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Cyber Security Staffordshire

The 3 Cyber Security Vulnerabilities You Need to Ensure Your Business Doesn’t Have

You need to take cyber security seriously, regardless of the size of your business. Criminals are targeting both small and large businesses, and you need to check for any weaknesses in your security regularly. Here are 3 Cyber Security Vulnerabilities you need to ensure your business doesn’t have.

Summary

  • Check your Antivirus software regularly and keep it up to date
  • Do you have Weak Login Credentials / have any of your accounts been compromised
  • Lack of Ransomware Protection

VULNERABILITY #1 – LACK OF ENDPOINT SECURITY

Many businesses don’t have or regularly check their endpoint security solutions such as antivirus programs. This leaves their business susceptible to cyber attacks such as ransomware and malware.

Some endpoint solutions rely on virus definitions or signatures to detect an attack. Some out of date software is often inadequate.

Many cyber criminals can bypass definitions quickly and undetected. Some solutions don’t monitor for unexpected and unusual behaviour that typically happens during a cyber attack.

The best way to combat these issues is to invest in an endpoint solution that involves next-generation antivirus, response and behavioral analysis.

What is Endpoint Security?

Endpoint security Is when you secure the endpoints and / or entry points of devices such as desktops, Laptops and mobile devices etc. It has evolved a lot since the more traditional anti virus solutions of the past. It provides a more sophisticated approach when it comes to malware and ransomware.

As virus threats get more sophisticated, it’s good practice to implement this level of protection. The new systems are designed to detect, analyse and block suspicious activity while they are in progress.

Please get in touch if you would like to know more or have any questions about Endpoint Security.

VULNERABILITY #2 – COMPROMISED OR WEAK CREDENTIALS

Cyber Security Staffordshire

Cyber criminals can easily compromise your Username and Password if you haven’t got the right protection in place. For instance, an unsuspecting team member may fall victim to a phishing email and enter their login information into a fake website.

With these compromised credentials, an attacker can gain access to your business data.

There are a number of ways to combat this, such as by enabling MFA (Multi Factor Authentication) on your systems. MFA provides an extra layer of security.

It ensures that users are who they say they are by requiring two pieces of information in order to sign in. This is usually their password and an additional verification, such as a one time access code, in order to login.

Even if the password is compromised, the chances of the additional verification factor also being compromised is very low.

What is Multi Factor Authentication?

When you sign into any account online, you usually go through a process called authentication. Effectively proving your identity to the website you’re logging into. For many years this has been achieved by using a username and a password.

This is however a very insecure method of authentication. That’s why now almost every bank, some social media websites and online stores use additional authentication.

You may hear Multi Factor Authentication called Two-Step verification or Multifactor authentication. They all work the same way. You still login using your username and password but there is an additional layer of security. This can be a pin number text to your mobile phone or a unique code generated by a separate application.

VULNERABILITY #3 – LACK OF RANSOMWARE PROTECTION

Ransomware is the name given to a cyber attack, where the cyber criminals attack your system and network and encrypt your files making them inaccessible.

This can cause chaos for small and large businesses. In 2017 a notorious ransomware attack called “WannaCry Outbreak” cost the UK £92 million and global costs in the region of 6 billion. This also affected the NHS and all of their computer systems were brought to a standstill.

Even though victims paid the ransom all of the data was virtually unrecoverable. So it’s not just ransomware protection you need. It’s a redundancy plan to make sure all of the data is backed up elsewhere and is accessible in the event of a cyber attack.

The majority of victims in these types of attacks are told to pay the ransom using a crypto currency such as bitcoin. They will then send a passcode, allowing you to get back into your system and files.

Make sure you have software and processes in place to prevent these kinds of attacks. Ensure your systems are up to date with the latest updates installed, ensure you are using a modern endpoint security solution and a working backup solution to ensure you’ve got something to fall back to if the worst should happen.

What is Ransomware?

Ransomware is a type of Malware that adds encryption to a victims files and information. Any data on your computer or network can be compromised. This then stops the IT admin or users from being able to access any critical data.

