14 May 2019

Is it Safe to Use Public WiFi?

Using public WiFi is like having a conversation in public. You never really know who is listening in. Having someone eavesdrop on your conversation probably isn’t a big deal. Having someone gain access to all your computer files, however, is a real security issue.

If you’re on a public network, someone may be able to access your personal information, passwords, and more. We do our best to protect our work and home networks with WiFi protected setups, passwords, and even hiding our networks. But, many of us don’t worry about WiFi security on public networks in the same way.

While you can’t guarantee public WiFi security, there are a few ways you can help keep your information secure on public networks.

Know Which Networks to Trust

The best way to stay safe when using free Internet is to know the network. You’re going to have to use your best judgement for this one, but usually the best networks are the ones that seem the most trustworthy.

Familiar networks are probably safer than ones you’ve never heard of or used. Some WiFi networks are much more secure than others. For example, you probably shouldn’t trust the network named “FREE WIFI HERE”. The WiFi at a well-known coffee shop, like Starbucks, however, is probably fairly secure.

Only Use Secure Networks

Unsecure WiFi networks are ones that have no security protocols in place to stop people from accessing them. If you don’t need to enter a password to join a network, it probably isn’t very secure. Using unsecure networks can leave you vulnerable to “man in the middle” attacks. Of course no WiFi network is completely secure, but using networks with more security (like logins or passwords) are generally safer.

Don’t Connect Automatically

Many of us have our mobile devices configured to automatically connect to different WiFi networks. The problem is you have no way of controlling which wireless networks your device connects to. There are two options to mitigate this:

  1. Set your device to never automatically connect to WiFi networks
  2. Set your device up to ask you before it connects to unknown networks

Turn Off File Sharing

File sharing and AirDrop are incredibly convenient. You don’t want your computer to be automatically sharing things with strangers. Fortunately, you can avoid this by turning your file sharing off before you connect to a public network. Once your file sharing has been shut off, cyber criminals can’t just reach out and take your files.

Keep Your Computer’s Antivirus Updated

This may seem obvious, but it’s always best for your computer and antivirus software to be up to date. If you can take ten minutes and update your computer or install antivirus software, your system will be much more secure. Working on public networks without any protection increases your risk of cyber attack. If you plan on using public WiFi frequently, it’s best to have antivirus or antimalware on your computer.

Use a VPN

The best way to ensure public WiFi safety is to install a Virtual Private Network (VPN) on your device. VPN services encrypt your data and mask your IP address, keeping your information hidden. Installing a VPN hides your personal information from other people using the same network.

It always feels good to know you’re staying safe online. These easy tips will help you keep your data secure the next time you’re using a public WiFi network. Remember, if a network isn’t up to your security standards, don’t use it! You can always improve your online safety by investing in your own portable WiFi router or using your own hotspot.

Want to learn more about cyber security? Check out our recent post on the 5 Best Practices to Improve Cyber Security. Or get in touch with our team at Alt Tech to learn more about cyber security and get IT service you can count on!

Share this
26 Apr 2019

Digital Disasters Happen: Do You Have a Cyber Attack Plan?

We live in an online age. As a business owner, you rely on your computer systems to keep your company running. Unfortunately, with an increased reliance on computer networks comes the increased risk of cyber security incidents.

You might think that data breaches, stolen credit card information, and ransomware attacks won’t happen to your business, but cyber criminals target businesses of all sizes in all industries. When disaster strikes, preparation can make a major difference in how these situations play out.

Why Do You Need to Be Prepared?

You might think that your company isn’t at risk of a cyber attack, but every business today faces the risk of a cyber attack. Cyber criminals target the information systems of any business. Annually, nearly 70% of Canadian organizations face some form of cyber attack. To guard against the threat of cyber attacks, many businesses will:

  • Increase online security
  • Educate employees
  • Have ongoing cyber monitoring
  • Stay on top of current cyber trends and threats
  • Invest in cyber insurance

These actions all help mitigate your risk, but sometimes risk management isn’t going far enough. Every business also needs a cyber plan. In case of a cyber attack, this action plan can guide your company through the aftermath.

