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A data breach could cost your business everything if you don't have the correct remote cyber security measures in place.

The Cost of a Security Breach: Is it Always Business As Usual?

What is the Cost of a Cyber Breach?

A hacker stealing your information is a bad situation. However, a hacker stealing your business’s information might be worse.

Running a successful business always implies a degree of risk. However, in today’s day and age, companies are finding themselves encountering a form of risk that often goes unnoticed: cyber attacks.

If a cyber criminal launches a cyber attack on your business the damage could be irreparable.

Think about it. A cyber attack leads to a huge loss of profit and productivity but thousands of dollars in fees. Not to mention the loss of business that follows.

The average cost from damage or theft of IT assets and infrastructure increased from $879,582 in 2016 to $1,027,053 in 2017.  The average cost due to disruption to normal operations increased from $955,429 to $1,207,965.

Even worse than this, according to Inc. 60% of all small business fail within 6 months due to cyber attacks.

41 percent of companies have over 1,000 sensitive files open to everyone, according to research by the Varonis Data Labs.

How Do Cyber Attacks Work?

Cyber attackers look for unsecured folders the moment they gain access to a network. Why? Because folders open to global access groups.  Global access groups include everyone, domain users and authenticated users. This gives them easy access to business plans, customer and employee data, credit card information and much more.

Overexposed data presents a huge risk to businesses of all sizes regardless of the industry or location. For small and medium size businesses, however, it could mean millions of dollars in losses, reimbursements, and legal fees that end up bankrupting the business.

Small businesses are often targets of cyber crime, yet invest less than $500 in cyber security.

What Are The Most Common Types of Attacks?

 

In the Ponemon study, 48 percent of small and medium sized businesses (SMB’s) report social engineering/phishing were the most common kind of attack.

54 percent of respondents in the study claimed data breaches occurred due to negligent employees or contractor.

Cyber Attacks in Remote Work

Phishing attacks:

Phishing is considered the top cause of data breaches. Hackers send apparently legitimate emails with dangerous links or attached documents. When a target clicks on the link or opens the attachment, a hacker gains access to their device. The link will contain malware or ransomware that corrupts and freezes important data.

Employees might work on personal devices which might not have the same protections as a company owned computer. As a result, the personal device might be more vulnerable to malware and other viruses. Make sure you use a company issued device whenever possible. Not just for the sake of the company, but for the sake of the remote employee as well. No one benefits when a device is breached.

Insecure Passwords:

53 percent of people rely on memory to keep track of their passwords. Therefore, they choose passwords that are easy to remember.  That makes it easy for a hacker to decipher an employees password by simply going through social media. It allows hackers to even access various accounts if the employee is using the same password.

Wi-Fi Security in a Remote environment: 

In an office environment, IT departments can protect employees and control network security. In a remote environment, however, employees probably don’t have the same protections. Hackers exploit networks with WEP security protections rather than WPA2, for example.  WEP settings are the standard Wi-Fi protection for average users.Even inexperienced hackers can download tools that allow them to break through this type of network.

Remote workers don’t realize how insecure they are until something happens. All remote employees need to consider what type of network they have at home before accessing company data. Using a VPN (virtual private network) also helps in protecting against certain types of attacks on remote workers.

During the lock-down period in 2020, there were record spikes in cyber attacks on remote workers. Hackers leverage remote workers’ devices to gain access to systems that would otherwise be more secure.

The Damage You Don’t See

Even assuming an SMB survives a cyber attack financially, the reputational damage would be just as catastrophic.

Security is everything in a business, both internally and to prospective clients. If a cybercriminal hacks your business, exposing your data, no one will want to take the risk of doing business with your company. The perception that your business is unreliable or even a liability can destroy your credibility and tank your business completely.

In the worst of scenarios, you may not even notice you’ve been breached for weeks or months, at which point recovery will be next to impossible.

One of the reasons so many businesses fail is because they have an inadequate strategy for managing cyber attacks.  SMB’s may have fire walls, anti-virus software, malware protection, and encryption but they don’t plan for the event of an actual breach.

While businesses focus on keeping attackers out, the actual data itself remains accessible and vulnerable to attack.

Businesses are losing more records in a data breach. Companies represented in the Ponemon study lost an average of more than 9,350 individual records as a result of a data breach in 2017, an increase from an average of 5,079 in the 2016.

A business needs a fully redundant system to access their applications and data and regular offline backups stored in multiple onsite and offsite locations.

