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The Top 8 Necessities of a Business Continuity Plan

As the old saying goes, “Life isn’t about shielding yourself from the rain, it’s about discovering to thrive in the hurricane.” However, if you’re a small business, you initially need to preserve your data from the rainfall before you can pay for to dance in the hurricane with no concern. Natural disasters and cyber-attacks can hit you unexpectedly, costing your business thousands in revenue.

Your equipment might be destroyed, your workplace may be flooded as well as your essential service information breached. While some companies can take swift action to guarantee their stock and business are safeguarded from catastrophes, many of them have a tendency to forget the risk these tragedies present to their IT facilities as well as information.

Here are the Top 8 necessities your organization should include in developing a business continuity plan.

Is Your Business Prepared for Extended Downtime?

To countless business owners, it does not seem to pose a problem– and inevitably, this is where things fall apart. Information loss as a result of a disaster or any other factor can cause considerable harm to a business, leading to extreme effects such as total service downtime. Protecting your information shouldn’t be a strategy you wait to develop until after it’s been devastated. Here are the steps you can take to alleviate the risks calamities could present to your information as well as IT framework.

  1. Acknowledge the demand for information safety, protection as well as healing in times of calamity.
  2. Combine your key resources as well as produce a group that is accountable for executing your catastrophe back-up as well as recuperation strategy.
  3. Recognize the key locations that need to be attended to. In case of a disaster, what are the procedures that absolutely need to function to maintain your service going and what is required to be done so they still operate efficiently?
  4. Prepare a strong catastrophe recovery-business continuity plan. You can employ your in-house IT group or bring a managed it services provider onboard to do this.
  5. Create a checklist of all the software programs, applications and also equipment that are vital to your service process.
  6. Take account of floor plans, physical access information, entry-exit protection codes or anything pertaining to your business in the plan.
  7. Include material about your backups in the calamity recuperation and company strategy.
  8. Conduct simulated drills as well as audits to guarantee your strategy is executable and also provides you the intended outcomes.

All of this can feel like an immense undertaking, specifically with an organization to manage and a disaster to be on the look-out for! That’s why most SMB’s count on trusted managed service providers to do it for them, while they focus on their core area– running their service and partners.

Don’t Let a Disaster Blow your Data Away!

An unanticipated emergency situation can wipe out your service, however a proper information continuity strategy can aid in its endurance! So what should an excellent service connection strategy cover?

A checklist of your most important connections

Among the most important components in your organization connection plan is a list of all your essential contacts who must be informed of the catastrophe. This can include all your C-level execs, HR supervisors, IT Supervisor, client encountering supervisors, and so on.

An extensive checklist of your IT stock

Your organization continuity strategy must consist of a list of all the software programs, apps as well as equipment that you make use of in the day-to-day operations of your service. This listing ought to identify each of those as important or non-critical as well as point out information relating to each of them such as:

  • The name of the application/program.
  • Version/model number (for software/hardware).
  • Vendor name as well as connection details for each of them.
  • Warranty/support schedule details.
  • Contact information for client support for these applications.
  • Frequency of use.

Relevant Backup Data

Data backups are crucial to your disaster rehabilitation and so your service connection planning ought to feature information regarding data backups. It should state exactly how usually information is supported, in what styles as well as where. It should likewise mention what document back-ups are readily available– preferably, you need to be protecting ALL data as soon as possible! Especially if your business is transitioning its operations to remote work, you need to be prepared for anything.

What’s your Alternate Plan?

See to it your service connection program notes a backup procedures strategy that will certainly enter play in the event of a catastrophe. Examples consist of substitute operations such as options to function remotely or even to allow employees to bring their very own gadgets to work (BYOD) pending the time regular company premises or devices are ready.

Layout and site

Your service connection plan must also consist of a layout of your workplaces with the exit as well as entrance points plainly marked up, so they could be utilized in case of any sort of emergency. It must likewise mention the site of data centers, phones, essential IT devices and similar hardware.