Create an Incident Response Plan (IRP)

Cyber attack preparedness means having a plan in place. An Incident Response Plan (IRP) should help your incident response team know how to respond and react in the event of a cyber incident. This plan will need to be reviewed and refined over time, but it should generally:

  • Assess your business needs by considering your key assets, potential weak points, and what data is at risk. From this you can determine where to focus your plan and your security efforts.
  • State which employees or departments will look after potential incidents and what each team member’s role will be. This will help you train employees in case of an attack and help them know how to react during an event.
  • Set up a detection and monitoring system so you can catch malicious software as quickly as possible.
  • Define the difference between a major and minor incident and lay out the different processes for each.
  • Lay out recovery steps. Explain how you’re going to remove the infection and deal with the recovery actions. You’ll need to have several different scenarios laid out. Try creating general guidelines and considering the attacks you’re most likely to experience.
  • Decide on your follow-up actions. How will you explain to customers that their information has been compromised? What steps will you take with employees to help education and prevent future attacks?

This is a very general outline of an IRP; you’ll need to go more in-depth based on your specific business so that your team knows exactly how to respond, no questions asked. Having this plan ensures your team can act quickly in case of a cyber attack. Remember that every business faces unique cyber risks. So make sure to take the time to consider your businesses specific risks so you can tailor your IRP to your company’s needs.

 

While you never want a cyber incident to occur, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Having an incident response plan in place will help your business know how to respond and help you recover from an attack much faster than you would without it.

At Alt Tech, we can help protect your business from online attacks. From around the clock monitoring to data recovery, we help give you peace of mind online. Contact us today to find out more about putting a specific IRP in place for your business.

Share this
12 Apr 2019

Why Your Organization Needs Vulnerability Management

From antivirus software to firewalls and VPNs you’ve done your best to ensure your company has incredible network security. But no matter how many security measures you put in place, there are still vulnerabilities in your network. One of the best ways to stay ahead of online threats is by regularly completing vulnerability assessments.

What is a Vulnerability Assessment?

A vulnerability assessment is a form of online risk management. Essentially, you run a network scan in order to identify any potential weak points in your network. Most vulnerability assessments will then rank the vulnerabilities according to the level of risk they pose. From that information you can make a plan for remediating and mitigating potential threats before your system is compromised.

Why Complete Vulnerability Testing?

Online threats and information security are a concern for all businesses today. So why wouldn’t you want to help improve your online security any way you could?

Vulnerability testing will find the gaps in your current security systems – hopefully before hackers do. This gives you an edge in protecting your business online. Some of the benefits of performing regular vulnerability assessments include:

  • Identifying security risks before they become a liability
  • Determining what devices face the most risk
  • Determining the level of risk your business faces
  • Creating an inventory of risks on every device
  • Establishing where you need to focus your cyber security efforts

Vulnerability testing can be an excellent way for you to assess and improve your business’ security online. But a vulnerability test is only an assessment, not a solution. You will most likely need to take action after your assessment to improve your business’ cyber security and put protections in place.

What to Do After Your Assessment

After your assessment, you can begin creating a vulnerability management plan for your business. Some of the basic steps to take following your vulnerability assessment include:

  • Looking at and ranking all the threats identified in your assessment according to the level of threat.
  • Deciding which vulnerabilities pose the greatest threat to your business. You can determine this by considering: which systems are affected; what data is at risk; what business functions are at risk; the ease of attack; and the potential damage.
  • Allocating your resources to fix the areas of greatest concern first.
  • Repairing the weakness so it’s no longer a concern.
  • Introducing new programs or changing current programs and practices to further prevent future vulnerabilities.
  • Having your business reassessed in the future.

When you’re creating your own vulnerability management process, remember that discovering vulnerabilities doesn’t mean you’ve solved the problem. A truly effective vulnerability management system goes beyond simply running scans on your system; it includes implementing steps to strengthen vulnerabilities.

Extra Considerations

When you begin looking at different vulnerability management tools there are a couple things to consider:

  • There are different types of assessments that focus on identifying vulnerabilities in different areas of your network. For example, vulnerability scans that focus on your host system, your network, or your database. When you’re choosing an assessment, make sure it’s the right one for your business.
  • They don’t actually test; they only assess. Vulnerability assessments don’t truly test the strength of your system. They’re simply there to identify and shed light on potential weaknesses. If you’re interested in assessing the identified weaknesses, you may be interested in penetration testing. In a penetration test, a trusted IT professional will actually attempt to hack your system. This will let you know how vulnerable your critical assets are to a hacker.

