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With GDPR now in place, what should businesses consider in order to set good policies around data at the different stages in the data journey, such as when it is at rest, in transit, in the cloud? And what will GDPR mean for this?

This blog, from Nigel Crockford, Business Development Manager at IT consultancy and data security specialist eSpida discusses data policies.

Data policies

A good data policy must clearly outline how data will be managed from collection through to storage, with an unambiguous set of procedures detailing how, why and by who. This is necessary for businesses to protect themselves under the new GDPR law. This includes a clear policy on the use of email as a method of storing and moving data.

The proliferation of email has meant that it is far too easy to embed malware into an email that will then sit in an inbox for weeks or even months. Organisations should start to adopt policies that take advantage of instant messaging for general peer to peer communications, to minimise the risk associated with over-reliance on email and email security.

The cloud

When multiple people have access to data, which is often the case with information stored in the cloud, there is a greater concern of loss, amendment or handling without necessary permissions. Businesses must have a procedure in place that not only ensures only authorised people directly handle data, but that every person who may process data in some way does so safely.

Data loss prevention (DLP) solutions help to form good policy to help identify, report and stop the movement of data in and out of your network.

IT security best practice

If a person’s device or computer has access to a system that holds data, any viruses that affect it or hackers that attack it can pose a potential risk to data security. It’s crucial that good IT security practice forms an integral part of business culture.

IT security best practice includes:

  • updating systems
  • upholding policies around patch management to ensure systems are kept up to date and protected against hacking
  • installing antivirus software
  • setting secure passwords
  • using more advanced security solutions such as two factor authentication

The introduction of GDPR has made such policies and best practice even more important.  If you feel your business is vulnerable, an IT consultancy offering IT security solutions and services such as eSpida can help.

Virtualisation project helps Hillgate Travel double business revenue

Using SMS to prevent Cybercrime

2017 was the year ransomware hit the headlines hard and it seems the threat is also prevalent in 2018.

Security chiefs and CIOs need to be mindful of the risk surrounding their IT systems and data and take a proactive approach to IT security. While we consider today’s attacks, the cyber criminals are 10 steps ahead planning the attacks of the future.

So what are the security threats of 2019 that IT professionals should be paying particular attention to?

We’re only human

Ransomware exploits vulnerabilities and in today’s business environments, these vulnerabilities often occur as a result of human error. For many organisations, the risk of attack lies with a lack of education among employees about how to manage any information they receive and how this information is collected.

The widespread practice of using e-mail in our personal and work lives has made it the instrument of choice for malware attackers. This is because there is an attitude of complacency with regards to receiving e-mails; the sheer volume we receive and send can blind us to the threat of malicious embedded links or attachments that may come from a seemingly innocuous or familiar source.  The same is also true of malicious web pages in browsers, as we saw with the recent Coinhive attack.

Safer business communications

If businesses continue to use mature applications like e-mail to share information and data, then we can expect more businesses to be exploited by Ransomware in the future.

Since e-mails are a top target for malware attacks, we recommend that businesses employ instant messaging tools for business communication. SMS technologies like this are particularly effective against ransomware as they limit what your systems can be exposed to, reducing the risk of attack.

Rectifying a problem after it has struck in not an effective solution.  We must remain proactive and keep cyber crime at bay.

eSpida Limited partners with world leading technical brands such as ForcepointHuawei Enterprise and WatchGuard to provide best in class IT consultancy and IT security solutions.

Do you remember the WannaCry attack from May 2017?  How about the NotPetya attack in June 2017? While the WannaCry attack made national headlines, other attacks may have slipped your mind. But the $300 million lost by pharmaceutical giant Merck to NotPetya won’t be forgotten in a hurry.

It goes without saying that businesses of all sizes need to be cautious of ransomware, but what should they do when faced with an attack?

Featured on Digitalisation World, Nigel Crockford, Business Development Manager of Birmingham based IT consultancy eSpida, explains the steps to take.

The article is available in full here.

Our webinar brings you an update on IT security.

With cybercrime on the rise, keeping your security strategy up to date is imperative to the protection of your organisation. And with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) May 2018 deadline looming, data security is now critical to legal compliance.

