In our technology-oriented landscape, having a sound IT infrastructure is the key to a business’s success. But without proper cybersecurity protocols that can anticipate and respond to threats, companies can be exposed to costly data breaches and other malicious threat actors.
If you rarely check your organization’s cybersecurity controls or haven’t at all, you may be doing your business a disservice. Educate yourself on the importance of remaining vigilant and understand:
A cybersecurity risk assessment is an evaluation of the security status within an organization that identifies potential vulnerabilities in its infrastructure. This assessment includes physical access, authentication mechanisms, network architecture, communications protocols, system configurations, and more. By identifying these areas of vulnerability, organizations can take proactive measures to prevent or mitigate cyberattacks such as malware infections, data theft, or phishing attempts.
The frequency of your cybersecurity assessment depends on many factors, like:
As a general rule of thumb, most organizations should consider performing a cybersecurity risk assessment at least once every year or two. However, organizations with large networks or more demanding security requirements may want to consider performing assessments more frequently—like every six months, for example—to ensure their systems remain secure.
On top of the frequency of assessments, there are several other important things to consider to ensure you’re getting a quality assessment.
For one, your security risk assessment should cover all security areas—like access control, data protection, disaster recovery, incident response plans, and user training—to provide a complete picture of your security strength. You should also make sure the risk level assessment is performed by qualified professionals with experience identifying these potential risks and weaknesses.
No organization is immune from cybersecurity threats, and, unfortunately, many organizations mistakenly believe that they can simply install antivirus software or firewalls and consider themselves safe from attacks.
While this approach is a great measure, it doesn’t provide an adequate level of protection most businesses need and fails to address the many different kinds of attacks that occur. As you gain an in-depth understanding of the importance of regular cybersecurity risk assessments, understand the immense benefits your business could miss without them.
Without regularly assessing an organization’s IT infrastructure, attackers can exploit weaknesses or vulnerabilities that would otherwise have been identified and addressed. This can lead to devastating data breaches, financial losses, reputational damage, or even regulatory action.
Additionally, you could be even more at risk if you have a small business. Typically, smaller or less-established organizations may need more resources or trained personnel to respond quickly and efficiently in the event of an attack. So while the cyber-risks are the same for businesses of all sizes, some companies may be more equipped to recover from a severe hit than others.
Whether it’s a cybersecurity risk or IT infrastructure assessment in general, there are numerous benefits your business can receive:
The main benefit of the risk assessment process is that it helps organizations identify any areas where their systems are vulnerable to attack, allowing them to make any necessary changes to improve their security. When left unchecked, these vulnerabilities can provide access for malicious actors to infiltrate an organization’s network and potentially steal sensitive data or disrupt services.
Another benefit of regular cybersecurity risk assessments is that they can help organizations stay compliant with regulations and industry standards. Many organizations are subject to data privacy laws and regulations like the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) that require the implementation of specific security protocols, such as encryption tools or two-factor authentication.
By performing periodic assessments, organizations can be sure that they are meeting these requirements and avoiding any potential fines or legal repercussions due to non-compliance.
Finally, regular cybersecurity risk assessments can clue businesses into areas where they may need more resources or personnel to maintain the highest levels of security.
For example, if an assessment reveals weaknesses in password management systems or outdated software, the organization may need additional personnel dedicated to managing user accounts and updating software. By recognizing these issues ahead of time, organizations can be proactive in their cybersecurity strategy.
When it comes to cybersecurity risk assessments, Onward Technology is the perfect choice for your business. Cybercriminals are using more advanced technology than ever before, and we’re here to equip companies with adequate security controls to protect their most precious assets. With our experience, expertise, and dedication, your company can remain protected from cyberattacks as you continue to work toward your business goals.
Our core focus is built on providing a people-first experience where results matter, and that’s why our team of certified professionals is committed to helping you achieve your goals while delivering an outstanding customer service experience. When you give us a call, you’ll get a taste of what a people-first approach looks like.
When it comes to the realm of protecting your devices and network from threats, the broad term that most people are generally familiar with is "cybersecurity." However, this major area has several sub-categories or related themes that are often incorporated into or around it, and one of these that's become much more well-known in the IT world in recent years is called "cyber resiliency."
At Onward Technology, we're happy to assist a huge range of business clients with all their network security and related IT needs, with 24/7 real-time monitoring we apply to numerous different clients and needs. What's meant when discussing cyber resiliency, and what are some simple ways to achieve this approach in your business network? Here's a basic rundown.