Do you want to stay on top of your network’s online security? Or are you interested in learning more about the benefits of vulnerability assessments? At Alt Tech, we have vulnerability solutions that will help you understand the threats your company faces. Contact Alt Tech today to begin employing our vulnerability management solutions and get better protection for your business systems in place today.

Share this
22 Mar 2019

Choosing the Best File Storage Option for Your Business

Secure file storage used to mean keeping your files in a filing cabinet or in file boxes. With online storage, we now have greater security, storage, and sharing capabilities. For years now, the most effective storage facility for documents and files has been in the online cloud – but there are other options for you to consider. Here are some of the most popular file storage locations for your business.

Cloud Storage

Cloud storage has fast become the most popular way for individuals and businesses to store and share files. By using cloud storage, you’re able to work in real time with other people – anywhere, anytime, from any device. You also know your data is stored together in one place and that everyone is working on the most up to date versions, allowing you to actively collaborate with one another without the hassle of sending and saving documents. There’s also a fairly unlimited storage capacity. But the cloud isn’t without its flaws. There are some security workarounds and depending on how much info you need to store, you might end up paying a high monthly bill.

External Hard Drives

If you’ve already got your files saved in the cloud you might be wondering what the benefit of an external drive is. In the end, it comes down to security. If your files were to be wiped or compromised on a cloud-sharing program (which is unlikely, but possible), you would have a complete backup of your files on an external drive. There’s no need to connect to the Internet or even go online; it’s all right there waiting for you. While there’s always the risk that your disk drive can break down or become damaged, they’re an excellent resource to have as your backup to cloud storage.

Flash Drives

Flash drives aren’t usually the go-to for file storage or sharing anymore because of the amazing capabilities of cloud software, especially because flash memory and security are fairly limited. However, they’re excellent if you need to share a couple files between people or if you’re looking for a cheaper option. Just because they’re a little lower tech doesn’t mean they aren’t still a viable option. Similar to external hard drives, these are also an excellent option if you want a secondary backup for particularly important files on a cloud drive.

Deciding on Your Storage

When you’re deciding which of these methods is best for your business, be sure to consider the following:

  • Reliability. Can you trust this method to support your files for years to come? Are you going to be worried about losing files or causing major setbacks to your business?
  • Cost. Is this option the most cost effective? Does the cost equal the benefit your business will receive? Remember the most cost-effective storage method may not be the cheapest one.
  • Storage Capacity. How much storage does this option offer you? And how much storage do you need? You want to make sure that you have enough room to store current and future data.
  • Lifespan. Does the storage media have a limited lifespan? Will the technology you’re using quickly become obsolete or will it have some longevity?
  • Speed. How quickly does it operate? Do you have to wait a long time to upload or save files? And how long does it take to retrieve that data? You don’t want to be left waiting because of a slow storage method.
  • Security. Even when you’re looking at storage methods, data protection is still your first concern. Be sure that no matter what method you choose, your files are going to remain secure and protected.

Different data storage methods have different benefits. It’s always best to have a back-up, so choose a storage method that will give you full peace of mind.

Have questions about options for file storage in Edmonton? Need to know what’s going to work best for your business? Learn more about our data storage options, or contact Alt-Tech’s data storage experts for a consultation.

Share this
08 Mar 2019

5 Best Practices to Improve Data Security

Cyber security starts internally. From new security solutions to software updates, there are plenty of ways you can help keep your company safe. So where to begin? We’ve put together the 5 best practices for you to implement to secure business data and give you some peace of mind.

1. Always Update!

When your computer gets that pop-up saying it’s time to update, it’s tempting to simply push the ‘later’ button. But you need to stop ignoring those updates! Updates improve information security by responding to current threats and fixing bugs. They address all the different security issues present in your computer. So by updating your computer, you’re actually keeping data protected without having to do any of the work.

2. Protect with Strong Passwords

One of the cheapest and easiest ways to keep your data safe is to have a strong password. Having simple or common passwords makes it easier for cyber criminals to access sensitive data. Fortunately, these data breaches are preventable by having your employees create strong passwords and regularly update their passwords.