You wouldn’t be able to access any files, databases or programmes on your devices. It does this by using asymmetric encryption. This is a type of cryptography that generates a pair of keys allowing you to encrypt and decrypt files. The hacker generates a unique key which is given to the victim when the ransom has been paid.

Most ransware is distributed via emails or more targeted attacks. In most cases, once your computer has been compromised. It will give you between 24/48hrs to pay the ransom allowing you to gain access to your data.

HERE TO HELP

Anyone running a successful company should have the steps above in place. To ensure your business isn’t a sitting duck for cyber criminals, by implementing reliable defense strategies and keep. So if you’re looking for assistance with your Cyber Security and based in Staffordshire. Reach out to us for a quick, no obligation chat to see how we can protect your business from cyber attacks. Call us on 01543 889 444


Your Never Too Small for Managed IT Support

A small to medium size business may only have a handful computers and having an in-house person dedicated to IT support may be overkill. Everything is working fine at the moment but is it performing at its best, but at some point, things will crash and stop working. That’s why it can be beneficial to outsource IT.

Having someone who knows technology working for your team can pay huge dividends and add value by:

  • Providing knowledgeable support and IT help
  • Identifying where you can be more efficient with the tools you already have which can save money
  • Learning business needs and making recommendations about the best IT needs for your company
  • Helping you avoid bad tech purchases or buying software you don’t need
  • Protecting your business technology and ensuring your computers are up to date with the latest security

Small business Breaches

You don’t have to have a large business to attract the unwanted attention of cyber-criminals, in fact a small business can be a particularly appealing target.

According to Accenture 43% of cyber-attacks were aimed at small businesses and only 14% of small businesses were prepared for these attacks on their networks and sensitive data. In fact hackers will exploit a small business as part of their campaign to attack a larger business, as they know the smaller business is less likely to have the same level of security as the bigger businesses. According to insurance carrier Hiscox the average cyber-attack costs a business £200,000 which can be a killer blow for a small business. Some 60% of small businesses that are hacked go out of business within six months, even if they can survive the financial damage along with brand reputation and customer goodwill is devastating.

Outsourced ITAdvantages of Outsourced IT

You may not have a clear picture of your cyber-security status right now but by working with a SJH Computing & Technical Services you will get one. We will conduct an informal audit of your current technology and needs.

For instance, your business may not have a data protection procedure or you may think you don’t have a lot to back-up. Can you recover if your business losses an email chain it was keeping for legal or compliance reasons? What would happen if the computer holding all your accounting suddenly died? We can identify all these problem areas and recommend appropriate solutions.

We will make an inventory of all your tech assets and ensure you are compliant with protecting your customers data, employee records, confidentiality, availability, and ensure the security of the business’s intellectual property.

The cost of outsourcing can be a stumbling block to a small business but managed IT services can often lower costs by streamlining processes and ensuring that the business technology is best suited to current needs and if the worst does happen they are only a phone call away to help.

If you would like to know more about outsourcing your IT needs give us a call on 01543 889 444


World Backup Day

Today, 31st March, is World Backup Day.

What is a Backup?

A backup is a second copy of all your important files — for example documents, emails and photos. Instead of storing it all in one place (like your computer), you keep another copy of everything somewhere safe.

Data Backup

What’s the best way of backing up your data?

Whether it’s due to hardware or software failure, or simply because someone deleted the wrong file, data loss is a real threat that must be taken seriously.

  • USB Memory Sticks – Also known as flash drives, pen drives or memory sticks, they are extremely portable due to their size. However, the storage capacity of them is limited when compared to a hard drive. Also, their small size makes it easy for you to lose them.
  • Portable Hard Drives – Portable Hard Drives are great, they can hold a lot more data than a memory stick, and designed to be compact and portable. Although they are less likely to be damaged than a memory stick, they are still prone to failure, especially if it receives a knock when plugged in.
  • Cloud Backup – Backing up your data to the cloud means your data is backed up to massive servers in data centres. You don’t have to worry about hardware failure as cloud providers have built-in redundancy (multiple copies of your data) to ensure your data is safe. Cloud backup providers will also encrypt your data as soon as it’s uploaded from your computer, meaning no one has access to it apart from yourself. One advantage of cloud backup is that it is offsite, so if the worst should happen, such as a flood or fire, your data remains safe.

