immune

No One Is Immune

immuneDo you remember when the Ebola virus caused world-wide panic a few years ago? The killer virus appeared to be out of control and there wasn’t enough supply of vaccine or enough time to distribute it.

Like the script from a sci-fi horror flick, “No one is immune! Ebola is coming to get you!”

Of course, there were those who believed that it could never happen here. There always are. They are the ones who won’t get a flu shot then wonder how they got the flu several months later.

Real World – Virtual World – Same Problem

The same irrational thinking prevails in the virtual world. Even though, as we have cited before, more than 60% of small businesses have been victims of cyberattacks, the other 40% still think they are immune.

But, according to a recent article in TechTalk, the size of the business is not the only reason some businesses have a false sense of security. The article noted that some corporate enterprises feel that their systems are safe because they operate using a different system. In particular, the misconception is alive and well amongst users of Linux, Ubuntu, and iOS.

The assumption is that “users believe Linux, Ubuntu and iOS are more secure because in most malware cases, Windows users are the victims. Although it is true, Windows PCs are highly targeted, this is only because of their large market share. . .  hackers can cast a wider net when targeting Windows PCs than if they were to target Linux, Ubuntu or iOS.”

That sounds like the small business owners’ reasoning that they won’t come after me because I’m too small. Not only wrong, but proven wrong.

It is also becoming abundantly clear that Linux, Ubuntu, and iOS system have been under attack. They just haven’t grabbed the headlines. Yet.

The first rule of thumb in any security business is never assume you are safe from attack. That goes for cybersecurity, too. The faster technology grows, the more we are exposed to security breaches. It doesn’t matter what size your business is – or what operating system – you use. Your technology needs to be guarded.

Guarding your technology is what we do. We work diligently to keep you aware of potential dangers and how to take a few, common-sense steps to ensure the safety of your data and devices.

Tech Sentries is as concerned about your computer system security as you are. Your computer system security is our business. That’s why Tech Sentries is always on duty. Contact us today to learn how we can help you “GUARD YOUR TECHNOLOGY” (843-282-2222).

What in the World Are Hackers Thinking?

hackersWe already know what we think when our digital technology has been compromised by some &^%#$* hacker and her (yes, her!) virus, malware, ransomware, or phishing expedition. We get frustrated and downright angry. Have you ever wondered, what the hacker was thinking or what motivated her? We thought it might help to understand.

A recent report published by Government CIO indicated that,

“Most cyber criminals are motivated by the commission of a crime. It is a psychological issue that defines them as people with some super traits that cause antisocial behavior. Possibly, these people suffer from one or more forms of psychological disorders that seek to gain recognition or personal gain from illegal activities.

Other personality traits exhibited by the cyber criminals include “self-centeredness, grandiosity, callousness, and lack of remorse or empathy for others coupled with a charismatic, charming, and manipulative superficiality.”

Does that give you a warm, fuzzy feeling? We didn’t think so. Perhaps this will help. In late 2016 Digital Endpoint described eight common types of hackers along with some insights into what motives them.

TYPE PERSONA MOTIVATION
White Hat Good guys Companies employ them to test software, websites, and systems from criminal hackers.
Black Hat Guns for hire They get paid for stealing information by the people who want that information. They don’t care about the information per se.
Grey Hat Wolves in sheep’s clothing They test systems, but without permission. When they find a weakness, they try to sell their findings to their victims for a price.
Script Kiddies Trainees They use packaged software to disrupt systems and establish a reputation in the hacking community.
Hactivists Protesters They are employed by governments to gain information and/or attack foreign entities.
State Sponsored Warriors They hack to harass, expose, and exact revenge on entities to which they are opposed.
Corporate Spies Corporate Spies Corporate spies have existed for years. The internet and digital technology are just new tools.
Cyber Terrorists Terrorists They want to “spread fear and create chaos … by causing unrest.”

Did we mention that some hackers are women? Watch this video. It will give you even more insight in what in the world hackers are thinking.

Guarding your technology takes an awareness of potential dangers and a few, common-sense steps to ensure the safety of your data and devices, not the least of which is having regularly-scheduled system and software audits by digital security professionals.

Tech Sentries is as concerned about your computer system security as you are. Your computer system security is our business. That’s why Tech Sentries is always on duty. Contact us today to learn how we can help you “GUARD YOUR TECHNOLOGY” (843-282-2222).

digital hygiene

Did You Know that Digital Hygiene Can Reduce Cyber Breaches?

digital hygieneDigital hygiene? What’s that?