There are a few easy ways to improve the strength of your password. For example, you can increase the length, include numbers, or include special characters. If you want to learn more about which passwords to avoid and creating strong passwords, check out our post on The Worst Passwords of 2018.

3. Keep an Eye Out For Phishing Scams

Phishing scams, ransomware, and other cyber attacks are something that all businesses have to deal with. You can’t stop these cyber threats entirely, but you can help reduce the risk of actually having your data stolen. The best way to stop sensitive information from being stolen through a cyber attack is to learn what to look for.

When you receive a phishing scam, it’ll probably look legitimate, but beware because they can cause a lot of damage. Typically phishing scams are emails that appear to be from a trustworthy source. They will ask you to follow a link or to provide some form of personal data. These attacks are often filled with grammatical errors, so keep an eye out for mistakes or strange wording. They’ll also want you to ‘act fast,’ claiming that your account has been hacked or is expiring. Don’t believe these emails – take the time to read them through and verify them before you click any links. Whenever unsure, contact the company by phone to verify that the email is legitimate. Stay vigilant and always double-check suspicious emails to prevent falling victim to phishing scams.

4. Secure and Encrypt Data

A lot of companies are encrypting their information. Encryption takes your data and converts it to codes. Only someone who has the ‘key’ can unlock the codes to access the information. If you don’t encrypt your information, you leave it more exposed to online threats.

By using encryption, you’re making it impossible for a hacker to read or make copies of data. So, while the information may be lost, you don’t have to worry about someone else having access to it. If you’re interested in other methods of protecting your information, you can also look into data masking or data erasure techniques. Alt-Tech has plenty of encryption options that have helped companies secure their data more easily and thoroughly.

5. Educate Your Staff

You can’t implement any of these practices if you haven’t taken the time to educate your staff. When you take the time to help them understand the different security threats and how they can counteract them, they’ll know why it’s important and how to manage threats. Make sure you explain your company’s online practices and procedures, hold sessions on how to recognize phishing and other scams, and make sure to update your staff on policy changes or new threats. This will make all the difference when it comes to protecting your business online. 

Want to improve your business’ cyber security? Alt-Tech is here to help! We offer data backup and recovery, system security services, and around the clock monitoring. To learn more check out our services page.

Share this
22 Feb 2019

The Biggest Cyber Attacks of 2018

There are over a million people online, and every day there are people and companies that fall prey to cyber attacks. While security researchers are always working to keep our information safe, hackers are always looking for new ways to steal it. That means there’s always a major risk for cyber attack for companies operating online. 

2018 was a big year for security breaches in Canada, the United States, and abroad. A lot of companies experienced breaches that affected millions of people. We like to keep an eye on what’s going on in the IT world, so we’ve created a list of some of the biggest cyber attacks 2018 saw, as well as some advice to help businesses avoid breaches in 2019.

Quora

The popular question and answer website was hacked this year, affecting as many as 100 million users. A malicious third party hacked into the website, gaining access to users’ names, email addresses, profile information, and passwords. Very little has been said about this attack outside what information was compromised.

British Airways

The British airline had to deal with a massive online attack when criminals hacked into the airline’s booking records. This affected records on both the website and the app. Hackers gained full access to traveller’s personal information. This included about 380,000 people’s credit card information. The airline made sure to notify people about the breach as soon as possible.

Marriott

This year Marriott was informed of an information breach that had been occurring since 2014. In this case, thieves had access to the payment cards, personal information, passport numbers, and travel information of over 500 million people. Because of this, authorities believe it could have been the work of nation state hackers.

Facebook

This well-publicized hack affected over 87 million users of the popular social network. Stolen information included people’s personal information such as relationship status, birthdate, and employer. While this breach actually occurred a couple of years ago, the information just surfaced in 2018. Due to that delay, many users are upset about Facebook’s lack of transparency.