Watch our webinar with our resident IT security expert, Nigel Crockford to learn:

  • The changing landscape of IT security
  • The security challenges facing your organisation and its leadership team
  • GDPR and the practical implications for business
  • How to build robust security strategy to meet tomorrow’s threat

For more information about data security and how we can help you to protect your business, please get in touch on 0344 880 6145 or email [email protected]

 

DLP and CASB

With the introduction of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) into the workplace, holes have appeared within many organisations’ security and compliance applications.  Holes which some IT users are blind to.

Software programs such as OneDrive, GoogleDrive and Dropbox that users install on their personal equipment to move files to work on outside of the workplace, are highly susceptible to such “holes”.  These transferable documents may contain sensitive data and can pose a threat to any organisation if compromised.

Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB) and Data Leakage Protection (DLP) software is designed to eliminate such issues.

What is CASB?

  • CASB stands for cloud access security broker.
  • It is an application that separates the company’s own on-premises infrastructure and an external cloud provider’s infrastructure.
  • CASBs identify active cloud applications and detect high-risk users and applications.
  • CASB extends organisational security policies beyond internal infrastructure.

What is DLP

  • DLP stands for data loss prevention.
  • DLP products enable network administrators to regulate the business data that users can transfer to ensure confidential or sensitive data is not sent outside the business network unless authorised.
  • DLP applications use predefined rules to categorise and protect confidential information to prevent users from sharing such data, be it accidentally or maliciously.

Forcepoint CASB and DLP

Forcepoint has developed its Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB) and Data Leakage Protection (DLP) applications to offer organisations an effective and efficient way to protect business-critical, sensitive data.

Forcepoint CASB along with its sister product Forcepoint DLP allows organisations to monitor who, what and when with regards the movement of information and data between the organisation and the cloud applications installed on user devices.

The software allows IT departments to discover and assess the risks of the unsanctioned cloud apps and will also enable tighter control of sanctioned cloud apps, facilitating a greater understanding of organisational data flow and the prevention of critical data loss.

These two Forcepoint products have been recognised as the market leaders in this area by analysts.  They provide industries with the most complete data protection platform, utilising its functionality in data discovery and data leakage prevention and as such provide a secure base for organisations to meet industry compliance requirements such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Never has an IT department’s role in the protection of data been as crucial as it is today.  Educating employees is a fundamental starting point. And to take care of the inevitable mishaps, having the right protection in place is imperative.

Take a look at the Forcepoint webpage to find out more.

As new technologies are developed, consumers have multiple devices and channels to interact via, allowing marketers to access more data than ever. However with the general data protection regulation (GDPR) deadline nearing, marketing departments must consider how they collect, store and process any data moving forward in order to meet the required level of GDPR compliance.

Featured in Digital Marketing Magazine, Nigel Crockford, Business Development Manager at IT security consultancy eSpida, explains the ways in which marketers must adapt within the thought provoking article ‘Have your customers given consent?’

The article can be read in full here

 

More than 1000 new words have been added to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) for 2018. Words such as hangry and mansplaining! But a word you might not be surprised to see in the latest OED is ransomware, which the OED has described as:

A type of malicious software designed to block access to a computer system until a sum of money is paid.

Following incidents such as the 2017 WannaCry attack on the NHS, the British public now have a far greater awareness of cyber-attacks.  The publicity surrounding the attack almost undoubtedly contributed to ransomware being added to the dictionary.

It is interesting that the word ransomware has only now been announced by the OED, not only because it has been in use by IT professionals for some time, but also as two of its sister editions have contained this definition since at least July 2017, these being the Oxford Dictionary of English and the New Oxford American Dictionary.

A sign of the times

With nearly seven in ten large businesses identifying at least one breach or attack in the last 12 months, the statistics show that businesses across the UK are now being targeted more and more frequently by cyber criminals. The number of ransomware attacks is growing and businesses are becoming increasingly concerned with how to prevent such attacks.

Businesses which have identified attacks or breaches admit to suffering temporary loss of files, software and system corruption, third party system damage and websites sabotage.  Such incidents have frequently resulted in numerous counts of financial loss and damaged reputations.

The term ransomware has now become a word synonymous on every IT professional’s lips and rightly so should be recognised as a dictionary defined word.

