Why You Need to Educate Your Employees on Cyber Security

When developing cybersecurity programs, many businesses focus on protecting their infrastructure perimeter and device endpoints. After all, that’s where cybercriminals usually first gain access and wreak havoc on a company’s digital access.

But it’s also important to consider what happens when a threat bypasses perimeter defenses and targets an employee—in the form of a malicious email or text, or even a voicemail that might prompt an employee to respond with confidential company information. There’s also the possibility of an offline attack from inside the office, where an employee or an office visitor might gain access to valuable data by quickly taking something carelessly left on a desk.

According to a recent PricewaterhouseCoopers survey, 86% of business executives expressed concern about cyber threats, including a lack of data security. In addition, 100% of IT professionalsrecently surveyed at an SMB said they could improve their cybersecurity systems. These numbers indicate that it’s clear there’s a pressing need for better cybersecurity. The issue is not going away anytime soon. If anything, it’s only getting worse.

Stronger cybersecurity has become a global priority over the last few years as hackers penetrate the IT infrastructure of government and enterprises with increasing frequency and sophistication. According to a recent government report, How to Protect Your Networks from Ransomware, 4,000 ransomware attacks occurred per day in 2016. Furthermore, the annual cost of global cybercrime damages are estimated to cost $6 trillion by 2021, according to a 2017 Cybercrime Report by Cybersecurity Ventures. Coupled with the Internet of Things (IoT) and the explosive growth of mobile devices, the threat landscape and potential for data leaks is even more significant.

In my next few blogs, we’ll explore the need for employees to practice strict and secure cybersecurity habits— not only to thwart digital attacks, but also to prevent someone from simply walking by their desk (in the office or at home) and picking up a device or document that contains sensitive information. We also present the key steps SMB business owners can take to educate their employees to help secure their company’s data and intellectual property.

We can’t stress enough the importance of security awareness training for internal employees. Educating them on what it takes to protect proprietary documents and data is critical. Any leaks— unintentional and intentional—could hurt the business in the form of information that assists a competitor, violates regulations, or harms the corporate image. Leaks can also hurt employees from the standpoint of personal information that might be exposed. Lastly, customers and business partners could be at risk, compromising the industry reputation of any business that does not properly protect confidential information. It only takes one incident to completely destroy any goodwill you established and built with your customer base.

Next blog: Physical Security Precautions…beware the messy desk!

For more information on keeping your small business secure call 678-389-6200 or contact us online.

IT Helps Dementia Patients

Dementia and Alzheimer’s are scary for both patients and caregivers. Right now, there is no cure. Scientists are trying to find ways of prolonging patient’s lives and delaying the onset of the disease. IT Technicians are finding ways to make lives better and caring for patients easier. Some remarkable work is doing things for these individuals that has never been seen or done before.

Dementia Technology

First, A Word About The Disease

According to Alzheimer’s International, nearly 44 million people worldwide have Alzheimer’s or related dementia. More than 5 million American’s are living with it, and Between 2017 and 2025 every state is expected to see at least a 14% rise in the prevalence of Alzheimer’s. Those statistics are startling, especially since Alzheimer’s disease is irreversible.

Accounting for around 70 percent of dementia cases, Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common cause of dementia, a group of brain disorders that results in the loss of intellectual and social skills. These changes are severe enough to interfere with day-to-day life. It progressively destroys the brain and ruins memory and thinking skills, and eventually the ability to carry out the simplest tasks.

A Few Other Statistics

  • In 2017, Alzheimer’s cost the United States $259 billion.
  • By 2050, costs associated with dementia could be as much as $1.1 trillion.
  • The global cost of Alzheimer’s and dementia is estimated to be $605 billion.
  • Alzheimer’s is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States.
  • Between 2017 and 2025 every state is expected to see at least a 14% rise in the prevalence of Alzheimer’s.
  • By 2050, it’s estimated there will be as many as 16 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s.
  • Every 66 seconds someone in the United States develops Alzheimer’s.
  • 1 in 3 seniors dies with some form of dementia.

Technology at its Finest

Because of these sad stats and high numbers, IT experts have come up with some amazing devices that use modern technology to aid in the care of people suffering from memory problems. Here’s a look at a few of the latest innovations.

Clocks

Clocks precisely intended for those with Alzheimer’s and dementia can help ease the stress associated with day to day life. Someone who has dementia may confuse night and day so an easy to read clock can help them to better tell the time.

Medication Management

Medication management technology created high tech automated pill dispensers which beep and open to remind caregivers and those with dementia to take their medicine. Vibrating alarms on a watch have also been fashioned to remind when it’s time for a pill. This technology serves the busy caregiver well by helping them not to forget medication time as well.

