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.
Once data began going digital, authorities realized a need to protect it. Thus, the creation of data privacy rules and regulations to address cyber threats. Many organizations have one or more data privacy policies they need to meet.
Those in the U.S. healthcare industry and their service partners need to comply with HIPAA. Anyone collecting payment card data must worry about PCI-DSS. GDPR is a wide-reaching data protection regulation that impacts anyone selling to EU citizens.
Industry and international data privacy regulations are just the tip of the iceberg. Many state and local jurisdictions also have their own data privacy laws. Organizations must be aware of these compliance requirements along with any updates to these rules.
By the end of 2024, about 75% of the population will have its data protected by one or more privacy regulations.
Authorities enact new data privacy regulations all the time. For example, in 2023, four states will have new rules. Colorado, Utah, Connecticut, and Virginia will begin enforcing new data privacy statutes.
Businesses must stay on top of their data privacy compliance requirements. Otherwise, they can suffer. Many standards carry stiff penalties for a data breach and if security was lacking, fines can be even higher.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) uses a sliding scale. Violators can be fined between $100 to $50,000 per breached record. The more negligent the company is, the higher the fine.
Don’t worry, we have some tips below for you. These can help you keep up with data privacy updates coming your way.
Steps for Staying On Top of Data Privacy Compliance
1. Identify the Regulations You Need to Follow
Does your organization have a list of the different data privacy rules it falls under? There could be regulations for:
- Where you sell (e.g., if you sell to the EU)
- City or county
- Federal (e.g., for government contractors)
Identify all the various data privacy regulations that you may be subject to. This helps ensure you’re not caught off guard by one you didn’t know about.
2. Stay Aware of Data Privacy Regulation Updates
Don’t get blindsided by a data privacy rule change. You can stay on top of any changes by signing up for updates on the appropriate website. Look for the official website for the compliance authority.
For example, if you are in the healthcare field you can sign up for HIPAA updates at HIPAA.gov. You should do this for each of the regulations your business falls under.
You should also have these updates sent to more than one person. Typically, your Security Officer or equal, and another responsible party. This ensures they don’t get missed if someone is on vacation.
3. Do an Annual Review of Your Data Security Standards
Companies are always evolving their technology. This doesn’t always mean a big enterprise transition. Sometimes you may add a new server or a new computer to the mix.
Any changes to your IT environment can mean falling out of compliance. A new employee mobile device added, but not properly protected is a problem. One new cloud tool an employee decides to use can also cause a compliance issue.
It’s important to do at least an annual review of your data security. Match that with your data privacy compliance requirements to make sure you’re still good.
4. Audit Your Security Policies and Procedures
Something else you should audit at least annually is your policies and procedures. These written documents that tell employees what’s expected from them. They also give direction when it comes to data privacy and how to handle a breach.
Audit your security policies annually. Additionally, audit them whenever there is a data privacy regulation update. You want to ensure that you’re encompassing any new changes to your requirements.
5. Update Your Technical, Physical & Administrative Safeguards As Needed
When you receive a notification that a data privacy update is coming, plan ahead. It’s best to comply before the rule kicks in, if possible.
Look at three areas of your IT security:
- Technical safeguards – Systems, devices, software, etc.
- Administrative safeguards – Policies, manuals, training, etc.
- Physical safeguards – Doors, keypads, building security, etc.
6. Keep Employees Trained on Compliance and Data Privacy Policies
Employees should be aware of any changes to data privacy policies that impact them. When you receive news about an upcoming update, add this to your ongoing training.
Good cybersecurity practice is to conduct ongoing cybersecurity training for staff. This keeps their anti-breach skills sharp and reminds them of what’s expected.
Include updates they need to know about so they can be properly prepared.
Remember to always log your training activities. It’s a good idea to log the date, the employees educated, and the topic. This way, you have this documentation if you do suffer a breach at some point.
Visit our website here to learn more about our Breach Prevention Platform and Security Awareness Training which includes simulated phishing tests and weekly micro-trainings!
Get Help Ensuring Your Systems Meet Compliance Needs
Setting up well-designed IT compliance may be a long process, but it can make a world of difference in terms of business security. It keeps your business reputation intact and allows you to avoid penalties and fines.
However, you’ll need to pay special attention to several aspects and one of the most significant ones is your IT provider.
If your IT isn’t living up to its potential, you’re bound to face compliance issues. This can cause tremendous stress and halt your operations.
Luckily, there might be an easy way out of your predicament. Contact us today at 716-373-4467 x115 or firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a quick chat with Databranch to discuss your IT problems and find out how to get more out of your provider.
Article used with permission from The Technology Press.
Imagine you’re going about your day when suddenly you receive a text from the CEO asking for your help. They’re out doing customer visits and someone else dropped the ball in providing gift cards. The CEO needs you to buy six $200 gift cards and text the information right away.
