Cybersecurity is everyone’s job!

Like every organisation, small and medium business have similar problems when it comes to getting people to focus on digital security.

These are some of the inane comments we hear when we discuss digital security with staff and management of SME’s

  • Cybersecurity is Not my problem?
  • Why should I worry about that, we have a firewall?
  • Isn’t that an IT problem?
  • My staff and management teams would never do that!
  • Everyone has the same password for our business system, why is that a problem?
  • We do not see any reason to use complex passwords!

As you can see all of these comments have one thing in common.   Digital security is someone else’s problem.

The first people who will notice a problem with their computer will be the people who are using it the most.

  • They will notice a drop in performance.
  • They will notice when something is not working at an optimum.
  • They will notice that something is not working at the precise level that is needed for them to do their job.

In today’s business world it is very important for all users to understand that they are a target of digital crime.   Being a target means that they need to do something, anything they can to protect themselves from cybercrime.

Cybercrime is what it is.

  • Get infected with a virus = cybercrime.
  • Open a link in an email and have everything encrypted = cybercrime.
  • Full-blown DDOS attack = cybercrime.
  • Just being connected to the digital world makes you a target.   The less protection you have makes you an easier target.

Get over it – anyone who has a device that connects to the digital world is a target.

  • Mobile phone = target.
  • Smart Tablet = target.
  • X-box = target.
  • Computer, server, cloud-based systems are also targets.

In addition to these comments, the digital criminals are clever, persistent and always on the lookout to compromise your system.

The Insider Threat

We have all heard about how the insider can wreak havoc on your business. Yet, business owners and other staff don’t understand how much actual damage they can do.

From a Business Security perspective we’ve definitely experienced people in the workplace who:

  • are self-important
  • always in a hurry
  • not focused on the business at hand.

These Insiders can also have a detrimental impact on business security.

Here are 7 types of Insider Threats who make the insider threat real to any organisation.

1. Convenience seekers – bypass protocol, too hard, too busy

We have all seen them in business.   They jump here and there and start a huge number of jobs but never finish them, or finish them haphazardly.

They are more interested in their own work, not in keeping the company safe. Passwords, Updates and scans are usually bypassed. When something goes wrong, it is never their fault. Clicking on an email link without using commonsense is a primary example.

They are the first to complain about the time it takes IT support to remove a virus. By bypassing the organisation’s Cybersecurity, they put the whole organisation in danger.

Solution – get them to slow down, their job is no more important than anyone else’s.

2. The accidental victim – makes mistakes, doesn’t think

These are the people who are too timid at work. They fear making mistakes, but, by fearing reprisals and keeping quiet, they are the victim. The company suffers as well.

The accidental victim is either an older employee, or a new starter. They are very noticeable in not for profit organisations.

Solution – Provide education and training in the use of computers. Explain what’s expected in their role within the organisation.

3. They know everything – oversharing

This person is very good at big-noting themselves. They use their knowledge of the organisation to place themselves in avoidable situations. They overshare critical and confidential information in email. They don’t think about the consequences of sharing on social media and also in meetings.

Solution – separation of information,  restrict access to the information within the organisation.

4. Untouchables – it will not happen to me

We get these type of people in all types of business.  They are the second cousin to number 1.  I am not a target of cybercrime, it will never happen to me because I have nothing worth stealing.

With technology changes over the years, a bored 14 year old can be the attacker. Access to the internet is their tool. Every internet user or business is a target. Anyone can be attacked and everyone needs to take the necessary precautions.

.Solution – providing education and training.

 5. Entitled ones – access to everything because they ‘want to know’

The Entitled employee is one of the most dangerous non-malicious insider. Their laptops or tablets have the organisations secrets and use free wifi in cafes. They have no business reason to keep all that critical information, but they have to have it.

This means that there is a greater risk of the company information either stolen or attacked.

Solution – need to know.  Stop allowing access to data by staff who don’t need it. Segregate it into public, commercial in confidence and critical.   If someone does not need the information then deny access to it.

6. Traitors – malicious insiders

Previous to this one, the insiders have been the result of stupid behaviors. The Malicious Insider is a malicious person. Their focus is on them. For whatever reason, they might intend to leave, have a grudge against the company or an employee. They won’t hesitate to go to your competition with all your corporate data.

Solution – at the first whiff of someone leaving walk them out the door. Don’t keep a bad apple in the basket. 

7. The secret insiders – the bad guys, in the first stages of an attack

These are the true bad guys, the ones you should be protecting your organisation against.  They may have infiltrated your organisation via one of the other insiders, and are now able to do damage. They could have become an insider through social media, email or web based attack. The secret insider isn’t an employee. They are not answering to your policies and procedures. They will damage your organisation, because you don’t have protections.

Solution – increase awareness, do a penetration test and review the report, then do it all again. Regularly.

These Insider Threats are the ones we have come across.   Some can be a combination of one, two or three traits.  The best way to protect yourself from the insider is to pay attention to your staff and your management.

The best way to find out what your organisation needs to do to be safe is to:

1. Use the CareMIT Digital Diagnostic Tool

2. Come to one of our regular quarterly “Security Board Meetings

Its just not business security you have to worry about

Security!   The problem with security especially cybersecurity is it is not sexy.

In most cases, it is downright boring.

