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…]

Happy Holidays: The Season Of Cyberattacks

The year 2020 has, in many ways, been the year of COVID. Whether or not you have had COVID-19, it is a safe bet that your life has in some way been impacted by the pandemic.

As is usually the case, cybercriminals are at the forefront of exploiting every opportunity they can.

A look at Google trends for coronavirus (https://trends.google.com/trends/story/US_cu_4Rjdh3ABAABMHM_en) shows how prevalent the topic is and continues to be.

This desire for information has led to a third of the cyberattacks in the United States (and a quarter of the attacks in the UK) being coronavirus-related. Like most cybersecurity attacks, these are often of the ransomware variety.

These attacks are increasingly targeting heath care facilities, but anyone can be a target. Since these medical facilities are overwhelmed and COVID leads most of the news today, people are on data overload while trying to manage their immediate concerns – and can become complacent when dealing with potential threats.

As we must remain vigilant in keeping ourselves medically safe, we must do the same to keep ourselves technologically safe. A few best practices are:

• Don’t open an attachment unless you know who it is from and you are expecting it.

• Use the same level of caution with email messages that instruct you to enable macros before downloading Word or Excel attachments as you would with a live cobra. Don’t touch it!

• Use anti-virus software on your machine, and make sure it’s kept up-to-date with the latest virus definitions.

• If you receive an attachment from someone you don’t know, don’t open it. Delete it immediately.

• Learn how to recognize phishing:

– Messages that contain threats to shut your account down

– Requests for personal information such as passwords or Social Security numbers

– Words like “Urgent” – a false sense of urgency will encourage you to act

– Forged email addresses

– Poor writing or bad grammar

• Hover your mouse over links before you click on them to see if the URL looks legitimate.

• Instead of clicking on links, open a new browser session and manually type in the address.

• Don’t click the “Unsubscribe” link in a spam email. It would only let the spammer know your address is legitimate, which could lead to you receiving more spam.

• Understand that reputable businesses will never ask for personal information via email.

• Don’t send personal information in an email message.

Tech Experts can assist with keeping you safe by providing support, running backups, and ensuring that your devices and software are up-to-date.

However, even with these safeguards in place, it is important that you do your part and do your best to act responsibly and thoughtfully when dealing with technology.

Messages that ask you to click for COVID news, updates, cures, etc. that you are not expecting should be treated as a potential threat. Obtain news from trusted sites.

While our interest in COVID is high, that is what makes it such an effective method of lowering people’s guards. Relatedly, as we head into the holiday season, watch out for “There is a problem with your delivery – click here” emails and other similar traps.

If cybercriminals, hackers, and spammers can find an opportunity, they’ll take advantage of it regardless of a global pandemic or the holidays. You’ve got enough on your plate; staying vigilant will go a long way in preventing the headaches of cyberattacks or identity theft.

Is There A Hidden Intruder Lurking In Your Business?

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

If you’re like us, you believe you have the best, most trustworthy people working for you.

But have you ever considered the possibility you may have someone unknown hidden within your business, trying to cause a lot of damage and make a lot of money at the same time?

This might sound a little far-fetched. Perhaps something that’s more likely to happen in a film than in your business.

But actually, you’d be surprised. Cyber criminals are targeting businesses exactly like yours all the time.

Because often, small and medium sized businesses don’t spend big bucks on their cyber security. Hackers know this. And will put a lot of effort in to try to exploit that. [Read more…]

Targeted Attacks On Small Businesses Are On The Rise

Mark Funchion is a network technician at Tech Experts.

Many of us have heard of ransomware. This is an attack where someone gains access to a system and encrypts all of the data until a ransom is paid. Once they get their money, they either unencrypt the data… or not. There is no guarantee that paying the ransom will actually work.

Most attacks in the past, both viruses and ransomware, were the “spray and pray” variety. Basically, the attackers would send out thousands (or hundreds of thousands) of emails and hope that a small percentage of them were successful. This procedure worked, but the success rate was low and the attackers had to have a large volume to make it successful.

The more profitable attacks that are on the rise are targeted attacks. These attacks rely on quality rather than quantity. Research goes into the attacks that then target a single or very few companies. These attackers will even go as far to check a company or institution’s financial information to see how much of a ransom they can expect to get.

In addition to demanding a ransom for the data to be decrypted, there is often a threat that the data will be released if the ransom is not paid. The threat of data being released can lead to the ransom being paid even if the target has a way to recover from the attack.

While many home users would hate to have their data released, it would not be completely devastating in most cases. If you are a financial, medical, or education institution, it could end your business or severely harm it. These institutions all contain sensitive information of their employees and clients.

For this reason, a recent spike has been seen in the UK involving their schools. Attackers are seeing schools as an easier target in today’s environment with the increase in remote learning. Banks and hospitals have been targeted numerous times before, and their main goal is to be as secure as possible, spending large amounts of money on it.

Schools and universities, on the other hand, are concerned with security, but they’re in a position today with COVID where they need to have fairly open access.

As colleges are pivoting to a distance learning model on a scale never envisioned, they have to allow more and more access in. This means more and more devices the schools have no direct control over, creating potential entry points into the network.

Although most of you reading this are not educational institutions, there is no industry or business (regardless of size) that is safe from a potential attack. Having a good network security system in place with effective backups is critical.

Don’t rely only on a day or a few days’ worth of backups either; some attacks will infect a system, then remain dormant for a while, hoping to outlive the backups you have available.

Having a technology partner who understands the dangers and how to recover is essential. You cannot just plug in a firewall and use an antivirus software and consider yourself protected.

Your business should have an incident response plan that includes backups and restore procedures, as well as testing. You also need to make sure you have a procedure to keep all of your systems up-to-date with the most current patches. Making sure any remote sessions are secure and using 2FA whenever possible is another area often overlooked too.

The list of vulnerabilities is endless, but we are here to assist. Let us provide you the security and comfort that your business is protecting not only your data, but your users from a potential breach.

10 Most Important CyberAttacks Of The Last Decade

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

The only way to keep history from repeating itself is to learn from the mistakes of the past. The following is a list of the most significant cyberyattacks from the last decade, as compiled by TechTarget:

Yahoo – 2013
With the unfortunate legacy of being the largest breach in the history of the internet, all three billion Yahoo accounts were compromised. The organization took 3 years to notify the public of the breach and that every account’s name, email address, password, birthdate, phone numbers, and security answers had been sold on the dark web.

Equifax – 2017
Probably the most damaging attack occurred just 3 years ago with the hack of Equifax. The hackers were successful in gaining access to 143 million Equifax customers and information vital to the lives of all. [Read more…]

Data Breaches Cost Healthcare $6.5M Or $429 Per Patient Record

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

Data breach costs are on the rise, with breach-related spending in the healthcare sector reaching $6.5 million on average, an IBM-sponsored report shows.

Data breaches cost the healthcare sector an average of $6.5 million per breach, over 60 percent more than all other business sectors, according to a Ponemon Institute report, sponsored by IBM. Other sectors spend about $3.9 million, on average.

Researchers interviewed 500 global organizations that experienced a data breach in the last year. The researchers found for the ninth consecutive year the healthcare sector is still the hardest hit financially by data breaches.

The costs are directly related to legal, technical, and regulatory functions, including patient notifications, breach detection and response, and lost business caused by reputational damage, loss of consumer trust, and downtime. [Read more…]