Nerd Support’s experienced team can guarantee a secure business and keep your data safe. A breach doesn’t have to mean failure.

With a business continuity plan that is tailored to your needs your needs, you can get peace of mind knowing your information is safe.

Contact us today for a FREE IT Test! Or call us at 305-551-2009.

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A team working on a an IT solution project

Three Easy Ways to Improve your Security

Cloud-based storage and computing lets you stop worrying about IT and focus on doing running your business. It’s also, as we’re about to see, far more secure than traditional servers and storage.

Even now, more companies are depending on the benefits of cloud tech for remote work. Managed IT services are becoming the solution for Small and Medium sized business but why?

Furthermore, there are many big name companies that have found success by migrating to the cloud.

If you’re a smart business owner, you’ll see the writing on the wall. Cloud technology is essential for businesses’ success.

So without further ado, here are three ways to take advantage of cloud security:

1. Move your files to the cloud

Cloud file sharing and storage saves you from disaster. Say bye to lost attachments, file size limits and unsecure collaboration. More importantly, it puts the security of your files in the heavily-protected server room of an IT partner or technology provider – so you have a far safer back-up of all your files as well. It’s the easiest of all the cloud security steps and it dramatically improves your security overnight.

Security

Business owners use the cloud because the data stored on it is safe. Why is it safe? Because data stored on the cloud is distributed through redundant servers and never stored in just one place. Meaning, hardware failure of any kind becomes a non-issue.

If there is damage to your hardware due to a flood, storm or any other reason, your information remains secure.If a company like Cisco is vulnerable to a power outage chances are you are too.

Cloud servers also have automatic backups and multi-factored authentication to prevent data loss or theft.

This is especially helpful if your company has valuable or sensitive data. Security features on the cloud help protect against social engineering techniques like email scams. However,  there are also safe practices when emailing that can help mitigate threats.

Cost Savings

Annual operation costs drop significantly when using the cloud. Rather than pay for Internal IT software, everything is stored online or in a private server. Separate storage becomes unnecessary and so does much of your hardware and software costs.

Easy Sharing

If you’ve ever used Google Docs or Dropbox, you’re probably familiar with file sharing. File sharing is function of the cloud. A cloud environment facilitates remote work, communication and increased productivity as a result.

CIA uses the cloud for their most sensitive data and workloads

2. Move your applications to the cloud

Save over $30,000 a year by switching to the cloud per application

You probably already use cloud apps too. Facebook, Gmail, Slack or Office365 are all examples of cloud tech. However, you can also put your most important on-site apps, the ones stored on your computer, on the cloud. Application virtualization transforms any non-cloud app into a cloud-based app, easy, so your users  can access it from any device. 

Examples include :

1 . Quickbooks

2. Descartes

3. Thomas Reuter

For example, Nerds Support is a Quickbooks hosting provider. Which means businesses looking to adopt Quickbooks application services through us. Cloud based applications like Quickbooks are the best options for businesses that need to work remotely. Quickbooks hosting for remote work is a popular option among medium and small business for its accessibility.

Those times that you leave your laptop at home and have to rush back to pick it up before your 10 am meeting are gone. You can access that Excel and Powerpoint presentation in an instant.

Automation & Backups 

Creating data backups is among the biggest issues businesses face. Between dealing with complex client data, customer service, and business operations, it’s hard to remember to back up files and valuable information. This makes you vulnerable to data loss. With cloud storage, data backups are automated and routinely performed to prevent data loss or correct data mistakes that may arise. 

Data backups are good for medium and small businesses for many reasons. They also prevent ransomware attacks like the ones that plagued New Orleans in 2019.

3. Move your desktops to the cloud

Managing many PCs is a lot of work and can lead to many unsecure devices. Simply because businesses don’t have good data management practices. Your users can work on any device, any browser, anytime. And if they leave their laptop in an Uber, the airport, or at home, no problem.

Contact us today to start migrating your apps to the cloud. 

Outsourcing your tech responsibilities creates opportunities to scale and grow your business. But also consider what kind of cloud provider you’re trusting with your operation? You also need to establish a cloud migration plan. 

Nerds Support has over 17 years of experience, working with small and medium sized businesses in IT Cloud Solutions.

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Businessman sick at home but can still access his data through the cloud

Why the Cloud is the Future of Business Continuity

What Business Continuity And The Cloud

The world is unpredictable. At any given moment, something can happen that disrupts ordinary life. It could be a natural disaster, a power outage, or a virus pandemic like the current coronavirus.

