Companies Must Address Employees’ Lax Cybersecurity Habits

A third of employees picked up bad cyber security behaviors while working from home, according to Tessian’s Back to Work Security Behaviors report.

Despite the remote workers’ bad security practices, 9 out of 10 organizations prefer the hybrid workplace as COVID-19 restrictions eased. Similarly, 89% of employees want to work remotely during the week.

The firm advises business owners to consider the bad employee behaviors as organizations transition to hybrid workplace models.

As employees go back to the office, businesses need to address changes to employees’ security behaviors since they have been working remotely.

Most employers are wary that the post-pandemic hybrid workforce would bring bad cybersecurity behaviors.

More than half (56%) of employers believed that employees had picked bad security practices while working remotely.

Similarly, nearly two-fifths (39%) of employees also admitted that their employee behaviors differed significantly while working from home compared to the office.

Additionally, nearly a third (36%) admitted discovering ‘workarounds’ since they started working remotely.

Close to half of workers adopted the risky behavior because they felt that they weren’t being watched by IT departments. Nearly a third (30%) said they felt that they could get away with the risky employee behaviors while working away from the office.

However, small businesses placed more confidence in their employees while transitioning to the hybrid workplace.

Over two-thirds of business owners believed that their staff would observe their company’s cybersecurity policies.

Many employees are unlikely to admit cutting corners

The fear or failure to report cybersecurity mistakes was a huge cybersecurity risk for organizations. A quarter of employees refused to report such mistakes believing that nobody would ever discover them.

Similarly, more than a quarter feared reporting cybersecurity mistakes to avoid potential disciplinary actions or being forced to take additional security training.

However, younger employees are more likely to admit cutting corners, according to the Tessian report.

More than half (51%) of employees between 16-24 years old and 46% of those between 25-34 years old were more likely to admit circumventing the company’s security protocols.

“Create a security culture that encourages people to come forward about their mistakes, and support them when they do,” the authors suggested.

Personal devices will undermine the network perimeter in the hybrid workplace

Some of the security threats and challenges experienced when people work fully remotely would be imported into the new hybrid workplace.

While many employees used infected devices for remote access during the pandemic, some would bring them to the hybrid office. Company leaders now have to shift to a new security architecture for good – one that involves zero-trust network access, endpoint security, and multi-factor authentication.

Phishing and ransomware attacks are major challenges in the hybrid workplace

Ransomware attacks were also a major concern for more than two-thirds (69%) of companies who believed that the hybrid work environment would be a target for ransomware attacks. These attacks posed a business continuity threat to targeted companies.

Similarly, phishing attacks concerned over three-quarters of IT decision-makers who believed that credential phishing would only exacerbate in a hybrid workplace.

They believed that employees were more likely to expose company data in public or fall for phishing scams impersonating airlines, booking companies, hotels, or senior executives on a business trip. In fact, “back to work” phishing emails were a concern for 67% of IT leaders.

Phishing was the gateway to ransomware attacks. Consequently, successfully blocking phishing exploits reduces the chances of a ransomware attack.

“Stop phishing, business email compromise, account takeover attacks, and social engineering scams, and you significantly reduce the risk of ransomware,” the report authors noted.

However, bad employee behaviors, such as failing to report clicking phishing links, made it harder to stop these attacks.

Three Scary Questions To Ask About Your Data On Your Staff’s Phones

More and more businesses encourage staff to use their own personal cell to access company data.

It’s very convenient and cost effective for everyone. Isn’t that the point of having all your data and apps in the cloud? You can access anything anywhere on any device.

But there are downsides. Any time someone accesses business data on a device that you don’t control, it opens windows of opportunity for cyber criminals.

Here are 3 scary questions to ask yourself.

What happens if someone’s phone is lost or stolen?

What’s a pain for them could be a nightmare for you. Would you be able to encrypt your business’s data or delete it remotely? Would it be easy for a stranger to unlock the device and access the apps installed?

What happens if someone taps a bad link?

Lots of people read their email on their phone. If they tap on a bad link in a phishing email (a fake email that looks like it’s from a real company), is your business’s data safe?

Despite what many people think, phones can be hacked in a similar way to your computer.

What happens when someone leaves?

Do you have a plan to block their ongoing access to your business’s apps and data? It’s the thing many business owners and managers forget when staff change.

If you haven’t already, create a cell phone security plan to go with your general IT security plan. Make sure everyone in your business knows what it is and what to do if they suspect anything is wrong.

If you need a hand, don’t forget that a trusted IT security partner (like us) can give you the right guidance.

Your Business Is Already Under Attack

Thomas Fox is president of Tech Experts, southeast Michigan’s leading small business computer support company.

Ransomware is big business. It’s one of the fastest growing online crimes. Cyber criminals are targeting small and medium sized companies as well as non-profits and government agencies.

It’s the computer crime where your data is encrypted so you can’t access it unless you pay the ransom fee.