You've heard of cybersecurity, and you've also likely heard of disaster recovery (if you haven't heard this latter term, it speaks to having a solid plan in place to quickly get your business operational again after a serious event such as data loss, malware attack, etc.). Cyber resiliency is somewhere in the middle of these two concepts, and can be defined as a proactive and holistic approach to cybersecurity that also incorporates disaster recovery concepts.
In other words, cyber resiliency is about taking multiple efforts to ensure all company data is private, protected, backed-up -- and maybe most importantly, recoverable in case of any type of incident.
The concept of cyber resiliency has become much more prominent in business networking conversations for a few reasons. First, as noted, attacks on all types and sizes of businesses are becoming more common (and often more sophisticated), so there's a heightened need to have stronger protection in place. Second, "cyber incidents" can come in many forms and cause different levels of damage, so it's important to have a plan that can address any type of issue that might come up.
Consider the data breaches at Yahoo and Equifax: In both cases, massive amounts of customer data were stolen by hackers. But while the Yahoo breach was eventually blamed on a state-sponsored actor, the Equifax incident was caused by a much more common type of cyber attack. So while the effects were similar (loss of customer trust, millions spent on recovery efforts, etc.), the root cause was different -- and each required a different type of response.
In other words, a "one size fits all" approach to cybersecurity and disaster recovery simply isn't enough anymore. You need a multi-faceted, proactive plan that can address any type of incident -- and this is where cyber resiliency comes in.
Our next several sections will go over how to achieve cyber resiliency within your business, plus how our team will help.
Simply put, it's hard for most organizations to achieve cyber resiliency on their own. Cybersecurity is a huge and complex topic, with new threats emerging all the time. And while you might have in-house IT staff, they likely don't have the bandwidth or expertise to keep up with everything that's going on in this realm.
This is where professional support comes in. A trusted Managed Services Provider (MSP) like Onward Technology can serve as your "virtual IT department," keeping an eye on your network around the clock and responding quickly to any incidents that might come up.
And when it comes to disaster recovery, an MSP can provide invaluable assistance in developing and testing a comprehensive plan -- so you know exactly what needs to be done in case of an incident, and can have confidence that your plan will work as intended. In other words, partnering with a reputable MSP is one of the best ways to achieve cyber resiliency for your business.
Onward Technology is proud to offer comprehensive cybersecurity and IT support services to businesses of all sizes. We'll work with you to assess your specific needs and put together a custom plan that will help you achieve your goals -- including cyber resiliency.
As you're working with our team to develop a cyber resiliency plan, one of the first steps we'll take is to analyze the risks your business faces and what your specific goals are.
This will help us understand what types of incidents are most likely to occur, how much damage they could cause, and which systems and data are most critical to your operations. We'll also consider any compliance requirements you might have (e.g. HIPAA, PCI, etc.), as these will need to be taken into account in your disaster recovery plan.
From there, we'll work with you to develop a comprehensive strategy that will help you meet your goals and protect your business from the types of incidents that are most likely to occur.
As part of our risk analysis process, we'll also help you create a "baseline expectation" for your business -- in other words, what's the minimum level of service you need to maintain in order to keep your operations running?
This is important because it will serve as the starting point for your disaster recovery plan. For example, if you're a retail business, you might need to be able to process transactions and fulfill orders within a certain time frame in order to keep your customers happy.
On the other hand, if you're a healthcare provider, you might need to have systems in place that allow you to access patient records quickly and efficiently -- even in the case of a major outage.
Once we have a clear understanding of your baseline expectation, we'll work with you to develop a plan that will help you meet (or exceed) it -- no matter what type of incident might occur.
For more on how to achieve cyber resiliency for your business, or to learn about any of our managed IT or IT support services, speak to the team at Onward Technology today.
Within the realm of cybersecurity, the broad category of malware is one that businesses need to be aware of. One of the most significant threats within this area, especially over the last few years, is what's known as ransomware.
At Onward Technology, we're here to provide high-quality cybersecurity and related IT support services to numerous business clients, and ransomware is just one of many threat types we help protect you against. What is ransomware, how does it work, and what are some of the steps we'll help you take to ensure it doesn't become a risk for your company? Here's a basic primer.
For those new to this realm, ransomware refers to a type of malware that either encrypts or erases critical data on a system and then demands payment from the user in order to restore access. Ransomware attacks can target both individuals and organizations, but businesses are increasingly being targeted by this type of attack.