No matter what the cause of your data loss, it always has a deep impact, particularly when it comes to precious data like photos and documents. Most importantly, it’s a loss that is very avoidable.

If you want help in protecting your data or need help with anything else, give us a call on 01543 889 444.


Ransomware – 7 Facts You Need to Know

Ransomware is the name given to a cyber-attack by cyber-criminals where they attack your system and network and encrypt your files making them inaccessible. They then demand a payment for a passcode so you can get back into your system and files and get working again. Here are the top seven things you need to know.

1: It can happen to you

Thinking “it won’t happen to me” is all the cyber-criminals need, they rely on your false confidence. Attacks on government, healthcare, education or financial institutions gets publicity but organisations of all types and sizes get attacked.

2: Ransomware spreads fast

Ransomware is malicious software known as malware and can infect an entire network. It only takes one person in one department to open a ransomware file and every single computer on your business network can be infected, very quickly. The virus can also spread between businesses too. The WannaCry ransomware attack of 2017 first detected in Europe, had in four days, spread to 116 countries.

3: Ransomware targets people

A common method is to send phishing emails in the hope people enter their access credentials. Businesses can get targeted communication emails where the attackers get to know your business first, then send an email impersonating a supplier or customer, and ask you to update details or another action by clicking on a link or downloading a file.

4: Ransomware is costly

Once ransomware has locked down your system you will need a password or decryption key to unlock it and regain access to your files. This will only be supplied once you have paid the ransom to the criminals that attacked you, if they keep their end of the bargain, they are crooks after all.

In Coveware`s analysis of Q3 in 2019 the average ransom payment increased by 13% to 41,198 US dollars compared to Q2 and that does not include the cost of downtime, lost revenue and long term brand damage along with the additional cost removing the ransomware, forensic analysis and rebuilding systems

5: Ransom requires Cryptocurrency

The ransom payment is usually made by bitcoin or another cryptocurrency as it is difficult to trace. Your business will need to buy cryptocurrency with actual cash then transmit the ransom and it doesn’t help that bitcoin is not something you can charge back like a credit card.

6: A recovery plan can help

Planning in advance can help you respond if you do get attacked. Document plans to disconnect infected computers from your network as quickly as possible and power down any machines that might be vulnerable to attack to avoid further spread of the virus.

You should also decide in advance whether your business would pay a ransom. Weighing the costs and benefits before any attack can help you react more strategically.

7: Take action

You don’t have to wait and worry about the consequences of any attack, there are many things you can do to help prevent this type of attack.

  • Filter traffic preventing it from coming into your network in the first place
  • Scan inbound emails for known threats and block certain attachment types
  • Use antivirus and anti- spam solutions and regularly upgrade and patch vulnerable software
  • Allow remote access to your network only from secure virtual private networks
  • Educate all users on the various threat methods used by attackers
  • Back up all your data to more than one location so that you can restore any impacted files from a known source.

Ransomware can happen to any business at any time. If you need any help implementing the best solution to keep your business safe give us a call today on 01543 889 444.


Tech Tips for Businesses

As your business continues to grow, it’s important that your IT and technology solutions grow with it. Consumer grade equipment and solutions simply don’t cut the fast-paced world of business, and so it maybe time to consider these tips to help your business grow even more.

 

Upgrade to a Business Grade Cloud solution

Maybe you are relying on free software and solutions, such as Gmail or Dropbox, and why not, it’s free right? But what does this tell your customers when you are using a free email address such as Gmail or Outlook.com? For a small monthly fee, you gain business grade features and not only that, it will make your business look more professional.

Office 365 offers business emails, video and voice calls, secure team messaging, 50GB cloud storage and the desktop versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint you use every day. Plus, you gain greater security and administration of your data.

 

Backup solutions

Consumer grade backup may be ok if you only use one computer, but what if you’ve got multiple computers, are you backing them all up, and where to?

With a 3-2-1 backup solution, your business has a minimum of three backups. Two onsite and another offsite, such as in the cloud. Having a local backup allows you to recover files quickly with very little downtime. However, should the worst happen, such as a fire or flood, your offsite backup will save the day.

