Category: Cybersecurity Page 1 of 2

Top 5 Senior Living Cybersecurity Mistakes

60% of small and mid-sized Senior Living communities 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.

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.

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 Senior Living communities 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 organization 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. Login credentials hold the key to multiple types of attacks on community networks.

Not protecting your user logins with multi-factor authentication is a common mistake and one that leaves communities 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 community 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

Not Having Device Management In Place

A majority of companies around the world have had at least some 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.

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 community culture include:

  • Short training videos
  • IT security posters
  • Webinars
  • Team training sessions
  • Cybersecurity tips in community newsletters

When Did You Last Have a
Cybersecurity Checkup?

Don’t stay in the dark about your IT security vulnerabilities. Schedule a cybersecurity audit to uncover vulnerabilities so they can be fortified to reduce your risk.

Cyber, Attack, Encryption, Smartphone, Mobile, Finger

What You Need to Know About the Rise in Supply Chain Cyberattacks

Any cyberattack is dangerous, but the particularly devastating ones are those on supply chain companies. These can be any supplier – digital or non-digital – of goods and services.

We’ve seen several attacks on the supply chain occur in 2021 that had wide-reaching consequences. These are “one-to-many” attacks where victims can go far beyond the company that was initially breached.

Some recent high-profile examples of supply chain attacks include:

  • Colonial Pipeline: A ransomware attack caused this major gas pipeline to be shut down for nearly a week.
  • JBS: The world’s largest supplier of beef and pork products was hit with ransomware that caused plants in at least three countries to shut down for several days.
  • Kaseya: This software company had its code infected with ransomware, which quickly spread to IT businesses that used its products and to roughly 1,500 of their small business customers. 

Why do you need to be worried about supply chain attacks even more so than in the past? Because they’ve been growing and are expected to continue this trajectory.

Supply chain attacks rose by 42% during the first quarter of 2021. A surprising 97% of companies have been impacted by a breach in their supply chain, and 93% suffered a direct breach as a result of a supply chain security vulnerability.

If you’re not properly prepared, then you can be impacted by a breach of software you use or have a vital service or goods supplier go down for several days due to a cyberattack. 

As part of any good business continuity and disaster recovery strategy, you should look at supply chain risks in light of the current increase in attacks and formulate a plan.

How Can You Mitigate Your Risk of Losses Due to an Attack on Your Supply Chain?

Identify Your Supplier Risk

You can’t fix what you don’t know is wrong. So, you need to begin by shedding some light on your risk should one of your vendors get hit with ransomware (the current attack of choice on the supply chain) or another type of breach.

Make a list of all your vendors and suppliers, both for goods and services. This includes everything from the cloud services you use to the company that supplies your office products or any raw materials you may use in a product you sell.

Review these vendors to identify their cybersecurity risks. This is something you may need some help with from your IT partner. We can work with you to review vendor security or send them a survey to find out where they stand as to their cybersecurity, and then determine how much that may leave you at risk as one of their customers.

Create Minimum Security Requirements for Digital Vendors

Come up with some minimum security requirements that you can use as a benchmark with your vendors. One way to make this easier is to use an existing data privacy standard as your requirement. 

For example, if a vendor is GDPR compliant, then you know they’ve adopted several important cybersecurity standards that protect their business, and yours, from an attack.

Do an IT Security Assessment to Learn Where You’re Vulnerable

If the software you use had a vulnerability that was exploited by hackers to take over a system, how much does that leave your systems at risk? Do you have a regular patch application strategy in place to ensure any software updates are applied right away?

You should have an IT security assessment done if you haven’t done one in over a year. This will help you identify how strong your systems would be at preventing a breach or ransomware infection that was coming from a digital supply chain vendor.

Put Backup Vendors in Place Where Possible

If you sell widgets and have a single supplier for one specific part needed for that widget, you’re at a much higher risk of downtime than if you had two suppliers of that part.

If a key vendor of yours is attacked and can’t fill orders or provide services for a week or more, how will that impact your business? This is what you want to consider when setting up backup vendors.

For example, most companies would consider themselves down and not able to operate without their internet. Having a backup internet service provider can help you avoid lengthy downtime should your main ISP go down.

Look at putting this type of safety net in place for all vendors that you can.

Ensure All Data Kept in Cloud Services is Backed Up in a 3rd Party Tool

Microsoft recommends in its Services Agreement that customers back up their cloud data that is kept in its services (such as Microsoft 365). The policy states, “We recommend that you regularly backup Your Content and Data that you store on the Services or store using Third-Party Apps and Services.”