There are two common types of ransomware: locker ransomware and crypto ransomware. Locker ransomware essentially "locks" users out of their systems until a ransom is paid, while crypto ransomware uses encryption to make data inaccessible until a ransom is paid. There are also different types of methods used to distribute ransomware, including phishing emails (which trick users into clicking on malicious links or attachments), drive-by downloads (which automatically download malware when users visit certain websites), and even USB devices that have been infected with malware.
In the majority of cases, ransomware is spread through what are known as user-initiated actions. These refer to the types of activities where users inadvertently download or install malware on their devices. This can happen in a number of ways, but some of the most common include:
In some cases, ransomware can also be spread through "system-initiated" actions. This generally happens when devices are connected to a network that has already been infected with malware. Once the malware is on a network, it can quickly spread to other connected devices.
There are a few key reasons why ransomware is such a dangerous threat, especially for businesses. First of all, ransomware can be very difficult (and sometimes even impossible) to remove once it's infected a system. Second, paying the ransom doesn't guarantee that you'll get your data back – in fact, there's no guarantee that the attacker will even provide you with the decryption key after receiving payment.
And finally, ransomware can have a significant financial impact on businesses, as not only do companies have to pay the ransom but they also face the cost of downtime and lost productivity. For many businesses, the costs associated with a ransomware attack can be devastating.
Unfortunately, ransomware variants have begun to spring up that are even more dangerous than those that have come before. In particular, there are now ransomware variants that not only encrypt data but also threaten to publicly release it unless a ransom is paid. This type of attack is known as "ransomware as a service" or RaaS.
With RaaS attacks, businesses face the risk of not only losing access to their data but also having that data leaked publicly. This can be extremely damaging to a business, both in terms of the financial impact and the reputational damage.
The best way to protect your business against ransomware is to prevent attacks from happening in the first place. There are several themes that should likely be considered here (themes our team will be happy to assist you with):
For more on what ransomware is and how to steer clear of it within your business's operations, or to learn about any of our cybersecurity or other managed IT services, speak to our team at Onward Technology today.
There are several important elements when it comes to your business's tech and device setup and efficiency, and one of these is the age of specific components involved. Older technology will naturally have more issues than newer tech, and there may come a point where old hardware or software that's still being used in major ways will be costing your business money in real time.
At Onward Technology, we're here to stop this from happening to you. Our quality IT procurement services allow our clients to get fantastic deals on both hardware and software for all their needs, meaning you can upgrade from your older equipment at affordable costs that allow you to stay efficient. What are some of the risks of sticking with older hardware or software in your setup? Here are several.
Perhaps the single largest risk you're opening yourself up to by continuing to use old hardware or software is security concerns. If a device or program hasn't been updated in several years, the security protocol surrounding it will be incredibly out of date. This leaves you vulnerable to all sorts of attacks, both external and internal, that could cost your business dearly.
For instance, an employee could unknowingly download malware onto an old computer, which could then spread throughout your network and encrypt all your data until a ransom is paid. This sort of thing happens more often than you might think, and it's almost always to businesses with outdated technology.
Another major issue you'll run into is lost productivity. Older hardware will take longer to perform the same tasks as newer hardware, and this can quickly add up when multiplied across your entire team. This difference might only be a few seconds per task, but over the course of a day or a week, it can really add up.
And if you're still using old versions of software, you're likely not taking advantage of all the new features and capabilities that have been added in recent years. This can again lead to lost productivity as your team tries to make do with outdated tools.
Older hardware and software will also generally require more maintenance than newer tech. This is because they're more prone to breaking down and because there are often fewer people who know how to properly maintain and repair them. As a result, you'll likely see your IT maintenance costs go up if you're still using older tech.
All of these factors can really add up, and they can have a serious impact on your business's bottom line. That's why it's so important to keep your technology up to date. And with Onward Technology's IT procurement services, you can do just that without breaking the bank.
If you have any questions about our services or how we can help you upgrade your tech, don't hesitate to contact us today. We'll be happy to answer any of your questions and point you in the right direction!
There are a number of buzzwords out there that you may have heard in the cybersecurity world, and one of the most important for many businesses is the firewall. Serving as one of your top forms of defense against various online threats, firewalls have evolved over the years right along with the kinds of risks they're meant to prevent, and remain a highly effective cybersecurity method that businesses should be taking advantage of.
