Best Data Security Practices

PREVENTION IS ALWAYS BETTER THAN A CURE. Not only does this apply to hygiene to prevent illness, but also to data security. Preventing any breach, accidental data loss or cyber attack will always trump over attempting to mop up the pieces afterwards.

Take a look at our quick take on what you can do to bring your security up to scratch..

 

1.Securing Data

Protecting data is more critical than ever. According to the Ponemon Institute’s 2017 Study, data breaches cost UK businesses an average of £2.48 million. This number doesn’t just include fines that could have been imposed, but also includes legal expenses, reputation damage, loss of customers and job losses.

Having a backup policy in place is one of the most important considerations that should be made. Should data be accidentally deleted, or maliciously encrypted, you have the full data backup to prevent loss. An additional security layer would involve having this data replicated to a separate offsite location which can be used in a disaster recovery scenario.

Ensure your infrastructure security is as robust as possible by installing and maintaining firewalls, anti-virus software and breach/event monitoring. Physical controls such as access procedures should also be considered, with ID needed for authentication and fob access.

Make use of network monitoring software, so network administrators are alerted to new network connections, crashed or overloaded servers so the continuity of data can be ensured.

 

2. Securing Mobile Devices 

79% of respondents to a RingCentral survey stated their Smartphone as the phone that they used most to conduct business with. Add this to the rise in remote working (an estimate in 2016 placed the number at 1.5 million home-workers) and it makes it all the more difficult to secure all remote devices as well as the systems and data they access. Of course the advantages outweigh the negatives, and it is possible to manage the risks:

  • Locking up devices when not in use and keeping them in sight when in a public place to deter thieves.
  • Have a robust password policy in place to prevent unwanted access in the event of a theft, including the banning of auto-saving passwords. If possible, fingerprint verification should also be used.
  • Invest in two-step authentication to further strengthen credentials.
  • Advise against the use of public WiFi if at all possible. It’s pretty easy for hackers to compromise these unsecured networks, so ensure mobile devices are configured to connect via VPN. It’s also best practice to only allow employees to use public WiFi when accessing non-critical business work, or ban it altogether.
  • Implement a mobile device management platform, so patch and firmware updates can still be installed and monitoring still occur.
  • Encrypt data on smartphones and laptops, so if they are lost or stolen access to the data on the device will be scrambled.

Implementing and communicating a robust mobile device and remote working policy to all employees gives them guidelines to follow and also covers any HR implications.

 

3. Winning Against Malware 

Malware is the most common form of cyber crime impacting UK businesses, making up 18% of all cyber attacks. Always be sure to protect against any vulnerabilities.

Maintaining a patch management program across all network devices, browsers and software plasters over security vulnerabilities that have been discovered so they cannot be exploited. A good patch management program will also include remote devices and mobile phones.

Don’t fall victim to phishing. Emails may look like they are from banks, a member of management or CEO’s but always check the senders address to be sure. More details of how to protect against phishing can be found here.

USB’s are an easy way to introduce viruses onto IT networks. Restrict USB use, or if these are important for employees to use in their line of work have them checked by your IT team before use to ensure they are not infected.

Of course, using firewalls, anti-virus and anti-malware software will provide a multi-layered approach to help keep you protected from all the nasty fallout a malware attack can bring.

 

4. Password Security & Encryption

Having a good password policy in place is the start of ensuring access is only granted to the correct employees. However, you cannot rely purely on credentials alone.

Two-factor authentication requires users to have an extra token or code to add to the end of their usual credentials. There are many different products available that cover various software and applications such as OWA.

Regularly changing all passwords (every 60 – 90 days for AD accounts, consider every 30 for critical systems or those containing personal data) is so simple to build into a password policy, but can often be overlooked!

Encryption can be used when data is in transit on removable media such as external hard drives, but also for emails. Encryption scrambles the data so only the recipient can see it, so if devices are stolen data cannot be accessed.

 

5. Employee Awareness 

Employees are a businesses best assets, and are also the key that make or break infrastructure security. All employees should be aware of the risks their actions can have and what they can do during working practices to prevent security compromises.

All policies and procedures should be documented and regularly provided to all employees, especially to remote workers who may not be in the office much. It’s also a good idea to have these documents in a central location such as SharePoint so everyone can access the latest copies.

A structured training plan for all new starters and refresher courses for existing employees must occur to ensure all employees understand phishing attacks, scams and best practices when determining if an email is legitimate.

Is it especially important that IT staff are given time and training to keep up to date with the latest security threats and hacker strategies so they can in turn implement controls to deter such risks.

 

Netshield can provide an overview of your security including penetration testing, vulnerability assessments and provide recommendations based on backups, software and best IT practices. Contact us today for more information. 

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Anti-Virus – Do we still need it or is it doomed?

With the advancements in technology the threat landscape is evolving too.

Malicious software is becoming harder to detect and remove – it is also starting to affect a wider range of devices because of the ‘Internet of Things’. There has been some cases that advance malicious software can even bypass the anti-virus software by changing its code!

In some ways there is truth behind what Brian Dye, senior vice president of Symantec famously said a few months ago ‘Antivirus is dead’ and it is ‘doomed to failure’ because Anti-Virus relies on a signature database to block out malicious behaviours so, if a particular piece of malicious code has never been seen before – you will probably be a victim to it.

However AV is not completely doomed as Eugene Kaspersky quite rightly said, it is still ‘very much alive and kicking’ because as threats evolved so has the traditional AV. It is about choosing a product that has a database that is continuously updated and have a good feature set.

