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Risks associated with cybersecurity threats and exposures motivate organizations to implement protective controls intended to keep their digital assets safe from malicious computer hackers. 

We display a similar strategy when protecting our physical assets. Our homes have locks on entry doors and windows. Security systems to detect intruders. Fences that prevent access to private property and camera surveillance to monitor for threats.

 

What is Penetration Testing?

Protective controls are important to have in place, but it is equally important to test the effectiveness of the controls themselves. Have you ever left your home, shut the door, and then reached back to jiggle the doorknob to make sure the door is latched and locked? This is an example of testing a protective control. The same concept applies to the digital world, we must test our cybersecurity controls to ensure they are working as intended.

One common way to test the effectiveness of cybersecurity controls is to conduct a penetration test. Penetration Testing is an exercise in which an ethical computer hacker will simulate an actual cybersecurity attack against your organization. They will execute the same actions and behaviors of a malicious hacker to identify weakness with your cybersecurity controls. We tend to assume that our firewall is keeping us safe, like the assumption we make that our locked front door is keeping our home safe. But unlike our ability to jiggle the doorknob of the door, there is no tangible way to verify that the firewall is working. This is why penetration testing is such a valuable exercise to complete.

 

The Benefits of Completing a Penetration Test:

1. Test the effectiveness of your cybersecurity controls that you otherwise assume are protecting you.

2. Improve your cybersecurity controls after reviewing the results of the penetration test

3. In many cases, help satisfy the burden of compliance with state or federal regulation.

 

How to Choose the Right Service Provider:

Penetration tests that are performed incorrectly will not properly identify the REAL concerns and exposures that exist within your technology environment. This can promote a false sense of wellbeing and security only to learn the hard way that your network was not as secure as you may have thought. Instead, a penetration test should produce a clear understanding of the improvements that can be made to better secure and protect the organization from threats like computer hackers.

Here are 10 ways to ensure that a service provider is right for you.

1) Is there a human being completing the penetration test?

Buyer beware – many low cost penetration tests are “automated” and involve little to no human effort. This is a BIG problem because real cyber attacks launched by actual computer hackers are not automated. Attackers use critical thinking, logic and reason to carry out sophisticated and organized cyber attacks – a good penetration test should simulate their approach instead of being limited by the capabilities of tools designed to “automate” the penetration test.

2) Is the person(s) conducting the penetration test qualified and experienced?

There are many IT professionals and generalist who claim to be proficient in the art of penetration testing, but have every intention of learning on your dime. Hiring someone who does not have experience and is not certified is a risky move. Look for someone who has conducted at least 75 penetration tests and holds one or more of these industry certifications (and do not be afraid to ask for proof):

  • Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH)
  • Offensive Security Certified Professional (OSCP)
  • GIAC Penetration Tester – (GPEN)

3) Can they explain the difference between a penetration test and a vulnerability scan? Will they perform a vulnerability scan while doing the penetration test at no extra cost?

One of the biggest misconceptions is that a vulnerability scan and penetration test are the same exercise. This means that many cybersecurity firms will sell you a penetration test but will only perform a vulnerability scan. Vulnerability scans will identify Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE). Penetration testing attempts to exploit those vulnerabilities in an effort to compromise systems and controls.

It is common for hackers to scan your network and find vulnerabilities, but they don’t stop there. Based on their findings, they proceed to launch specific attacks designed to exploit the discovered vulnerabilities. Be sure you are getting what you pay for. Don’t purchase a penetration test only to have a vulnerability scan completed.

4) Do they insist on having a discussion about Rules Of Engagement (ROE) prior to doing the penetration test?

It is important to discuss the inherent risks associated with penetration testing and it is also important to determine how intense the testing will be. For example, is the Ethical Hacker allowed to transfer, delete or alter data once a system is compromised? Are they allowed to launch Denial of Service attacks that may cause service disruption? Can they test during normal business hours? These are just a few questions that need to be discussed and answered prior to executing a penetration test. Rules of Engagement allow for risk(s) to be mitigated and establish guidelines for testing.

