Businesses today face a range of cybersecurity threats, from social engineering attacks like phishing, to sophisticated ransomware. For business leaders like you, protecting your network is crucial since it is the lifeline of your business.
Any vulnerability in your network can compromise your sensitive data, operational integrity, and stakeholder trust. That’s why you must understand and address these threats through proactive measures, such as routine security scans and network testing.
In this blog, we’ll discuss the role of a robust network and demystify network testing intricacies.
Benefits of Routine Security Tests
A security test typically assesses the effectiveness of an organization’s security measures and protocols. Here are some of its benefits:
Through regular security scans, you can easily identify weaknesses in your system and proactively address potential threats before they can be exploited by cybercriminals.
It is important to conduct vulnerability assessments regularly, at least every quarter if not more frequently. This is due to the dynamic nature of information technology. Many changes occur on a day-to-day basis that can introduce new exposures associated with information security.
Security shortcomings found during a vulnerability assessment can almost always be fixed. Many times, the fixes are very easy to accomplish.
Assesses Security Measures:
Regular security tests allow you to establish continuous monitoring of security protocols. This helps you gauge the effectiveness of your security measures and make necessary changes when needed.
Here at Databranch, our Managed Service plans offer proactive monitoring tools that helps us detect threats before they can impact your network. They also provide increased protection from malware, ransomware, and phishing compromises.
All Databranch Comprehensive Care and Foundation Security clients also have scheduled automatic patching and Windows updates on their devices.
Security tests help align your security practices with industry standards and reduce the risk of your business running into any compliance issues.
Prevents Data Breaches:
Through routine security scans, you can easily identify and address vulnerabilities and fortify your organization against unauthorized access and potential data breaches.
Optimizes Incident Response:
Regular testing helps you refine and improve your incident response plan and ensures your security preparedness plan is effective and up to date. Simply put, being able to restore and recover important business data after a disaster is no longer enough.
Intelligent Business Continuity is Databranch’s answer to not only ensuring that your data is restored to its former state, but restored quickly, with little to no downtime or interruption to your business.
Regular security testing helps you build a solid security posture, enhancing your organization’s ability to endure and recover from cyberattacks.
Helps Avoid Financial Losses:
By taking proactive measures to identify and address security risks, you can prevent potential financial losses associated with data breaches, legal implications and operational disruptions. Visit our website here to learn just how costly it could be if your business were to experience a disruption.
Fosters Continuous Improvement:
Regular testing fosters a culture of continuous improvement, allowing you to adapt and evolve your security strategies based on emerging threats and industry best practices.
Essential Security Testing Methods
By leveraging security testing methods, you can assess the effectiveness of your organization’s security measures. Here are two of the most efficient methods that can help you build a robust cybersecurity landscape for your business:
Also known as pen testing, this involves simulating real-world cyberattacks on an organization’s network. The simulations provide valuable insights that help organizations identify and address security gaps before they can be exploited by cybercriminals.
This method involves using automated tools to scan networks, systems and applications for known vulnerabilities, misconfigurations or weaknesses. It helps organizations build a robust cybersecurity posture by proactively prioritizing and addressing potential threats before they can do any harm.
Boost Security Effortlessly
When it comes to the security of your network, you can’t take any chances. That’s why you should partner with Databranch and let the experts handle the heavy lifting. We can efficiently manage security testing for you and ensure your digital defenses stay protected. Contact us at 716-373-4467 option 6, or firstname.lastname@example.org for a no-obligation consultation and take the first step towards a more secure future.
Download our infographic today for a condensed roadmap on how routine security scans can optimize your network!
The Business Advantages of an Optimized Network
Download our infographic to see how optimizing your network can benefit your business!
It’s common belief that people are the last line of defense during a cybersecurity attack. Wrong. In many instances people are in fact the first line of defense. If your employees are (1) aware and (2) properly trained, then they will be one of your single strongest assets in fighting a never-ending war against cybercrime.
Basic human behaviors such as inquisitiveness, excitement, distraction, and indecision make people extremely vulnerable to one of the most popular and effective cyber-attacks called Social Engineering. Social Engineering is a term used to describe a wide variety of techniques that are used by malicious hackers to exploit human beings and execute a successful cyber-attack.