Digital hygiene is a lot like dental hygiene. A dental hygiene regimen helps to protect our teeth and gums from bacteria, infection, and decay. A digital hygiene regimen is necessary to protect our technology and information against infection from viruses, malware, hacking, phishing and other cyber attacks.

Cyber attacks are just about as stealthy as dental attacks. Most often we don’t realize that we have developed a cavity until it is already too late. The same is true with cyber infections. The best hygiene in either the dental or the digital world is preventive. A 2015 report by Verizon revealed that most cyber attacks are not carried out by a full frontal hacking of a device, but rather by manipulating the humans that operate them.

Digital hygiene requires continual, proactive care.

Just as routine dental hygiene involves care at home and checkups by a professional, so, too, does digital hygiene. Here are 10 important steps we recommend to keep your technology safe.

  1. Be extra careful when asked for personal information in response to emails, phone calls (cell phones are technology too), or web pages. It’s not that sharing is, itself a bad thing. Just be super cautious about what you share and with whom you share it.
  2. Do not respond to online or on-phone demands to run a particular software on your computer.
  3. Do not be afraid of specific online threats of “account closure, disciplinary action, or arrest.” Legitimate businesses do not usually threaten people.
  4. Ensure that all of your software is up to date. You can set your devices to update automatically. (If you are not sure if you should or how you can exercise this option, give us a call at 843-282-2222. We will be happy to help.)
  5. Avoid visiting “suspicious” websites or installing “suspicious” programs.
  6. Think carefully about identifying your location on your mobile devices.
  7. Create strong passwords on all devices – including your cell phone.
  8. Think twice before clicking on attachments or links.
  9. Strengthen your security with two-step verification for access. Click on this link to learn how to use Google account two-step verification. (Did you think twice before clicking on the link?)
  10. Have a regular digital hygiene checkup.

Guarding your technology is best done with regular digital hygiene. It just takes an awareness of potential dangers and taking a few, common-sense steps to ensure the safety of your data and devices.

Tech Sentries is as concerned about your computer system security as you are. Your computer system security is our business. That’s why Tech Sentries is always on duty. Contact us today to learn how we can help you “GUARD YOUR TECHNOLOGY” (843-282-2222).

cyber safety

You Are Most Exposed to Cyber Threats When You Think You Are Not a Target

cyber safetyBack in the last decade of the 20th century, an entrepreneur in Orlando proudly, publicly stated that his business was too small to be a target. Granted, he wasn’t talking about cyber threats, but he was talking about other threats to the security of his business.

He was wrong. Within a matter of months after he boldly blurted out what he believed to be true, his company was the target of litigious attack from a German-based company with over 300,000 employees and annual revenue in excess of $80 billion.

Lesson learned: The size of your business does not exempt it from attack.

This applies, in particular, today when it comes to small businesses and cyber threats. As a recent article in CIO magazine put it, “Believing that their security program is good enough means there’s a good chance they’ll be breached.” The article was addressing small business owners.

Think You Are Immune from Cyber Threats?

Think again. The CIO article described the lack of small business ownership with cyber security issues was akin to them being in a time warp compared to Fortune 100 enterprises. In fact, small business owners should consider these documented facts.

  • “95 percent of IT professionals at small businesses believe their cyber security posture is above average. However, 100 percent of the same respondents also said they could improve their ”
  • Small businesses are the victims of a whopping 4,000 cyber attacks per day.
    • That’s more than 120,000 per month.
    • That’s nearly 1.5 million attacks per year.
  • 75 percent of all U.S. companies have experienced some form of cybersecurity breach in the 12 months from April 2016 to March 2017.
  • SMBs are the target of 62 percent of all cyber-attacks.
  • “60 percent of small businesses are unable to sustain their businesses” for more than six months following an attack.

If you think that last statistic is because those businesses aren’t as well operated as yours, this statistic should put it in a more worrisome perspective. The average cost of a single data breach is $225 per record lost or stolen. For small businesses, the average price of recovery from a cyber-attack is $690,000. (Fast Math: ≈ 3,000 records x $225/record)

Our objective is not to scare you. It is to warn you. When it comes to being the target of a cyber threat, size doesn’t seem to matter.

Guarding your technology does not have to involve elaborate evasive tactics. It just takes an awareness of potential dangers and taking a few, common-sense steps to ensure the safety of your data and devices.