5) Do they include social engineering attacks as part of their testing procedures?

Not all penetration tests include the same types of attack vectors which means that many providers will not launch social engineering attacks such as email phishing. Social engineering is a wildly popular method for hackers to circumvent traditional security controls such and firewalls. The vast majority of all successful cyberattacks involve some element of social engineering. So this attack vector should absolutely be included in any penetration test performed.

6) Do they provide flexibility with logistics and scheduling or does the penetration have to be completed during their normal business hours?

Many cybersecurity firms will demand that the penetration test be completed during their normal business hours and if you request to have the work done at night or over the weekend (if you are worried about possible disruptions to business) then the provider will seek additional compensation or refuse. It is important that you have the ability to control when the penetration test will take place.

7) Do they make their penetration tester(s) readily available during the testing process?

Some abnormal activity may be detected by your security tools or employees during a penetration test and it is imperative that you have instant access to the penetration tester to verify that they are the responsible party vs a legit attack. Many service providers make it impossible to contact the penetration tester(s) directly.

8) Does their report include information that matters and is actionable of is it a simple list of open ports and discovered vulnerabilities?

While it is good to know the results or basic discovery and reconnaissance efforts, a final report for a penetration test should include more than a list of open ports and vulnerabilities. The objective of a penetration test is for you to understand how an actual hacker would logically attempt to exploit your vulnerabilities and the sequencing of attacks they would deploy so that you can improve your security control framework. Your report should include meaningful and actionable information such as:

  • A comprehensive narrative of the testing event provided by the penetration tester
  • A detailed evaluation of each attack vector, including visual diagrams, evidence of success, and specific remediation recommendations.

9) Do they hold a formal meeting to present their findings or do they simply forward your report and wish you the best?

The deliverable for a penetration test is typically a formal report that explains the outcome of the penetration test in the form of findings and recommendations. It is important for the penetration tester to take the time and review the contents of this deliverable with you and other interested stakeholders so that a crystal clear understanding can be achieved and you know exactly what to do next. Interrupting the report on your own can be difficult due to the technical information contained within.

10) Do they offer customer loyalty discounts for repeat customers and allow monthly payments for penetration testing?

It is recommended that penetration testing become an operational component of an organizations’ cybersecurity program. The exercise should be conducted periodically according to  organizational policy and regulatory requirements. If you are going to conduct an annual penetration test, wouldn’t it be nice to receive a discount for being a loyal customer? And wouldn’t it be nice to pay for annual penetration testing services as an operating expense instead of a capital expense?

 

How Databranch Can Help:

Interested in learning more about Penetration Testing and how it will enhance your companies security? We are more than happy to discuss our penetrating testing service and the benefits it provides.

Contact us today at 716-373-4467 x 15, email us at: info@databranch.com , or fill out the form below to request more information and schedule a call with someone on our team.

Stolen login credentials are a hot commodity on the Dark Web. There’s a price for every type of account from online banking to social media. For example, hacked social media accounts will go for between $30 to $80 each.

The rise in reliance on cloud services has caused a big increase in breached cloud accounts. Compromised login credentials are now the #1 cause of data breaches globally, according to IBM Security’s latest Cost of a Data Breach Report.

Having either a personal or business cloud account compromised can be very costly. It can lead to a ransomware infection, compliance breach, identity theft, and more.

To make matters more challenging, users are still adopting bad password habits that make it all too easy for criminals. For example:

  • 34% of people admit to sharing passwords with colleagues
  • 44% of people reuse passwords across work and personal accounts
  • 49% of people store passwords in unprotected plain text documents

Cloud accounts are more at risk of a breach than ever, but there are several things you can do to reduce the chance of having your online accounts compromised.

Use Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is the best method there is to protect cloud accounts. While not a failsafe, it is proven to prevent approximately 99.9% of fraudulent sign-in attempts, according to a study cited by Microsoft.