Video Monitoring

Video monitoring technology supports both care recipient and caregiver, by allowing both people more freedom. The patient doesn’t feel watched constantly because loved one can spend a little time away, and loved ones get the comfort of being able to see their family even when they’re not in the same house.

GPS Location and Tracking Devices

People with Alzheimer’s or dementia may wander. Tracking devices can be worn by the person in some way and have alert systems that let a caregiver know if their loved one has left a certain area. This type of technology can also alert emergency personnel to aid in a quick recovery.

Picture Phones

Picture phones are specifically designed for people who cannot remember phone numbers. These phones have large numbers and are pre-programmable with frequently called phone numbers. Some of the phones come with clear buttons where photos can be placed so that the person can just push the button associated with the photos to call their loved one quickly.

Electrical Use Monitoring

This device monitors a patient’s use of electrical appliances. It plugs into a wall outlet or power strip and will alert caregivers if their commonly used appliances have not been turned on or off.

Wearable Cameras

Wearable cameras and augmented reality glasses could be the next big thing in helping patients. These devices can take hundreds of pictures every day from the user’s point of view logging their lives in this way.

A Village of Care

In Kitchener, Ontario, something wonderful is happening. Facilities have been designed to be less institutional-looking, friendlier and homier. “Schlegel Villages” is one of the first of its kind and is improving the quality of life for the people that live there.

One problem they deal with though is when at-risk seniors become confused and attempt to leave. According to Schlegel’s IT director, Chris Carde, “Some seniors with certain types of mental illness can remember the door-lock code to get out but can’t remember anything else. A confused senior wandering out into a southern Ontario winter can be a serious, even fatal, incident”.

Schlegel Villages is also implementing an e-health system to replace paper charts at its care facilities. Carde states, “Nurses would have to write down a patient’s vital signs, then enter them into a desktop computer some distance away. The new system, which will use iPads and iPad minis to enter health information directly into the database, is being greeted warmly by clinicians”.

Thinking Outside of the Box

A German senior center applied the idea of using fake bus stops to keep Alzheimer’s disease patients from wandering off. Because their short-term memory is not intact, but their long-term memory works fine, they know what the bus stop sign means, and they stop. It is a huge success in Germany, now they want to bring it to several clinics in North America.

A Final Word

Thanks to these researchers and IT innovators, the future is much brighter for patients with memory diseases and their families and care providers. This is just the beginning when it comes to making life easier. Information Technology has only just begun to scratch the surface of what can be done to help in the fight against dementia and Alzheimer’s.

October 16th Is Steve Jobs Day

Steve Jobs Day Sheds Light On Apple Founder’s Legacy

In today’s modern world, the name “Apple” has become synonymous with technology. It’s no wonder then that Steve Jobs, the company’s late co-founder, has become such an influential figure in American history. His contributions are well documented in motion pictures, books and an authorized biography.

Steve Jobs Day

October 16 is known as Steve Jobs Day, which was declared in 2011 by the Governor of California. The day brings forth the opportunity to reflect on the life of the famed innovator and how his contributions have helped advance the human race. From iPhones to iPads and every single app in between, one could argue that humanity would not be as technologically savvy without the work of Steve Jobs.

In August of this year, Apple achieved what no other company in history has done. It became the first publicly traded U.S. company to reach $1 trillion. Not only is this historic in terms of branding, but it brings to light the incredible ingenuity the company has displayed throughout the years. Along with his partner Steve Wozniak, Jobs’ innovations have helped solidify an incredible legacy likely to stand the test of time.

The Early Years

Jobs grew up in the San Francisco bay area in the 1960s. By the age of 10, he had developed a fascination with electronics, likely due largely in part to time spent with his father building crafts. This hobby paved the way for Jobs’ establishment of Apple in 1976, along with his co-founder Steve Wozniak.

Jobs sat at the helm of Apple’s operations until 1985, when he broke ties with the company and established NeXT computers. Apple later purchased NeXT and paved the way for Jobs’ return to the company in 1997.

Apple Computers

While Jobs can’t be credited for inventing the first computer, his founding of Apple paved the way for its widespread use. The computers that came before Apple was expensive and typically used only for business purposes. The introduction of the Apple II, the brainchild of Jobs and Steve Wozniak, changed this concept forever. Marketed as the world’s first mass-market personal computer, the Apple II meant users could now access the technology from the privacy of their own homes.

More than two decades later, in 1998, Apple released the iMac, an all-in-one computer. One of Apple’s lesser-known inventions is the iBook, which was introduced in 1999. The laptop came equipped with Wi-Fi technology and a few upgrades to its design. People today may remember it for its tangerine and blueberry color options and clamshell design.