Tech Sentries is as concerned about your computer system security as you are. Your computer system security is our business. That’s why Tech Sentries is always on duty. Contact us today to learn how we can help you “GUARD YOUR TECHNOLOGY” (843-282-2222).

free wifi zone

Internet Security on the Go . . . Going, Gone

free wifi zoneCarrying a laptop, notebook, or other mobile device wherever one goes is so commonplace now that even kids in the backseat have Wi-Fi access to the internet over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house. Before you point a finger at the kids, just remember, you started it – and you are carrying your device wherever you go, too.

Because you do, because you need to guard your technology, and because we care, here are a few tips for ensuring your internet security when you are on the go, before your personal information is going, going, gone.

Avoid Public Charging Stations

But, they are so-o-o convenient! Exactly – and therein lies the rub. They are so convenient that they are an attractive, ubiquitous, and convenient tool for hackers. As soon as you plug into the USB port your device and all the data on it is conveniently accessible. For hackers, the practice of Juice Jacking is like taking candy from a baby. Carrying your own portable charger if you expect to need to juice up on the go.

Create and Use a Virtual Private Network

The operative word here is “private.” Your VPN virtually guards your technology while using publicly shared networks. Think of your network as a wire insulated to keep it protected from all of the other wires in the same conduit.

Disable Shared Settings

Don’t leave home without doing this: turn off all sharing enabled on each device accompanying you on the trip. You probably locked the doors to your house when you departed, unless you like to keep them open just in case anyone wants to use it while you are gone. Lock the doors; turn off sharing.

Ethernet as a Business Essential

Your business data and technology is too valuable to expose it to public Wi-Fi access. Avoid Wi-Fi by having a business ethernet, ethernet-enabled mobile devices, and traveling with an ethernet port.

Beware of Bluetooth

You don’t need to worry about Blackbeard pirating your information via Bluetooth, but there are plenty of others who are ready and willing to grab the bounty on your business devices when you least expect it. It’s Bluetooth. It must be secure. Not.

Guarding your technology does not have to involve elaborate evasive tactics. It just takes an awareness of potential dangers and taking a few, common sense steps to ensure the safety of your data and devices.

Tech Sentries is as concerned about your computer system security as you are. Your computer system security is our business. That’s why Tech Sentries is always on duty. Contact us today to learn how we can help you “GUARD YOUR TECHNOLOGY” (843-282-2222).

BYOD bring your own device

Why BYOD Makes a Case for Whitelisting

BYOD bring your own deviceTwenty years ago, no one would have imagined employees bringing their computers to work. In fact, twenty years ago, having a company-owned PC on an employee’s desk was considered a status symbol in some companies.

Today, the average person’s cell phone has more technology inside that NASA used to land our astronauts on the moon. What is more, 98% of mobile device users keep their devices within reach 100% of the time – from the bathroom to the boardroom. That’s a lot of technology in the hands of people who are not rocket scientists.

BYOD Makes a Strong Case for Whitelisting

While, on the one hand, employees and companies alike embrace the concept of Bring Your Own Device, it is not without its inherent dangers.

When people bring their own device, any amount a company saves in CapEx for computer hardware, as a result, may potentially be lost by a failure to manage those devices in the workplace.

Advice from INFOSEC

As far back as 2012, the INFOSEC Institute warned businesses about the rising tide of changes that a BYOD culture would generate related to guarding the businesses’ technology. Among their recommendations was:

  • Know who can access your company network and data remotely.
  • Know how your employees’ devices are configured.
  • Clearly communicate your BYOD policies.
  • Audit BYOD activities on a regular basis.
  • Ensure that employee devices are compliant with your IT security policies and government regulations.
  • Control the apps.

Control the Apps

Managing the apps is where whitelisting comes into play. Several of our recent blog posts have addressed the wisdom of whitelisting, including the most recent, “From Whitelisting to Dynamic Whitelisting,” so we do not need to cover that ground again. However, we want to raise your awareness of the efficacy of implementing whitelisting if your business allows a BYOD practice.

We recommend whitelisting to protect both your system, if accessible by employee devices, and to protect their devices as well. You know what they say, “One bad app can spoil the whole bunch.”