It’s important to know that you need to backup your email, calendar and cloud-based files. Providers such as Microsoft, Google or Dropbox are not responsible for your data. If you are hit by ransomware, these files may be gone forever.

 

Managed Antivirus

While most businesses have these protections, not all have embraced the idea of monitored antivirus and firewalls. Instead, the default setup has more in common with a home setup than a robust professional system. Given that SMBs are a primary target for malware and cyber-attack, you should seriously consider moving to the monitored versions.

All updates are taken care of, plus company-wide protections applied so users can’t accidentally infect the network. When something doesn’t look quite right, our monitors take immediate action to protect your business.

Want to learn more about these benefits and how we can help your business thrive? Call us on 01543 889 444


Protecting your external hard drive

Many people still use external hard drives for backup or portable storage, despite the advantages of cloud computing. If you are still using an external hard drive, it’s important to look after it properly as failure can happen at any time.

 

Avoid knocking the drive

Depending on the type of external hard drive, such as mechanical or SSD, an impact could damage it, especially if it’s plugged in and powered up. If you are using a mechanical external hard drive, a knock could cause the heads to crash against the platter (the bit where your data is stored), which could lead to data loss.

However, if your external hard drive contains an SSD (Solid State Drive), there are no moving parts, so you don’t have to worry about knocking it as much.

 

Don’t just unplug the drive

Never unplug the drive while reading or writing data to the external hard drive. If you do, you risk corrupting the data. Instead eject the drive. You can do this by right clicking on the drive and select Eject. Once you’ve ejected the drive, you can safely disconnect it from your computer.

It’s also important not to pull too hard on the USB cable, as you could damage the connectors.

 

Keep it flat on a table or desk

We see this a lot, external hard drives balanced on something or not set on a level surface. If your desk is knocked, you run the risk of the drive falling (see avoid knocking the drive above).

 

They won’t last forever

Just like the hard drive in your computer, external hard drives won’t last forever. They can also be easily lost or stolen, so it’s a good idea to have a backup of your external hard drive just in case.

If you need help deciding on the best hard drive for your computer, give us a call on 01543 889 444


What is the best way to backup your data?

“It’ll never happen to me”, or “We know we should but don’t”.

We hear this a lot when we ask about backup. Whether it’s due to hardware or software failure, or simply because someone deleted the wrong file, data loss is a real threat that must be taken seriously. But what’s the best way of backing up your data?

 

Data backup solutions

 

USB Memory Sticks

Also known as flash drives, pen drives or memory sticks, they are extremely portable due to their size. However, the storage capacity of them is limited when compared to a hard drive. Also, their small size makes it easy for you to lose them.

Not only that, but they are not as robust as other portable storage mediums. We see a lot of snapped or broken USB memory sticks, which could lead to total data loss.

 

Portable Hard Drives

Portable Hard Drives are great, they can hold a lot more data than a memory stick, and designed to be compact and portable. Although they are less likely to be damaged than a memory stick, they are still prone to failure, especially if it receives a knock when plugged in.

 

Cloud Backup

Backing up your data to the cloud means your data is backed up to massive servers in data centres. You don’t have to worry about hardware failure as cloud providers have built-in redundancy (multiple copies of your data) to ensure your data is safe. Cloud backup providers will also encrypt your data as soon as it’s uploaded from your computer, meaning no one has access to it apart from yourself.

One advantage of cloud backup is that it is offsite, so if the worst should happen, such as a flood or fire, your data remains safe.

 

The best approach

The best way of ensuring your data is safe is by having three copies of it; one on your computer, one copy on a portable drive, and another offsite, such as in the cloud.

Need help ensuring your data is safe? Give us a call on 01543 889 444.

 


There are two kinds of people: those who backup, and those who have never lost all their data

Digital cameras are great, and thanks to smartphones, we have one with us almost all the time. We’re taking more photos than ever before, and building a lifetime of digital data. But despite the enormous value of these photos and videos, most people don’t have a backup. It’s time to shine a light on this essential task and make it a regular habit before those precious memories are gone forever.