At Onward Technology, we're happy to provide high-quality cybersecurity services to clients throughout Utah, and firewalls are just one of many tools we may help you utilize here. What are firewalls, why are they important, and what types of firewall might you need to know about? Here's a basic primer.
From a broad perspective, a firewall is a term that refers to any kind of system that's meant to act as a barrier between two networks. When it comes to cybersecurity, this usually refers to a hardware device or software program that's designed to protect a private network from outside users who might try to gain unauthorized access.
Firewalls can be used to filter incoming traffic and block anything that appears malicious, essentially acting as a barrier between your network and the rest of the internet. In many cases, they'll also be able to monitor outgoing traffic and prevent sensitive data from being leaked outside of the private network.
In today's day and age, it's a sad reality that there are many threats and malicious actors lurking online waiting to take advantage of businesses who aren't prepared for them. Whether it's phishing emails, ransomware attacks, or an infiltration through one of your systems that allows hackers access to the entirety of your network, these kinds of breaches can result in huge losses and even put you out of business.
As such, firewalls have become an essential part of cybersecurity for businesses of all sizes. By protecting your network from unwanted traffic and malicious actors, you can help to ensure that your data and systems stay safe and secure.
Now that you understand a bit about what firewalls are and why they're important, it's worth taking a look at some of the most common kinds of firewalls out there:
For more on firewalls and how they work, or to learn about any of our cybersecurity or other managed IT and IT consulting services, speak to the team at Onward Technology today.
Cybersecurity for businesses has been a vital theme for many years, and it only increases with each passing year. Especially as the pandemic led to more and more employees working from home than ever before, businesses everywhere are looking to ensure that all their employees have the right training and resources when it comes to maintaining cybersecurity practices, both within the office and among remote workers.
At Onward Technology, we're here to help with a variety of IT support and managed IT services, including consulting and custom IT services for many of our Utah clients, from educational facilities to many others. We've assisted numerous entities with both initial and ongoing training for employees in several tech support areas, including cybersecurity themes that are vital across the company. What are some broad concepts that are important for any such training? Here are several to keep in mind.
First and foremost, from the time new employees are hired, their cybersecurity training should begin. This should not be a one-time event, but an ongoing process that is reinforced continually.
As with anything else related to job expectations and duties, clear communication is key in ensuring that everyone understands the importance of cyber hygiene and adheres to best practices. Management must make it clear that violations will not be tolerated and that employees will be held accountable -- but at the same time, provide support and help employees learn what they need to protect the company.
In many cases, this will involve multiple forms of communication, such as memos, emails, online resources, and face-to-face meetings. Cybersecurity is a dynamic and ever-changing field, so it's important that employees are kept up to date on the latest threats, as well as defensive measures they can take.
Especially if your business employs remote employees, but even if not, it's important to emphasize the need for good cyber hygiene habits. This includes not only safeguarding devices against malware and viruses, but also being mindful of what information is shared and where it's going.
For example, an unsecured Wi-Fi connection at a public place can easily give attackers access to your device and all the sensitive data on it. While most people are aware of the dangers of clicking on unknown links or downloading suspicious files, there are other ways to be careless with your device that can lead to a data breach.
Educate employees on how to properly care for their devices and keep them safe, both physically and electronically. This includes using strong passwords, not saving sensitive information on the device, and being aware of their surroundings when using public Wi-Fi.
For certain businesses, such as those in the medical field or with financial data, confidentiality is of utmost importance. Employees must be made aware of the sensitivity of the information they're handling and understand the consequences of sharing it with unauthorized individuals.
This involves not only educating employees on how to protect confidential data, but also having clear guidelines in place for what should and should not be shared. Make sure employees know who they can contact if they have any questions or concerns about protecting confidential information.
Another important part of employee cybersecurity training is teaching employees how to spot potential threats. This includes understanding the warning signs of a phishing attack, malware infection, or other type of cybercrime.
Employees should be familiar with what to do if they suspect they've been targeted by a cybercriminal, such as reporting it to their supervisor or IT department. They should also be aware of the resources available to them for help and support, such as the company's cybersecurity hotline.
As we've noted a couple times already due to how important this theme is, cybersecurity for a business is never a finished task. It's an ongoing process that must be constantly updated and reinforced.
One way to do this is by regularly bringing in outside experts to provide continuing education for employees. This can include topics such as the latest threats, phishing scams, and how to stay safe online.