The really scary part is that it’s unlikely you’d realize you were under attack from ransomware until it was too late.

Cyber criminals hide in your network for between 60 to 100 days before they strike. During that time they’re checking out your network, identifying vulnerabilities, and preparing what they need to hit you with the attack.

[Read more…]

When Was Your Last Permissions Review?

When was the last time you reviewed who in your business has access to which documents?

Do you know who has access to your documents? Or can everyone access everything?

You may need to make some changes. You see, the more people that have access to your business documents, the less secure they are.

Let’s imagine for a moment that one of your people opens a very convincing email, supposedly from a supplier.

The email contains a document to download, which they do, because it’s from a supplier, right? They can trust it.

What your employee didn’t notice was that the email signature was missing or that the email address wasn’t the same as it usually is.

And the document they downloaded has now installed malware on their device.

They don’t notice the malware because it all looked legit and nothing obvious has happened. They continue their working day unaware.

While they’re working, the malware is working too, in the background. It’s accessing and copying all of the data that your employee has access to.

You might get lucky and stop this malware before it enters your network and takes everything, but if your employee already has access to everything, well, it’s gone. Although this isn’t a malicious act on behalf of the employee, they’ve essentially caused a huge data breach that could kill your business.

And this scenario doesn’t even need the malware to become a reality. One day, a member of your team might decide they’d like to make a little money by stealing your valuable data.

By giving everyone access to everything, you’re making it too easy – and too tempting – for them.

So, if you haven’t already done this, I suggest that this week you make it a priority to sit down and work out who needs access to which files and documents and restrict access to absolutely everything.

Keep your own document detailing who has access to what. And update it whenever anyone joins the business or changes roles.

This is also a great way of protecting your data when somebody leaves, because you can see exactly what you need to revoke access to.

If you already restrict access, when was the last time you reviewed it?

Are people able to access files they no longer need? And are there people who could benefit from access to more documents to complete their role?

Yes, that’s a lot to think about. But once you have a detailed document to work from, regular reviews are pretty simple and definitely worth your time.

Please give us a call if you’d like to go over the shares and permissions on your network.

Lately, Ransomware Has Added Blackmail To Its Arsenal

Mark Funchion is a network technician at Tech Experts.

At this point, ransomware is practically a lifeform – it’s constantly growing and adapting.

Originally, if you were hit with ransomware, your data was encrypted and you could pay to (hopefully) get the data restored.

If you had an effective backup solution, you could restore your data without paying and adjust your security to prevent this from happening again.

Now, many of these attackers using ransomware have upped their game. They realize that more businesses are using backups, so the chances of getting paid are lessening. To combat that, the attackers added an additional feature to their attacks: blackmail / extortion.

Not only do they encrypt your data, but they take it as well. Now, the payment is to decrypt the data AND keep it from being posted online for all to see.

If you are a business with sensitive files, this can be a real issue. Having a backup is not enough in this case; even if you don’t pay the ransom and you’re back up and running in a few hours, all your data could be shared. Worse than the hassle of recreating all your files, the lasting effects from customer data, financials, and personal information being leaked could be devastating.

This is why it’s crucial to partner with an IT provider who understands network security.

An effective and tested backup solution is important, but there’s more that you need to have in order to be protected. Your network needs to be secured with a firewall, and all your devices need to be patched regularly to limit your exposure when exploits are discovered.

Are you using 2FA? Do you know what 2FA is? Are your passwords changed regularly and are they complex? Do all users in your office use the same password? Do they share accounts?

We know it seems more efficient to have easy passwords and shared log-ins, but it’s a huge security risk.

Businesses often find it easier to give users full administrative access to their local machine and network shares too. However, in that scenario, one compromised password that has full access to everything means the attackers do not need to look any further and can “walk” right in.

Another item that too many people turn off or find annoying is User Account Control. Yes, it can be frustrating to verify your user identity when you want to make changes.

That is, until a malicious program is launched without your knowledge and the User Account Control prompt stops your network and data from being attacked. What’s worse – a few seconds’ worth of verification or a costly business disaster?

These cyberthreats will always continue to grow and evolve. They have been since we started using the Internet. If you are not in the business of technology, it is very difficult for you to adapt efficiently enough to stay secure.

That is why the right technology partner who does adapt and evolve is very important to the success of your business.

Over $1 Trillion Lost To Cyber-crime Every Year

Thomas Fox is president of Tech Experts, southeast Michigan’s leading small business computer support company.

$1 trillion! That’s a lot of money. And it’s a figure that’s increased by more than 50% since 2018.

In 2019, two-thirds of all organizations reported some type of incident relating to cyber-crime.

You could make a sure bet this figure rose significantly last year, thanks to criminals taking advantage of the pandemic.

It’s easy to look at big figures like these and not relate them back to your own business. But here’s the thing. The average cost of a data breach to a business is estimated to be around $500,000.

[Read more…]

Please Don’t Give Everyone Access To Everything

With so many potential vulnerabilities in every business IT system, there is no “silver bullet” – no single safety measure that will let you sit back and relax, knowing your IT is safe and data is secure.