Process classification

See to it your company continuity strategy specifies the standard operating procedures (SOP’s) to be complied with in the event of an unexpected emergency.

It’s Time to Start Planning!

Are you thinking business continuity planning is convoluted? Do not quit! A bunch of little & average sized companies don’t produce a company connection strategy thinking it is way too much of a problem. But this can easily show to be disastrous to your company eventually. A skilled MSP can aid you comprehend company connection preparing and also even aid you create a service connection plan that is best suited for your business!

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Workplace remote work.

Workplace: What You Should Know

Software-as-a-service companies are more and more common these days. With many industries seeing the benefits of SaaS, there is growing interest in these types of services. However, finding the right service is the key. Of all hosted services, Workplace_ is among the best.

Workplace promotes remote team collaboration and improves employee productivity for your company. A cleaner, user-friendly interface allows you and your co-workers to find, access and share files, websites and apps easier than ever before.

What’s more, Workplace’s key upgrades assure its users better security and regulatory compliance, as well as make the platform a tool for remote workers and organizations who care about keeping their data safe.

So, what are the main changes that will transform your Workplace_? 

Makeover of the Workplace Web App in Windows and Mac

On Windows, you are able to resize the app as big as you wish, even entering full-screen mode in your computer. You could also minimize it as small as you want so it doesn’t take the entire screen if you’re working with multiple applications or browser windows.

On Mac, Workplace works perfectly with the OS version, Mojave. Upgrades were installed, fixing an issue that previously affected users: the inability to see some virtual graphics products. Developers working on improving this app went above and beyond not only fixing what users weren’t able to see or the app wasn’t able to display, but also enabling Workplace to function on multiple monitors.

Pin Any File or Folder to Your Launch Page

Workplace has a feature that allows users to “star” websites, applications, folders and files that you can open directly from the Launch page with just a simple click.

Workplace’s Feature: Websites

You are able to see all the websites you visit and work with on a daily basis in a section dedicated specially for that! You can “star” (or pin) a website to your Launch page and see the Websites section there, or you can visit the sidebar menu on the left to see all of your featured and frequently visited sites.

Also, you can save websites with or without including login credentials and set up your username and password without depending on a company manager to do so. And let’s not forget about the feature that allows you to share bookmarks and websites with your colleagues, increasing collaboration and team productivity levels.

Find All Your Hosted Apps in One Place

Talking about simplifying workflows and increasing productivity, Workplace gives Citrix (“hosted”) applications their very own section. Click on “Hosted Apps” on the app sidebar and you will find all your hosted applications, or “star” the apps you use the most appear in your Launch page for quick and easy access.

Streamline device management, business continuity, & consistency of your remote operations with our Workplace cloud solution.

See If You Have Compliance Issues

All apps in the Workplace desktop platform have a feature that perfectly aligns with the company’s mission of keeping our customers’ data safe and improving security compliance. “Compliance Status”, the latest feature on Workplace, is implemented on both Windows and Mac machines. It checks your devices to see how your compliance level compares to the industry’s best practices.

What’s more, if you have compliance issues, recommendations will be made to fix the problem and get you to 100% compliance.

Run your Firm from the Cloud

Workplace provides a comprehensive solution that combines cybersecurity and compliance needs. The all-in-one, cloud based platform delivers and intuitive experience that reduces risk of data leakage.

You can protect your firm’s most important data by ensuring that all applications run only from this unified cloud environment. There is also improved continuity and disaster recovery features so your operation stays fully functional through any event.

Multi-Factor Authentication Keeps Your Firm Secure

Workplace also reduces the risk associated with logins and passwords. Employees access customized applications with one-click access. It also comes with multi-factor authentication that conforms to NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) guidelines.

Furthermore,  Multi-Factor Authentication enforces authentication methods required by regulation.  These methods are supported by both iOS and Android as well so employees can use them, regardless of device.