The most common example of a Social Engineering attack is called Phishing. This is an exercise where an email is sent with the intent of tricking the recipient and convincing them to either click on a malicious link, download a malicious attachment, or even relinquish sensitive information such as passwords, credit card numbers or bank account details. The victim rarely knows they are being exploited until it is too late.
The results of a successful Phishing attack can be devastating. In some cases, the network is infected with malware or a virus causing loss of data and significant outages or disruptions. In other cases sensitive information or data is stolen and further exploited or resold on the dark web. There are even many documented cases of unauthorized wire transfers resulting in tremendous and unrecoverable financial losses.
So, how does an organization take a group of employees and turn them into an effective cybercrime fighting machine? I’m glad you asked. There are three simple steps that must be executed:
Step 1. Develop A Culture Of Security
Cultures are ultimately defined and upheld from the top down. Leadership, Executive and Management teams must commit to the creation and enforcement of cybersecurity policies, procedures and processes. They must also emphatically message and communicate the importance of good cybersecurity hygiene.
Employees should understand how exactly they can be good cybersecurity stewards and more importantly why it is so critical that they are. Lastly, employees who transform into skeptical, protective and enlightened cybercrime fighting soldiers should be recognized and rewarded.
TIPS to help Develop A Culture Of Security:
- Create cybersecurity policies – these are the guidelines and rules.
- Publish cybersecurity policies – allow employees to read and digest the content.
- Assign roles and responsibilities – tell employees what they must do.
- Good governance – enforce the rules, reprimand offenders & celebrate achievers.
- Frequent Communication – talk about cybersecurity often, remind and reinforce!
Step 2. Educate And Train
The best armies are well trained. They are not only armed, but they understand exactly how and when to use their weapon. They understand their mission, know what they are fighting for, and they have practiced and are ready for combat.
Teach your employees about common threats and dangers such as Social Engineering attacks. Show them how to use software and computers in a secure fashion. Explain correct process and procedures are. Provide them with the critical training they need to effectively fight cybercrime.
TIPS to help Educate And Train:
- Implement a security awareness training program – commit to the training.
- Be sure the content is meaningful and relevant.
- Make the training fun and engaging – tell lots of stories.
- Make the training mandatory.
- Make the training frequent – at least once a year.
- Focus on the basics – keep the content simple and easy to understand.
Contact us today to learn how we can help you start establishing cybersecurity throughout your organization.
Step 3. Test The Effectiveness
It will be difficult to know if your new cybersecurity culture is performing as you hoped unless you test the effectiveness of policies, processes, procedures and awareness training. Is the effort you’ve put into creating an army of equipped cybercrime fighting employees actually providing the protection you desire?
There are only two ways to find out. One, wait for a legit attack to occur and hope for the best – or – two, launch a simulated attack yourself. Controlled Phishing attacks, penetration tests, table top incident response exercises or even a Monday morning pop quiz can all be effective exercises to test your employees’ level of understanding and compliance.
Use the test results as an opportunity to re-engage with employees or even re-tool training efforts. Get better with practice.
TIPS to help Test The Effectiveness:
- Launch simulated Phishing attacks – see how employees actually behave.
- Spot check for policy compliance – it is after 5PM, is the Clean Desk Policy working?
- Include social attacks in the scope of penetration testing.
- Conduct table top exercises.
- Document and share results.
- Learn and get better.
Right now, your employees are probably the weakest link in your cybersecurity defense chain. Make them your strongest link. Our Breach Prevention Platform and Security Awareness Training with simulated phishing tests will give your employees the tools they need to spot a phishing attempt. Reach out today at 716-373-4467 x115 or email@example.com to speak with one of our experienced team members about getting started.
Content used with permission from Cyberstone.
Companies both large and small share this one cybersecurity problem. They have computers that are still running older operating systems. Staff might use these devices only occasionally or the company may be running customized software that won’t run on newer OS versions.
The problem is that when the OS becomes outdated, the system is open to cyberattacks. When Microsoft or another developer retires an OS, it means that it is no longer supported. No more feature updates and no more security patches for newly found vulnerabilities.
