Smaller firms less likely to keep up to date on the basics that protect them

 
 
Smaller firms less likely to keep up to date on the basics that protect them.
 
On the never ending problem of cyber security, small firms often do not have any/much in-house IT support. As a consequence, they may be less likely to be able to make sure their software is consistently updated to reflect any patches released by the product’s maker. This simple oversight, deliberate or not, is a major source of data breaches and ransomware attacks.Think back many years to when Microsoft pulled the plug on maintaining Windows XP. Many users refused to upgrade because there were afraid of losing compatibility with other software programs, the unintended consequences of moving to a new OS, or just not being sure how to install an upgrade. Whatever the issue, it meant those users had an operating system that was no longer updated to reflect the latest security fixes. Their operating system became an unlocked gate.
 
You may not be scared of technology, but as a small business owner, tracking the release of new updates or taking the time to install them as soon as they come out probably just isn’t a priority. You have a business to run. Adding to this problem, you may also allow your employees to use their personal laptops, mobile devices, and tablets for work duties. If that is the case, then every program on each of those devices is subject to the owner’s willingness and ability to update everything in a timely fashion. If any single device accessing your corporate files and data misses a security patch and is breached, so is your business.
 
The lesson here is that you need to take action to implement a company-wide process for maintaining all of your software applications so they don’t become an unlocked door in the middle of the night. A managed service provider can develop a plan to address update and security fixes on all the devices that access your data. It can be more than a small business owner can handle, so instead of ignoring the problem, reach out to find real solutions that will protect your business.

Advertisements
Smaller firms less likely to keep up to date on the basics that protect them

Cyberattacks and the vulnerability of the small business

  
Cyberattacks and the vulnerability of the small business
 
You cannot go a day without reading about some big name company or even government agency being hacked and critical data being compromised. What you don’t see in the media is that most of the attacks happen to small firms, and that this is where a lot of the cybercrime is occurring. What any business, but especially a small business, needs to be afraid of are cyber attacks that disable your operations, disrupt customer interaction, or breach your customer’s personal data. Contrary to what one might expect, smaller firms are far more likely to be targets of hackers than large firms. They are also likely to have less sophisticated security measures in place. Any firm’s existence can be threatened by these events, but smaller firms are often unable to rebuild after a major breach. Studies show that customers are less forgiving of smaller firms than larger ones when their personal data has been compromised. The lesson here is that smaller firms are more vulnerable and need to be extremely vigilant. Talk to a managed service provider about some basic steps you can take to protect your business.

Cyberattacks and the vulnerability of the small business

Denial is not a solution: Something you owe your customers and your employees

 
 
Denial is not a solution: Something you owe your customers and your employees
 
Why do so many people procrastinate about making a will? Why is it so hard to get young people to buy health insurance? Because it is one of those “probably won’t happen–at least in the foreseeable future, and I‘ve got more interesting things to worry about or spend my money on” issues.
 
Small business owners tend to take the same approach to making business continuity plans in case of a disaster. They are usually fully consumed just running the business and keeping revenues steady and growing. Diverting energies and resources to a “what if” scenario just isn’t an imperative.
 
There are affordable, effective tools out there that will allow any smaller firm to develop effective business continuity plans, but they only work if you take action. Our best advice to overcome denial? Think of this scenario: If something happened right now and your entire operation came to a halt because of a cyber attack, a power failure, data loss, or a single point of failure hardware event, what would you do? Do you even know who you would call in for help?
 
It can be a scary thought, but one that merits your attention. Talk to a managed service provider about a proposal to develop a complete business continuity plan. You owe it to yourself and to all the employees who rely on your for their livelihood.

Denial is not a solution: Something you owe your customers and your employees

Limited investment capital and planning for trouble

 

 
Limited investment capital and planning for trouble
 
Small businesses often fail to take the time to make business continuity plans. One aspect of a business continuity plan involves developing plans to handle the loss of physical infrastructure and hardware. Unfortunately, smaller and younger firms often fail to address these issues because they lack the necessary capital to invest in additional or supplemental equipment. Redundant servers, battery back systems or uninterruptible power supplies, and data backup systems that allow for offsite backup storage are the most obvious examples.
 
These can represent considerable capex for a small firm. However, these costs need to be weighed against the costs that would be incurred if a severe business interruption occurred. Encouragingly, new technology is creating tools for redundancy and data protection that don’t require additional hardware investments. The cloud is probably the single biggest savior for small businesses looking to defend against business interruption events. The cloud means you can offload many of your business processes and infrastructure to the cloud and sidestep creating expensive redundancies on your own. Offsite data storage, increased efficiencies as a result of shared data center costs, SaaS, and even data collaboration tools are added cost savings that can be provided by the cloud.
 