 

For more information on the cloud, cybersecurity and more, visit our website.

 

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Emotet malware strikes in a cyber attack

UHS Cyber Attack and the Rise of Ransomware

The major hospital and health care network Universal Health System was hit by potentially the largest cyberattack in U.S. history so far.

The computer infrastructure of Universal Health Systems (UHS) showed signs of failure on Sunday morning throughout the United Kingdom, Puerto Rico and the United States. The attack took down UHS’ network cross the United States. As the situation worsened patients have been moved to different rooms and facilities. Appointments and test results were also delayed as a consequence of the attack.

The attack encouraged one the UHS hospitals to move towards an all paper filing system, according to some individuals familiar with the situation. UHS operates more than 400 hospitals and facilities with over 90,000 employees.

The fortune 500 company said that there was no evidence that patient or employee had been misused, stolen or copied. Bleeping Computers, the online publication that first reported on the attack, spoke to employees who determined the ransomware attack had the tell-tale signs of the Ryuk virus.

What is Ryuk Ransomware?

Justin Heard, Director of Security, Intelligence and Analytics at Nuspire, noted that up until recently, Ryuk was used solely to target financial services, but over the last several months Ryuk has been seen targeting manufacturing, oil and gas, and now healthcare.

Ryuk is a type of ransomware that uses encryptions to cut off access to systems, files, and devices until the victim pays ransom. The ransomware is placed in a system by other types of malware.

The most common is TrickBot, however Ryuk can also gain access through Remote Desktop Service.

The Ryuk ransomware takes payments through Bitcoin and instructs victims to deposit the money in a particular Bitcoin wallet. The demand is usually between $100,000-$500,000 in Bitcoin depending on the conversion price of the cryptocurrency.

Once installed, the Ryuk malware spreads through the network infecting as many servers as it can.

The Ryuk Attack

An employee told Bleeping Computer that, during the cyberattack, files were being renamed to include the .ryk extension. This extension is used by the Ryuk ransomware, reports BleepingComputer. “Another UHS employee told us that one of the impacted computers’ screens changed to display a ransom note reading “Shadow of the Universe,” a similar phrase to that appearing at the bottom of Ryuk ransom notes. Based on information shared with BleepingComputer by Advanced Intel’s Vitali Kremez, the attack on UHS’ system likely started via a phishing attack,” BleepingComputer says.

An employee of UHS told Bleeping Computer that files were being renamed to include the .ryk extension as the cyber-attack took place. Based on information provided to Bleeping Computers the attack on UHS’ system began as a phishing attack.

Many health care workers posted notes about the situation at various Universal Health facilities in a Reddit thread. One in Florida noted that it was “a hot mess in the ER today.” Ambulances with heart patients were being diverted because the facility’s catheterization lab was down, the person posted.

Another nurse in a facility in North Dakota said computers slowed down and then didn’t turn on Sunday morning.

Ransomware & Medical Facilities

Hospitals are high valued targets for cyber attackers because they hold incredibly valuable personal information that can be sold on the dark web or used as leverage for a ransom payment.
A ransomware bug called WannaCry was used in 2017 to target Microsoft Window’s operating system at the time. It spread through an exploit named EternalBlue and reached the U.K.’s National Health System.

The WannaCry ransomware impacted 80 medical facilities although there were no reported deaths as a result.

Hospitals are the perfect target for threat actors because they rely on critical and immediate care to assist patients in need. That means solutions and treatment are time sensitive and dependent on drug history and other medical information to proceed. Without this information patients can suffer or die. This makes hospitals likelier to pay a ransom instead of risking lives by delaying.

Ransomware and other Businesses

Hospitals are not the only industries suffering from malware. We’ve covered cases of schools, businesses and entire cities being impacted by ransomware attacks.

