All companies should develop and maintain clear and robust policies for safeguarding critical business data and sensitive information, protecting their reputation and discouraging inappropriate behavior by employees. Part TWO
New telecommunication technologies may offer countless opportunities for small businesses, but they also offer cyber criminals many new ways to victimize your business, scam your customers and hurt your reputation.
Businesses of all sizes should be aware of the most common scams perpetrated online.
Cyber Plan Action Items:
1. Train employees to recognize social engineering
Social engineering, also known as “pretexting,” is used by many criminals, both online and off, to trick unsuspecting people into giving away their personal information and/or installing malicious software onto their computers, devices or networks. Social engineering is successful because the bad guys are doing their best to make their work look and sound legitimate, sometimes even helpful, which makes it easier to deceive users.
Most offline social engineering occurs over the telephone, but it frequently occurs online, as well. Information gathered from social networks or posted on websites can be enough to create a convincing ruse to trick your employees. For example, LinkedIn profiles, Facebook posts and Twitter messages can allow a criminal to assemble detailed dossiers on employees. Teaching people the risks involved in sharing personal or business details on the Internet can help you partner with your staff to prevent both personal and organizational losses.
Many criminals use social engineering tactics to get individuals to voluntarily install malicious computer software such as fake antivirus, thinking they are doing something that will help make them more secure. Users who are tricked into loading malicious programs on their computers may be providing remote control capabilities to an attacker, unwittingly installing software that can steal financial information or simply try to sell them fake security software.
1. Protect against online fraud
Online fraud takes on many guises that can impact everyone, including small businesses and their employees. It is helpful to maintain consistent and predictable online messaging when communicating with your customers to prevent others from impersonating your company.
Be sure to never request personal information or account details through email, social networking or other online messages. Let your customers know you will never request this kind of information through such channels and instruct them to contact you directly should they have any concerns.
1. Protect against phishing
Phishing is the technique used by online criminals to trick people into thinking they are dealing with a trusted website or other entity. Small businesses face this threat from two directions — phishers may be impersonating them to take advantage of unsuspecting customers, and phishers may be trying to steal their employees’ online credentials.
Businesses should ensure that their online communications never ask their customers to submit sensitive information via email. Make a clear statement in your communications reinforcing that you will never ask for personal information via email so that if someone targets your customers, they may realize the request is a scam.
Employee awareness is your best defense against your users being tricked into handing over their usernames and passwords to cyber criminals. Explain to everyone that they should never respond to incoming messages requesting private information. Also, to avoid being led to a fake site, they should know to never click on a link sent by email from an untrustworthy source. Employees needing to access a website link sent from a questionable source should open an Internet browser window and manually type in the site’s web address to make sure the emailed link is not maliciously redirecting to a dangerous site.
1. Don’t fall for fake antivirus offers
This advice is especially critical for protecting online banking accounts belonging to your organization. Criminals are targeting small business banking accounts more than any other sector.
Fake antivirus, “scareware” and other rogue online security scams have been behind some of the most successful online frauds in recent times. Make sure your organization has a policy in place explaining what the procedure is if an employee’s computer becomes infected by a virus.
Train your employees to recognize a legitimate warning message using a test file and to properly notify your IT team if something bad or questionable has happened.
If possible, configure your computers to not allow regular users to have administrative access. This will minimize the risk of them installing malicious software and condition users that adding unauthorized software to work computers is against policy.
1. Protect against malware
Businesses can experience a compromise through the introduction of malicious software, or malware, that tracks a user’s keyboard strokes, also known as key logging.
Many businesses are falling victim to key-logging malware being installed on computer systems in their environment. Once installed, the malware can record keystrokes made on a computer, allowing bad guys to see passwords, credit card numbers and other confidential data. Keeping security software up to date and patching your computers regularly will make it more difficult for this type of malware to infiltrate your network.
1. Develop a layered approach to guard against malicious software
Despite progress in creating more awareness of security threats on the Internet, malware authors are not giving up. The malware research firm SophosLabs reports seeing more than 100,000 unique malicious software samples every single day. Effective protection against viruses, Trojans and other malicious software requires a layered approach to your defenses. Antivirus software is a must, but should not be a company’s only line of defense. Instead, deploy a combination of many techniques to keep your environment safe.
Also, be careful with the use of thumb drives and other removable media. These media could have malicious software pre-installed that can infect your computer, so make sure you trust the source of the removable media devices before you use them. Combining the use of web filtering, antivirus signature protection, proactive malware protection, firewalls, strong security policies and employee training significantly lowers the risk of infection. Keeping protection software up to date along with your operating system and applications increases the safety of your systems.
1. Verify the identify of telephone information seekers
Most offline social engineering occurs over the telephone. Information gathered through social networks and information posted on websites can be enough to create a convincing ruse to trick your employees. Ensure that you train employees to never disclose customer information, usernames, passwords or other sensitive details to incoming callers. When someone requests information, always contact the person back using a known phone number or email account to verify the identity and validity of the individual and their request.
SF-3 Securing your company’s network consists of: (1) identifying all devices and connections on the network; (2) setting boundaries between your company’s systems and others; and (3) enforcing controls to ensure that unauthorized access, misuse, or denial-of-service events can be thwarted or rapidly contained and recovered from if they do occur.
Cyber Plan Action Items:
1. Secure internal network and cloud services
Your company’s network should be separated from the public Internet by strong user authentication mechanisms and policy enforcement systems such as firewalls and web filtering proxies. Additional monitoring and security solutions, such as anti-virus software and intrusion detection systems, should also be employed to identify and stop malicious code or unauthorized access attempts.
After identifying the boundary points on your company’s network, each boundary should be evaluated to determine what types of security controls are necessary and how they can be best deployed. Border routers should be configured to only route traffic to and from your company’s public IP addresses, firewalls should be deployed to restrict traffic only to and from the minimum set of necessary services, and intrusion prevention systems should be configured to monitor for suspicious activity crossing your network perimeter. In order to prevent bottlenecks, all security systems you deploy to your company’s network perimeter should be capable of handling the bandwidth that your carrier provides.
Cloud based services
Carefully consult your terms of service with all cloud service providers to ensure that your company’s information and activities are protected with the same degree of security you would intend to provide on your own. Request security and auditing from your cloud service providers as applicable to your company’s needs and concerns.
Review and understand service level agreements, or SLAs, for system restoration and reconstitution time. You should also inquire about additional services a cloud service can provide. These services may include backup- and-restore services and encryption services, which may be very attractive to small businesses.
1. Develop strong password policies
Generally speaking, two-factor authentication methods, which require two types of evidence that you are who you claim to be, are safer than using just static passwords for authentication. One common example is a personal security token that displays changing passcodes to be used in conjunction with an established password. However, two-factor systems may not always be possible or practical for your company.
Password policies should encourage your employees to employ the strongest passwords possible without creating the need or temptation to reuse passwords or write them down. That means passwords that are random, complex and long (at least 10 characters), that are changed regularly, and that are closely guarded by those who know them.
1. Secure and encrypt your company’s Wi-Fi
Wireless access control
Your company may choose to operate a Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) for the use of customers, guests and visitors. If so, it is important that such a WLAN be kept separate from the main company network so that traffic from the public network cannot traverse the company’s internal systems at any point.