You should have a backup (in a separate platform) of all data that you store in cloud services, so you’ll be protected in case of a ransomware infection or other data loss or service loss incident.

Schedule A Supply Chain Security Assessment

Don’t be in the dark about your risk. Schedule a supply chain security assessment to learn where you could be impacted in the case of a cyberattack on a supplier.


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This Article has been Republished with Permission from The Technology Press.

Cyber Security, Technology, Network, Internet

How to Protect Your Online Accounts from Being Breached

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 Settings

Have you taken the 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.


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This Article has been Republished with Permission from The Technology Press.

Phishing, Credentials, Data, Login, Password, Internet

6 Ways to Combat Social Phishing Attacks

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, but 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 themself 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.

Find out how we can help!


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This Article has been Republished with Permission from The Technology Press.

person using laptop

5 Things You Should Never Do on a Work Computer

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.

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 Sketchy 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 a sketchy website deemed dangerous to security (which many sketchy websites are).

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. But 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. Schedule a device security checkup today.


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This Article has been Republished with Permission from The Technology Press.

Hacking, Data Theft, Online Fraud, Cyber Crime, Hacker

Alarming Phishing Attack Trends to Beware of in 2022

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. It can also lead a user to unknowingly hand 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.

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 use a multi-layered strategy when it comes to defending against one of the biggest dangers to your business’s wellbeing. Get started with a cybersecurity audit to review your current security posture and identify ways to improve.


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This Article has been Republished with Permission from The Technology Press.

From above view of faceless person holding mobile phone with white screen and green recycle logo above marble surface

Important Steps to Take Before You Recycle a Mobile Phone Number 

It’s not unusual to change a mobile number from time to time. For example, when you move, you may want a number that is local to the area you 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 for 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, request a mobile security check to protect your personal data and identity.


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This Article has been Republished with Permission from The Technology Press.

Which Type of Hackers is Endangering Your Business Data? (And How to Protect Your Sensitive Info from Them)

Your data is pivotal to running a successful company. If you don’t have proper security measures in place, hackers can easily steal your data and take you out of business.

Cybercriminals might be the biggest threat facing your company. Besides gaining access to your money and accounts, they can also take over critical software, preventing you from collaborating with clients. 

Any organization can fall victim to hacking. However, small and medium businesses are particularly at risk. 

Why?

Too often, their owners don’t always address cybersecurity when launching their company. Sometimes, they even just hire the first IT service provider they see. They also don’t know how to shield themselves from online attackers, making them low-risk targets. 

As a result, these organizations often go under due to the loss of sensitive data. It isn’t a risk you can take. 

To help mitigate it, this article will introduce you to the various types of hackers and explain how to protect your business from them.

THE 5 TYPES OF HACKERS TO WATCH OUT FOR

Here’s a quick list of potential hackers, depending on what they’re after:

#1. HACKERS WHO ARE AFTER PERSONAL INFORMATION

Many hackers are dying to get their hands on the personal information of your clients and employees. It includes birth dates, financial data, and social security numbers. 

Social security numbers might be the most valuable asset they want to get ahold of since cybercriminals can use them for various purposes. For instance, they can perform tax fraud, open credit accounts, and make other significant identity breaches. 

In addition, financial data can be utilized for fraudulent activities and purchases, especially if it lacks robust digital security systems. 

#2. HACKERS WHO WANT TO GET INTO THE DIGITAL  INFRASTRUCTURE

Storage and data servers are expensive – and hackers know that.

In order for them to cut costs, hackers may aim to store their applications and data on your infrastructure instead. The better your infrastructure, the more likely cybercriminals are to target it. This can strain your network to the limits and have devastating effects on your business. 

Unsurprisingly, tech companies are some of the most common victims of this type of hacking. 

The common indicators that a hacker has tapped into your digital infrastructure include:

  • Running out of storage faster than usual
  • Your network suffers slowdowns 
  • You may have unknown devices on your network. 

#3. HACKERS WHO ARE AFTER CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION

Few business aspects are as important as your intellectual property (IP). Your products and services enable you to stand out from the competition and strike a chord with the target audience. 

A huge problem arises if hackers steal the design of your upcoming product before you launch it or submit your patent. A competitor may obtain the information, allowing them to hit the market first and undercut your sales. 

#4. HACKERS WHO WANT TO GET ACCOUNT DATA

Sure, you and your IT service provider might have done enough so that hackers might not be able to obtain financial data. But are your employees’ accounts secure? 