Most of the risks are ongoing and constantly changing. They need an active approach to stop your business falling victim to a data breach or malicious cyber-attack.

It would take a lot more space than is available in this newsletter to talk about all the risks you face.

So instead, we can talk about two of the most important things you can do to stay safe.

Make sure your team only has access to the data it needs

Keep an eye on who has access to what and whether they need it.

The more people have access to sensitive data, the more potential routes there are for the wrong people to get access to it.
If you give everybody access to everything, all it will take is for one account to become compromised.

And before you know it, criminals armed with malware will have access to your systems.

Just as important as this is how you manage the IT accounts of people who leave the business or change jobs internally.

For example, if an employee switches from accounting to a management job in a completely different part of the business, they probably won’t need to keep access to all the data they needed for their last role. Failing to adjust permissions only adds to your level of risk. When people leave your business, you must immediately restrict their access to your systems and data. Implement appropriate policies and processes to reduce the risk of something slipping through.

Keep your devices secure

Another important thing to watch out for is how frequently you’re installing updates on devices. This includes tablets and phones as well as computers. They must all be kept updated with the latest security patches. All it takes is one weak link for your whole business to potentially be compromised.

Make sure that you replace old devices that are no longer getting updates, or can’t support the latest versions of software. And of course, it’s also important to make sure that all devices are backed up in real time.

Consider computer and mobile device encryption. It turns the data into unreadable garbage if the wrong person gets hold of your device.

Would Your Business Survive The 4 Beer Test This Christmas?

So, it’s unlikely you’ll be having a traditional office Christmas party this year. Thank COVID, you party-pooper.

But I’m sure at least some of your team will find a way to celebrate together over a few beers after work one day.

And that’s why it’s worth asking if your business can pass the four beer test.

What’s that? Four beers is about the stage where people start to “relax” so much, they start to forget the important stuff. Like picking up their laptop bag when they leave the bar or restaurant.

Laptops and mobile devices get left in bars and restaurants all the time, especially on dark winter nights like these.

Thing is – depending on your IT setup, a lost laptop can either be a minor inconvenience. Or a complete disaster.

How can you tell which? By asking these 3 questions:

• Is it encrypted?
• Is it password protected?
• Can the data be wiped remotely?

If it’s a “yes” to all three, you can relax. It’s annoying you’ve lost your device… but your business’s data is safe. No one can access it.

And if you can’t positively answer all three, there’s a problem. These days, the loss of data is a much bigger deal than the loss of a device.

If you’re not 100% sure you can answer all 3 questions with a big fat YES… then give us a call. We can check for you.

How To Set Up And Maintain A Secure, Remote Work Environment To Overcome The COVID19 Pandemic

Thomas Fox is president of Tech Experts, southeast Michigan’s leading small business computer support company.

“We are in this together.” We can’t say that enough. It’s not you, and I, but US.

Information technology and communications providers are considered essential services in this unprecedented time, and we take our role seriously. We are here to help, and we ask you (no, implore you) to reach out with any technology-related questions as you work to transition from a central office to a remote employee environment.

As you prepare (or maybe you already have transitioned) for remote work environments, many of which will need to be done by the individual who will be working there, we developed this list of 10 things to keep in mind to secure a remote work environment on the fly.

Invest in antivirus software for all employee devices
Yes, technically it is your employee’s devices and these are usually outside of the typical IT circle. But with these circumstances coming about quickly, there may not have been time to follow your normal procurement cycle to get the specific equipment your employees need to remain productive while working from home. That means they will be working from their own device, and they may or may not be as cognizant of your security measures.

So a good rule of thumb is to work to ensure that all employees utilize antivirus software. Many ISPs (Internet service providers) also offer free antivirus software with their service, and we would encourage you to take full advantage. There are several ways you can handle this and we invite you to give us a call to see what will work best for your organization. [Read more…]

Working From Home? Probably The “New Normal”

Thomas Fox is president of Tech Experts, southeast Michigan’s leading small business computer support company.

I hope that you and your family (and pets) are safe and sound and doing as well as can be expected. This is an extraordinary time for all of us, and the very embodiment of the ancient Chinese aphorism “may you live in interesting times.” We surely do.

Our team is mixed between working in the office and working from home, and everyone is doing a great job. We initially saw a huge increase in our ticket volume as our client’s teams prepared to work from home but that’s tapered off in the last week to a pretty normal level of activity.

If you had to wait for help, please accept my personal apology for the inconvenience – while we have plans to handle client disasters, I never anticipated something as far-reaching as the current pandemic.

The “new normal”

If the politicians and experts are to be believed, many of the changes we’ve had to make to slow the spread of this virus are going to be around for quite a while, at least until we have an effective vaccine for COVID-19. From an IT perspective, that means more of your team will probably be working remotely. And that presents a new kind and new level of security exposure for your company. [Read more…]