In October, 2019 the technology company Pitney Bowes, was attacked by malicious ransomware. Its shipping and mailing services were compromised and disrupted client access to their services.
Ransomware is a growing problem as over 140 attacks were reported in 2019 targeting state and local governments as well as health care providers like UHS.

As we’ve shown, hospitals and the health services industry are prime targets but are not the only targets. For this reason many businesses are adopting Managed IT services to help deal with this rise in cybercrime.

Emotet Malware

In July 2020 there was a rise in Emotet malspam campaigns. Emotet is a banking malware that infects systems to try and steal sensitive financial information.

The Emotet Malware was first identified in 2014. It was originally just a banking malware. However, later versions were designed to include spamming and malware delivery services. This made it more dangerous and easier to spread.

These campaigns infected victims with Trickbot and Qbot malware. If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll recognize TrickBot malware from earlier.

Emotet is a Trojan that spreads mainly through spam emails. These malicious emails might take on the disguise of legitimate emails. As a result they often persuade users to click on a link or button.
That’s how most likely how the UHS attack took place. As we’ve seen with Emotet, these ransomware attacks only get more sophisticated and more popular as their success rate increases.
Ransomware has become the most popular form of attack growing 350 percent since 2018. What’s more, ransomware from phishing emails like Emotet have increased by 109 percent since 2017.

What should be Done?

There are researchers that are calling for a ban on paying ransomware. However, that recommendation is controversial and not mainstream. They argue that refusing to pay ransomware reduces any incentive a hacker might have and will reduce the rise of malware hacks.

This solution doesn’t address the fact that hackers who gain access to company data can still use it.  Cyber attackers can sell it on the black market, or continue to freeze should the ransom remain unpaid.

The only real solution so far is to educate and train employees as much as possible to avoid malicious or fraudulent email scams.  IT services companies often play a role in educating their clients on these matters but it falls on the business to teach personnel of the risks.  IT consulting can benefit many smaller and medium sized companies who aren’t equipped with the appropriate tools needed to combat these threats.

Even the most dedicated cyber security team with the most sophisticated digital tools will mean nothing if an employee opens the wrong email, clicking on an infected link. Companies that don’t dedicate the time to training their employees turn them into liabilities and the more vulnerable your employees, the more vulnerable the company.

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How Cyber Attackers Use The Coronavirus to Steal Your Data

Coronavirus Email Scams

The recent coronavirus outbreak has motivated cybercriminals to send virus related malware attacks across the world.

Phishing emails claiming to possess information on protecting against the virus have appeared, spreading misinformation and malicious software. These emails encourage victims to open attached documents containing malware that can freeze or completely steal valuable data.

Scammers use fear and uncertainty to manipulate victims into infecting their computer with malware. However, incorporating tragic events, potential pandemics or natural disasters into their attacks is nothing new.

Beware of Phishing After Any Big Event

Attackers customize phishing emails to current or upcoming events like tax season, hurricane season, and holidays. Regardless of the occasion, the goal is the same: to access valuable information. The attacks prey on people’s desperation for answers and suggest that they have can give them to you.

Furthermore, there have been cases of scams emerging in places like Michigan and New York. Officials in these states are warning residents to be vigilant of emails asking for donations or personal payment card information.

Coronavirus scam emails were popping up in early February which prompted Michigan’s Department of Health and Human Services to warn citizens on their dangers.

The Federal Trade Commission even sent out a memorandum advising people on how to spot email scams and stay safe online.

Additionally, the FTC says cyber criminals could be setting up fraudulent websites that sell fake products using illegitimate emails, social media posts and texts to trick people into sending them money or personal information.

An example of a phishing email scam offering fake information about COVID-19.

Common attributes of a fake email are spelling and/or grammar errors.
If you receive a suspicious link, hover your cursor over it to view the destination url.

Protecting Against Coronavirus Phishing Scams

Here are some tips recommended by the FTC to keep safe against scammers:

1) Be suspicious of emails claiming to be from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or anyone purporting to be an “expert” with information on the virus.