If hackers compromise them, they may let them run scams and gain information to disrupt your operations. 

For example, losing CEO login credentials can be devastating. Besides granting hackers access to sensitive information, it also helps them impersonate the CEO. In return, they can solicit information from employees or clients and halt your operations. 

This data breach can lead to widespread confusion, tarnishing your reputation. 

#5. HACKERS WHO AIM TO HAVE NETWORK CONTROL

In some cases, hackers aren’t after data. Instead, they want to gain control of the entire network. And to make it happen, they launch ransomware attacks. 

These activities enable them to lock you out of the system and make data inaccessible until you pay a ransom. They’re typically initiated through spam, phishing emails, and online ads. 

The average ransom amount stands at approximately $30,000, but the loss caused by business disruption is much more significant. 

HOW TO PROTECT YOUR BUSINESS

Now that you know how hackers can compromise your company, let’s check out 5 effective ways to protect yourself: 

WAY #1. INVESTING IN SECURITY RESOURCES

A key factor ignored by many owners is the amount of money and time devoted to cybersecurity. Avoid this mistake by allocating enough resources to set up solid defensive measures. Make sure to invest in a reliable IT service provider to help you out.

This way, your online accounts, hardware, and network should be more secure. 

WAY #2. TRAINING YOUR TEAM

Most security systems have weaknesses. And their employees are usually the biggest ones. 

For this reason, HR managers and CEOs should ensure their staff follows optimal security measures, both in-office and at home. They must all remember that any phone or laptop they use for work can be a weak point and entryway for hackers. 

To introduce your employees to the best security practices, consider arranging security education and training for a month once a year. You can talk about different aspects of your company and the steps necessary to deter cybercriminals, for example. 

Sound education can go a long way in promoting a healthy security culture. 

WAY #3. ADDING AUTHENTICATION

There are many valuable tools you can use to fend off hackers. One of them is two-factor authentication (2FA) – a simple yet effective weapon against scammers. 

This measure requires each user to verify their identity to access your system. You could use it on all business-related accounts to reduce the chances of cybercrime. 

Furthermore, encourage your team members to activate 2FA on personal accounts. This way, they’ll be more likely to follow appropriate security practices, reducing the risk of compromised devices and data breaches. 

WAY #4. LEVERAGING SOFTWARE

Computer viruses are another go-to tool for hackers. And a great way to deal with them is to incorporate antivirus software. 

Make sure your built-in antivirus software is up to date. Also, you can consider a corporate package from trusted companies like BitDefender, Norton, McAfee, and Total AV. 

Each machine that can access work resources should rely on this software. Plus, the user should conduct weekly antivirus scans to lessen the chances of computers getting infected by a virus.

WAY #5. PERFORMING SECURITY CHECKS 

Checking your system is vital for optimal cybersecurity. Solid antivirus software is practical, but you shouldn’t disregard manual scans. It’s crucial that your IT service provider does this periodically.

More specifically, check who’s accessed your network and make sure each point of access is authorized. Any suspicious activity must be reviewed and rooted out. Otherwise, these red flags can prove fatal for the company. 

STAY ON THE SAFE SIDE 

Battling hackers may not be the most exciting part of running a business. However, neglecting cybersecurity turns your company into a sitting duck for scammers. You may lose money, data, and your reputation might suffer irreparable damage. 

While there isn’t a bulletproof solution, adopting the outlined tactics should be a strong starting point. 

Contact us today if you want to discuss your cybersecurity in greater detail and pinpoint potential risks. We can arrange a quick, non-salesy chat and figure out ways to help you. 

Article used with permission from The Technology Press.

Why Protecting Your Printers from Cybercrime Is a Must (And 8 Tips for Improving Printer Security)

Printing devices are often overlooked when it comes to security. But the reality is, cybercriminals can hack your printer to get confidential information.

Your printer is probably the last piece of computer equipment you thought needed protection from cybercriminals.

But the truth is very different.

Attackers actively try to locate the weakest links in security to gain access to and exploit valuable data. And among the weakest links is the printer.

The thing with printers nowadays is that they have access to your devices, network, and the internet. This new open-access functionality makes them an ideal target for cyberattacks.

Unfortunately, many business owners overlook the importance of securing their printers and mainly focus on computers and mobile phones.

Most people still perceive printers as internal devices that serve basic functions. For this very reason, they are an easy target for cybercriminals.

Other than performing unauthorized print jobs, hackers can access confidential information as well as all connected computers and networks all through a printer.

