Ransomware is a major threat to every Calgary organization and knowing how you can combat it can help prevent and thwart attacks.
These cybersecurity trends should be driving your strategy for 2022 and beyond. The ITeam is here to help.
Multifactor authentication is an essential element in information security, preventing unauthorized logins to your network.
Email is the gateway used by most hackers to launch their nefarious schemes. Today’s hackers are far more sophisticated than before, and they’re willing to take their time to gather the information they need to successfully hack into your organization. Your best phish defense – besides layers of security and a great MSP partner – is employee education. Training your staff on what to look for in a phishing email and to be cautious with every email – even those that look like they come from your CEO – could potentially save your organization hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The First Danger of a Phishing Email: Know Who It’s From
Be honest: If you were busy and you received an email from email@example.com, would you really notice that the email address was off by one letter? Now go back and look at the email address. You probably thought it read ‘john at Gutterinstallers.com,’ right? But in reality, it read ‘john at Qutterinstallers.com.’ Yes, hackers are that subtle. Because not only can they make emails look like they have been sent from an internal address, but they can also insert themselves mid-conversation into an email thread so that you really do think you’re talking to the right person. This is why every email requires the same vigilance – even if you think it’s from your boss or best client.
Hackers can also make it look as if an email was sent from john@Gutterinstallers.com, but when you hover over the email link (try it here), you’ll see that, in fact, it was sent from firstname.lastname@example.org.
Keep these questions in mind with every email you receive:
- Is the sender unfamiliar to you?
- When you hover over the email address, is it different than what appears in the header?
- Is the email out of character?
- Is the email from someone outside of your organization and asking you to do something outside of your typical role?
- Is the sender a stranger?
- Does the email include a link or attachment?
No Action without Asking
It should be the policy of every company not to pay invoices, click links, open attachments, or take other actions without at least asking if it’s possible that the email could be fake. Look for these telltale clues and red flags in an email header:
- Did the email arrive at an odd hour?
- Is it from someone you don’t know or addressed differently than you would expect?
- Is your name spelled incorrectly?
- Is the email sent to multiple people, making the same request?
When you’re always on high alert about the potential risks of email, you’ll start noticing when something seems off. Watch for these clues:
- Is it asking you to do something that’s not really your job?
- Is there a sense of urgency or threat from the email that attempts to emotionally compromise you into taking action?
If there is a link in an email, you should be on high alert. You can often tell when it’s a phishing email. Try these steps: When you hover over (but don’t click) on the link, does it go to a different website than what it says in the text? Does the hyperlink look similar to a legitimate website but differ, if only slightly?
Does the email contain an attachment? Is the attachment a file of any type other than a text file (.txt)? Were you expecting the attachment because of a previous conversation or is it out of the blue? Does the message seem to pressure you into taking action of some kind?
Protect Your Organization Against Phishing Attacks
Strong spam filtering can stop most phishing emails, but some will still make it through. At this point, your employees are your final line of defence against an attack. Yes, your firewall and threat management software should protect you, but without extensive training and awareness, a plan of action to protect your data, and non-stop vigilance, email may be what brings your organization down.
Your greatest weakness can also be your greatest strength if you invest the necessary time and resources in educating your employees. When education is provided, employees become a partner in your overall cybersecurity efforts. The ITeam understands the email security issues facing Canada businesses. We are committed to helping Calgary- and Alberta-based businesses develop proactive, cost-effective IT strategies that minimize risk and maximize efficiency. Contact us to learn more.
More than 6 million Canadians were impacted by the Capital One data breach that happened this year – and that was not even the biggest breach by any stretch. The biggest data breach is still Yahoo, whose breach impacted more than 3 billion people. Big or small, however, each data breach is costly and damaging – to consumers, to businesses, and to the economy. We can – and should – learn everything we can from these incidents to avoid repeating them. In analyzing security breaches that have occurred over the last 10 years, experts found that the main reasons data breaches occur are:
- Failure to patch
- Human error
- Insider attacks
- Poor mobile device management
Failure to Patch
Too often, a breach occurs because an organization has delayed patching, leaving them vulnerable to hackers. This often happens because the organization does not have a dedicated IT staff, leaving one or more employees responsible for IT on top of their other duties. Those other duties – their “real” jobs – take priority and patching jobs get postponed.
Partnering with a managed services provider (MSP) can help solve this problem and extend the strength of your IT team, whether your team is a whole department, or one person assigned with additional responsibilities. An MSP ensures patches are installed in a timely manner, but they’re also there to monitor your network 24/7.
Clicking links and opening attachments in emails that appear to come from within your organization or from a trusted vendor cause more data breaches than we can measure. It’s possible your organization has malware sitting on your network right now that has been introduced by an errant employee and has yet to have been detected.
While we can never completely remove human error from the equation, we can drastically reduce the number of email-related data breaches by:
- Developing, implementing, and enforcing strict zero-trust policies
- Providing ongoing training to employees to help them recognize potential phishing scams
- Limiting the data to which employees have access
- Requiring multi-layer authentication that includes complex passwords and other access barriers
Insider attacks don’t account for many data breaches, but they can be the most devastating simply because of the betrayal involved. According to the 2019 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report, insider threats are on the rise, accounting for 34% of data breaches. In one case highlighted in the DBIR, a hacker admitted that when all other efforts failed, he bribed an employee to get him inside the network.
Preventing insider attacks can be difficult; they are often only discovered after the fact during forensic analysis– and often after the employee is long gone. But you can minimize the risk of insider threats by having multiple layers of security, strictly limiting employee and third-party access to data, and by conducting regular audits. Often, insider attacks come from former employees whose access to the network was not terminated; make it protocol to immediately revoke all access to employees who leave – whether they leave on good terms or not.
Poor Mobile Device Management
Mobile phones are being used to conduct business whether you authorize it or not, so your best bet for protecting your organization is to have a highly sophisticated MDM security plan in place that includes the following:
- Strict usage requirements that include installing your security on the device being used and requiring the use of a secure network when conducting business
- Remote wipe capabilities to disconnect the device from your network in the event that it is stolen, or the employee leaves the organization
- A no-tolerance policy for any employee who refuses to comply with the security requirements
Data breaches are not going away, but you can minimize the risk to your organization with strong IT security and a comprehensive disaster recovery plan. You can’t just address one of these issues; you must have a comprehensive, proactive data security program that addresses all of these risks and more.
The ITeam understands the IT security issues facing businesses in Canada. We are committed to helping Calgary- and Alberta-based businesses develop proactive, cost-effective IT strategies that minimize risk and maximize efficiency. Contact us to learn more.
Suite 200, 1210 8 Street SW
Calgary, AB T2R 1L3
Suite 200, 1210 8 Street SW
Calgary, AB T2R 1L3
(Mountain Standard Time)
The ITeam $$ (403) 750-2540 Calgary, AB5
stars"The ITeam provides peace of mind with high level security and superb customer service." - Jeff B.