It's also important to have a system in place for tracking employee training. This includes keeping track of when employees have been trained and what type of training they've received. This will help you ensure that everyone is up to date on the latest cybersecurity threats and best practices.
Whether for companies similar to yours or just some of the most public recent cases of data breaches, it can be helpful to use real-world examples when educating employees on cybersecurity. This will help them better understand the risks and consequences of a data breach.
It's also important to talk about how businesses can bounce back from a data breach. This includes things like crisis management plans and ways to limit the damage done. For instance, if a company in your industry has recently recovered from a data breach, you can use that as a case study to discuss how they managed and what lessons were learned.
If you're unaware of what other companies are doing in terms of data security, there are a number of resources available to you. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has a variety of resources on their website, including the Cybersecurity Framework. This can be a great place to start when looking for ways to improve your company's cybersecurity posture.
For more on this, or to learn about any of our managed IT or tech support services in Utah, contact the pros at Onward Technology at your convenience.
The methods used by cybercriminals continue to evolve over time, and one that's become of note in recent years is known as the cyber kill chain. Referring to an issue where hackers break into systems using a tiered format, cyber kill chains can be devastating for organizations if they're successful -- but the right precautions will protect you against these and similar risks.
At Onward Technology, these and other cybersecurity risks are just some of those we help protect you against with our quality IT support and managed IT solutions, which include addressing these kinds of threats proactively to prevent against them. Here's a primer on what a cyber kill chain is, plus some simple recommendations for protecting against it.
Generally speaking, a cyber kill chain involves a "chain" of actions a hacker will take during their attack. Typically, this will happen over three phases:
Cyber kill chains can impact both individuals and organizations, including on a wide scale. However, some basic steps will protect your company against them.
Here are some basic ways you can limit or even entirely prevent these risks:
For more on cyber kill chains, or to learn about any of our managed IT or other security solutions to protect against these and similar threats, speak to the staff at Onward Technology today.
When it comes to business cybersecurity and related solutions used to protect your company, one of the primary goals is preventing data breaches and data loss. Phishing, ransomware and other hacking methods are often undertaken in an effort to breach and steal important areas of data, and this can have multiple negative impacts on your business if it happens.
At Onward Technology, we're proud to provide a wide range of IT support services to clients throughout Utah, including a full suite of network security and related solutions to protect you from data breach and related risks. How will a data breach negatively impact your organization if it takes place, and what are some basic strategies our team will work with you on for preventing such breaches? Here's a primer.
First and foremost, your organization is at risk of major financial costs if a data breach takes place. A single data breach can result in hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars lost, and this is mainly because you'll have to work with various investigative teams to fix the problem and restore access to necessary areas of your network.
This can take months before it's done, so not only will you be out the money spent on the data breach itself, but also the lost productivity and other associated costs. In some cases, you may even be forced to file for bankruptcy due to the sheer magnitude of the financial hit.
There are also several other hidden costs involved here, such as fines, legal fees, public relations, regulatory punitive measures and more. It's not uncommon for organizations that don't properly protect themselves to be fined for data breaches, especially in the case of sensitive data (consider Equifax, which was fined over $700 million in 2019 due to a data breach of user accounts).
Beyond the raw dollars and cents, a significant data breach in your organization risks the strong potential of harming your organization's reputation. This is another major unknown cost, but one that can be very difficult to measure or recover from.
If you're forced to notify customers (or worse -- the general public) that there has been a data breach, this could cause clients to flee your business and avoid your products and services at all costs. It could also lead to a loss of trust in your brand, and this can be very difficult to rebuild. In some cases, data breaches have even led to the closure of businesses altogether, largely due to the fact that major chunks of their customer base fled to avoid being compromised.
Furthermore, a major data breach presents the risk of information like product blueprints, business strategies, client lists and more being stolen by nefarious actors. This can lead to a loss of competitive advantage, as your competitors may now have access to the same information that you worked hard to build and protect.
In some cases, this stolen data can even be sold on the black market or used to blackmail your organization into surrendering important areas of data. This can also lead to a loss of intellectual property, which makes this yet another negative cost that's difficult to measure.
To prevent any of the above from happening to your organization, it's vital to protect your business. Here are some of the basic steps involved in doing so, plus how our team will assist you within each of them:
For more on how data breaches impact your business and how to avoid them, or to learn about any of our managed IT or IT support services in Utah, speak to the team at Onward Technology today.
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