You may also not be aware of the amount of valuable data your printer can store about you – tax files, bank details, financial records, employee information, personal information, etc. All a hacker needs to do is get into the operating system of your printer, and they can collect this sensitive data.

If you’ve just realized the importance of securing your printer, keep reading. This article shares eight tips to help you do just that.

THE 8 TIPS

TIP #1. MAKE SURE YOUR PRINTERS ARE CONFIGURED CORRECTLY

Many things can make a printer vulnerable to cyber threats and security breaches. So, you want to get the basics right to ensure the attacks don’t happen to you. 

To start with, make sure to change the default password on your printer. Since anyone can access a printer remotely, a simple “123456” code won’t suffice. 

Second, make sure you’re using your own router to print files remotely. Never connect to “Guest” networks.

TIP #2. INSPECT PRINT TRAYS REGULARLY

This one is a no-brainer, but everyone could use it as a reminder. Make sure to check your print trays and get rid of unused pages carrying sensitive information. There’s no easier way to prevent data leaks than this.

Alternatively, you can get a shredder for your office and shred the papers you don’t want anyone to see.

TIP #3. INSTALL MALWARE AND FIRMWARE UPDATES

Invest time and effort to ensure that your malware and firmware protection are up to date and can handle all types of hacks.

The good news is that many printers come with pre-built malware protection.

HP, for example, installs the HP “SureStart” software in their printers that monitors approaching targets when the printer is on. The software can shut down the device if an attack comes its way. This is a great way to prevent attacks from spreading further within the network.

TIP #4. LIMIT ACCESS TO THE NETWORK 

Unprotected printers in a network are an extremely easy target for cybercriminals. Sure, businesses and offices require printers to access networks to perform remote prints. But if you can do the job by disabling the network access, make sure you do that.

If not, tweak the printer and network settings to only allow the device to take print jobs from the network you trust. This will help avoid outside interference and security breaches. 

TIP #5. UPDATE YOUR PRINTERS 

Updating a printer is equally as important as updating your phone to the latest software. Much in the way iOS developers look for bugs and fix them in a new update, printer manufacturers work toward known device vulnerabilities and update the software for added protection. 

Look for printer updates so you can easily overcome known threats to the printer. Ideally, update your printers every quarter to get the most out of the security benefits.

 TIP #6. INSTALL A FIREWALL 

If you run an office, chances are you already have a firewall. But in case you missed this requirement, now’s the time to do it.

Using a reliable firewall helps keep printers safe from cybercriminals.

Your computers most likely come with pre-built firewalls, and all you need to do is keep them enabled. But there are also specialized firewalls for homes and offices that offer advanced security and make it virtually impossible for anyone to break in.

TIP #7. ENCRYPT YOUR STORAGE

Printers with shared networks can perform distance printing. And when a print job is in transit and travels from a computer to a printer, hackers can intercept the data and exploit it

The Critical Importance of Virtualized Infrastructure Security (And 4 Ways to Enhance It)

A torn-down virtual infrastructure creates risks for any business. And it can have a significant impact on how quickly you can retrieve your data and resume operations following an attack.

These days, many businesses use virtualized infrastructure for more straightforward data storage. It’s because this approach is superior to physical solutions due to enhanced flexibility, straightforward provisioning, and affordable pricing. 

However, this model also requires a comprehensive approach to security. 

There’s a much greater risk of data loss, as many tools and practices for physical data protection are nearly useless in the virtual setting. Virtual threats are different, that’s why you need to think beyond traditional perimeter protection. 

So, if you’re using a virtualized infrastructure for data storage, keep reading. 

This article discusses the risks of improper virtualized infrastructure security and talks about ways you can improve it. 

DON’T LEAVE YOUR VIRTUALIZED INFRASTRUCTURE TO CHANCE

Virtualization security is crucial for every business’s security strategy. After all, we now live in a world of virtualized environments and need to apply security to all its layers.

Let’s explore three of the most common virtualization security issues.

ISSUE #1. EXTERNAL ATTACKS

These are a real threat to virtualized infrastructure.

If hackers enter your host-level or server management software, they can easily access other crucial parts of your system. They can create a new user, assign admin rights, and then use that power to extract or destroy your company’s sensitive data.

ISSUE #2. FILE SHARING AND COPY-PASTING

Host and virtual machine (VM) sharing is normally disabled. The same goes for copy-pasting elements between the remote management console and the VM. You can tweak the default settings by tweaking the ESXi host system, but this action isn’t recommended. 

Why?

Because if a hacker gains access to your management console, they’d be able to copy data outside your virtual environment or install malware into your virtual machine.