When you add the second requirement to a login, which is generally to input a code that is sent to your phone, you significantly increase account security. In most cases, a hacker is not going to have access to your phone or another device that receives the MFA code, thus they won’t be able to get past this step.

The brief inconvenience of using that additional step when you log into your accounts is more than worth it for the bump in security.

Use a Password Manager for Secure Storage

One way that criminals get their hands on user passwords easily is when users store them in unsecured ways. Such as in an unprotected Word or Excel document or the contact application on their PC or phone.

Using a password manager provides you with a convenient place to store all your passwords that is also encrypted and secured. Plus, you only need to remember one strong master password to access all the others.

Password managers can also autofill all your passwords in many different types of browsers, making it a convenient way to access your passwords securely across devices.

Review/Adjust Privacy & Security Setting

Have you taken time to look at the security settings in your cloud tools? One of the common causes of cloud account breaches is misconfiguration. This is when security settings are not properly set to protect an account.

You don’t want to just leave SaaS security settings at defaults, as these may not be protective enough. Review and adjust cloud application security settings to ensure your account is properly safeguarded.

Use Leaked Password Alerts in Your Browser

You can have impeccable password security on your end, yet still have your passwords compromised. This can happen when a retailer or cloud service you use has their master database of usernames and passwords exposed and the data stolen.

When this happens, those leaked passwords can quickly end up for sale on the Dark Web without you even knowing it.

Due to this being such a prevalent problem, browsers like Chrome and Edge have had leaked password alert capabilities added. Any passwords that you save in the browser will be monitored, and if found to be leaked, you’ll see an alert when you use it.

 

Look for this in the password area of your browser, as you may have to enable it. This can help you know as soon as possible about a leaked password, so you can change it.

Don’t Enter Passwords When on a Public Wi-Fi

Whenever you’re on public Wi-Fi, you should assume that your traffic is being monitored. Hackers like to hang out on public hot spots in airports, restaurants, coffee shops, and other places so they can gather sensitive data, such as login passwords.

You should never enter a password, credit card number, or other sensitive information when you are connected to public Wi-Fi. You should either switch off Wi-Fi and use your phone’s wireless carrier connection or use a virtual private network (VPN) app, which encrypts the connection.

Use Good Device Security

If an attacker manages to breach your device using malware, they can often breach your accounts without a password needed. Just think about how many apps on your devices you can open and already be logged in to.

To prevent an online account breach that happens through one of your devices, make sure you have strong device security. Best practices include:

  • Antivirus/anti-malware
  • Up-to-date software and OS
  • Phishing protection (like email filtering and DNS filtering)

Looking for Password & Cloud Account Security Solutions?

Don’t leave your online accounts at risk. We can help you review your current cloud account security and provide helpful recommendations. Contact Databranch today at 716-373-4467 x 15 or info@databranch.com if you would like to enhance your security and want to discuss you options.

 

Article used with permission from The Technology Press.

Purchasing a new computer is a big investment. Many small businesses and home PC owners end up struggling with older systems because they want to get as many years out of them as possible.

Have you found yourself frustrated with your computer performance? Have you tried every tip and trick you found online, only to still struggle with a slow PC?

There are some promising upgrades you can do that will cost much less than the price of a new computer, while making your PC feel like new again.

Here are some of the options you can try to improve the performance of an older computer.

Upgrade to a Solid-State Drive (SSD)

Prices for solid-state drives have come down quite a bit in the past few years, making them an affordable upgrade that can breathe life back into an older PC that might be slowing down.

Unlike hard disk drives (HDDs), SSDs do not have any moving parts and use a flash memory that allows for a quicker response time. You can improve your time to boot and your experience when searching files, opening applications, and other activities.

Some of the advantages of upgrading your computer’s hard drive to SSD include:

  • SSD read/write speeds up to 2500 MB/second compared to HDD at up to 200 MB/second
  • SSD access time of 0.1ms as compared to HDD at 5.5-8.0ms
  • SSDs use between 2-5 watts of energy compared to HDD at 6-15 watts

Increase the RAM (Memory)

One upgrade that is very low-cost and can mean a significant increase in performance is a memory upgrade. If your PC only had 4GB of RAM when you bought it, you likely have trouble opening too many tabs in your browser or using any graphics-heavy program.

