For many of us, summer symbolizes vacations and relaxation. As you take advantage of the summer weather, don’t relax your security workflows. Attackers see summer as an opportunity. While traveling or on vacation, users are more likely to access company data remotely, which makes them targets for attackers.
Cyberattacks are not the only threats in the summer months. Storms and power outages can cause loss of productivity and data, therefore, causing a decline in revenue. Don’t get burned by these summer risks. Prioritize planning and stay committed to your security workflows and disaster response plans.
When users are more distributed, it creates vulnerabilities. Here are a few ways that attackers take advantage of a distributed workforce:
- Using social engineering techniques to gain credentials or data.
- Creating imposter websites that harbor malicious content.
- Taking advantage of weaknesses at your endpoints.
Perhaps you receive an email from a colleague who is out of the office on PTO. Your colleague’s email urgently requests that you send the company credit card information. The email explains that they did not bring the card out of fear of losing it during their vacation in Bermuda. The email seems legitimate as your colleague is currently in Bermuda, so you respond. Unfortunately, this is an example of a phishing email. An attacker spent time researching your colleague and was aware of their trip and current location. The attacker used these details to pose as your colleague and request sensitive information.
Attackers use impersonation tactics to gain information or money. Phishing emails have become more sophisticated as attackers diligently do their homework. They comb through social media accounts and other publicly available data for relevant facts. They use these facts in emails to gain the user’s trust. In some cases, attackers have already compromised a company email account and are using it to gather information or obtain additional access.
According to Knowbe4’s 2020 Phishing by Industry Benchmarking Report, “industry-wide 37.9% of untrained users will fail a phishing test.” With little or no security awareness training, more than a third of users are likely to respond to an attacker’s email.
Have you ever tried to visit a popular URL only to find that it looks a little odd? Perhaps the branding seems different, or you notice a few typos. Attackers purchase commonly mistyped domain names hoping that users mistake it for the real website. By visiting a malicious website and clicking on embedded links, your device and company network can become compromised.
While you’re on vacation, a colleague tries to help out by ordering office supplies (a task you usually complete). They mistype the supply company’s URL and end up on an imposter site. They don’t realize their mistake and proceed to checkout using the company credit card. In this example, an attacker would have acquired the company’s contact and financial information.
As you access data remotely, while working from home or on PTO, your device becomes a point of interest for attackers. “70% of all successful network breaches start on endpoint devices.”, according to csoonline.com, who cites data from IDC. Attackers try to exploit endpoint weaknesses like outdated and unpatched systems. Through these vulnerabilities, an attacker can access and encrypt company resources.
A Different Kind of SPF
Businesses need to review their security protection factors. Review your infrastructure, policies, and procedures regularly to address evolving security threats and compliance standards. Refresh your processes as your business adds new systems and technology. Security and compliance are a community effort, remind users to avoid taking shortcuts, like sharing credentials for convenience. You have approval processes and security procedures for a reason.
Increase your email security by implementing solutions that block threats and detect malicious content and links within emails. Some solutions even have features to isolate compromised accounts to prevent them from sending emails.
Security awareness training lowers a user’s risk of engaging in a malicious email. Educating users will help them notice details like typos and unusual requests. After training, users can identify the warning signs of a potential threat.
To avoid landing on imposter websites, use a Domain Name System (DNS)/web filtering service. DNS filtering prevents users from accessing potentially malicious domains. You can also customize the content filters, so specific URLs or content types are blocked, e.g., social media sites.
Endpoint Detection and Response
Endpoint detection and response platforms are a must for companies with remote users. EDR platforms monitor network traffic and use machine learning to identify potential threats. Platforms provide real-time alerts to your IT team, allowing them to respond to incidents quickly. Other EDR benefits can include incident logging and threat isolation. To fully utilized an EDR platform, your business needs an IT expert who can interpret and respond to alerts. Managed service providers, like Coretelligent, can work with you to create a comprehensive security plan.
Disasters and Outages
Cyberattacks are not the only summer obstacle; storms and power outages also cause problems for businesses. System failures and poor pre-planning can lead to loss of data and productivity.
In the summer, temperatures rise, and we consume more electricity. Overheating can cause system failures and power outages. Summer storms can damage buildings, hardware, and power lines, which also lead to failures and outages.
Benefits of the Cloud
Having only on-premise servers when a disaster strikes could mean trouble. Consider moving to a hybrid, private, or public cloud option. The cloud offers geo-diverse backups and redundancy, meaning that even if one location goes down, your business is still operational.
Redundant Power Supply
Downtime results in lost revenue. Make sure your critical systems have a redundant power supply. A redundant power supply has multiple sources of power, which means it can keep functioning even if one source fails.
The key to business continuity and resiliency during the summer months is pre-planning.
Continuity and Resiliency
You should review systems and plans on a quarterly or semi-annual basis. Does your business know what systems are critical for operations? Are you aware of what steps to take if you experience a breach, disaster, or failure? Create a business continuity plan (BCP) to address the specific steps required to remain operational. Your business should pressure test your BCP, and complete practice runs with users. Providing education to your users will increase the success of your BCP.
Make an Asset Inventory
Identifying critical systems and creating detailed maintenance procedures is essential to business continuity. Create an inventory detailing all data and systems, including backups. Be sure to include the locations of your data. This information will help you remain operational, secure, and compliant, even if you experience a disaster.
Backup and Disaster Recovery Plan
Backups do not equal a disaster recovery plan, but they are a vital component. Your company should perform regular backups and test these backups to ensure they work properly. Daily backups and testing are not only a good practice but also required to meet some compliance standards.
A comprehensive backup and disaster recovery (BDR) plan consists of detailed policies and procedures that happen before, during, and after a disaster or incident. A BDR plan will include information like:
- An asset inventory list which notes critical systems and asset locations.
- A communications plan.
- Definitions of roles and responsibilities for those in your business, your vendors, and managed service provider.
- Procedures for continuing operations, e.g., remote work or alternate worksite.
- Procedures for maintaining security and compliance.
Solutions that Work While You’re on Vacation
Don’t relax your security and BDR plans during the summer months. Balancing business initiatives with security and technology can seem challenging, but Coretelligent can help. We provide white glove, fully managed, and co-managed IT services to highly regulated industries like financial services and life sciences. Our comprehensive security and back up and disaster recovery solutions work for you around the clock so you can have peace of mind. To learn how Coretelligent can help your business, contact us at 855-841-5888 or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read our whitepaper, The ABCs of Backup and Disaster Recovery (BDR), to learn more about creating a BDR plan.