ISSUE #3. VIRUSES

Virtual machines, or VM, are prone to many attacks, with ransomware being among the most popular ones. For this reason, it’s crucial to keep regular backups of your website data and store them off-site at a place where they can’t be encrypted by hackers. 

If you fail to perform backups, you may find yourself in a situation where hackers could ask you for money to decipher your data. 

Restoring a VM is quite tricky even if you perform regular backups. Therefore, you need to educate your team members on alleviating the risk of getting ransomware and other viruses.

Optimizing Your Virtualized Infrastructure Security

Now that you’re aware of the 3 common issues a business can face if they have an unprotected virtual infrastructure, here are 4 tips on bolstering its security.

TIP #1. MANAGING VIRTUAL SPRAWL

Virtual sprawls are often associated with growing virtual environments. The concept simply means that the more you expand, the bigger the need to keep your VMs secure. However, the number of machines can outgrow your ability to do so. 

To manage your virtual sprawl, consider doing the following:

  • Create an inventory of all your machines at all times
  • Set up lookouts featuring multi-location monitoring
  • Monitor IP addresses that have access to your VMs
  • Look for table locks
  • Don’t use database grant statements to give privileges to other users
  • Keep both on- and off-site backups
  • Assess your virtual environment regularly and determine which machines you need and which ones aren’t necessary
  • Have a central log of your systems and log all hardware actions
  • Create a patch maintenance schedule for all machines to keep them up to date

<H3>TIP #2. FOCUSING ON VIRTUAL CONFIGURATION SETUP</H3>

If you use virtual servers, you risk major configuration defects. 

That’s why it’s essential to make sure initial setups are free from security risks. This includes unnecessary ports, useless services, and similar vulnerabilities. Otherwise, all your virtual machines will inherit the same problems. 

The truth is that many businesses have poor virtual network configurations. You can avoid being one of those by ensuring all virtual applications that call the host (and vice versa) have proper segmentation. This includes databases and all web services. 

It’s also worth mentioning that most virtualization platforms only offer three switch security settings: forged transmits, MAC address changes, and promiscuous mode. There’s no protection for virtual systems that connect to other network areas. 

So, make sure to investigate each virtualization platform that allows this kind of communication, including all memory leaks, copy-paste functions, and device drivers. You can also tweak the system monitoring assets to look out for these pathways. 

TIP #3. SECURING ALL PARTS OF THE INFRASTRUCTURE

It’s imperative that you properly secure all of your infrastructure’s parts. This includes its physical components (switches, hosts, physical storage, routers) and virtual and guest systems. Don’t forget about all your cloud systems as well. 

When it comes to protecting different infrastructure parts, here are some things you can do:

  • Install the latest firmware for your hosts. Virtualized infrastructure needs to have the latest security patches. So, keep all your VMware tools updated. 
  • Your active network elements such as routers, switches, and load balancers should use the latest firmware.
  • Patch all operating systems with automatic updates. Schedule patch installations outside of your work hours and include automatic reboots. 
  • All virtualized environments should have reliable anti-malware and antivirus software installed (and regularly updated). 

TIP #4. HAVING A ROBUST BACKUP PLAN

Proper disaster recovery (DR) and backup plans are crucial in ensuring your business can continue operating after an attack. It’s because both your physical and virtual components can equally suffer from damage done by hacker attacks, hurricanes, etc. 

Ideally, you want to have a DR site located at a faraway data center or in the cloud. This way, you’ll alleviate the risk of being shut for a long time if your vital data gets compromised. 

Also, make sure to back up your VMs and your physical servers. Fortunately, you can back up your physical systems that operate on Windows or Linux, as well as your VMs that run on any OS. 

Additionally, you want to make at least three copies of your data and store two of them in different virtual places. And make sure to keep one backup off-site. 

If you want to take things to another level, you can replicate your VMs to a different data center for emergencies. 

PRIORITIZE THE SECURITY OF YOUR VIRTUAL INFRASTRUCTURE 

If you never gave much importance to virtualized infrastructure security, doing so should be your priority now. Given the number of possible threats, protecting your VMs from unauthorized data sharing, viruses, and other types of attacks is crucial. 

All aspects of your physical and virtual components need to be protected to avoid issues. If this topic is all Greek to you, you’re not alone. The reality is that many business owners have struggled with the same problem. 

However, you can reach out to us for a 10-15-minute chat where we can discuss how you can bring the security of your virtualized infrastructure to the next level. 

Article used with permission from The Technology Press.

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