The Top Cyber Security Threats of 2017 (And How an MSP Can Help)

45725783_s.jpgIs your company protected from the top cyber security threats of 2017? Cyber security can change not only by the year but by the hour -- and that can be difficult to keep track of for organizations of any size. An MSP can help fill gaps in your resources and educate your organization on the most prominent threats to your business and your industry.

The Biggest Cyber Security Threats in 2017

Malware

What would happen if your organization's computer system was wiped out tomorrow? Would you be able to contact your customers? Fulfill your orders? Malware -- malicious software that infests your network -- can have many goals. It can be designed to do everything from quietly steal your data to obliterate your entire infrastructure. Either way, you need a comprehensive data protection plan to protect against it. Dealing with malware requires early detection, regular data backups, and thorough network scanning.

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Ransomware

Ransomware is a special type of malware that is designed to take your company's data, encrypt it, and hold it for ransom. Unless you pay the ransom, your company may never get back its information. Luckily, ransomware is also one of the easiest types of attacks to defeat -- if you've planned ahead. Through an MSP, you can ensure that you always have up-to-date copies of your data safely stored and encrypted somewhere else. If your organization is struck by ransomware, you can then re-deploy your data without having to pay any hefty penalties.

IoT

The IoT is introducing a multitude of new threats centered around new hardware that is connected to your corporate network. From printers to smartphones, the "Internet of Things" is growing -- and many of these IoT devices are not secured. To protect against potential intrusions or exploits, your organization has to constantly monitor these devices and keep their firmware up to date.

Internal Threats

But perhaps the most common issue your organization will face are internal threats -- threats that are created by your employees. With a continually expanding workforce and increasing reliance on mobile employees, internal threats are becoming even more prevalent. Internal threats come chiefly from two places:

Malicious employees. Disgruntled employees may seek to take data with them as they leave, or to destroy data before they go. If they have the security permissions to do this -- and data isn't properly backed up and encrypted -- it can be difficult to stop them.

Careless employees. Employees will frequently leave their confidential information, such as login data, in publicly accessible places. Once their accounts have been breached, your organization's data can be breached.

How do you protect your organization from threats that arise from within? An MSP can help. MSPs are able to improve upon your security controls, authentication services, and threat detection, to both minimize and mitigate these threats.

There are undoubtedly many cyber security threats that have emerged throughout 2016 and that will become even more devastating in 2017. An MSP doesn't just provide third-party security and risk assessment services but also can become a valuable partner against new and developing threats.

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How IT MSP Can Help Your SMB Embrace the Internet of Things

InternetofThings-1.jpgThe Internet of Things can be at once an attractive and terrifying prospect, especially for SMBs. Though the Internet of Things can represent a significant competitive advantage, it also carries with it a non-trivial security risk. As the Dyn DDoS attack in October of 2016 showed us, IoT devices can open businesses up to a variety of cyber attacks.  But that doesn't mean an SMB is going to be able to avoid the IoT altogether.

The Growing Importance of the Internet of Things

When we say the Internet of Things, what we're really describing is a network of Internet-capable devices. Your company's printers, for instance, may connect to the Internet so that it can report on its current resources. It may even be able to initiate an order for new ink or new paper. Internet of Things devices are designed to streamline and improve business operations -- and are designed to leverage often limited resources. It's this ability to improve efficiency and automate mundane tasks that makes this technology valuable for SMBs. Through the IoT, SMBs can better manage their operations with the resources that they already have available.

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Improving IoT Security and Integration With an IT MSP

The problem with the Internet of Things is that it is difficult to secure. Every new IoT device that's connected to a network becomes another potential vulnerability within the system. But that doesn't have to be the case. Managed solutions providers can successfully improve the security of a network so that the Internet of Things is not a significant risk. MSPs can improve IoT security and integration through the following:

  1. Analyzing an SMBs current infrastructure to determine exactly how the IoT should be implemented and integrated.
  2. Creating an IT roadmap to streamline and smooth over any potential implementation and integration issues.
  3. Securing and encrypting data so that IoT vulnerabilities are less likely to compromise critical business assets.

Creating a multi-layered security system that can protect business assets from being accessed.

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Ultimately, SMBs have so much to gain from the IoT that they can’t ignore this technology -- but they also need help implementing and securing their IoT infrastructure. An MSP is the ideal candidate to integrate the Internet of Things into an existing small business and ensure that no security vulnerabilities have been created. And that's not the only benefit of an IT MSP.

If you're wondering whether your business could benefit from an MSP, download our free eBook.

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What You Need to Know About IoT Malware

IoT_Security.jpgThe only thing growing as quickly as the Internet of Things may just be malware targeted towards the Internet of Things. IoT malware is becoming exceptionally common -- and with good reason. For most businesses, the IoT represents both an increase in productivity and a significant security vulnerability. Businesses will need to get on top of their IoT security to ride out this new wave.

Why Is The Internet of Things Being Targeted?

