The Essential Guide to Preventing Cyber Attacks

The Essential Guide to Preventing Cyber Attacks
Preventing Cyber Attacks

From data theft to compromising the core integrity of your company’s sensitive information, cyber attacks can strike anytime, anywhere. Malware and ransomware present a significant liability. Small businesses are especially vulnerable as these entities are often seen as an easy target. In fact. 43% of cyber attacks are aimed at small businesses and most close up shop within a year following a data compromise.

Don’t leave your company’s future in the hands of hackers. Take control with AE Technology Group’s Essential Guide to Preventing Cyber Attacks.

Identify the Weakest Link

Conduct a detailed audit of your business systems and protocols. Establish what security measures are in place and what areas need to be fortified. A quick vulnerabilities check is essential in determining a course of preemptive action. Does your company train employees to be technologically compliant? Are uniform password standards and other security measures in place? Is software updated to ensure new, evolving threats are actively being mitigated?

Filling the gaps in your security wall is the best way to start defending against cyber crime.

Build Your Defense

Invest in robust antivirus and anti-malware software. No matter the scale of your business, the most valuable asset is your data. Building a strong cyber defense is the best way to secure systems information. Arm your network with a strong firewall and establish a routine for updating software and applications — or set systems to automatically update so your security never lapses.

Train Your Team

People are the greatest asset when it comes to preventing cyber attacks. Make sure your staff is equipped to play an active role in cyber security. 

Hosting biannual technology training courses provides a comprehensive environment for employees to learn about technology compliance. From phishing schemes to password protection, the digital world is constantly updating and rapidly evolving to meet the needs of today’s professionals. Keep your crew up to date as well with dedicated in house support, IT management, and one-on-one training opportunities.

Compliance is Key

Provide uniform corporate standards for data security. This includes password regulations and controlling user access through individual employee accounts. A good rule of thumb when it comes to password security is to utilize a combination of letters, numbers, and special characters. Sentence passwords are typically the most secure. Set passwords to expire every 6 months so that routine updates are required by all users.

Monitor any unauthorized activity to detect threats early on. This will allow management to minimize the impact of any malware that slips through the cracks. It’s also a good idea to manage employee credentials by limiting higher level data access. Assign user profiles with authority to install and download new software, as well as make administrative changes to critical systems information. Limiting access is a good way to reduce the risk of a cyber attack.

Along the same lines of protocol, consider compartmentalizing the network. Separate departments by access level so that each department only has access to the resources they need. This will make it easier for your managers and staff to focus on one aspect of the development environment without worrying about compliance outside of their organization.

Secure your company’s Wi-Fi network and ensure the network is always hidden to avoid any unwanted guests stealing your internet — or worse, your data.

Have a Back Up Plan

Even the most stringent of companies can be subject to a data breach. Keep your critical information secure by backing up your network through cloud storage options and external hard drives. Be sure to back up data on a weekly basis so your information is always up to date. This can dramatically minimize profit loss when it comes to recovering from a cyber attack.

When all else fails, the tech experts at AE have our New York business owners covered with comprehensive disaster recovery solutionsContact us today to learn more about securing your company’s future.

Prioritizing Email Security in 2019 and Beyond

Prioritizing Email Security in 2019 and Beyond
Email Security

The future of tech has brought about dynamic advancements in how we do business. From CRM databases to enhancing interdepartmental collaboration, automation has made it easy to assume we live in a world where the risks of compromised data are a thing of the past. Unfortunately, despite significant improvements to antivirus software and firewalls, email security is still a vulnerability for many companies.

As we take a look back at the year in review, there’s much to be learned about protecting sensitive information and data through enhanced email security. AE Technology Group has paired down the highlights of email security in 2019. We’re here to make the goal of zero security breaches in 2020 a reality for our business clients.

Pinpointing the Vulnerability

Identifying the weakest link in your cyber security force is key to understanding and preventing data breaches. Many companies assume hackers will target the lowest echelon of employees first, making large businesses particularly vulnerable to compromised security at a departmental level. According to Mimecast’s 2019 State of Email Security Report, this assumption isn’t entirely correct.

While company wide security training is highly important, hackers tend to target members of the executive team in an effort to get their digital hands on the most valuable data and financial information. Mimecast found that a substantial 31% of executive level personnel sent sensitive data to the wrong person. Perhaps unsurprisingly given the aforementioned statistic, 40% of employees regarded their CEO as the weakest link when it came to cyber security and believed their CEO undervalued the impact of email security.

Assessing the Casualties

Now that we’ve all taken a moment to enjoy some humble pie, it’s time to take a look at the costs of a cyber attack. Of the companies survey, 39% reported data loss with financial data loss following close behind at 29%. 28% reported a decrease in their customer base, with 27% reporting job losses as a result of a large scale breach.