The disruptions that affect our livelihoods are the most severe. In earlier years, businesses forced to shut down would have to just take the profit loss and move on.

However, cloud computing, along with mobile devices, allow businesses and their employees to work from any location that has internet access. Although some employers might hesitate to move towards remote work, many modern companies are adopting it as a means to offer employees flexible working hours and to maximize productivity.

Major companies like Apple, Microsoft, Salesforce and Twitter have encouraged remote work during crisis periods. Businesses have to adapt to changes and shifts in the real world, accounting for factors that are outside of their control to thrive.

The flexibility of the cloud helps do just that, while adding value and benefits like shared access to information and stronger security.

Flexibility on the Cloud

Cloud technology enables remote work from any location, providing access through virtual machines with access to the same information they’d have access to working in the office. Various tools on the cloud ensures businesses continue their work as if they were in full operation.

Accessing data and documents when needed can be useful not only during power outages and natural disasters. If your business has multiple offices and additional locations, the cloud can help you adapt as you grow. On the cloud, employees can access all relevant information via a centralized server.

Managed IT services providers now offer cloud services along with IT support that creates a collaborative, secure environment.

Scale Your Business on the Cloud

Let’s say you’re a smaller business with limited physical space. Accommodating employees can be difficult and time-consuming as it is. Now imagine you’re a growing business, adjusting to a larger work is even harder.

A cloud infrastructure eliminates the difficulties of managing a growing number of employees because remote workers aren’t limited by office space. They can access information through the cloud on the device they choose in a comfortable location.

Access to data is configured through the cloud as long as new employees provide accurate login details. So whether you need to scale up or down, the cloud is an invaluable tool that works to your business needs.

Cyber Security on The Cloud

There’s a common misconception about the cloud being unsafe or less secure than the standard model of in house IT. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. Not only is cloud computing safe, additional security tools like multi-factor authentication and file encryption could mean your data is safer on the cloud.

These security tools should not be overlooked. Implementing additional security via the cloud helps prevent data loss or theft if a mobile device, portable laptop or tablets are lost or stolen themselves. Cybersecurity on the cloud ensures unauthorized users are barred from getting hold of valuable information.

Multi-factor authentication is set up so that if someone wishes to access the cloud, they must provide valid account details on multiple devices such as their phone. For example, I as an employee, can’t get on the cloud unless I verify the login attempt on my mobile device. If I do not respond within a definite amount of time, the login attempt is nullified and ignored.

Using the cloud on a secure business laptop to continue working remotely.

The Future of Business relies on the cloud

Remote work is changing the workplace entirely. Companies already embracing remote work as a way of attracting new employees. In a study conducted by Buffer.com, 99 percent of those interviewed admitted they would like to work off-site at least once in their career.

But more importantly, remote work is a safety net for businesses should something unforeseen occur. We’ve seen how an events like viruses, hurricanes and power outages can devastate businesses. What if employees can’t access the office?

Continuity Means Security

Having a plan in place in case of such events is extremely important. Moreover, having the tools necessary to carry out that plan is just as important. A business continuity plan can ensure a business survives the spontaneous hazards of the real world. The cloud is vital in achieving this.

If working in the office becomes a risk for whatever reason, can that business continue normal operations?

If not, how long can that business go without endangering itself or taking a financial hit?

How much money is a business willing to lose until normal operations can continue?

How long clients be able to cope without that business delivering products or services?

How long will employees hold out before getting frustrated and leaving?

These are all questions that should factor into any business related decision before, during and after a crisis of any kind.

Make sure to visit our website for more on cybersecurity, cloud, and tech related news!

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Cisco Network Outage Data IT Support Breach Downtime

Cisco’s Outage Leaves Them in the Dark & Without Disaster Recovery

Cisco Outage

On Thursday, October 10, 2019 a network outage hit Cisco Systems affecting their entire network. A Cisco spokesperson said in an interview with TechCrunch that the disruption was traced to an internal system change. The problem, however, isn’t the outage it’s the absence of a disaster recovery plan.

The outage lasted for about five hours and prevented users from accessing Cisco’s learning portal, downloading software, signing on, and slowed down response time to support tickets.

The company’s blog also suffered from the outage.  WordPress’ install page appeared on the blog and could not be accessed. Downtime started at about 2pm GTM and lasted for approximately an hour.
It wasn’t a security threat per say but it was an odd sequence of events that could provide insight as to the internal flaws inside the company. The company tweeted later in the evening, “We have traced our disruption to an internal systems change, and are in the process of being fully restored.”