Upgrading your RAM, if your PC has available memory slots, to 8GB or 12GB can make it seem like you have an entirely new computer due to the big increase in speed.

Upgrade the Graphics Card

If you play computer games or work in any type of video, imaging, or 3D software, an outdated graphics card can ruin your experience.

Instead of replacing your entire computer, just upgrading the graphics card to a more robust model can improve your PC’s performance and give you several more useful years from it.

Replace Your PC Cooling System

Heat is an enemy of your computer’s internal parts. If your cooling system is getting worn out and not working the way it should be, then excess heat can be building up inside your device.

When this happens things can get strange, with programs crashing or your system rebooting on its own.

If you suspect excess heat may be an issue, have your computer’s fan and cooling system checked out to see if it needs replacing.

Connect an External Monitor to a Laptop

If you’re working on a laptop and having a hard time multi-tasking due to limited screen real estate, consider getting an external monitor rather than replacing your entire PC.

Monitors are just a fraction of the cost of computers, and having a screen twice the size of the one on your laptop can make all the difference in the world and improve productivity due to the additional screen space.

Replace Your Keyboard

Older keywords can stick, lose keys, and have the writing rubbed off the keys, making it more difficult to tell a “Home” button from a “Delete” button. If the performance of your PC is hampered by a frustrating keyboard, an upgrade can be a very inexpensive way to improve your equipment.

Get an External Hard Drive

Computers can slow down and be more difficult to use when the hard drive fills up with data. Over the years, files build up, and many users never take the time to go through and delete those that are unnecessary.

Buying an external hard drive can allow you to offload files that may be slowing you down, while still keeping them easily accessible.

Another benefit of an external hard drive is that it’s portable and can easily be carried between home and work and used in both places.

Get a Professional Computer Tune-Up

Those free PC cleaner tools you find online aren’t going to give you the type of tune-up that a professional IT provider can give. We will go through things like the Windows Registry, duplicate system files, internal errors, and more to clean up your system and remove all the “junk” that has built up over the years.

We can also do a maintenance check for things like failing parts, and provide expert guidance on your most impactful upgrade options.

Get Help Improving Your Computers Performance Today!

Don’t struggle with an older PC! We can provide you with cost-effective upgrade options that will fit your system and budget perfectly. Contact us today at 716-373-4467 x 15 or email us at: info@databranch.com to arrange a quick chat to learn more about your computer and discuss how we can help.

 

Article used with permission from The Technology Press.

Phishing is the number one method of attack delivery for everything from ransomware to credential theft. We are very aware of it coming by email, but other types of phishing have been growing rapidly.

In recent years, phishing over social media has skyrocketed by 500%. There has also been a 100% increase in fraudulent social media accounts.

Phishing over social media often tricks the victims because people tend to let their guard down when on social platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. They’re socializing and not looking for phishing scams.

However, phishing scammers are out there looking for you and will reach out via friend requests and direct messages. Learn several ways you can secure your social media use to avoid these types of covert attacks.

Make Your Profile Private on Social Platforms

Phishing scammers love public profiles on social media because not only can they gather intel on you to strike up a conversation, but they can also clone your profile and put up a fake page for phishing your connections.

Criminals do this in order to try to connect with those on your friends or connections list to send social phishing links that those targets will be more likely to click because they believe it’s from someone they know.

You can limit your risk by going into your profile and making it private to your connections only. This means that only someone that you’ve connected with can see your posts and images, not the general public.

For sites like LinkedIn where many people network for business, you might still want to keep your profile public, but you can follow the other tips below to reduce your risk.

Hide Your Contacts/Friends List

You can keep social phishing scammers from trying to use your social media profile to get to your connections by hiding your friends or connections list. Platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook both give you this privacy option.