It’s easy to imagine that a data breach has a profound and lasting impact on a company’s reputation. Examining the strategies used to extract data and target vulnerabilities is the first step in preventing damage.

(Cyber) Criminal MindsĀ 

As the realm of business technology grows and becomes more sophisticated every year, hackers are also becoming more advanced. According to our friends at Mimecast, 71% of organizations were victim to email-based malicious activity spread by an infected user in the last year alone. The most common types of fraud included wire transfer requests, requests for confidential data, impersonation of third-party vendors, and malicious email attachments.

Despite the substantial increase in cyber attacks as well as the improved strategies behind such threats, only 25% of companies routinely implement cyber security training for their staff. Of those who did train their employees, 62% included group sessions, 45% included interactive videos, and less than half (44%) were given formal online testing, reference tips, and one-on-one sessions. This means that employees are limited in their opportunities to learn, ask questions, and develop their knowledge of cyber security.

Looking to the Future

The statistics behind cyber crime and the consequences of a data breach can be a grim truth to process. Fortunately for proactive business owners, this information is also a guideline for improvement. 

As we move into 2020, the need to prioritize cyber security for large and small businesses has never been greater. Build a foundation of excellence by implementing comprehensive technology training, robust firewall and antivirus software, and state of the art data storage and disaster recovery programs.

Contact our experts today to learn more about equipping your New York business for the future.

5 Tips for Improving Workplace Security and Safety

5 Tips for Improving Workplace Security and Safety
5 Tips for Improving Workplace Security and Safety

Your employees are part of the assets you have within your enterprise, and your customers, on the other hand, are the lifeblood of your business, which explains the importance of the safety and security  of both workers and clients. Individuals who work in a well maintained and safe environment are also more productive than those who operate in insecure and unsafe surroundings.

Assuring customers and staff members of their safety and security and that of their belongings when they are within your premises should be part of your priorities, and here are some tips that can make that a possibility.

1. Inculcate A Culture of Safety and Security

Sometimes, you may not be aware of some of the health hazards or security loopholes that exist in-house as an employer, which is why you should consider engaging your staff members in reporting safety issues and highlighting potential security risks. One of the ways you can bring your employees aboard on matters affecting their safety at the workplace is by adopting a reward program that imparts a culture of safety and security.

When your employees become conscious of their safety and security with the help of a reward program, cases of injury, loss of company property, losing personal items, as well as illnesses, will become a rare occurrence.

2. Adhere to The Set Rules and Regulations

The law stipulates that every organization should observe the set safety and security regulations to ensure that such environments are safe for all. Local rules and regulations on workplace safety and security address such things as joint health and safety committees for large entities, premises maintenance, first aid kits and training, emergency plans, among other things.

Researching the demands of local authorities regarding safety and security at the workplace from relevant sites is critical to ensure that you conform with such regulations because they protect both your staff and clients.

3. Install Verified Security Systems

Investing in a verified security system to secure your organization from intruders and address issues of pilferage among other safety and security concerns is a wise decision. Some of the security systems you should focus on installing within your organization include CCTV and audio, controlled access systems, fire detection systems, panic buttons, among others.

Contacting security officers in case of an emergency should not be a challenge after installing a security system within your firm, which implies that the safety of your staff and customers is guaranteed. Scalable and customizable security systems that can address the unique requirements of specific business owners are also available.

4. Consider Educating Your Employees on Security and Safety

When your staff members lack an understanding of how they should respond when they encounter safety or security threats, it increases their risk of suffering injuries or illness, and damage or loss of company assets is also possible. Offering your employees basic training on security and safety is a necessity because it goes a long way in safeguarding all who access your premises and everything you have in-house.

5. Prioritize Machinery and Premises Maintenance

Old shelters and partitions, faulty equipment, machines with an overdue servicing schedule, and fixtures that are due for replacement are health hazards in any office environment. Business owners should address machine servicing and replacement needs with the seriousness it deserves to maintain a safe workplace for their employees.

Failing to maintain your premises is also a risk for visiting individuals, and break-ins may become common sooner or later, which is why repairing office structures and constructing new ones where necessary is not an option if you care about the safety and security of all individuals accessing your firm.

Overlooking the importance of prioritizing the security and safety of your workers and customers can cost your enterprise a fortune, and that is why you should consider implementing these tips before it is too late. If you need more information on enhancing workplace safety and security, contact us today!

State of Email Security for 2019

State of Email Security for 2019
State of Email Security for 2019

Email has been an irreplaceable blessing and a cruel curse to the cybersecurity of business over the years. Email connects the employees as well as the rest of the world. However, because email connects employees to the rest of the world, email has also come to be the largest vulnerability of any organization. In fact, recent studies report that 94% of companies will experience an email-related malicious attack. 