Many vendors are now reinventing AV and changing it to ‘Endpoint Security’ which offers a wider range of features from your standard things like Anti-Virus, Anti-Spyware and Anti-Malware but, include features like application control, mobile device security, encryption and rule-based system behaviour blocking.

However security has become more complex and just because AV or ‘Endpoint Security’ has more features, we cannot just relying on it to be the sole system defences, it is not viable anymore. It will not provide an adequate level of protection for a modern day complex network.

Networks have developed into complex environments with multiple layers and a range of devices connected so, a layered approach to network security is key because it helps protect the different level within the infrastructure.

AV should just be seen as the first line of defence only, its aim is to protect users from things like spam emails, malicious attachments and websites. Occasionally some will get through but this approach is more secure and safer. Always keep in mind there is no 100% defence against the malicious cyber-attacks because the variables are always changing. Continuously network monitoring is also key to catching any abnormal behaviour.

For more information on network security please feel free to contact us on 0845 603 5552 or info@netshield.eu

Netshield Anti-Virus service – powered by BitDefender

Anti-Virus software is a necessary evil – it can take valuable time and energy to deploy, update and manage and they are not all the same! Netshield Anti-Virus is a comprehensive solution that acts as your first line of defence against malicious software.

Check out the video below for a quick summary…

Information Security isn’t just a Technology issue but, a Business one..

As the lines between work and play blurs due to the advances of technology, it becomes more apparent that ‘Information Security’ within the workplace is not just the IT department’s issue.

Information or data is a business enabler, it enables operations and productivity so, the security of it should be viewed as essential and promoted throughout the company – but, in most cases it is not.

Is this because we instinctively protect what we can see in front of us like buildings, personnel, hardware, the tangible assets but, we neglect the intangibles such as information because we struggle to see the physical value of it? Or is it the general attitude towards data security, the idea that we just need to do enough to meet regulations and compliance standards?

IT Security should be seen as a task to minimise risk for an organisation

This risk management is not just limited to the IT department or within the office because let’s face it, many of us do work a little when we get home even if its just checking our emails.

‘As many as 49% of individuals would use their personal device for work, found in a recent Norton Report’.

Employees use of unauthorised personal mobile devices can be a threat because it is an unknown object on the IT network. For example, if a user was to save business data onto an unauthorised device and then it was infected by malware, the data could end up in the wrong hands!

However, it is not about the IT department forbidding personal devices – if devices are approved then it is safe to have on the network. It’s all about having policies in place and training employees on how to access business data securely. The training should not be limited to the use of mobile devices but, general IT security practices i.e. always encrypt email containing sensitive data or never write login credentials on a piece of paper.

It is also important to ensure staff are aware of ‘Social Engineering’ because no matter how protected an IT Network is, there is always the possibility of external threats getting in, like CryptoWall which tricks users into opening infected attachments, exploit security gaps in Sliverlight, Flash and Java then, similar to CryptoLocker it will encrypt your files and demand a ransom.

Regular IT network assessments are recommended – not only will it help protect and minimise potential security risks, it can also be an opportunity to assess the efficiency levels of the network.

There will always be a possibility of a breach in security for every company, it could be due to a cyber attack, human error, social engineering etc but,if risk management is a common goal amongst every employee not just the IT department, it can help manage and minimise security risks in the long run.

To find out more about data protection or IT network security you can contact our consultants on 0845 603 5552 or drop us an email on info@netshield.co.uk

The Aftermath of the eBay Cyber-Attack and the Lessons to be Learnt…

In May it was announced on news sites such as the BBC and SkyNews that the popular e-commerce site eBay was breach late February and early March. The breached database contained phone numbers, addresses, date of birth, other personal data and encrypted passwords. The company never disclosed how many of the 148 million active accounts were affected but, has asked all active users to change their passwords. The hackers infiltrated the network by obtaining, a small number of employees’ login credentials. Luckily the hacker did not access eBay subsidiary, Paypal’s financial database because it was stored on a separate network.

The Aftermath

Since the news many customers have complained and criticised the way the situation was handled, Attorney Generals in at least 3 states in the US has begun investigating the cyber-attack incident. Users was also outraged that eBay waited 2 weeks before publishing the breach after they found out, their explanation was:-

“For a very long period of time we did not believe that there was any eBay customer data compromised,” commented the Global Marketplaces Chief Devin Wenig shortly after the news was announced.

After promising they will make password resets mandatory on the website, it was days before this was carried out and for users that wanted to change their passwords after the initial announcement, they were unable to because the site struggled with the abnormal number of reset requests. Both of these factors added to the negative feelings amongst eBay users.

In a bid to assure customers they released a statement saying they have seen no indication of increased fraudulent account activities on the site but, it would seem eBay has missed the point as the main concern is… what the cybercriminals can potentially do with the non-encrypted information they stole like the numbers, addresses, date of birth, etc. – so the question is, why wasn’t this personal data encrypted like the passwords?

Considering eBay is responsible for a vast amount of personal data, you would assume they have a better incident response and management, breach detection, network admin login protection, and communication practices.

The most important lessons to take from this data incident is that good IT security practices for networks is essential for all businesses, regular network security assessments are required, educate staff on security and have good crisis management.

Breaches can happen to any company and poor incident response and management can just be like rubbing more salt to the wound, with the potential to create more long-term brand reputation damage.

For more information on IT network security practices and services please feel free to contact us on 0845 603 5552