Tech Sentries is as concerned about your computer system security as you are. Your computer system security is our business. That’s why Tech Sentries is always on duty. Contact us today to learn how we can help you “GUARD YOUR TECHNOLOGY” (843-282-2222).

general data protection regulation

Do We Need General Data Protection Regulation?

general data protection regulation

On May 25, 2018, the European Union will update privacy laws for all member nations. How that will affect American businesses and individuals is pure speculation at this point.

You may be asking, “What does the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) have to do with me or my business?” The answer may lie in the reality of how interconnected we have all become as rapidly-advancing technology compiles unimaginable amounts of personal data and moves it around the globe in the blink of an eye.

A more appropriate question may be, “How long will it be before the GDPR affects me?” That being the case, it is worth noting a few of the highlights of the GDPR.

  • Personally identifiable data may not be stored by any company without that individual’s “express consent.” (Expect this rule to be circumvented by statements like this: “By clicking “NEXT,” you indicate acceptance of our terms and conditions.”)

The inherent problem is that the average person does not read the fine print in the terms and conditions. It is reasonable to expect that those terms and condition will include a clause that says that “acceptance of our terms includes your permission for our company to retain your personal information.”

We Value Our Personal Information Most When It Has Been Stolen

The other inherent problem is that the individual or company on the customer end of the transaction is typically more concerned about completing the transaction than sharing their information. Sharing personally identifiable information is a secondary thought at best.

Five Rights Included in the GDPR

Technically, users/customers in the EU will have five rights of protection available.

  1. They may refuse to allow personal (or business) information to be processed.
  2. They may request access to the data a business has about them.
  3. They may request correction of inaccurate information.
  4. They may request deletion of personally identifiable information.
  5. They may transfer personally identifiable information to another entity.

Another question we ought to be asking about the security of our personally identifiable information, is “How do we know that companies are compliant and our information is protected?” The answer is that we do not. Laws are fine, but they must be enforceable to be effective.

Tech Sentries believes that the primary responsibility for guarding your technology and your data is you. However, we understand that no amount of legislation will protect your data, and we also understand that you cannot protect your data without the latest-greatest-up-to-date security measures. Ensuring your protection is our business. We are your security professionals.

Tech Sentries is as concerned about your computer system security as you are. That is why Tech Sentries is always on duty. Contact us today to learn how we can help you “GUARD YOUR TECHNOLOGY” (843-282-2222).

guard your technology

Four Simple Ways to Guard Your Technology

guard your technologyGuarding your technology is a narrower way of saying “Protect your assets.” After all, your business’ computers, software, and information are a significant, specific segment of your assets. Worrying about guarding your technology won’t get you anywhere. You have to do something.

Think with us for a minute, not about specific threats, but the fundamental need to protect your assets. Here are four simple suggestions that, if followed, will prove beneficial.

  1. Back up your data. Often.

It has been 30 years since we entered the Information Age, i.e., the era when information began to become a business’ most important asset. Yet, in 2017, many businesses still do not perform a daily backup of their data. Here’s what we recommend:

  • Back up daily. That means every
  • Back up to the cloud. If an unforeseen local disaster strikes, your data is still safe.
  • Back up to a USB drive. If an unforeseen disaster happens locally or in the cloud, your data is still safe – as long as your USB drive is kept in a separate place.
  1. Use the Principal of Least Privilege.

This principle states that “each system component or process should have the least authority necessary to perform its duties.” This may be counterintuitive. That’s a good sign. The point is that the more authority a component or process or user has, the more exposure your system and your data have to cyber threats. You might call this “minimizing your threat window.”

  1. Keep All Your Software Up-to-Date.

There are two common excuses for not keeping software up to date.

  • You don’t want to spend the money (if, in fact, the update costs anything).
  • You want to wait until “they work the bugs out.” More than likely, the update is working the bugs out.
  1. Have 24/7 Support.

You can, and should, use security software, but don’t forget point #3. You have to be committed to keeping it up to date. Perhaps more importantly, your business information is always exposed to cyber threats, whether you are there or not.

If your tech security is not operational 24/7, you may as well not have any security. That’s where Tech Sentries comes in. We collaborate with you to ensure 24/7 protection, including ensuring backups and keeping your software up to date, plus monitoring your system for aberrations that may indicate potential attacks and more.

You should be concerned about your computer system security, but you should also know that you are not alone and defenseless in the computer world. Tech Sentries is always on duty. Contact us today to learn how we can help you “GUARD YOUR TECHNOLOGY” (843-282-2222).

Tech Support Scam

This Is Tech Support. You Are About to Be Scammed.