Protect Your Company

You probably won’t experience a data breach as large as these companies, but having your information hacked could cost you thousands of dollars and significantly damage your company’s reputation. So, how can you prevent these attacks from happening in your company this year? There are a few quick and easy ways to protect your company:

  1. Protect your usernames and passwords. Making sure employees regularly update their passwords for computer logins and accounts. Changing your password protects makes it more difficult to hack into a computer, protecting you from a security breach.
  2. Update and secure your computer networks. The online environment is constantly changing and so are the risks. Have your IT team keep your security systems up to date with the latest online security.
  3. Be prepared for ransomware attacks. These attacks can happen at any time. They could come in an innocent-looking email or appear on a website. To avoid accidentally installing malware, make sure you can recognize attacks and respond appropriately.
  4. Promote cyber security training. The best way to avoid data breaches is to keep your employees informed. Educate them about cyber risks, how to recognize them, and what to do in case of an attack. 

At Alt-Tech, we can help protect your business from online attacks. We offer around the clock monitoring, system security and access services, virtual IT manager services, and more. If you’re ready to begin protecting your business online, contact us today.

Share this
08 Feb 2019

5 Things You Need to Know About Cloud Computing Services

The cloud has been around for quite a while now, but it still feels pretty new and foreign to most of us. When someone says your data has been stored in the cloud what does that mean? Where has your information gone? Has it disappeared entirely? Is it stored on a computer somewhere else? 

While you may not know exactly what it is, cloud storage affects you every day and will probably be coming to your workplace – if it hasn’t already. For those who don’t know (or are to embarrassed to ask) we’ve compiled 5 things you absolutely need to know about cloud storage services.

1. What is Cloud Storage?

The cloud is a data center that takes your files and folders and stores them over the Internet, rather than on your computer’s hard drive. This allows you to access your files from anywhere, so long as you have Internet connection. It also makes sharing files and collaborating with multiple people much simpler. The key benefit, however, is that your information is stored safely and securely in an offsite location in case of any damage to your onsite computer or hardware.

2. There are Different Versions

When you begin using the cloud, you’ll find there are multiple versions. The most popular varieties are Software as a Service (SaaS), or Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). This can get a little confusing, especially for beginners, but the basic difference is who is looking after the servers and storage. With SaaS, an external cloud provider hosts the servers and storage, whereas with IaaS, you’re the one managing the cloud.

3. You Probably Already Use It

That’s right; a lot of us store data in the cloud without realizing we’re doing it. That’s because, even though it may seem confusing, the cloud is already integrated into the computing services we use every day. There are several good examples of cloud environments you’re probably familiar with, including Google Drive, Netflix, iCloud, Microsoft Azure, and Dropbox. 

4. There’s a Hybrid Cloud

This uses a mix of third party (or public) services and private cloud services combining the benefits of both methods. Employing a hybrid cloud service often results in cost savings because you have more control when you need to scale your services. It also provides you increased data storage capability so it can handle spikes in data storage. You may actually already be using a hybrid if you’re using a combination of in-house IT services and external programs.

5. It Isn’t Free

If your company is just starting out and you’ve already integrated your systems with the cloud, then your job is pretty simple. However, a lot of companies will need their information to be migrated to the cloud and managed. You either need to hire and train new employees or find a trustworthy external company or consultant to help with the transition. While this can be costly in the short term, it helps you stay at the top of your industry instead of falling behind. And that, in the long-term, will give you a competitive edge.

Cloud computing resources are making a big difference in the way we do business. They provide a freedom and a security in how we store, save, and share our files. Are you ready to begin the move? 

At Alt Tech, we offer a range of cloud services including Email Hosting, Application Hosting, Server Hosting, and Disaster Recovery & Business Continuity Offsite Hosting. We can help you understand which cloud services will work best for your specific company, and how to use them effectively. To learn more, check out our Cloud Services or contact our team of cloud experts

Share this
31 Jan 2019

Worst Passwords of 2018

Computer passwords aren’t something we pay much attention to. When we get to the office in the mornings, we enter our username and password and then forget about our password again until the next day. However, with increasing concerns about cyber security, many people are now paying more attention to passwords as simple step toward improving computer security.

Unfortunately, many people still aren’t aware how to create stronger passwords. This is why, for the last 8 years, SplashData has released an annual list of worst passwords. These are passwords that are incredibly weak and overused, making it a breeze for hackers to gain access to your computer files and more. 

What Were the Worst Passwords?