The Apple iPad, introduced in 2010, has made the Internet even further accessible. This tablet computer was built more for entertainment than previous devices, making it a staple in many households, utilized by children and adults alike. The product was deemed so successful that Apple sold more than 15 million of these devices in its first year.

The iPhone

Of all Apple’s products, none is as influential in the tech world as the iPhone. Apple’s introduction of the iPhone marked a paradigm shift for the traditional mobile phone. Apple’s version, like the majority of its most revolutionary products, boasted a sleek, simple design that helped further uncomplicate technology for the masses.

Introduced in 2007, the phone has undergone a radical series of redesigns over the years, each year presenting more opportunities for productivity than the last. Prior to the invention of the iPhone, mobile phones’ primary purpose was to access chatting and emailing. Today’s version is utilized for web-surfing, Facetiming, social media and the utilization of an endless stream of apps available for download at users’ fingertips. Frequent updates and new designs ensure Apple users are getting the best product possible, which has helped the brand amass its own population of loyal followers.

The iPod

One of Apple’s most significant inventions to date remains the iPod. While mp3 players had been on the market for several years, Apple’s version was seen by many as far superior, and so it began to dominate the market. Able to store thousands of songs, the iPod grew in success with the help of other products, such as Apple iTunes, which was released in 2001. The new technology allowed users to organize their digital library on both their personal computer and through their devices. The iTunes Music Store went live in 2003.

Not all of Jobs’ best inventions were technological. The innovator is also credited with inventing the world’s first glass staircase. The design, which was awarded a patent in 2002, has been used across some of Apple’s flagship stores and has since been adopted, in some sense, by both commercial and residential properties the world over.

Steve Jobs Day is a day designated for honoring the Jobs legacy, but his impact is seen daily, in the hands of millions. While Apple, as a company, has certainly carried on without him, Jobs is one innovator unlikely to ever be forgotten.

Google Shutting Down Google+

Google+ Social Media App Will Soon Move Off Into The Sunset

Google+ has never really been a popular social media network. In fact, most people say they’ve never used it and don’t know how it works. So it’s not too surprising to hear that Google has finally decided to pull the plug.

Google+ Shut Down

Google just announced a ten-month sunsetting period, which begins now and will end in August of 2019.

Besides the site simply not being popular, Google has had serious security issues. Project Strobe discovered a bug in Google+ that may have leaked the personal information of thousands of users. Though Google says the vulnerability was not discovered by hackers and that no profiles were compromised, their senior executives felt that rumors of a breach would likely trigger “immediate regulatory interest.” So they simply didn’t tell anyone.

Other Social Media Data Breaches

For several years, Facebook has been under scrutiny for allowing the data firm Cambridge Analytica to access their user information. This data was in turn used to create targeted social media ads that eventually swayed the presidential election of 2016. Since that incident, Americans have become much more aware of the effects and dangers of data breaches and social media manipulation.

Given the fact that almost no one was using the Google+ app and the high risk for potential data leaks, Google execs said they simply felt that it was best to discontinue Google+. Users will have 10 months to migrate their data before the platform is officially dissolved in August of next year. However, the company has decided to continue supporting the Enterprise version of Google+ so businesses using that app will not be affected.

More About the Google+ Security Breach

Last March, Google discovered a privacy breach, which allowed third-party apps using their programming interface to access the personal data of users. This data includes usernames, addresses, email addresses, birth dates and other bits of personal information.

The Wall Street Journal reported some details about the security breach and said that Google executives had been informed about the breach soon after it occurred. These executives made the decision not to disclose the breach to its users for fear of tarnishing their reputation.

Reporting Security Breaches

In a blog post, Google said that it decides when and if the organization should notify users of data breaches. They take into consideration the type of data that was leaked, whether there’s evidence of misuse and whether there’s anything that users can do about it.

According to security breach laws, any organization that experiences a data breach must inform those affected. And they only have a specific amount of time to do so. This varies by state but there are severe penalties for not correctly reporting a security breach.

Executives at Google say that the gap has been fixed and that users do not need to worry about any further data leaks. However, there is ample evidence that Google did not follow the law once they learned of the data breach. This can result not only in penalties from the federal government but also users can file individual lawsuits if they believe their personal info has been compromised.

How Data Breach Laws Are Changing

With the new European Union GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), more countries and organizations are implementing stronger security measures. The GDPR affects anyone who does business with an entity that resides within the European Union. This has caused many business owners to revamp the way they collect and store personal information from their users.

Once a company has collected an individual’s personal information, they have a legal responsibility to keep that data as secure as possible. In spite of these advances in data security regulations, hackers seem to be one step ahead. Their tactics change, improve and evolve making it necessary for all organizations to be more cautious.