Just be aware that this does not keep scammers from seeing you as a friend or connection on someone else’s profile unless they too have hidden their friends list.

Be Wary of Links Sent Via Direct Message & in Posts

Links are the preferred way to deliver phishing attacks, especially over social media. Links in social posts are often shortened, making it difficult for someone to know where they are being directed until they get there. This makes it even more dangerous to click links you see on a social media platform.

A scammer might chat you up on LinkedIn to inquire about your business offerings and give you a link that they say is to their website. Unless you know the source to be legitimate, do not click links sent via direct message or in social media posts. They could be leading to a phishing site that does a drive-by download of malware onto your device.

Even if one of your connections shares a link, be sure to research where it is coming from. People often share posts in their own feeds because they like a meme or picture on the post, but they never take the time to check whether the source can be trusted.

Don’t Participate in Social Media Surveys or Quizzes

While it may be fun to know what Marvel superhero or Disney princess you are, stay away from quizzes on social media. They’re often designed as a ploy to gather data on you. Data that could be used for targeted phishing attacks or identity theft.

The Cambridge Analytica scandal that impacted the personal data of millions of Facebook users did not happen all that long ago. It was found that the company was using surveys and quizzes to collect information on users without their consent.

While this case was high-profile, they’re by no means the only ones that play loose and fast with user data and take advantage of social media to gather as much as they can.

It’s best to avoid any types of surveys or quizzes on any social media platform because once your personal data is out there, there is no getting it back.

Avoid Purchasing Directly From Ads on Facebook or Instagram

Many companies advertise on social media legitimately. Unfortunately, many scammers use the platforms as well for credit card fraud and identity theft.

If you see something that catches your eye in a Facebook or Instagram ad, go to the advertiser’s website directly to check it out, do not click through the social ad.

Research Before You Accept a Friend Request

It can be exciting to get a connection request on a social media platform. It could mean a new business connection or connecting with someone from your Alma mater. But this is another way that phishing scammers will look to take advantage of you. They’ll try to connect to you which can be a first step before reaching out direct via DM.

Do not connect with friend requests without first checking out the person on the site and online using a search engine. If you see that their timeline only has pictures of themselves and no posts, that’s a big red flag that you should decline the request.

Can Your Devices Handle a Phishing Link or File?

It’s important to safeguard your devices with things like DNS filtering, managed antivirus, email filtering, and more. This will help protect you if you happen to click on a phishing link. Contact Databranch today at 716-373-4467 x 15 or info@databranch.com if you would like to learn more about our Breach Prevention Platform and Security Awareness Training with simulated phishing tests.

Article used with permission from The Technology Press.

What are Local Admin Privileges?

Many companies allow their employees to make adjustments to their work computers without the need for IT interference. This means that they can download programs, connect to printers, and modify software already installed on their computer.

Users generally enjoy the freedom that local admin rights provide, especially in a company with limited IT personnel. Instead of waiting for an available IT worker, you can go into your computer and make the adjustments that you desire.

However, providing users with local admin rights will leave holes in your cybersecurity. 

Why You Should Reconsider Local Admin Privileges

1. Prevents Malware from being Downloaded

Restricting users’ ability to install software not only prevents them from installing unnecessary programs onto their computer, but it can also stop an employee from accidentally clicking and installing malware.

Employees come into contact with malicious software more than they realize. This could be through an attachment on a phishing email, a malicious website link, or if they decided to scroll through social media on a company device.

Around 66% of cybercriminals rank email phishing as their attack vector of choice. Unsuspecting employees may be fooled by an illegitimate email without thinking twice. Without local admin privileges, then there is an increased chance the malware will be stopped since the employee doesn’t have the authorization to install software onto their computer.

2. Decreases the Privileges for Potential Hackers

If a hacker were to gain access to an account with local admin privileges, the damage could be endless. This is especially true for a business that is not utilizing security measures such as Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) or Password Managers. 

Once a hacker has breached your computer they could download malware, spyware, or even ransomware. Resulting in computer files being locked, credentials being stolen, or even a virus spreading throughout your entire network.