Although not sexy and downright boring it is still something that every CEO, manager, owner, and board member has to focus on.

With all of the automated attack vectors available to the cybercriminals, we can no longer say we are not a target.   We cannot say we have nothing worth stealing.

The more and more reliant business has on the digital world the greater the chance that a cyber event will cripple the organisation.

What are the main things that every management type needs to focus on when it comes to prevention of a cyber event?

Here are a few!

The cost of a cyber event.

The cost of a cyber even can range from lost time and functionality within the organisation to more money than the organisation can find to pay for the breach.

Cryptovirus is an example of lost time and functionality.  If you do not have a functioning and tested backup of the data, you have to rebuild the offending device but you will also have to also replicate all of the data.

A full-blown breach by a dedicated black hat hacker can steal everything and then use your system as a platform to target your clients, suppliers and staff.   When that happens you realize that you are NOT too small to be a target

How they get into your system

The go-to weapon of most cyber attacks is social engineering.   Two parts of a very effective attack strategy.   The technology to effect change, follow a link to an infected website, click on an ad in social media or open an attachment in an email, combined with getting you to trust them where you let them in.

Either way, they are now in.

Risk and problems just compounded.

Simple ransomware for instance, the initial encryption of data is only one of the stages of the attack.   What about stage 2,3 and 4.

Wannacry showed us that a combination of 2 attack vectors allowed a single infection to traverse a whole network.  One computer is a problem for any organisation.   All of the computers is a nightmare.

The protection challenges

In most situations managers, owners, executive, and board members do not understand the digital realm.   Risk management of data (a critical component in today’s business world) is often overlooked and considered an ICT problem.

It’s not!   Today’s digital security challenge is everyone’s issue and the sooner it gets noticed as a business risk and treated as such the faster we will see a reduction in attacks.

From the largest organisations to the smallest single entities, we all keep critical data in places that are easily accessed, relatively unprotected and mobile.

What are you doing to manage the expected cyber events that could cripple your organization?

There is no single, simple fix.   If there was everyone would be safe.

It is a complex issue and one needs to dedicate some time, money and expertise to understanding the issues and risk associated with a cyber event.

The best way to find out how vulnerable to a cyber event your organisation is.   Use the CareMIT Digital Diagnostic Tool or come to one of our regular quarterly “Security Board Meetings

Business Security is not just IT

The repercussions of a cyber event will create a serious problem for your oganisation long after the initial threat has been discovered and neutralised.

The bad guys are after everything that they can get their hands on that is not theirs.   They are also targeting anything and everything that has a link to the digital world.

What does not appear in the glossy brochures relating to the next shiny new product is the vulnerabilities that come pre-configured in these new systems.

I am not being nasty, but the pressures to get things to market are enormous and the first thing that is left in the background is security.

To get systems to market they will cut corners, use insecure code or even “borrow” code from other devices bringing their inherent vulnerabilities to their new product.

The wannacry and petya attacks were both perpetrated against a vulnerability that was patched recently but also has been available in most Microsoft operating systems since Windows XP.

The subsystem targeted allows one computer to communicate with another to share files.   There have been a number of vulnerabilities found that have this profile in every operating system.

But what happens if you have succumbed to a cyber event?   How do you improve your Business Security?

There are a number of areas you now have to worry about.

  • The most pressing is the immediate threat.
  • Have they encrypted your files and if so do you have a backup?
  • Has that backup been tested?
  • If you have a back up how will you restore your information and systems?
  • If you have cleaned the system are you sure you have everything?
  • What else has been stolen/accessed?
  • Never ever EVER pay the ransom!  You are dealing with criminals and they cannot be trusted.  If you pay there is no guarantee that you will get your data back
  • I recommend that you start from scratch, but that’s just me.

Short term tactics:

  • Has the event been disclosed,
  • Are you required to tell your clients, staff, customers
  • Has the disclosure had any effect on reputation, on your finances, on your customers, clients and staff. If so what will you now do?
  • I recommend that you do a number of things,
    • change passwords,
    • monitor credit card, and bank accounts.
  • Something that is very important – tell people.

Long term Strategies:

  • Not a person for stats but 60% of SME who have a cyber event will shut their doors within 3 months, a further 50% will shut after 12 months and/or they will be a shadow of what they originally were. (Victimless crime – my arse)
  • Check your Personal Reputation – use google alerts on your name, business name, trade marks.
  • Do a credit check – in some areas you can lock your credit rating, do it!
  • Get someone else to check chat rooms, information for sale and the dark web.

Using Business Security to avoid a cyber event in the first place?   Avoidance is hard, preparation is easy.

  • Have a decent and tested backup of all critical data.
  • encrypt critical data both at rest and in motion
  • use complex, long and unique passwords,
  • PATCH IT ALL,
  • penetration testing with minimal restrictions
  • Get paranoid, be aware and use common sense.
  • Implement a framework (we use NIST),

It is not all doom and gloom, but I can tell you from experience, in the midst of a cyber event, it feels like it.

The best way to counteract a cyber event is to expect to be compromised.

Hope for the best but plan for the worst! 

The best way to find out how vulnerable to a cyber event your organisation is.   Use the CareMIT Digital Diagnostic Tool or come to one of our regular quarterly “Security Board Meetings