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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 Some out of date software is often inadequate.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


Don’t be Afraid of the Cloud

Although the public cloud service is expanding some businesses are reluctant to migrate their IT to this service for a number of reasons. This article addresses the common myths to this highly scalable and cost effective solution.

Fear of Change

The old saying of “why try to fix it if it’s not broke” is often banded about especially when it comes to business computing, and moving all your data from one data center to another takes planning and effort.

The greater flexibility when it is done will make it all worthwhile. Cloud technology offers:

  • Increased effectiveness
  • Mobility
  • Faster implementation
  • Scalability
  • Disaster recovery

The Cloud allows you to store data, deliver content, run applications and other IT functions all online, plus you don’t have to invest in the necessary hardware or networking technology on site.

Fear of Losing Control

Most IT departments want full control of their domain and can be reluctant to hand this over to a third party as moving to the public Cloud means partnering with this other third party. Some of your existing technology can move however some may need to be replaced or redesigned.

One solution is to migrate to a private Cloud. This will allow you to control the data and software but will be more costly than a public Cloud. When going into partnership with a public Cloud service provider make sure who is responsible and accountable for what.

Fear of Cost Increases

Cost is always a concern to businesses especially IT costs and although it may seem costlier by moving to the Cloud, first take stock of your existing IT operating budget. The time and money saving could be surprising as the software provider will take charge of updates, patching and new capabilities which can increase IT productivity in other areas.

With Cloud technology you know your tools are always evolving plus you can quickly add or reduce licenses for data storage and you don’t need to wait for hardware to arrive and be installed by your IT team.

Fear of Data Security

This is probably the biggest fear when moving to a third party, just how secure is your data. Also of concern is any downtime for a data breach and the resulting cost in lost production, business revenue and brand. You don’t want to move to a solution that increases your vulnerability.

There are two ways you can be attacked; digital or physical. A Cloud provider is always focused on security, they do not want an attack as much as you do as their reputation would be in tatters. They know the mitigations and counter measures for cloud computing capabilities. They know the frameworks, architecture and approaches to best protect against digital attack. Azure, which is Microsoft’s cloud offering, has a budget of $1 billion to prevent such cyber attacks. Very few IT budgets can compete with that.

As for physical security your own business premises is probably less secure than a data center. They have patrolled, fenced perimeters, guards, keycard only access, power backups and server redundancy.

Conclusion

With cloud migration you also avoid training employees to support the technology, freeing up office space and paying less for power and cooling to house your equipment. The cloud provides end users with immediate access from almost any device.

The one challenge is migrating to the cloud securely so contact us today on 01543 889 444 to get you migrated swiftly and ensure you’re using cloud computing safely.


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.


Destroying Business Data Properly

When you delete a file on your computer, it doesn’t permanently delete the data from the hard drive. All you are doing is telling your computer that it can now use the space on the hard drive that used to contain the data you just deleted. Cyber criminals can still recover this file and steal the information from it.  Just like you shred and destroy paperwork, you need a policy in place for destroying data when you dispose of old equipment.

You have an obligation to protect customer and staff information. Disposing on old equipment needs to be done properly to ensure information doesn’t get into the wrong hands.

 

Destroying data

 

How to destroy your data properly

Deleting or even formatting the hard drive in your device simply won’t cut it. You must ensure the data is gone forever. We recommend either crushing the hard drive, or the other option is called zeroing.

Crushing the hard drive is exactly that. You shred or crush the drive into tiny pieces. There is simply no way the data can be recovered if the hard drive is in pieces.

Zeroing the drive is the process of overwriting the drive with random data, essentially destroying the existing data stored on there. While one pass will destroy the data, we use a three-pass process. During the first pass, random data is written to the drive, then on the second pass, a series of 1’s and on the final pass, a series of 0’s.

Under GDPR regulations, you must protect customer and staff information. Whenever you are disposing, recycling or even donating old IT equipment, make sure the data is already deleted or destroyed.  The last thing you want is for the data to get into the wrong hands.

Need help recycling or destroying data on your old equipment? Give us a call 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.

 


Cloud Storage or Local Server – The Best of Both

Cloud computing is the biggest buzzword in business today, and for good reason too. The cloud provides many a new-found freedom to do and achieve more than ever before. Greater collaboration, unlocking work possibilities in new locations and often reducing costs provides a healthy boost for many companies.

Every business is unique however, and cloud solutions don’t fit for every scenario. Connection issues, internet plans, or technical requirements can rule it out as an option in some instances. In these situations, we might install a Network Attached Storage (NAS) solution instead. Which is a very small server with lots of hard drives.

A NAS is particularly popular in small, mid-sized businesses, and even home environments. Due to their low power consumption, small footprint, and low cost, they often represent an ideal upgrade. Power users and businesses can enhance their networks and get more out of their systems by employing a NAS device to do the heavy lifting.

 

NAS installation

Reliable, Fast Access

When a property can’t achieve lightning fast internet speeds or services aren’t reliable enough to run a business on; a NAS solution is ideal for the job — serving files locally rather than from a remote server can save vast amounts on uploads and downloads.

Many of the benefits of the cloud can be created locally inside your home or office. Network storage allows you to save and retrieve files from multiple devices with fast local network speeds. Rather than being limited by the speeds offered by your ISP; you can complete file transfers, backups, and sharing at the speed of the hardware you purchase yourself.

A NAS gives you many advantages of the cloud with the level of control, speed, and accessibility of a local server. All this is achieved for a fraction of the cost and maintenance overhead typically associated with conventional servers.

One Device, Many Uses

NAS devices can act as a centralized backup location for active files and devices across the network. Using the device as a file store allows you to share projects easily, collaborate on files, and keep up-to-date copies while revisions change.

The device can be set up to allow redundancy across multiple hard drives. This means backed up data is never vulnerable to only a single hardware failure.

A fully redundant NAS is capable of handling a hard drive failure, or even removal, without interrupting your workflow. Simply replacing the affected hard drive with a new one will backup your files again and rebalance your device as if nothing had happened at all.

Lightweight File Access

Even retaining access to your files away from the office isn’t an ability exclusive to cloud services. NAS devices can be configured to provide secure access to files and folders on remote connections. Working remotely, using a NAS solution, can be done just as easily as if you were sat in the office.

Even when the rest of the office IT is shut-off and shut down, a NAS device can remain on and connected to the network, so access is never interrupted.

A NAS device can run 24/7 without issue. Their low power consumption makes it practical to leave the device powered on for regular backups and easy data access. Devices don’t require the heavy maintenance or large footprint of a bulky server. As a simple solution, a NAS device allows you to focus only on the data.

The Best of Both Worlds

A NAS provides high-speed file access and configuration of a local server and combines it with the low footprint and ease of use of a cloud service. Without relying on a bad ISP, weak connection, or power-hungry hardware, a NAS could be the solution that supercharges your business.

Find out if network storage is the right fit for your business. Call us today at 01543 889 444 to talk about the IT you need to meet your goals.

 


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.