SplashData recently released its annual list of the Top 100 Worst Passwords of 2018. They gathered this information from more than 5 million leaked passwords. The top 10 on the list were:

  1. 123456
  2. password
  3. 123456789
  4. 12345678
  5. 12345
  6. 111111
  7. 1234567
  8. sunshine
  9. qwerty
  10. ioveyou

Yes, that’s right; people are still using passwords like ‘password’. This is starting to be a bigger problem for businesses concerned about online threats and hackers. While using passwords like ‘123456’ might be easy to remember, it’s significantly easier for you to be hacked and have company information or your information or identity stolen. If you see your password on this list or anywhere on SplashData’s Top 100, it might be time to update your password.

What Makes a Password Secure?

Password strength can make a huge difference when it comes to protecting information online. It’s important to ensure your business and personal information are secure, and the easiest first step to be secure is by creating a strong, unique password. Password cracking becomes a lot harder when you’ve created a strong, secure password. There are a number of factors that make a password stronger including:

Length

The longer your password is, the more secure it is. It might not seem like an 8-letter password is much stronger than a 6-letter password but those extra two letters can make a huge difference. According to digicert:

  • “A 6-character password with only [lowercase] letters has 308,915,776 possible combinations.
  • An 8-character password with only [lowercase] letters has 208,827,064,576 possible combinations.”

By adding just a couple extra letters you can make your password much harder to crack.

Special Characters

You might think it’s enough to have a really long password, but if you begin mixing upper and lowercase letters with numbers and special characters, you can vastly improve the strength of your password. 

Digicert found that “an 8-character password with letters (upper & lower case) and includ[ing] numbers and symbols has 6,095,689,385,410,816 possible combinations.” Adding special characters and numbers into your password can go a long way toward improving your security.

Multi Factor Authentication

Multi factor authentication is fast becoming a more popular way to improve login security. Essentially, this requires one additional step in authentication beyond the traditional username and password. This can include being sent an additional one-time password, using fingerprint recognition, swiping a card, or attaching a USB. However, these are also more time-consuming and costly solutions.

Master Password

Many of us save passwords in our browsers because we simply can’t remember them all. Unfortunately, this is a really unsafe online practice. If you use Firefox, there’s a way to secure these save passwords. Firefox’s master password requires that you enter the master password before you can use any of the saved passwords. However, this still isn’t an ideal solution because, as a general rule, you should never have your passwords saved online.

Mix it Up

Use different passwords for your logins. While it can be hard to remember a different password for every email, computer, and website login, you should try to avoid using the same password for everything. If you do use the same password, you’re making it much easier for hackers to steal sensitive information. 

How to Move Away from Bad Passwords

The problem many businesses are now facing is how to deal with weak, unsecure passwords. The best way to do away with weak passwords is to educate your employees. Many of them are probably unaware how simple it is to create a stronger password.

Your passwords are the first line of defense against data breach. Make sure your employees are using strong passwords that help protect your company’s information. If you’re concerned about network security give us a call; we can help set up a unique solution custom-built for your business.

Share this
18 Jan 2019

Start 2019 By Building a Cyber Security Culture

As we move into 2019, we continue to rely on automated programs and technology in our day-to-day lives. With this growing reliance comes a growing concern about online safety. From personal information to threats of national security, our advancements affect us all. As we continue to rely on computers, the threat of cyber attacks will only continue to grow. 

The risk of cyber attacks and viruses is more than a threat; it’s a reality for many companies. That’s why it’s become so important for organizations to begin promoting a cybersecurity culture in the workplace. Keep your company safe online this year, follow these simple steps to help build a lasting cyber security culture.

Create a Plan

Creating a Cybersecurity Program means you need to start with a comprehensive plan. This plan should include everything from a risk assessment, to a list of current practices, to achievable goals. This will give you a framework for how to address your organization’s current state of security and an outline for how to get to where you’re aiming. To protect your company, make sure you take action by building a comprehensive cyber security plan.

Engage and Inform All Employees

Many people believe cyber security is the job of the IT (Information Technology) team. In fact, cyber security is actually the job of everyone in your organization. However, many employees are still unaware, so it’s your job to instruct and engage them.