If you asked someone what possession they’d save from a house fire, many would say photos, and they’d make a point of grabbing a frame or album on the way out. But with digital photos, you don’t need a fire to lose everything, they could simply disappear in the blink of an eye with hardware failure or theft. There’s no warning, no smoke alarm, and without a plan already in place, little no chance to recover the data depending on how is was damaged. It’s time to get set up with a true backup system.

 

Data backup

Is one copy enough?
You might think saving your information to an external hard drive or USB drive is enough. You’re right, it’s better than nothing, but since the data is stored in only one place, this isn’t a backup – it’s just storage. That drive could fail at any moment, perhaps from age, malfunction or plain old theft.
Often enough, that drive can become lost over the years or even put somewhere ‘safe’ and promptly forgotten! And with the way technology is moving, accessing that data in 5 years might even bring up compatibility issues – some newer computers don’t even have CD/DVD drives, yet hundreds of thousands of homes would still have photos stored on a plastic disc.

Two copies?
You might have your extra storage drive as backup and keep a copy on your computer. This is a better solution, and while you’re protected against device failure, that house fire is going to take both copies up in flames.
Thieves would probably grab the external drive while they’re bundling up your computer too, so again, you’d be left with zero copies. It’s close, but it’s not a true backup system
.
Using The Cloud
The term ‘Cloud’ may just seem a fancy name for storage on secure servers, but we have seen it save many people’s important data and for ease of backup, protection and security it’s hard to beat.
We recommend keeping one copy on the computer/device and another on Cloud storage. Of course, you can also still an external drive as a third copy if you wish (and many in the IT world consider ‘The Rule of Three’ as the way to go) but the best Cloud storage solutions have multiple backups, which is not the case when using an external drive.

The Cloud backup can be fully automated so you don’t even need to worry about remembering to do it. If the day comes that you need your data back, it’s ready and waiting in perfect condition – even if you have been infected with Viruses and Ransomware (depending on your Cloud storage provider). Cloud technology also means your data is far away from any potential fire or flood, it’s secure and with the right company, guaranteed against loss.

No matter what the cause of your data loss, it always has a deep impact, particularly when it comes to precious data like photos. While re-creating some homework or the family budget might just be inconvenient, there’s no way to recreate photos once they’re gone.

Most importantly, it’s a loss that is very avoidable.

If you want help in protecting your data or need help with anything else, give us a call on 01543 889 444.


Invest Well in Your IT Security

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is a common and useful rule for many business owners. It serves to protect your business against unnecessary costs and unneeded downtime. While protecting your business against many types of danger, it poses an outright threat when it comes to IT security.

Security threats to your firm move so fast that your IT should be working twice as hard as your company just to keep up. Every day, hundreds of thousands of new malware threats are released. Falling even hours behind means any one of these attacks can threaten your business.

The single most dangerous thing IT security can do is stand still. Keeping up with the latest advice, technology, and updates the security industry offers is vital to keep your business safe. This makes up much of the unseen job of IT professionals. Hackers never stop looking for new ways into your system, which means your security can’t stop looking for ways to keep them out.

 

IT Security Staffordshire

Modern Systems for Modern Business

One of the most common security threats a business opens itself to is using an outdated operating system or software package. Many firms are scared to upgrade, update, or renew their IT over fears of breaking legacy systems. Many rely heavily on old software and are afraid to make a large change themselves. Some businesses today still run machines on Windows XP, an operating system first released back in 2001.

Old operating systems stop receiving security updates and patches that protect against newly released attacks. These systems become very vulnerable, presenting a large target for knowledgeable hackers. This happens many years after newer versions have been released, giving knowing IT firms a chance to migrate safely.

Hackers are always on the lookout for businesses that run IT equipment outside of its suggested service life. A server, desktop computer, or peripheral is a golden opportunity for criminals to enter and threaten a business.

Hackers purchase their attacks on the dark web, safe in the knowledge that old systems won’t be patched. These attacks can then be used to attack unguarded firms to steal or compromise vital company data.

An unpatched old machine is like a valuable security door left propped open overnight, a golden opportunity for thieves.

Smart Budgets

Budgeting for business is a difficult task. We aim to make the most of everything we spend and reduce spending as much as we can. IT security can easily fall very far down the list of priorities.