Businesses of all sizes must continue to invest in cyber security and take a proactive approach to IT security in order to protect themselves from falling victim to ‘a type of malicious software designed to block access to a computer system until a sum of money is paid’.

And just in case you were wondering…

Hangry is being bad-tempered or irritable as a result of hunger and Mansplain is (For a man) to explain (something) to someone, typically a woman, in a manner regarded as condescending or patronising.

Visit www.espida.co.uk/it-security for more information or take a look at our Forcepoint partner page to see what cyber security solutions we can offer.

IT security solutions

Most IT security professionals would agree that it is no longer a matter of if you get breached, it is a matter of when. And with the media awash with news informing us of businesses or government organisations suffering data breaches and high-profile attacks, security teams are being held accountable for addressing risks – externally as well as internally.

It is now more important than ever that IT departments take a structured approach to their organisations cyber security. While there are some basic network security measures that every IT department is aware of, such as the use of firewalls and antivirus software, there are also other best practices, policies and procedures that some organisations do not yet follow.

The following IT security best practices should all be taken into consideration:

Update of Software and Systems

Cyber criminals are constantly inventing different techniques and finding new vulnerabilities.  The majority of malware does not target new and unknown security vulnerabilities, it seeks out well-known and established exploits that have been fixed in the latest versions of firmware in the hope that organisations do not update.

To keep your network protected and optimised ensure that software and hardware security is up-to-date with the latest patches and firmware.

Backup of Data

Data backups are a basic security measure that has gained increased relevance over the past few years.  With the rise in Ransomware attacks, designed to encrypt all of an organisations data until the decryption key is paid for, a complete and current backup of all data is crucial.

Backed up data must be properly protected and encrypted with backups made frequently so if a backup does need to be utilised, the information is as up-to-date as possible.

Prevent Data Loss. Protect Your Data

A lot of organisations do rely on the trust and honesty of their employees. However, this does not stop data from leaving the organisation in one shape or form.  In truth users with or without knowing it allow data to be breached, leaked or stolen with more and more IT security teams admitting that the top security concern in recent years has been data leaving an endpoint.

It is now more important than ever to control user access, monitor activity and know what is happening with company data.

Monitoring User and Third Party Activity

Users with privileged accounts have an increased level of trust, but at the same time can pose one of the biggest threats to data security.  These users have the tools to pilfer sensitive data from organisations and go unnoticed. When undetected, insider threats can be costly to organisations.

The monitoring of user activity allows IT security teams to detect unauthorised behaviour and verify user actions so they do not violate security policies.

Educate and Train Users

When we talk about cyber security, users are generally considered the weakest link. However, raising user’s awareness around the cyber threats the business faces and educating users on cyber security best practice enables organisations to limit the risk of data breach and loss.

End user training can include topics such as:

  • The ability to identify malicious emails (Spam, Phishing).
  • The importance of creating strong passwords.
  • The risks surrounding the removal of valuable data from the company via various media.

Use Two Factor Authentication

Organisations are being encouraged to apply this security standard to their user accounts as added protection.  It employs an additional device such as a security token or mobile device (for soft tokens) to confirm the identity of the user.

Two factor authentication adds a second layer of security to your network and provides a very reliable procedure for user login activities.

Changing Default Passwords

Many systems now come with a set of default credentials hard coded into the device’s software. These are usually freely available to obtain on the internet and are relatively well known by cyber criminals.

Most malware targeting networks are looking for system that have not had the default credentials changed in order to hijack them.  The only way to ensure that your devices cannot be so easily hijacked and infected is to change all default passwords as soon as possible and ensure that the replacement passwords are complex and unique and are changed on a regular password management cycle.

Handling Passwords Securely

With two factor authentication providing user accounts with extra security, organisations cannot afford for users to view this as an excuse to overlook password handling security policies.

Employees need to be educated to ensure their passwords are long, complex and fully unique.  They must also not share credentials with one another. While they may find this convenient, it is placing the organisation in an unsafe position and at a heightened risk of data breach or leak.

While this seems a lot to implement, once the majority of practices are in place they require very little intervention.  They should be monitored in the background and will only require attention if a security issue arises.

Don’t wait for the worst to happen.  Adopt these security best practices and be prepared for the worst.