The weakest link in cybersecurity is people. Most of the online threats your company faces will come from everyday interactions and actions online. Your cybersecurity professionals can help take care of threats as they arise, but at the end of the day, preventative security is everyone’s responsibility. To lessen the risk people pose it’s absolutely necessary to continually educate and inform your employees. You need every employee to be aware and engaged in keeping your company safe.

Continually Educate

Cyber security education is the best way to make sure everyone in your company is aware how to stay safe online and what to do in case of a cyber threat. Related to the previous point, this education should be encompassing of everyone in your organization from the top down.

You have two goals in continuing education. One is to make sure everyone is aware what his or her role is in cyber security. The second is to keep everyone up to date as online threats and your responses change. Make sure to engage your online security professionals to help create the cybersecurity education materials and to help present them. Remember you need to continually raise awareness. People need to understand the risks in order to prevent them. 

Maintain a Dialogue

It’s not enough to constantly educate your employees. You also need to give them a chance to apply new practices in their work and to continually learn. As this happens, you need to remain engaged with them. Keep conversations going and continue to inform while also leaving room for employees to explore.

Remember, your employees need to feel comfortable asking questions about cybersecurity, or looking for guidance if they’ve encountered something suspicious. Should they encounter a cyber attack, they need to feel comfortable approaching a supervisor or cybersecurity professional. In order to keep your company safe you need to build and maintain an open dialogue about cyber security.

The most important thing you can do to create a cyber security culture in your company is to make sure all of your employees are engaged, aware, and taking action to prevent attacks. Building a culture of security starts with action. You’re responsible for taking action to protect your company. 

So why not start 2019 by promoting cyber security in your business? Begin building your culture of cyber security now. Alt-Tech can help you set up a protective plan for your specific business and employees. 

If you want to learn more about cyber attacks and how to identify them, you can also check out our post from cyber security awareness month.

Share this
24 Oct 2018

The Business Toolkit for Cyber Security Awareness Month

Were you aware? October is Cyber Security Awareness Month. As more companies move in to the online space, computer security is becoming increasingly important. You need to know how to protect your company from costly data loss.

This Cyber Security Month, the Alt-Tech team has doubled down on helping businesses learn about cyber security. Find out the hidden costs of a cyber attack and learn what you can do to protect your business from phishing scams, ransomware, and other cyber threats.

 

What is a Cyber Attack?

A cyber attack is a deliberate attempt by either an individual or an organization to breach the information system of another individual or organization. In other words, it’s someone trying to access or tamper with your information.

There are many different types of cyber attacks, which makes it hard for businesses to recognize and respond to them. Some attacks aim to disable a computer and take it offline. Other attacks attempt to gain access to a computer’s data to gain personal information or to demand ransom in exchange for releasing the data. There have been many instances of data breaches in well-known companies who house millions of peoples’ personal and financial information. However, even smaller businesses are at risk.

These attacks can happen quickly and with little warning. That makes it important for businesses to recognize a cyber attack before it causes lasting damage.

 

How to Recognize a Cyber Attack

The top cyber-attack method? Phishing. Phishing is designed so you’ll ‘take the bait’ offered. Essentially, it’s the crafting of a message that influences you to follow a link or click on a malicious attachment which will install malware on your computer. This can directly infect your computer’s operating system.

 

Here are some quick tips to recognize a phishing scam and avoid a cyber incident:

It’s Too Good to be True

Whether they’re saying you’ve won something or it’s a claim that there’s a deal on, just remember, if it seems to good to be true, it probably is.

 

There’s a Sense of Urgency

Phishing scams will often prompt you to act quickly because it is a limited time offer or because your account is going to expire. It’s best to ignore these. Most companies allow you ample time for offers or to update your account.

 

It has a Strange Hyperlink

A link may not be what is appears. Hover over the link to view the URL where you will be directed. If there appears to be something wrong (like a spelling error or a person’s name), don’t trust it.

 

There’s an Attachment

Don’t open attachments in emails you weren’t expecting. An unknown file could contain ransomware or other viruses.

 

It’s from an Unusual Sender

If anything seems out of the ordinary in an email, be suspicious. Often, phishing scams are attached to long and unrecognizable email addresses. However, phishing can be done through hacked accounts, too. Even if it’s from someone you know, if anything seems out of character or unexpected about the email, don’t click on it. If you aren’t sure, call the sender directly to see if he or she sent it.