HTTP 500 error displayed on the website. The curious aspect of this story is the message that presented itself on the failed page. “Please contact the server administrator, it-webmasters.cisco.com and inform them of the time the error occurred, and anything you might have done that may have caused the error.”

Cisco hasn’t opened up about what exactly happened and how, saying on twitter: “Cisco is continuing to address the disruption to our IT systems.” However, there are things to be learned from this event.

This outage was a huge issue for Cisco, a large company, but it’s much more common among smaller tier organizations. A business needs power to run, obviously. However, unexpected outages create situations from which it’s difficult to recover.

Outages aren’t Uncommon

Lloyd Banking Group, a British retail and commercial bank branching across England and Wales, also experienced an outage in February of 2019. Customers could not log in to their bank accounts. Furthermore, IT outages in the banking sector are becoming more of an issue, not only for banks but for their customers. An outage prevents customers from accessing valuable financial information and regaining control after such an outage is a logistical nightmare.

If a large companies such as Cisco or banks like Lloyd Banking Group can experience outages then it can happen to anyone. Outages and downtown can mean a host of services rendered useless and inaccessible. That is why it’s important to get your downtime as low as possible. 9/10 data center professional professionals say that company management is more about lessening downtime than it was in previous years.

Cisco stores its bits and updates firmware internally. In other words, it handles its IT processes internally. Publications like Tech Republic suggest the company would be better served adopting a cloud platform. If Cisco had the company blog hosted on the cloud or separated from production systems, they could have communicated their network status during the outage.

 

The Cloud and Disaster Recovery

Cloud solutions for financial businesses is not new, but financial cloud computing has one particular advantage that mitigates downtime. See, if an outage impacts a business, it should have a plan for accessing its data. Institutions who adopt a  financial cloud service have the advantage of accessing their files and backups from anywhere. Cisco failed to plan accordingly beforehand and there was no way to communicate to its users and customers of the outage, leaving many confused and disgruntled. Hosting their blog on the cloud could have prevented this.

If your facility is compromised by an outage, recovering data stored in house requires waiting for the business to regain access to the facility and hoping nothing was lost. However, a hybrid cloud approach to disaster recovery reduces risks of downtime. Some cloud providers, like Nerds Support for example, offer Disaster Recovery as a Service. Meaning, that there are financial  cloud service providers, not all, that assist with developing a strategy and recovering data stored on the cloud servers.

Disaster Recovery Plan & Downtime Prevention

The cost of downtime rose 60 percent from 2014 to 2016 according to the Aberdeen Group. In other words, cost went up from $164,000 per hour to an average of $260,000 per hour across all industries. Although costs are incredibly high, downtime prevention is often overlooked. As we’ve seen above it doesn’t matter how large or small your firm is, it’s incredibly important to have a business continuity and disaster recovery plan in place. If you or your staff don’t know what to do in the event of an outage, things could spiral out of control.

In the UK the Treasury committee launched an inquiry into banking IT failures. Last year, TSB bank in England also experienced an IT outage so disastrous the CEO, Paul Pester, was forced to quite. Even if an institution has the most advanced cybersecurity and backs up their data regularly, they’re still at risk of experiencing downtime if the infrastructure and environment isn’t monitored properly.

 

Another reason that downtime is a problem for your firm aside from the financial loss is data loss. Critical data loss often occurs during downtime. Over three-quarters of executives experience serious data loss caused by downtime, according to a 2016 poll.

Cisco Network Outage Data IT Support Breach Downtime Statistics

Is your Firm Vulnerable to an Outage?

Ask the following questions to determine whether your business is properly protected and has the necessary oversight:
• Is there a time when the digital environment is unmonitored?
• How long has it taken to recover from downtime in the past? Was it past a certain time frame?
• Are there sufficient IT personal with the required experience to manage software maintenance and respond to threats?

Some businesses and financial institutions have the resources needed for constant monitoring. However, those who don’t should consider adopting a financial cloud infrastructure. Cloud service providers should provide 24/7 support, detailed service level agreements and experienced systems engineers.
You can avoid downtime when you have the proper tools, guidance and expertise. Achieving maximum up-time is possible with the cloud. Visit the Nerds Support website to read more about Downtime prevention, cyber security, or cloud compliance.

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