So before you throw up your hands and say you cannot afford to address business continuity, take another look. The cloud can redefine the paradigm of “business continuity.”

Limited investment capital and planning for trouble

Data Protection Laws and PIIs

 

 
Data Protection Laws and PIIs
 
Last week we discussed the overall concept of “Data Protection Laws,” which govern the handling and securing of specific data. While these laws are wide ranging, most of these laws reference Personally Identifiable Information (PII) This “refers to information that can be used to distinguish or trace an individual’s identity, either alone or when combined with other personal or identifying information that is linked or linkable to a specific individual.” (https://www.gsa.gov/portal/content/104256) For example, if you possess an individual’s first initial and last name and store it with their credit card number, bank account, SSN or driver’s license number, that becomes a PII.
 
At the Federal level, the United States doesn’t have any overarching and comprehensive data protection laws of the sort that most European nations do, but they do exist and primarily affect individual sectors, such as healthcare. Presently 48 states in the US have some laws requiring private or governmental entities to notify anyone whose data has been breached. In other words, if you possess personal data, you may have a regulatory responsibility to report the breach to both a government entity and the individual victim. Failure to do so may mean you’re in violation of these laws and subject to fines and penalties.
 
So what does this mean for a small business? You need to be aware of the likelihood that you are regulated by such laws and that you have some responsibility to show that you have taken reasonable measures and put in place procedures to maintain the security and integrity of outside data.
 
As a responsible business owner, you have an obligation to be aware of any applicable laws, keeping in mind that your client or prospect data may include PII from those in other states or countries. You also have an obligation to protect that data. Keeping up with the best practices for protecting your important data from hackers and data thieves is an important responsibility of every small business. Contact a Managed Service provider to learn how they can support your business with a complete cyber protection plan.

Data Protection Laws and PIIs

Are you subject to Data Protection laws?

 

 
Are you subject to Data Protection laws?
 
This blog introduces a new topic that many may be unaware of: Data Protection laws. These are laws that define fully, or in part, what type of data is covered by government regulations, proscribe general standards for the securing of covered data, and may also require notification of victims and governmental authorities in the event of a breach. Small businesses, no matter what product or service they provide, are likely subject to some manner of regulations regarding the storage and use of digital data. For instance, any medical office or organization that handles medical records is subject to HIPAA, the federal law regarding health data privacy. Meeting IT regulations can be expensive and time consuming and they also require timely upgrades. Failure to stay up to date can lead to fines, penalties, and a damaged reputation.
 
Chances are, you are subject to some data protection or data security laws. You are also very likely to be subject to breach notification laws. As a small business you should consider having an audit conducted to determine if you possess data that may be regulated by these laws. Failure to be aware that you are covered by them does not protect you in the event of a data breach.
 
In our next blog, we will discuss one category of information that is the focus of many data protection laws. This category is referred to as Personally Identifiable Information. When you discover what that includes, it will be pretty apparent why protecting this data is important for the integrity and success of your business.

Are you subject to Data Protection laws?

Ransomware Part II

 

 
Ransomware Part II
 
In our last blog, we explained what ransomware is, and why it can be an especially troublesome virus. Today, let’s look at what you can do to avoid falling victim.
 
Prevention is the best cure. Follow standard “data hygiene” principles that you probably hear about all of the time. Update your OS, software, and apps whenever a new release or patch is released. Do this ASAP. Some patches may be released solely as a result of the discovery of a vulnerability. Watch out for phishing scams. If anything looks “off” about an email, don’t open it. And never open links you aren’t totally sure of. If unsure, email back to the sender to verify they actually sent you a link. Unfortunately, human error is one of the biggest problems for data security. Employees unwittingly open links received via email or download information from insecure websites.
 
Beyond prevention, the most important thing you can do to make sure your data cannot be held ransom is strictly adhering to a regimen of backups. Routinely backup your data. However, with ransomware, even backups may not be foolproof. If your data has been infected and you are unaware of it, or the backup is not segregated from your network, your backups may also be corrupted. Given the severe consequences of a ransomware attack, consider having a security evaluation done by a managed service provider who will have the security expertise to advise on the best backup protocols for your situation. Ransomware presents some unique challenges that require more sophisticated data protection protocols. Contact a managed service provider for a complete security evaluation.

Ransomware Part II