Senate and House Committees Get Involved

This past year, many social media and technology companies have come under scrutiny due to their data and privacy practices. Executives from Twitter, Facebook and Google have testified before various Senate and House committees. Under fire are their security measures, but also their political biases. The government is considering types of regulations that would prevent these companies from meddling in important things like the elections.

Now that everyone is fully aware of how easy it is to sway voters in one direction or the other, there is a very real fear that future elections may be manipulated by these companies. They not only have the knowledge, but they have the resources to influence the way people vote. And this ability holds within it a great deal of potential power to change our society in ways that can only be speculated about at the moment.

What Should Google+ Users Do?

In the meantime, if you are a Google+ user, it’s best to go ahead and make copies of any content you have on the site, then delete your account. Once it has been deleted, you’ll no longer have to worry about losing it to hackers who have found yet another weakness in the site’s security protocols.

What Employees Need To Know About Phishing Attacks

Phishing is just one of many tools in a hacker’s repertoire and happens to be one of their most effective.  Through phishing, hackers dangle their bait in front of preoccupied employees who would never dream that their PC could provide an open door for a hacker.  That’s why it is so important that employees understand how phishing works, how costly it can be, and what they can do to avoid letting themselves become an unwitting accomplice to a hacker’s attack on their company.

Phishing

The Nature of Phishing

Phishing involves a malicious entity that sends out emails that look like they are from reputable, well-known companies (maybe even the employee’s own employer) – but these emails are not what they seem.

Sometimes the purpose of a phishing email is to trick the recipient into revealing information such as logins, passwords, or personal information. Other times, phishing emails are used to install malware on the recipient’s computer. Once the hacker behind the phishing attack has succeeded in infiltrating the target system via login information or malware, the damage they cause quickly escalates.

Phishing Can Be Very Costly

So how expensive can phishing be?  Well, consider what happened to a bank in Virginia that fell victim to two phishing attacks in just eight months. Their disaster began when an employee received and opened a phishing email which succeeded in installing malware on company computers.  The malware was able to use the victim’s computer to access the STAR Network, a site used to handle debit card transactions.  Through the STAR Network, the hackers behind the malware were able to steal $569,000 in that one incident alone.

But that wasn’t the end of the matter.  Eight months later, even after hiring a cybersecurity forensics firm and following their advice to better secure their system, the same bank was victimized again through another phishing email.  This time, the hackers again gained access to the STAR Network, but then used the bank’s Navigator system.  Through those systems combined, the hackers were able to credit money to various bank accounts and then withdraw the money using hundreds of different ATMs.  Losses from this incident amounted to almost $2 million.

To make matters even worse, the bank’s cyber insurance provider denied coverage and the bank is now forced to pursue a lawsuit to recover their losses.

The Very Real Dangers Of Phishing Attacks

Phishing wouldn’t be so effective if it wasn’t so easy for busy employees to fall victim to seemingly legitimate emails or innocent-looking attachments.  The malware that was used to initiate the first attack on the bank discussed in this article was embedded in a Microsoft Word document.  Most of us have worked with thousands of Word documents during our careers and have never been victimized by one – but it only takes one time to cost a business millions of dollars.

In this case, once that document was opened, the malware was installed and the group behind it had access to what they needed. The bank in question hired Verizon to investigate both incidents. It was finally determined that the same group of Russian hackers were likely responsible for both attacks.

Common Sense Required

Even the most powerful of cyber security systems is still susceptible to attacks that take the form of phishing or social engineering. As long as people continue to subscribe to the view that firewalls, anti-virus, and anti-malware systems provide all the protection against cyberattacks that a company needs, then successful phishing attacks will continue. Education is one of the forgotten keys to foiling phishing attacks.

Employees need to be taught how to recognize a suspicious email and be given real-world examples of how convincing phishing emails can appear.  They need to be encouraged to view both emails and attachments with a critical eye.  Employees must also understand that, under no circumstances, is there a legitimate reason for someone to ask for their password.

Another aspect of this type of education is making sure that people realize that the targets of phishing are not C-suite executives or IT technicians, but employees from all levels.  Through a connection to the company’s network, any employee’s computer could serve as a launching pad for an industrious hacker’s plan of attack.

Conclusion

Phishing attacks are a reality that must be addressed if a company wants to avoid becoming a victim.  These attacks often result in very expensive losses that may not be covered by insurance.  While the importance of a rigorous cyber security system is never to be overestimated, neither is the importance of employee education.  Too many employees have unwittingly become accomplices in costly cyberattacks because they didn’t recognize a phishing email and never thought they could be the target of one.  The first line of defense against phishing isn’t a network firewall, but a trained employee who knows how to recognize a suspicious email or a questionable attachment.

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