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Computer Breach and what you can do about it


Security Breach can happen to you

Experts agree that 2015 will be a tipping point for most small to medium sized businesses when it comes to computer security. The average organization cost of data breach is now over 6 million dollars. For most of my clients their loss won’t be anywhere near those numbers but to understand the cost to you or your organization that is over $200 per record. Maybe it’s a list of your clients or your employee wages or perhaps it’s usernames and passwords for your organization. Do the math – these can add up to large scale loss for everyone.

Among the top 5 threats for computer networks today are;

  1. IoT – The Internet of things brings along convenience but those IP enabled devices are not without risk. As you purchase Wi-Fi enabled security systems, TVs, media devices, Network Area Storage, etc. we are seeing an increase in vulnerabilities that expose your network and help to increase your attack surface. They need to be monitored and maintained because they are not as secure as a computer or a server.
  2. DDoS – The abilty to overwhelm your network with traffic is quite common and can easily be done by most consumers with a home network connection. If you require the Internet to do business you should evaluate whether you can operate without it. If not then you should consider protecting yourself against the real possibility that it could happen to you.
  3. Social Media Attacks – If your business uses any cloud based or social media application you should review your authentication and user management policies to avoid a potential breach of your accounts. Hackers are now targeting online applications in order to infect your users and gain access to your networks through the use of Cross Site scripting vulnerabilities. All it takes to be infected is for an email to be clicked on and you can no longer rely that your AntiVirus will prevent any Trojans from getting through.
  4. Mobile Malware – The volume of mobile devices beginning to enter your workplace and the ability to use your internet connection add a very large possibility that malware on a mobile device can get access to your corporate network. If you already allow users to have access to your network with any computerized devices you are probably at risk. You should consider controlling the access or monitor all of the devices by using a Mobile Device Management platform or you risk a possible breach to continue without your knowledge.
  5. Third party Attacks – Many companies allow third party applications to connect with their own network assets but how safe are they? Large scale breaches have been shown to be caused by third party vulnerabilities and these occupy a ‘grey area’ when it comes to management (who is responsible to keep all applications up to date on those systems?). Many user agreements do not cover damages that can be caused by a lack of security practices and once the vulnerabilities have been exploited, hackers use those systems to pivot onto your networks and wreak havoc on your networks.

There are several methods you can implement that can help mitigate the risks.

  1. Implement Monitoring – It is no longer safe practice to just implement a firewall you need to monitor all traffic coming into and out of your network. Hundreds of breaches in any network design have been traced to a failure to see IOC (Indicators of compromise). Not only do you need to record reams of data but you need to review them in order to determine what is normal behavior and what indicates a potential breach. There are devices available that can help you do that and although they can be complicated to implement, once properly deployed they can help you become aware of details that help you find attacks before they become too big.
  2. End User security awareness – If you don’t already have a program in place you should consider a large scale awareness campaign surrounding security at your organization. It can be as simple as a regular talk over lunch or it  can involve testing to be sure that your employees have taken the necessary steps and understand your policies. You need to train your users about the do’s and don’ts of all aspects of your security. Physical security, passwords, email questions, sharing account credentials, staffing questions, etc. You need to protect all aspects of information leakage whereas hackers only need one of them.
  3. Inventory all equipment – If you do not have an active list of your equipment, anything that is or was connected to your network, then take the time to make one and keep it up to date. Many organizations are leaking information that can be critical to your operations. Network devices that no longer are connected should be properly disposed of and /or their configurations need to be wiped. Improperly configured devices and anything with wireless access remain the largest risk to any organization – all of these devices need to be audited on an regular basis to manage the risk.
  4. Review your Protection – Make sure that you update ALL software (this includes Operating systems and any third party applications) that are actively used on all networked computers. Update any firmware on devices that connect to your networks. Implement and maintain Antivirus software on any computer that is actively used to open emails or browse the Internet.

There are many different ways you can help protect yourself from attack but I wanted to point out the clear methods to avoid them. If you are aware of all of the different methods that can be used to gain access to your company or it’s information then you can help manage them. A failure to see them coming is a sure fire way to enable the attack over an over again.

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