Tech Support Scam

Internet usage continues to expand as coverage becomes more available and as users are added by the thousands. Those users include people who do not understand what goes on behind the scenes as well as others who know that they do not know.

Scam artists have been around throughout recorded history. The intent is always the same: to take advantage of innocent people, usually absconding with some of their cash. It is just that many of the methods have changed over the years. The art of catching people unaware is common to nearly all scams. The best scams work, not because the victims are oblivious, rather that they respond without thinking, often erring on the side of caution.

Here’s an example. On a recent episode of ABC-TV’s “The Catch.” a couple of con artists (who were also pickpockets) needed to get their hands on some cash. They posted legitimate looking signs near an outdoor café. The signs read, “Be careful. Pickpockets operate in this area.”

It was a perfect scam. People who saw the signs immediately put a hand on the pocket where their cash was, just to be safe. Their response to the signs made it easier for the pickpockets to pull off their scam. In fact, the signs were the scam.

Virtually the same thing is happening on the internet with tech scams. The user may receive a message by phone or on their screen, prompting the user to take action to protect their computer from some alleged issue or malware. Just like the victims of the pickpockets, people react instinctively out of an abundance of caution.

Once in contact, the tech scammer will request access to the individual’s computer in an alleged attempt to fix the non-existent problem. Presto-chango! Before the victim knows what has happened, his computer has new malware installed, his personal banking information has been stolen, or his PC is being held for ransom.

This has become particularly dangerous in the era of remote monitoring and maintenance. There are two things you can do to protect yourself from the tech service scammers.

  1. Think about what is really happening.
  2. Never respond to a tech service warning unless you know the person making contact and that person has been authorized by you to protect your computer.

Be vigilant and think before you react. Thinking first may keep you from doing something foolish. Tech Sentries is the logical source of your protection. We guard and protect your PCs, laptops, and other connected devices against the dangers that lurk in cyberspace and the scam artists who want to take you for everything they can.

Don’t wait. Contact us today (843-282-2222). Tech Sentries is always on duty helping you “Guard Your Technology” at all hours of the day or night and keeping updated on how to be better prepared for Internet scams.

Dynamic Whitelisting

From Whitelisting to Dynamic Whitelisting

Dynamic Whitelisting

“Fundamentally, we need to change the way we interact with the Internet… This whole reactive approach we’ve taken for years just doesn’t work.”

That is the opinion of Frank Dickson, the Research Director for Worldwide Security Products at International Data Corp. He was talking about the need for a more assertive, dynamic whitelisting approach to protecting personal and corporate technology.

 

One of the reasons that people – especially businesses – don’t utilize whitelisting is that it is so manual intensive. Someone has to create the whitelist and keep it up to date. We agree. It can be tedious.

However, what if there were a better way to do whitelisting?

There Is a Better Way.

It is dynamic whitelisting. Think of it as the difference between being the maître d at a restaurant or being one at an exclusive club.

A whitelist is like the maître d at a restaurant checks a list that changes daily to see if you have a reservation. Assuming that you have a reservation, the maître d will allow you to enter and arrange to have you seated. If you are not on the list, you will be politely turned away.

A dynamic whitelist is like the maître d at an exclusive club may have a reservations list, but your name is not going to be on his list unless it is first on the club’s membership list.

Dynamic Whitelisting Is Not New But Still Developing

Even some computer technicians think that dynamic whitelisting is new, but there is at least one report online that cites dynamic whitelisting as having been used in highly-regulated businesses and industries before 2009.

It is increasingly apparent that the accelerating pace of software and application development is rendering companies unable to keep pace. Dynamic whitelisting “facilitates an immediate reaction to any updates in the software world.” Dynamic whitelisting is being refined by leading technology security firms utilizing artificial intelligence, certifications, software tracking, processing, analysis, and classification.

Information is aggregated and loaded into massive databases in real time. Businesses that subscribe to what may become known as WLaaS (Whitelisting as a Service) will no longer have to manage whitelists daily. The security firm provider’s database is akin to the exclusive club’s membership list. If the software is not in the database, it will not be seated in your system.

Look for our next whitelist article, “Why BYOD Makes a Case for Whitelisting.”

Tech Sentries is as concerned about your computer system security as you are. Your computer system security is our business. That’s why Tech Sentries is always on duty. Contact us today to learn how we can help you “GUARD YOUR TECHNOLOGY” (843-282-2222).

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