There are a variety of reasons why the Internet of Things appears to be a good target. The IoT is comprised of an incredible number of devices, each of them logged into the corporate network. The sheer volume of IoT devices means that they are attractive as a target; there are many open and potential targets available. But the more concerning issue is that many IoT devices are not properly secured.

In addition to a lack of security, many employees aren't aware of the risk that IoT devices may pose. They may add additional IoT devices onto the network or they may fail to properly secure the IoT devices that they install.

What Is IoT Malware?

Any type of malware can be transitioned to an IoT device, whether it's a virus or a botnet. This is because the IoT device is essentially being used as an entry point, and occasionally as a bot. Frequently, IoT devices are pulled into a botnet so that they can produce large-scale Distributed Denial of Service attacks. But IoT devices may also have adware or spyware installed on them, or may even be used to distribute phishing scams. IoT devices are essentially low-powered computers; an unlocked IoT device can be used for nearly anything. Even worse, many of these malicious programs and exploits aren't just proliferating naturally -- they are being sold online to those who might not otherwise be able to create their own malware.

IoT security spending is expended to reach $348 million within 2016, up from $281 million in 2015. There's no doubt that the IoT poses a substantial risk to many businesses, but it is a trend that must be adapted to rather than fought. CWPS can help your organization protect themselves through the use of a managed and secured infrastructure. Contact CWPS today to learn more about the IoT and its risks.

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How Businesses Can Get the Most Out of the IoT

internet_of_Things_internet_of_everything.jpgThe Internet of Things does not have to be feared. Though it does currently represent a substantial security threat, the benefits that it will soon convey far outweigh the negatives. Like the cloud, the IoT will eventually become more secure as it sees further adoption, and will ultimately be able to help companies in some major ways.

If your business is thinking about embracing the Internet of Things, here is how to get the most out of this new technology.

Collect, Monitor, and Optimize

The Internet of Things gives you a better understanding of your core business operations. Something as simple as a printer being able to communicate with your network when it's out of paper and ink is something that the "Internet of Things" does -- it's just that the IoT is now becoming slightly more complex. The IoT can provide a wide array of these types of efficiency improvements, making your office operate smoothly.

It can be difficult to monitor assets throughout an organization, especially larger organizations. However, by using IoT devices, your business will have access to better analytic information through the use of sensors and other analytic profiles. You can use the Internet of Things to ensure that your inventory is properly tracked, repaired, and/or maintained, thereby saving your business a significant amount of money and time. This is being used throughout many industries, such as construction and manufacturing.

Use the IoT to Improve Staff Productivity

There's a reason why the Internet of Things is becoming so popular. It makes life less hectic for people -- including your employees and business partners. The IoT makes it easier for your team to complete their tasks because they have access to the corporate network and tools from anywhere they are. This is very similar to the benefits of the cloud.  

Create Better Customer Experiences

Customer experiences and satisfaction are incredibly important for any business. The Internet of Things provides new and better customer experiences by also allowing customers to connect to the company through other devices. Some organizations are even able to integrate IoT devices -- such as sensors -- to provide better direct service to their customers, such as by alerting to any issues the customers are having and responding quickly.

There are still some things that need to be worked out before most businesses are able to successfully embrace the new Internet of Everything. In particular, security issues do need to be locked down by a capable and competent provider. At CWPS, we can help you get the most of the Internet of Things without potentially exposing your business and its IT infrastructure to risk.

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A Simplified Internet of Things Definition

 

What is the Internet of Things and why is it so critical to modern business security? You may have noticed the recent proliferation of "smart devices;" devices that connect to the Internet to provide more advanced features such as automation. For a basic Internet of Things definition, you need only consider all of the devices in your office that are now granted network access and activity, and the consequences of this evolution.

What is the "Internet of Things"?

A decade ago, a television was just a television. Today, most televisions are "smart" televisions. Smart devices operate throughout your business. Coffee makers, fax machines, copiers, printers; most of the devices in your office today are WiFi enabled and thus connected to your network. While this facilitates smoother operations, it also represents a very serious security risk. Many of these devices either don't have internal security or they have very lax security measures. 

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Why Is the "Internet of Things" Dangerous?

Due to a lack of security measures within Internet of Things devices, they can often be compromised by malicious attackers in order to gain access to a corporate network. Essentially, they function as a weakest link inside of the network architecture. Properly securing these devices also greatly increases IT maintenance costs. Security professionals may ensure that the desktop computers and servers in a network have been properly secured, but they may not make sure that their printers or other Internet-capable devices have been updated and upgraded with the latest patches - this makes the network as a whole harder to maintain and manage. Even worse, Internet-capable devices are rapidly expanding; today, even light bulbs may be WiFi connected. 

How Can You Protect Against the "Internet of Things"?