The message sender promises to reimburse you before the end of the day. Oh, and by the way, you won’t be able to reach them by phone for the next two hours because they’ll be in meetings. One last thing, this is a high priority. They need those gift cards urgently.
Would this kind of request make you pause and wonder or would you quickly pull out your credit card to do as the message asked?
A surprising number of employees fall for this gift card scam. There are also many variations. Such as your boss being stuck without gas or some other dire situation that only you can help with.
This scam can come by text message or via email. The unsuspecting employee buys the gift cards and sends the numbers back to the boss. They find out later that the real company CEO wasn’t the one that contacted them, it was a phishing scammer.
The employee is out the cash.
Without proper training, 32.4% of employees are prone to fall for a phishing scam.
Read about our Employee Security Awareness training and the services it offers here.
Why Do Employees Fall for Phishing Scams?
Though the circumstances may be odd, many employees fall for this gift card scam. Hackers use social engineering tactics and manipulate emotions to get the employee to follow through on the request.
Some of these social engineering tactics illicit the following:
- The employee is afraid of not doing as asked by a superior
- The employee jumps at the chance to save the day
- The employee doesn’t want to let their company down
- The employee may feel they can advance in their career by helping
The scam’s message is also crafted in a way to get the employee to act without thinking or checking. It includes a sense of urgency. The CEO needs the gift card details right away. Also, the message notes that the CEO will be out of touch for the next few hours. This decreases the chance the employee will try to contact the real CEO to check the validity of the text.
Illinois Woman Scammed Out of More Than $6,000 from a Fake CEO Email
Variations of this scam are prevalent and can lead to significant financial losses. A company isn’t responsible if an employee falls for a scam and purchases gift cards with their own money.
In one example, a woman from Palos Hills, Illinois lost over $6,000. This was after getting an email request from who she thought was her company’s CEO.
The woman received an email purporting to be from her boss and company CEO. It stated that her boss wanted to send gift cards to some selected staff that had gone above and beyond.
The email ended with “Can you help me purchase some gift cards today?” The boss had a reputation for being great to employees, so the email did not seem out of character.
The woman bought the requested gift cards from Target and Best Buy. Then she got another request asking to send a photo of the cards. Again, the wording in the message was very believable and non-threatening. It simply stated, “Can you take a picture, I’m putting this all on a spreadsheet.”
The woman ended up purchasing over $6,500 in gift cards that the scammer then stole. When she saw her boss a little while later, her boss knew nothing about the gift card request. The woman realized she was the victim of a scam.
Tips for Avoiding Costly Phishing Scams
Always Double Check Unusual Requests
Despite what a message might say about being unreachable, check in person or by phone anyhow. If you receive any unusual requests or one relating to money, verify it. Contact the person through other means to make sure it’s legitimate.
Databranch recommends using the SLAM Method to review your emails and act accordingly. Don’t know what the SLAM Method is? Click here to read all about it.
Don’t React Emotionally
Scammers often try to get victims to act before they have time to think. Just a few minutes of sitting back and looking at a message objectively is often all that’s needed to realize it’s a scam. Don’t react emotionally, instead ask if this seems real or is it out of the ordinary.
Get a Second Opinion
Ask a colleague, or better yet, your company’s IT service provider, to take look at the message. Getting a second opinion keeps you from reacting right away. It can save you from making a costly judgment error.
Need Help with Employee Phishing Awareness Training?
Phishing keeps getting more sophisticated all the time, are your employee’s up to date on their security awareness training?
Take training off your plate and train your team with cybersecurity professionals. We can help you with an engaging training program that helps your team change their behaviors to improve cyber hygiene.
Contact Databranch today at 716-373-4467 x 115 or email@example.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.
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The CIA Triad is an information security concept that consists of three core principles, (1) Confidentiality, (2) Integrity and, (3) Availability. These core principles become foundational components of information security policy, strategy and solutions. Cybersecurity professionals and Executives responsible for the oversight of cybersecurity programs should have a deep understanding and appreciation for each of the three core principles.
Ultimately, all vulnerabilities and risks should be evaluated based on the threat they pose to one or more of the CIA Triad core principles. In addition, all security controls, or countermeasures, should be evaluated on how well they address the core principles of the CIA Triad.
This core security principle is defined as the ability to restrict unauthorized subjects from accessing data, systems, objects or resources. Imagine an employee punches the timeclock and goes home for the evening but forgets to shut down or lock their computer. Even worse, they are still logged into the client database that contains all sorts of Personally Identifiable Information (PII) like your client’s names, addresses, and social security numbers. What happens if the janitorial service shows up to clean the office space and one of the cleaners notices the unlocked computer and helps themselves to the valuable info? This example illustrates the importance of Confidentiality.