 

The Cost of a Cyber Attack on Your Business

A cyber attack can have a lasting impact on your business. It can damage your reputation, consumer perception, or even your bottom line. Some of the hidden impacts of a cyber breach include:

 

  • Loss or Damage to Electronic Data

A cyber attack can damage your existing files, rendering them unusable. Or, it can cause you to permanently lose your electronic data. When you think about the time needed to recreate (or pay to recreate) lost files, it can really add up.

 

  • Extra Expenses

If a hacker were to damage your computers, you would have to replace the equipment to maintain normal operations. Permanent damage could also mean loss of important files or documents essential to your business operations. Replacing your equipment and files is costly.

 

  • Loss of Income

Some cyber attacks cause your computer system to become unavailable, completely shutting down your online presence. This essentially shuts down your business causing you to lose customers. For online stores, even a short period of lost sales can be devastating.

 

  • Network Security and Privacy Lawsuits

A hacker may also steal the data you store on your computers. The information could belong to your business, but it can also belong to your customers, vendors, or employees. Because you’re responsible for protecting the data, this can result in a lawsuit (or several).

 

  • Extortion Losses

Ransomware is becoming more common online. Once a hacker has collected your important information, they will hold it hostage until you pay a ransom amount. Several well-known ransom attacks have been committed recently, and the price is typically steep – whether you choose to pay the ransom or not.

 

  • Notification Costs

You’re responsible for informing people when their information has been breached. This can be a very costly expense that involves a lot of lost time.

 

  • Reputational Damage

Your company’s reputation can be very seriously damaged by a cyber attack. Loss of personal information can cause your consumers to lose trust in your business. This may discourage people from doing business with you in the future.

 

All these potential effects on your business could cause lasting and expensive damage. That’s why it’s essential for you to protect your business from cyber attacks. It’s far less costly to take preventative measures than to deal with the fall-out from a cyber breach.

Even if you don’t think you’re at risk, it’s important not to underestimate the costs of a cyber breach. Businesses that use online transactions may be more at risk, but even a traditional business can have their files and accounts hacked.

 

How to Avoid Cyber Losses

Now that you know the risks of a cyber attack on your business, it’s time to be proactive. There are many different ways you can protect your business. The following is a detailed list of best practices you can use to protect your business’ critical infrastructure.

 

  1. Choose the right cyber security defense for your business.

Not all defenses are made equal. To keep your business safe online, make sure your security solution provides real-time protection, online protection, and can look for threats across all vectors.

 

  1. Don’t trust email links.

If you receive an email from someone you don’t know (or receive an unexpected email) be very cautious of the links. They may be infected. By clicking on them, you could be falling prey to an online scam. Always hover your mouse over a link in order to inspect the URL first. If it looks unsafe, delete the email.

 

  1. Be cautious when using public Wi-Fi networks.

On public Wi-Fi networks you are visible to everyone else on the network. Prevent unauthorized access to your files – don’t trust open networks, especially when you’re sending files and emails.

 

  1. Use strong passwords and change them often.

Hackers have a very easy time if you are consistently using the same password for all your accounts. Keep your accounts secure online, change your password often and make it difficult.

 

  1. Back up your data.

If your computer system is hacked or compromised, you’ll want to have critical data stored so you don’t have to replace it. This will also help you know what information a hacker may have access to in case of an attack.

 

  1. Raise awareness and educate.

Some of your employees may not know anything about internet security. Talk with your employees and share these best practices. Create a pamphlet or presentation to help employees in their daily activities. Cyber security is a shared responsibility in any business.

Whether you’re working in the public or private sector, cyber security is a growing concern for businesses. And, as we continue to rely more on technology processes and digital storage, the concern will continue to grow. Following these simple steps can keep your company safe and secure this month!

 

Want more information on cyber threats and cyber security in Canada? The Government of Canada recently launched the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security. You can visit their website for more information.

Or, for information specific to your business, you can book a free consultation with an Alt-Tech cyber security expert. We’ll point out spots of vulnerability in your online presence and help you set up a strategy for better protection.

 

Happy Cyber Security Month from the team at Alt-Tech!

 

 

Share this

© 2010-2019 Alt-Tech Inc. All rights reserved.

Click Me