The latest operating system to lose all support is Windows 8.1. Microsoft released the OS in 2013, and it was officially retired on January 10, 2023. Microsoft issued the following warning for companies:
“Continuing to use Windows 8.1 after January 10, 2023 may increase an organization’s exposure to security risks or impact its ability to meet compliance obligations.”
Here are a few facts you should know about what this retirement of Windows 8.1 means.
The OS Will Still Technically Work
When an operating system reaches its end of life, it doesn’t just stop working. Thus, many companies go on using it without realizing the security risk. Technically, the OS will work as it did the day before retirement. But it’s a lot less safe due to the loss of support.
Your System Will No Longer Receive Security Patches
Software and OS vulnerabilities are sought out and exploited all the time. This is what hackers do for a living. The vulnerability cycle usually begins with hackers finding a software “loophole.” They then write code to exploit it that allows them some type of system access.
The software developer learns of this, usually once hackers start breaching systems. They write code to fix that vulnerability. Developers then send the fix to users via an update that they install. This protects the device from one or more hacker exploits.
When an OS reaches its end of life, these fixes are no longer made. The developer has moved on to focus on its newer products. So, the vulnerability remains. It leaves a device vulnerable to hacks for days, months, or years afterward.
Approximately 61% of security vulnerabilities in corporate networks are over five years old.
Visit us here to learn more about penetration testing and how it helps identify the vulnerabilities in your business.
Options for Upgrading
If you have a computer that is still running Windows 8.1, you have two options for upgrading. You can opt for Windows 10 or Windows 11. If the computer is running such an old OS, there is a chance your system may not meet the requirements for one or both. In this case, you may need to buy a new device altogether.
Microsoft states that there is no free option to upgrade from 8.1 to Windows 10 or 11. Some of the advantages you gain when upgrading include:
- Better built-in security
- Faster processing
- Capability for more modern features (like facial recognition)
- Improved accessibility features
- Updated productivity tools (like snap layouts in Windows 11)
What Happens If I Don’t Upgrade?
Security & Compliance Issues
Your data security is at risk if you stay on Windows 8.1. Without any security updates, any vulnerabilities will stay unpatched. This leaves your system highly vulnerable to a breach. One hacked system on a network can also cause the breach or malware infection to spread to newer devices.
If you have to comply with a data privacy regulation, like HIPAA, you’ll also run into issues. Data privacy rules dictate making reasonable efforts to protect data. Using a device with an outdated OS jeopardizes meeting compliance.
The older a system gets, the slower it will get. Staff that must work on outdated software often complain that it hurts productivity. 77% of surveyed employees were frustrated with outdated tech. Employees dealing with outmoded systems may also quit. They are 450% more likely to want to leave and work elsewhere.
An outdated operating system can hold your staff back. They miss out on modern time-saving features. They can also run into problems with bugs that will no longer get fixed.
Incompatibility With Newer Tools
Software and hardware developers aren’t looking back. Once Microsoft retires an OS, they aren’t prioritizing its compatibility. In fact, some may not want their product to be compatible with it because of the liability.
When you have issues using modern software and hardware it hurts your business. You become less competitive and begin to fall behind. Staying on an outmoded OS keeps you stuck in the past.
Get Help With Your Windows Upgrades
All Databranch Comprehensive Care and Foundation Security clients have scheduled automatic patching and Windows updates on their devices. To learn more about how we can help take this off your IT plate or help your organization upgrade to a system with a supported operating system, call 716-373-4467 x 115, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit us here to learn more.
Article used with permission from The Technology Press.
Technology vulnerabilities are an unfortunate side effect of innovation. When software companies push new updates, there are often weaknesses in the code. Hackers exploit these weaknesses until software makers address the vulnerabilities with a security patch. The cycle continues with each new software or hardware update.
It’s estimated that about 93% of corporate networks are susceptible to hacker penetration. Assessing and managing these network weaknesses isn’t always a priority for organizations. Many suffer breaches because of poor vulnerability management.
61% of security vulnerabilities in corporate networks are over 5 years old.
Many types of attacks take advantage of unpatched vulnerabilities in software code. This includes ransomware attacks, account takeover, and other common cyberattacks.
Whenever you see the term “exploit” when reading about a data breach, that’s an exploit of a vulnerability. Hackers write malicious code to take advantage of these “loopholes.” That code can allow them to elevate privileges, run system commands or perform other dangerous network intrusions.