IT can seem like an easy way to cut costs. It’s a department that the customer doesn’t always benefit from directly, and when it’s working well, it might not be on the radar at all. Despite working largely behind the scenes, successful IT is one of the critical components of every highly successful firm. Good IT can be the binding glue that holds the company together.

Even businesses far removed from the IT world typically uses payment machines, ordering systems, and inventory. Even restaurants and retail stores rely on computers to operate. Downtime for any critical system can be a complete disaster. A business can be unable to trade, and costs can mount up fast.

When vital IT components are used by the customer, a sales website, or an automated booking system for example, the problem can multiply tenfold.

Keep On Top Of The Essentials

Good IT isn’t built on high peaks and deep troughs in the yearly budget. The kind of IT that makes your business and helps it to grow is built by smart financing and careful planning. Great technicians are what makes excellent IT.

Maintaining steady updates, keeping pace with the latest security, and building your IT as you build your business keeps you in the driving seat when it matters most.

When IT is planned and issues are solved before they appear, security becomes cheaper, easier, and many times more effective. System upgrades can be planned out months, if not years in advance so you are never caught unaware.

Don’t let your IT be broken before you take steps to fix it. Move ahead of the curve and give us a call at 01543 889 444 so you don’t have to find out what your business looks like without IT.


What Hackers Target In Small Businesses

Hackers today have many ways to attack small businesses and business owners. Many attempt to use technology to send malware, viruses, or phishing attacks; or use information to con owners and employees into handing over more information than they should.

One or more of these techniques can be combined with gaining physical access to steal from vulnerable firms. Identifying precisely how criminals target businesses and what they deem most valuable can help to protect from the most devastating attacks out there.

Remaining vigilant and informed is one of the most vital things you can do as a business owner to protect your assets and reputation.

 

Business Security

Extortion

Different types of attacks tend to rise and fall in popularity. Fifteen years ago, computer worms were the most common attack that businesses faced. Security software wasn’t as advanced or as widely used at it is today. Computer worms were, at the time, an exceptionally low-cost and efficient way to inflict the maximum amount of damage for minimum cost.

Today ransomware has seen an unfortunate boom in popularity. This technology aims to encrypt the target’s files on their personal computer. This technique denies the victim access and charges a large fee in exchange for the key to retrieve the victim’s own data.

The attack has worked so often because it requires minimal effort and can be used again and again. Many businesses have no option but to pay because the data is worth far more than the ransom demand the hackers have made.

The best defense against ransomware attacks, in addition to strong online security, is an up-to-date offsite backup — one that is tested to work reliably.

Targeting Customer Records

One of the most important things for your firm to take care of is your customer data records. Records which include names, dates of birth, and other personally identifying details. These details are extremely valuable to hackers or criminals who, either use them personally or sell them on to someone who will.

Many regions have strict laws and guidelines about how this information must be stored, accessed and protected. Failing to follow these can result in severe penalties that could devastate any company.

Targeting Financial Information

Like personal information, a small business must take extreme care when storing customer financial information. Sensitive details such as credit card or banking information are a key target for hackers looking to steal money fast.

The impact on your business reputation following a breach of financial data will be severe and devastating. Even a simple mistake can require years of advertising and great PR to repair. Many firms have failed to recover after losing the trust of their customers.

Social Engineering

Most firms today run good IT security packages to protect against online attacks and other forms of malware. Attackers often know to take their methods offline to achieve the best results.

Whether posing as a supplier, customer, or interested party; attackers can seek to gain information that you may be less than willing to hand over to a stranger. Small businesses can often be used to gather information on vendors and suppliers they do business with in order to attack them too.

Be particularly cautious of the information you provide when discussing business with individuals you haven’t spoken to before.

Keeping Small Business Safe

Each of these targets and attacks are just some of the most popular and hard-hitting attacks out there now. The list is forever changing, and the methods we use to protect against them always needs to change too.

Some can be defended against with great security, backups, and software. Others, such as social engineering, need you and your staff to stay up-to-date and remain vigilant about the major attacks affecting small business today.

If you need help tightening your businesses security, give us a call at 01543 889 444