These attacks are generally phishing attacks such as emails requesting money transfers and fraud based attacks such as impersonation of third party vendors. Email is the easiest point of contact for other users, external or internal, to interact with employees and attempt malicious attacks. Reasons for improving email security are endless and companies are looking for solutions to remedy potential vulnerabilities in their systems.

Vulnerabilities are Increasing

The amount of email-based attacks towards a company has consistently seen a rise in recent years. As the world moves further and further along with the use of the internet and emails, this trend isn’t likely to see any change. IT departments are finding it increasingly difficult to protect the company and increase email security. In fact, 61% of businesses believe that they will likely or inevitably suffer an email-borne attack. 

Companies are continuing to promote email safety protocols and educate employees on the proper usage of email. Through these efforts, they hope to minimize security risks and improve vulnerability management. However, while these efforts to increase employee ability to spot cyber attacks have increased, only 25% of companies are providing training to actively increase email security. This training is commonly in the form of group sessions or informative videos. Some companies even go as far as having one on one sessions with employees to ensure that they understand the risk involved in email and that they keep the company safe while using it.

Effects of Attacks on Businesses

Many of these email-borne attacks have had direct effects on the functioning and profits of the organization. Specifically for email-based impersonation attacks, organizations have reported that:

  • 13% lost their position in the market
  • 26% loss of reputation
  • 27% had to cut back on employee numbers
  • 28% lost customers
  • 29% experienced direct financial loss
  • 39% experienced data loss

While 25% reported that they experienced no loss because of an impersonation email attack, this doesn’t mean that they didn’t suffer losses from some other form of attack. The chances are high that they did. 

More to Email Security Than Just Outside Threats

There’s more to email security than simply malicious user attacks. There are also human errors involved. 31% of C-suite level(CFO, CEO, CTO) employees have reported to had sent sensitive data to the wrong person. If this information is incorrectly sent to a fellow employee, the situation may not be so bad. However, if the wrong information is sent outside of the company, there is a chance that the information can be used to harm the company. Roughly 40% of employees at a given organization believes that the CEO undervalues the impact of email security.

C-suite level members of an organization are also the target of most cybercriminals. As C-suite level members often hold valuable information and have authorization to much of the company, cybercriminals highly target these individuals because they can profit the most from them. C-suite level employees, just as much as normal level employees, need to become better educated on email security.

Email security should be one of the many integrated security strategies seriously enforced to protect the company. For more information regarding the state of email security, contact AE Technology Group. We are well-versed in protecting the networks of companies and offer solutions that can prevent cyber disasters and increase vulnerability management including email security.

Ransom + Software = Ransomware: How to Prevent Data Hostages

Ransom + Software = Ransomware: How to Prevent Data Hostages
Software

The word ransom conjures images of true crime documentaries and ski mask clad villains holding your data hostage in cyberspace. In fact, the term “ransomware” is combination of the words ransom and software. This type of cyberattack typically operates by phishing scams, using malicious email links and attachments or drive-by downloading to gain access to sensitive information. Hackers steal company data, encrypt it, and charge unsuspecting victims an exorbitant ransom fee (typically in bitcoin so as not to be traced) to obtain access to their own documents, networks, and servers.

The good news is you won’t need a team of secret agents to put these villains in their place. Knowledge and simple preemptive action is key when it comes to protecting your company’s data.

A Targeted Strike

Understanding the ways hackers exploit vulnerable networks can save businesses a lot of time and money in data recovery costs. Hackers have become more sophisticated in recent years, targeting specific entities they know will pay a high price for the safe return of their data. Companies that handle sensitive and confidential information are the most vulnerable, with ransomware attacks becoming prominent in the healthcare industry as well as in corporations that utilize CRM (Client Relationship Management) systems.

The latest victim? Municipalities. According to a recent report from the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, although the number of ransomware attacks have decreased in recent years, infiltration attempts are becoming more targeted and devastating where successful. Hackers now have the ability to shut down entire cities and demand payment to restore vital services.

An Impenetrable Defense

Now that we know how ransomware works and who is at risk, we can begin taking steps to fortify our data security. 

Foremost, always backup your data, servers, and networks. Cloud servers and SaaS can cut down on vulnerable infrastructure, provide reliable and automated backups, and keep your data stored in one, convenient location. 

A dependable firewall is essential for any business. Strong antivirus software updates automatically to account for new and evolving threats, detecting risks before they become a problem.

Implementing basic technology training for your large or small business can enable employees to take cybersecurity into their own hands and learn more about common phishing scams, suspicious links, and malware prevention.

Of course, super powering your company’s security with a managed IT service is the best way to keep your critical systems information safe. Contact our tech gurus today to learn more about protecting your business from ransomware and other threats.