There are many cyber-attacks used to violate confidentiality including, social engineering, theft of credentials or passwords, eavesdropping and network sniffing. Here are a few controls that you should consider incorporating into the program:
- Inventory of Devices and Software – It is very difficult to manage access to devices, applications and systems unless you have an accurate inventory of those assets. Once you understand what assets you own, only then can you begin to think about who is authorized to access and use them. At Databranch, our Managed Services clients have their inventory maintained for them by their Databranch Account Manager
- Data Classification – You must understand what data or information resides on your information systems. More importantly, you have to classify this data so that it can be protected according to value, sensitivity, and regulatory compliance.
- Access Controls – Systems and information should be physically and / or logically segregated based on data classification efforts. Access to systems and information should be granted to authorized users on a need to know basis. Procedures for granting and revoking access should be documented and enforced. Strong password policies should be implemented and enforced. Privileged accounts should be minimized and monitored very closely using logging and notification technologies. Multifactor Authentication (MFA) should be used by authorized users when accessing systems and data according data classification efforts and regulatory requirements.
- Encryption – Information should be encrypted at rest and in transit according to data classification, regulatory requirements and the annual risk assessment.
- Personnel Training – Many confidentiality breaches occur by accident or mistake. Authorized users need to be properly trained. They should understand your data classification policy and acceptable use policy. They should understand why certain security controls are in place, how to properly use them and why they should never attempt to circumvent them. Lastly, they should understand the threat landscape as it relates to confidentiality and what their actions and behaviors can do to help mitigate those risks. Click here to learn more about Databranch’s Annual Security Awareness training.
This core security principle is defined as the ability for data and information to retain truth or, accuracy and be intentionally modified by authorized users only. Imagine a patient under the care of doctors and nurses at a hospital. The patient requires 100mg of medication every six hours. What happens if the nurse accesses the patients’ medical records and the 100mg has been modified (with malicious intent or by accident) and now reads 1000mg? This example illustrates the importance of integrity.
There are many cyber-attacks used to violate integrity including, computer viruses, malware, logic bombs, database injections and altering system configurations. Your cybersecurity program should absolutely work to promote integrity and defend against these attacks. Here are a few controls that you should consider incorporating into the program:
- Intrusion Prevention Systems (IPS) and Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS) – IPS / IDS examines network traffic flows to detect and prevent vulnerability exploits. Many times this technology is embedded in perimeter defenses such as firewalls but, it needs to be enabled and configured to work properly.
- Anti-Virus / Anti-Malware – This powerful tool can be used to detect, quarantine and even remove malicious code from computers and systems. It is imperative that Antivirus software is installed and configured on all computing devices.
- Vulnerability Management – There should be a process for identifying known vulnerabilities across systems and applications and then remediating those vulnerabilities typically by installing patches. Click here to request your free Databranch baseline security assessment.
- Log Monitoring and Analysis – The ability to collect system and application logs and then monitor / analyze them is critical. It can detect anomalies in system behaviors and be used in forensic efforts post incident.
This core security principle is defined as the ability to grant authorized users uninterrupted access to systems and information. Imagine logging into your computer on Monday morning. You are refreshed from the weekend, ready to work and conquer the world. Then suddenly, a message flashes across your computer screen. The message explains that your computer and everything on it has been encrypted by ransomware, and you must pay a fee to receive the decryption key and resume regular work activities. You no longer have access to email, customer records, financial records, etc. What would you do if the applications and data on your computer were no longer available to use? This example illustrates the importance of Availability.
There are many cyber-attacks used to violate availability including, computer viruses, malware and denial of service (DoS). There are also circumstantial events that violate availably such as hardware failure and natural disasters. Your cybersecurity program should absolutely be influenced by the availability principle. Here are a few controls that you should consider incorporating into the program:
- Data Backup Systems – Effective data backup strategies should be defined, implemented and monitored for success. If systems or data suddenly become unavailable, recovery efforts almost always start with restoring from a successful backup job.
- Disaster Recovery (DR) and Business Continuity Planning (BCP) – Documenting DR and BCP plans is an absolute must. In addition, these plans should be tested, at least annually to verify effectiveness. Learn more about our Dataguard Backup and Recovery solution here!
- System Monitoring – Critical systems and applications should be continuously monitored for performance and capacity requirements. Proactive monitoring can often prevent unwanted outages or disruptions.
- Incident Response Plan – Having a plan to contain, eradicate, and recover from a cybersecurity incident is invaluable. Incidents create stress and chaos. Having an incident response plan introduces confidence and organization.
As one can see, the core principles of the CIA Triad (Confidentiality, Integrity and Availability) are simple information security concepts that when properly applied to policy and program creation can have a real meaningful impact our ability to stay safe and protected.
Contact Databranch today at 716-373-4467 x115 or firstname.lastname@example.org for any questions about the information above. You can also fill out the form below to set up a meeting with one of our experienced team members to discuss how we can help enhance your businesses cybersecurity.
Article used with permission from Huntress.