Putting together an effective vulnerability management process can reduce your risk. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Just follow the steps we’ve outlined below to get started.
Vulnerability Management Process
Step 1. Identify Your Assets
First, you need to identify all the devices and software that you will need to assess. You’ll want to include all devices that connect to your network, including:
- IoT devices
- Cloud services
Vulnerabilities can appear in many places. Such as the code for an operating system, a cloud platform, software, or firmware. So, you’ll want a full inventory of all systems and endpoints in your network.
This is an important first step, so you will know what you need to include in the scope of your assessment.
Step 2: Perform a Vulnerability Assessment
Next will be performing a vulnerability assessment. This is usually done by an IT professional, such as Databranch, using assessment software. This could also include penetration testing.
During the assessment, the professional scans your systems for any known vulnerabilities. The assessment tool matches found software versions against vulnerability databases.
For example, a database may note that a version of Microsoft Exchange has a vulnerability. If it detects that you have a server running that same version, it will note it as a found weakness in your security.
Learn more about the benefits of penetration testing here.
Step 3: Prioritize Vulnerabilities by Threat Level
The assessment results provide a roadmap for mitigating network vulnerabilities. There will usually be several, and not all are as severe as others. Next, you will need to rank which ones to address first.
At the top of the list should be the ones that experts consider severe. Many vulnerability assessment tools will use the Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS). This categorizes vulnerabilities with a rating score from low to critical severity.
You’ll also want to rank vulnerabilities by your own business needs. If a software is only used occasionally on one device, you may consider it a lower priority to address. While a vulnerability in software used on all employee devices, you may rank as a high priority.
Step 4: Remediate Vulnerabilities
Remediate vulnerabilities according to the prioritized list. Remediation often means applying an issued update or security patch. But it may also mean upgrading hardware that may be too old for you to update.
Another form of remediation may be ringfencing. This is when you “wall off” an application or device from others in the network. A company may do this if a scan turns up a vulnerability for which a patch does not yet exist.
Increasing advanced threat protection settings in your network can also help. Once you’ve remediated the weaknesses, you should confirm the fixes.
Here at Databranch, our Managed Service plans offer proactive monitoring tools that helps us detect threats before they can impact your network. They also provide increased protection from malware, ransomware, and phishing compromises. Read more about the benefits of Managed Services here.
Step 5: Document Activities
It’s important to document the vulnerability assessment and management process. This is vital both for cybersecurity needs and compliance.
You’ll want to document when you performed the last vulnerability assessment. Then document all the steps taken to remediate each vulnerability. Keeping these logs will be vital in the case of a future breach. They also can inform the next vulnerability assessment.
Step 6. Schedule Your Next Vulnerability Assessment Scan
Once you go through a round of vulnerability assessment and mitigation, you’re not done. Vulnerability management is an ongoing process.
In 2022, there were over 22,500 new vulnerabilities documented. Developers continue to update their software continuously. Each of those updates can introduce new vulnerabilities into your network.
It’s a best practice to have a schedule for regular vulnerability assessments. The cycle of assessment, prioritization, mitigation, and documentation should be ongoing. This fortifies your network against cyberattacks. It removes one of the main enablers of hackers.
Get Started with a Vulnerability Assessment
Take the first step towards effective vulnerability management. We can help you fortify your network against attacks. Contact us today at 716-373-4467 x 115 or email@example.com to schedule a vulnerability assessment to get started. You can also fill out the form below to request your free baseline security assessment.
Request your Free Baseline Security Assessment here:
Article used with permission from The Technology Press.
Heads Up Financial Institutions!
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced the first cybersecurity updates to the Gramm Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA) Safeguards Rule since 2003. The new rule strengthens the required security safeguards for customer information. This includes formal risk assessments, access controls, regular penetration testing and vulnerability scanning, and incident response capabilities, among other things.
Most of these changes go into effect in December 2022, to provide organizations time to prepare for compliance. Below, details the changes in comparison to the previous rule.
Background on the Safeguards Rule
GLBA requires, among other things, a wide range of “financial institutions” to protect customer information. Enforcement for GLBA is split up among several different federal agencies, with FTC jurisdiction covering non-banking financial institutions in the Safeguards Rule. Previously, the Safeguards Rule left the implementation details of several aspects of the information security program up to the financial institution, based on its risk assessment.
