Technology is a critical component of business operations, from the largest corporations to the smallest owner-operator businesses. No business can afford to have IT problems that affect productivity, and for many organizations, their success is tightly bound to the technology they use. Choosing the wrong systems for the business or taking shortcuts to save on IT services can cause system instability and failure, resulting in potential data breaches, loss of income, damage to the company’s reputation, and more.
Let’s take a look at ways to protect your organization from some of the most common IT problems facing most businesses today.
1. Protect Against BEC
BEC, or business email compromise, is one of the leading causes of data breaches and these attacks are on the rise. In the past seven years, BEC has been responsible for more financial loss than any other type of cybercrime attack. BEC has accounted for $2.4 billion in adjusted losses for businesses and consumers. It is projected that by the end of 2022, the losses will be close to $45 billion, with over 20k victims impacted.
Beware of some of the commonly used tactics by BEC scammers. According to Deloitte, here are a few to watch for:
“A false sense of urgency.” In this scenario, cybercriminals pose as executives or other trusted figures like accountants and attorneys and email victims in an attempt to convince them to wire money. These spoof emails typically piggyback off genuine events, such as an ongoing acquisition, stating that the matter is urgent, and asking for secrecy. If an employee is in doubt, empower them to ask a supervisor or the executive in question about the veracity of all financial emails.
“A trick domain name.” This all-too-common tactic sends an email to a victim asking them to visit a website and pay a bill or wire money to it. While at first glance the email may seem legitimate, a closer read will reveal that the domain is “off.” It might be a misspelling of the company name, a different top-level domain, or a cleverly disguised redirect. To overcome it, train your employees to pay close attention to where messages originate.
“Impersonation of a vendor.” This is one of the most difficult types of cyberattacks to detect. It usually involves an email impersonating one of the company’s vendors that asks a financial employee to direct payment to a specific link. These are hard to detect because the scammer has hacked into the vendor’s email system to send a fake message. That means the domain is genuine, the signature often looks legitimate, and even the documentation may appear correct. The difference is the payment link. Train your people to follow established payment protocols and red flag anything that is out of the norm.
Making your employees aware of these potential risks and how to avoid falling prey to them is an important step in preventing email scams in your organization.
2. Know Your Vulnerabilities
In today’s post-pandemic world, many companies continue to allow employees to work remotely, which increases the number of endpoints created in their IT systems. These are all potential entryways for data breaches, and almost as many small companies are impacted by this vulnerability as large ones. Those working at home can inadvertently weaken their company’s IT security by using unauthorized software, unsecured Wi-Fi networks, and local devices that may not be encrypted. And many organizations’ IT teams are stretched thin or are not up to the task of providing the necessary IT security. Attackers have noticed those weaknesses and are focused on those working from home as their potential victims.
Some of the best ways to protect against the most common remote work cybersecurity threats, according to TechTarget, are:
- Institute security controls – Establish strong, unique passwords for different sites, use virtual private networks to access the enterprise system, and install and maintain antivirus software.
- Reinforce corporate data controls – Know where your data is and understand how to protect it.
- Manage vulnerabilities – Address vulnerabilities quickly and know where your highest risks are.
- Continually review threat detection programs – Make sure your threat detection system is up to date and matches the current environment.
- Institute a zero-trust framework – Require authorization to access your systems.
- Utilize User Behavior Analytics (UBA) – This flags suspicious activity based on analyzing the user’s typical patterns for accessing a system.
- Check cloud configuration – Take proactive measures to prevent misconfigurations.
- Establish ongoing security awareness – Educate employees on the latest threats and what to do to help keep your organization safe.
3. Recovery from Data Loss
Protecting company data is one of the leading concerns for any IT team, and loss of data can be caused by anything from a cyberattack to a system malfunction. Network outages and human error are also common contributors to data loss. Having a solid data backup protocol, whether it is through additional onsite servers or utilizing Cloud storage, is key to protecting your organization’s data. Although both pros and cons exist, Cloud storage provides more flexibility and access for remote workers along with lower upfront costs. A predictable monthly subscription cost replaces buying additional hardware and software. It also eliminates the need to maintain internal technology expertise for everything, since your Cloud service provider manages your data protection for you. For some, a hybrid of onsite storage and Cloud backup provides a comfortable balance by storing critical data offsite while maintaining control of onsite storage. A bonus: Migration can happen gradually with the hybrid approach.
4. Update Software and Hardware Regularly
Outdated hardware and operating systems are a weak spot for any organization in keeping its technology infrastructure secure. Regular software updates defend against those liabilities previously mentioned, such as data breaches and falling prey to email scams, but if your hardware is out of date, those updates may not be possible. Although the related expense may seem daunting, it is well worth the money spent to protect your organization from cyberattacks, and your employees will be able to do their jobs more efficiently on up-to-date equipment with the newest software. And they will probably enjoy their work more, too.
5. Regulation Compliance
Compliance is part of life for businesses in highly regulated industries, such as banking and healthcare. The latest technology in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning provide an organization with the ability to successfully maintain compliance with their industry’s regulations. “The goal of AI is to create computer models that exhibit ‘intelligent behaviors’ like humans,” according to Boris Katz, a principal research scientist and head of the InfoLab Group at CSAIL. “This means machines that can recognize a visual scene, understand a text written in natural language, or perform an action in the physical world.” Machine learning is a component of AI that was defined in the 1950s by AI pioneer Arthur Samuel as “the field of study that gives computers the ability to learn without explicitly being programmed.” In other words, the computer, through its experiences, learns to program itself. Today AI will not yet replace the need for human interaction in analyzing data to ensure compliance, for example, but today’s advanced technology around compliance does require additional training and expertise from your organization’s IT team or partnering with an IT company that can provide those services.
6. Cloud Configuration
As mentioned earlier, cloud storage is a popular and efficient way to store and protect your organization’s data. The benefits of cloud storage include reducing IT costs, providing better security, improving the continuity of your business, and making data migration scalable. However, a poorly configured cloud environment can slow performance and threaten the security of your data. Choosing the right partner in cloud migration and ongoing maintenance is an important consideration.
Whether your organization is large or small, it is critical to have the proper IT infrastructure in place to ensure the highest levels of productivity, efficiency, and security. California Computer Options is an IT company that provides IT solutions including managed services, network support, IT support, and more to meet your technology needs throughout California and across the country. To discuss your organization’s IT needs and how we can provide a customized solution, contact us today.