Restricting local admin privilege’s for your employees is a great way to decrease cybersecurity threats from happening in the first place. However, security measures like Password Managers or using MFA can decrease the damage done by a hacker if a computer were to be compromised. 

According to Microsoft, MFA can block over 99.9% of account compromise attacks. This means that even if a hacker knows your credentials, they will not be able to log in because they won’t have access to your MFA code.

If this is something you are interested in setting up for your organization, give us a call at 716-373-4467 or email info@databranch.com. 

3. Minimizes the Risk of Costly Downtime

Receiving malware or having a hacker breach your security system could cause your company to shut down while the issue is being resolved. All the time you could have been spending working on a project, closing a deal, or procuring new clients is now lost. 

This could also result in your businesses reputation taking a hit. Clients will wonder why you’ve had to close for days, weeks, or maybe even months. Plus, you may have to discuss security risks with some clients if their personal information was leaked during the breach.

Interested in calculating what the cost of downtime could be for your business? Click here for Databranch’s Recovery Time Calculator.

4. Prevents Restricted Files and Accounts from Being Edited

Accidentally clicking the wrong button happens to the best of us. You could be reviewing some important client files when your finger slips and presses the delete button by mistake. You may not notice right away and by the time you realize and try to get your information back, it’s too late.

Restricting local admin privileges allows a company to control which files can be modified, deleted, or moved. 

On top of this, restricting users’ ability to modify accounts and files not only prevents employees from making a mistake but also prevents hackers from altering your companies settings as well. A hacker who has breached an account with local admin privileges could secretly make an account for themselves or even disable antivirus software. 

Solutions

Principle of Least Privileges

Adopting the Principals of Least Privilege is a great addition to a companies security portfolio. This is when a business only gives their employees the minimum level of access privileges that are needed to fulfill their job requirements. 

If the employee needs to download additional software or update a program on their computer, they will need to have IT personnel log into their administrative account and make these adjustments for them.

Here at Databranch, we not only believe in the Principle of Least Privileges but we actively practice it. None of our employee login accounts have local administrative privileges. 

MFA and Password Managers

Enabling MFA and utilizing Password Managers is another great way to stay on top of cybersecurity for your business. These applications are easy to use, relatively inexpensive, and extremely beneficial to a company.

Want to talk to an IT Professional about any of the topics covered in this article? You can contact us at today at 716-373-4467 x 15 or info@databranch.com to set up a meeting, or simply fill out the form below and one of our team members will contact you. We would love to talk about your cybersecurity and how we can help you enhance it.

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.

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, 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.

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%.

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.

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

Databranch provides these foundational elements to all their managed service clients to ensure the protection of their business. Reach out at 716-373-4467 x 15 or info@databranch.com if you would like to learn more about our Foundation Security Platform and how we can help your organization be more secure.

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 or IBM’s MaaS 360 platform.

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

Click here to learn more about our continuous security awareness training program.

WHEN DID YOU LAST HAVE A CYBERSECURITY CHECKUP?

Don’t stay in the dark about your IT security vulnerabilities. Contact us today if you want to discuss your cybersecurity in greater detail and pinpoint potential risks. We can arrange a quick chat to review our Foundation Security Platform and how it can help enhance your organization’s security posture. Give us a call at 716-373-4467 x 15 or email us at: info@databranch.com to learn more.

Request your free security risk assessment and consultation with a Databranch Security Expert here:

Article used with permission from The Technology Press.

In 2020, 75% of companies around the world experienced a phishing attack. 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.

One phishing email can be responsible for a company succumbing to ransomware and having to face costly downtime. As many as 92% of data breaches are due to human error such as falling for a phishing email. This can result in a user unknowingly handing 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 fool 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 IS 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.

Enabling Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) is one of the best ways you can protect yourself and your business from BEC. Reach out to Databranch with any questions or if you would like assistance setting up MFA for your companies users.