There are two major approaches that need to be utilized when protecting against the Internet of Things: layered security and reduced attack surface. Layered security solutions lock critical business assets behind additional security protocols, therefore isolating them from the rest of the network. Reduced attack surfaces involve limiting "Internet of Things" devices on the corporate network and using advanced methods of authentication to protect access.

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Protecting against the Internet of Things requires rigorous security standards, including comprehensive malware and virus scanning solutions. The Internet of Things represents a changing and evolving corporate network that requires different methods of security. For more information about the Internet of Things and the dangers that it represents, contact CWPS today.

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10 Internet of Things Ideas We Would Like to See Become Reality

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Sometimes it can be difficult for IT professionals to see the Internet of Things as anything but a significant security risk. Rather than simply putting your anti-virus solutions through the paces, the Internet of Things could become a beneficial way to automate our work and home environments. Here are a few things we'd like to see come to fruition in the IoT.

  1. Pet feeders. What's the worst thing about being at work? Being away from your pets, of course. An automated pet feeder would make it easy to control your pet's diet and reward them for being your best friend. 
  2. Medications. Have trouble remembering your medications at the end of the day? Why not receive an email or text message from your pill case? While we're at it, you might need a reminder to take your contacts out. 
  3. Plants. We just can't keep plants alive - is it just us? If plants could ask for water through a WiFi connected pot, they might stand a fighting chance.
  4. Coffee makers. Wouldn't it be great if we could tell the status of the coffee maker before getting to it? Or Automatically brew up a new cup when desired? Of course, you'll still need a reliable authentication system to make sure hackers don't switch your office to decaf.
  5. Microwaves. Who doesn't go to check the microwave repeatedly just to see how close the timer is? With the Internet of Things, you could have a constant microwave watch on your desktop.  

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  6. Razors. Everyone knows that unsettling experience of scraping a dull razor against your skin. With the Internet of Things, you could have a new razor on the way just as your old one is depleted.
  7. Status updates. Why manually update your social media accounts? Your Internet of Things devices could monitor your mood and automatically let your coworkers and family know whether to approach or avoid you. 
  8. Breakfast. Too little cereal? Too little milk? A combined pitcher and container would let you know whether or not you have the perfect amount of both cereal and milk for your breakfast. 
  9. Keys. Where the heck did your keys go? GPS coordinates are the best way to figure it out easy. 
  10. Credit cards. Credit cards should automatically start alerting us when we're damaging our credit score; say a glowing red card when we're approaching the limits.

Naturally, until the above ideas come into development, the Internet of Things may just remain a bit of a cybersecurity pest. To learn more about the Internet of Things, cybersecurity solutions, or to talk to us about more IoT ideas that will ultimately make us lazier, contact CWPS today.

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How IDaaS Protects Against the Dangers of the Internet of Things

Identity_as_a_Service_IDaaS.jpgA hot topic in modern organizations, the Internet of Things is swiftly becoming a driving force in new security technologies. The Internet of Things represents some serious security issues that IT teams will need to address as the technology moves forward.

Identity-as-a-Service may be one of the newer technology trends that are able to secure organizations against this growing threat.

How the "Internet of Things" Is Threatening Organizations

Everything today is connected to the Internet. That includes printers, copiers, speakers, tablets -- virtually anything in an office is likely to be WiFi-capable and accessible via a web-based login. Though this may seem convenient, it's actually incredibly harmful. A recent study by HP found that up to 70% of Internet of Things devices are not properly secured. A device that is connected to the company network could be compromised, thereby compromising the entirety of the network. Organizations today may have dozens, if not hundreds, of unmanaged devices that are connected to the network and representing a security risk.

IT professionals have their hands full when attempting to manage the "Internet of Things." Each device that is introduced into the IoT expands the organization's network in addition to adding vulnerabilities, and the security protocols and authentication solutions that these devices use can be widely disparate, requiring entirely different methods of management. The only way to control the IoT is to create a consolidated infrastructure that can manage access, permissions, and protocols.

Protecting Against the Internet of Things With IDaaS

Identity-as-a-Service (IDaaS) provides a comprehensive, single login solution for all devices. Through Identity as a Service, authentication protocols can be maintained throughout an infrastructure, even in seemingly disparate elements.

Authentication and ID is exceptionally important to a network infrastructure. Authentication controls everything at a user can access, view, modify, and delete. With a myriad of devices and access points, authentication can become fragmented; users may have multiple logins and authentication protocols themselves can become unwieldy. Creating a single, overarching and comprehensive system that manages all devices and network controls can protect against the ever-expanding "Internet of Things" that presently threatens security.

Without appropriate management, the Internet of Things can become a risk to any organization. In addition to the threats that mobile devices and bring-your-own-device policies introduce, the Internet of Things creates vulnerabilities around every corridor. Consequently, IT personnel will need to manage these threats by creating consolidated frameworks through which these devices connect. Identity-as-a-Service is an all-in-one solution to many of these potentially compromising issues.

Guide to Keeping company's data safe

Image source: Ministerio TIC Colombia