppercase letters, numbers, and symbols  
  • Passwords must be a minimum of 8-characters   

2. Implement Multifactor Authentication

Multifactor authentication has risen in popularity over the past couple of years and helps provide an added layer of security. If you have sensitive information, having a single password entry can be easy to bypass. Multifactor is the new lock and bolt to secure access to your information. This technology allows users to remember passwords for ease of use while mitigating the risks of password protection. Here is a universal law you should apply to your company:   

  • Require access to any company system to require multifactor authentication to access that system to keep your information safe   

3. Use a VPN for outside access to your systems

If your team is going to be remote, chances are they will be on public networks often. This is where a VPN (Virtual Private Network) is essential! VPNs allow you to transfer data and information on a protected network with your firewall that provides an added layer of security. Some main benefits of using a VPN is it allows you to:  

  • Creates a direct encryption link to protect file access on public networks  
  • Allows remote access to inhouse applications   
  • Hides business devices on public networks  

4. Encrypt sensitive data in email and on company devices

Your sensitive information is more at risk in a remote cyber environment. Encrypting your information before sending it to your staff will help prevent breaches of your confidential data. Hackers will need an encryption key to access your emails. Here are some practices to put in place to keep your small business safe while remote:  

  • Encrypt sensitive email to prevent unintended access to sensitive information   
  • Encrypt company devices to help prevent access to data when a device is lost or stolen   

5. Centralize and control your data (aka Data Governance)

Nothing is more difficult than having files and data spread across multiple systems. Therefore, it is key to centralize all your applications and information for ease of access and tracking. Here are some core reasons why you should be using a centralized storage system:  

  • Centralizing company data makes it more manageable   
  • Implementing your organization’s data governance policy helps define how your organization works with company data, who has permission to access it in which department, and any sensitive classifications   
  • Create a Zero-Trust policy to prevent access to information unless authorized   

 

Added Recommendation: Stay current on system and software updates/patches for systems   

Keeping your systems up to date is key to preventing common threats to your organization. Hackers are always looking for new ways to breach systems. Checking for updates let you resolve these issues before hackers get in. Downtime due to breaches can come at an ugly cost. So always keep your systems update by checking your Software and Firmware.  

 

Keep your small business safe with these best security practices. Having hackers access your data can affect your businesses’ entire infrastructure. Do not let the pandemic be a gateway for hackers to take advantage of remote employees. Use these practices today!  

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Why 2-Factor Authentication is Important for Nonprofits

Why 2-Factor Authentication is Important for Nonprofits

Photo obtained from SturdyClerk

You hear about hacks and security risks compromising data all the time. The news covers major organizations with mass data leaks containing your personal user information being sold on the dark web. Office systems getting infected with ransomware software, locking down all users within an entire organization until payment is made. Cybersecurity risk is at an all-time high and nonprofit organizations are one of their targets. 

Why is 2-Factor Authentication Important for Nonprofits?

Nonprofits hold a vast amount of valuable data and commonly lack strong cybersecurity practices. Hackers want to steal money, obtain sensitive information about their members and donors, or get their hands on their mailing lists to help them with phishing attempts and other unwanted email messages. 

The passwords you used to keep the bad guys out of your accounts prior to 2018 are no longer enough. Cyber attackers now use methods such as phishing, pharming, and keylogging to steal your password. Some have the power to test billions of password combinations.  

2-Factor Authentication sets multiple barriers to your information 

If you are like most people, you use the same password for several websites. That means anybody who has figured out that password has access to everything you have logged into with it. In a time when it is extremely easy to look up what a person named their first pet or high school mascot, security questions are not much help.  

Consider how a jewelry store operates. They do not simply keep their valuables locked away with one key. There are alarms ready to be triggered, motion detectors, and sometimes even bars on the windows. Your data is valuable, just like jewelry. You need more than one line of defense to protect it. 

In the computer world, your second line of defense (after your username and a strong password combination) is called “2-factor authentication.” Sometimes referred to as multiple-step or multi-factor verification, 2-factor authentication is a way to double-check a person’s identity. This can be enabled every time a person logs in or just under certain circumstances. For example, signing in from a new device or different country might trigger 2-factor authentication.  

Many platforms already use 2-Factor Authentication! 

Many of the services you may already use, such as Facebook, Gmail, Xero Accounting, and more, have 2-factor authentication options. If your bank has ever sent you a special code through text or email to enter before logging in, you have already used a type of 2-factor authentication. They can also be in the form of a smartphone app or a physical electronic dongle.  

2-factor authentication is crucial for online banking, email, and online shopping such as Amazon or PayPal. It is also a must-have for cloud storage accounts (like Dropbox or OneDrive), password managers, communications apps, and productivity apps. This is especially true if you frequently use the same passwords for different websites and apps.  

Some may consider 2-factor authentication unnecessary for social networks, but these are actually very important to keep safe. For ease, a lot of websites and apps allow you to sign up through your Facebook or Twitter account. You need to keep these networks safe so that somebody with your password cannot suddenly get into every account you have linked.  

The point of using 2-factor authentication is to make hackers’ lives harder and prevent them from getting into your accounts. If they have captured your login username and password, they still need a second device to get in, especially when the computer or phone they are using has never logged into your account before. This makes it significantly more difficult for anybody to breach your account.  

Plus, if you receive a notification with a special code to enter for logging in, and you were not trying to log into that account, you have a good signal that somebody else was trying to get in. That means it’s time to change that password and be grateful you had 2-factor authentication.  

Conclusion 

It’s unfortunate that there is currently an abundance of skilled hackers ready to take advantage of those unprepared. Fortunately, you can still stop them -even if they have your login information at hand. 2-factor authentication is one of the easiest methods to help keep your accounts safe.  

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(Free) Premium Resources for Remote Work

(Free) Premium Resources for Remote Work

(Free) Premium Resources for Remote Work

ITonDemand and KnowBe4 have partnered together to give you and your staff resources for remote cybersecurity.

KnowBe4 Home Course

New-School Cyber Security Awareness training designed to keep you secure while working exclusively from home.

Web Address: https://www.knowbe4.com/homecourse
Password: homecourse
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10 Tips to Stay Safe Working from Home PDF

Secure your home wifi, Multi-factor authentication, phishing scams and more.

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Scam Alert: Coronavirus / Covid-19 PDF

Hackers are taking advantage of this unique situation in a variety of ways. Learn what to be on the lookout for. 

Download the PDF

PHISHING

Download our infographic and learn how to identify a phishing scam when you see one.