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 implement a multi-layered security strategy to defend against one of the biggest dangers to your business’s wellbeing, phishing attacks. Contact Databranch today at 716-373-4467 x 15 or info@databranch.com if you would like to learn more about what options are available to improve your organizations cybersecurity. Our Foundation Security Plan offers a wide variety of benefits such as increasing malware/ransomware protection, reduces phishing compromises, and helps prevent data theft/loss.

To request a free Baseline Security Assessment, click here.

 

Article used with permission from The Technology Press.

Whether you work remotely or in an office, the line between personal and work tasks can become blurred when working on your company computer. 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 a work computer. 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 computer 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

It’s a bad idea to mix work and personal, 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 THE BROWSER

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.

Contact Databranch today to learn more about our Password Management Solution. We make it simple for your business to use strong passwords and increase your security while enhancing your productivity.  

2. STORE PERSONAL DATA

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 UNSECURE WEBSITES

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 an unauthorized website deemed dangerous to security.

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. However, 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. Contact Databranch today at 716-373-4467 x 15 or info@databranch.com if you would like to enhance your security and want to discuss your options.

Request your free security risk assessment and consultation with a Databranch Security Expert here:

Article used with permission from The Technology Press.

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

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 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 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 from 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 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 Databranch today at 716-373-4467 x 15 or info@databranch.com if you would like to enhance your security and want to discuss you options.

 

Article used with permission from The Technology Press.

Upcoming Webinar!

Downtime has unfortunately become a regular occurrence for many businesses. Organizations of all sizes face the risk of business interruption every day, from an employee clicking on something that they shouldn’t have, hardware failure, and the dreaded cybersecurity attacks. There are ways to protect your business from this loss of valuable production time and data.

 

We will explore real-world examples of the latest cybersecurity and ransomware attacks, how they originate, and most importantly, how you can protect yourself with a true business continuity solution.

 

Join the Databranch Team and Desraie Thomas from Datto, the leader in Total Data Protection for this value-packed 60-minute session to learn how to safeguard your organization.

 

In this session we will discuss:

  • Common Causes of Downtime Including the Latest Ransomware Threats Affecting Businesses of All Sizes
  • The Evolution of Ransomware and the Epidemic It Has Become
  • How to Mitigate Risks and Protect your Critical Business Data by Implementing a True Business Continuity Solution, Rather Than Just a Backup Solution
  • Educational Instruction and Demonstration of the True Costs of Downtime, Specific to Your Individual Business, using Databranch and Datto’s Downtime Cost Calculator (https://www.databranch.com/managed-services/backup-recovery-olean/rto-calculator)

 

Presenters:

David Prince, President

Mike Wilson, Vice President of Operations

Amanda Lasky, Director of Sales and Marketing

Desraie Thomas, Channel Development Manager, Datto, Inc.

 

About the Presenter:

Databranch is an information technology consulting and managed services provider specializing in security, data protection, networking, and hosted VoIP solutions. We have been serving local, national, and international businesses in Western New York and Northwestern Pennsylvania since 1985.

 

The Databranch team is made up of highly skilled, experienced, and certified professionals. Our mission is to help our clients succeed through effective planning, implementation, and management of their business technology. We are committed to delivering value every time we have the opportunity to work with a client.

 

As a leading global provider of security and cloud-based software solutions purpose-built for Managed Service Providers (MSPs), Datto believes there is no limit to what small and medium businesses (SMBs) can achieve with the right technology. Datto’s proven Unified Continuity, Networking, Endpoint Management, and Business Management solutions drive cyber resilience, efficiency, and growth for MSPs. Datto’s solutions help its global ecosystem of MSP partners serve over one million businesses around the world. From proactive dynamic detection and prevention to fast, flexible recovery from cyber incidents, Datto’s solutions defend against costly downtime and data loss in servers, virtual machines, cloud applications, or anywhere data resides. Since its founding in 2007, Datto has won numerous awards for its product excellence, superior technical support, rapid growth, and for fostering an outstanding workplace

 

Register Today!

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