The Safeguards Rule broad definition of “financial institutions” includes non-bank businesses that offer financial products or services — such as retailers, automobile dealers, mortgage brokers, non-bank lenders, property appraisers, tax preparers, and others. The definition of “customer information” is also broad, to include any record containing non-public personally identifiable information about a customer that is handled or maintained by or on behalf of a financial institution.
Updates to the Safeguards Rule
Many of the other updates’ concern strengthened requirements on how financial institutions must implement aspects of their security programs. Below is a short summary of the changes.
Overall Security Program
Current rule: Financial institutions must maintain a comprehensive, written information security program with administrative, technical, and physical safeguards to ensure the security, confidentiality, and integrity of customer information.
Updated rule: The updated rule now requires the information security program to include the processes and safeguards listed below (i.e., risk assessment, security safeguards, etc.).
Effective date: December 2022
Current rule: Financial institutions are required to identify internal and external risks to security, confidentiality, and integrity of customer information. The risk assessment must include employee training, risks to information systems, and detecting and responding to security incidents and events.
Updated rule: The update includes more specific criteria for what the risk assessment must include. This includes criteria for evaluating and categorizing of security risks and threats, and criteria for assessing the adequacy of security safeguards. The risk assessment must describe how identified risks will be mitigated or accepted. The risk assessment must be in writing.
Effective date: December 2022
Current rule: Financial institutions must implement safeguards to control the risks identified through the risk assessment. Financial institutions must require service providers to maintain safeguards to protect customer information.
Updated rule: The updated rule requires that the safeguards must include
- Access controls, including providing the least privilege;
- Inventory and classification of data, devices, and systems;
- Encryption of customer information at rest and in transit over internal networks;
- Secure development practices for in-house software and applications;
- Multi-factor authentication;
- Secure data disposal;
- Change management procedures; and
- Monitoring activity of unauthorized users and detecting unauthorized access or use of customer information.
Effective date: December 2022
Testing and Evaluation
Current rule: Financial institutions must regularly test or monitor the effectiveness of the security safeguards and make adjustments based on the testing.
Updated rule: Regular testing of safeguards must now include either continuous monitoring or periodic penetration testing (annually) and vulnerability assessments (semi-annually).
Effective date: December 2022
Current rule: Financial institutions must include cybersecurity incident detection and response in their risk assessments and have safeguards to address those risks.
Updated rule: Financial institutions are required to establish a written plan for responding to any security event materially affecting confidentiality, integrity, or availability of customer information.
Effective date: December 2022
Workforce and Personnel
Current rule: Financial institutions must designate an employee to coordinate the information security program. Financial institutions must select service providers that can maintain security and require service providers to implement the safeguards.
Updated rule: The rule now requires designation of a single “qualified individual” to be responsible for the security program. This can be a third-party contractor. Financial institutions must now provide security awareness training and updates to personnel. The rule now also requires periodic reports to a Board of Directors or governing body regarding all material matters related to the information security program.
Effective date: December 2022
Scope of Coverage
Updated rule: The FTC update expands on the definition of “financial institution” to require “finders” — companies that bring together buyers and sellers — to follow the Safeguards Rule. However, financial institutions that maintain customer information on fewer than 5,000 consumers are exempt from the requirements of a written risk assessment, continuous monitoring or periodic pen testing and/or vulnerability scans, incident response plan, and annual reporting to the Board.
Effective date: November 2021 (unlike many of the other updates, this item was not delayed for a year)
In addition to the above, the FTC is also considering requirements that financial institutions report cybersecurity incidents and events to the FTC. Similar requirements are in place under the Cybersecurity Regulation at the New York Department of Financial Services. If the FTC moves forward with these incident reporting requirements, financial institutions could expect the requirements to be implemented in early 2023.
Financial institutions with robust security programs will already be performing many of these practices. For them, the updated Safeguards Rule will not represent a sea change in internal security operations. However, by making these security practices a formal regulatory requirement, the updated Safeguards will make accountability and compliance even more important.
Interested in speaking with an experienced team member about the material covered in this article? Contact us today at 716-373-4467 x 115 or firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule your appointment.