2) Avoid emails that allude to any “investment opportunities.” Social scams will promote products claiming they can cure, detect, treat or prevent the disease are fake.

3) If you’re going to donate, do the proper research into the organization and payment method. Don’t be pressured to donate and especially if it’s through an email link.

4) Ignore offers for vaccinations. Ads that say they have the cure or treatment for coronavirus are probably scams. Any medical breakthrough will be announced on mainstream media networks.

5) For up-to-date information on the virus visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO)

Don’t Be Misled

These scams will continue to spread and they won’t go away any time in the near future. In fact, scammers will certainly take greater advantage of the misinformation and fear from media coverage.

Moreover, cyber scammers in China were reported sending malicious emails containing malware. It’s difficult to protect yourself from these types of attacks but

Threat actors also targeted users in Japan with a campaign that spread malicious documents with supposed information on the virus.

Unsurprisingly, these social engineers even sent emails impersonating the CDC to lure unsuspecting users into malware traps.

The Coronavirus is a real threat but it’s important to keep a level head and not expose yourself to even greater harm online.

Ultimately, even Facebook has begun planning to ward off misinformation on the virus. Other social media platforms have voiced concern about the spread of false claims on their platforms as well.

The virus has attracted the attention of a global audience but that doesn’t mean you have to fall victim to those looking to profit off of that attention.

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New York Proposes Bills Banning Ransomware Payments

Two New York state senators proposed bills to ban local governments from paying ransomware with taxpayer money.

The bills, S7246 and S7289, are virtually the same except S7246 proposes to create a state fund to help municipalities strengthen their cyber-security. This is the first time states have proposed such a law.

Why is this happening?

In 2019 alone, there have been over 100 reported ransomware attacks across the U.S. in government entities and municipalities.

Texas suffered from 9 separate attacks. Florida had 8 and New York, Connecticut, and North Carolina each had 6 reported attacks.

Moreover, 37 of the 104 ransomware attacks, or 35.5%, were committed against schools. This isn’t surprising considering the fact that schools are particularly easy targets.
The reasons for this are simple: schools lack security. They lack security because they have limited budgets.

Neglecting cyber security has been a practice for both businesses and governments alike and now the consequences are being felt. In fact, school ransomware attacks are  so problematic, the United States Senate also introduced a bill in December that would mandate bolstering they cyber security and infrastructure of schools.

Local Governments

The problems aren’t just the schools, however. Six figure payments have been made to hackers freezing stolen data from other government facilities in cities like Riviera Beach, Fla., New Orleans and 22 separate municipalities in Texas.

In New York specifically, Albany County Airport authority chose to pay out a ransom demand and two school districts within a two month period were infected by ransomware.

Last July, the US Conference of Mayors adopted a resolution declaring they would not pay ransom demands after an attack and presented their cyber security plans, but the resolution was informal and toothless.

The bill indicates something Cyber security experts have been saying for years: If our society doesn’t prepare itself for the digital age it will cost everyone. Luckily for governments, they were able to rely on tax money to pay a ransom. The question is, what about a small, private business with no cyber security plan in place?

Who Really Pays?

The main point is, this type of negligence always costs.  An article  released by the New York Times stated in 2019, 205,280 organizations turned in files that were eventually hacked in a ransomware attack.

Furthermore, the average payment to went up to $84,116 towards the end of 2019.

Ransomware attacks have led to the shutdown of numerous businesses as well. The Heritage Company was forced to send more than 300 employees home after their IT department failed to recover last October.

The Heritage Company is by no means an isolated case. In fact, one in five businesses are forced to shut down after a ransomware attack according to a report by the security firm Malwarebytes.
All of the experts warn that cyber-attacks are becoming more sophisticated, targeted and costly.

Ransomware is the most damaging from of cyberattack because both businesses and governments haven’t kept up with security.

It’s as if someone invented a buzz saw and banks kept all of their money behind a wooden door.

They’re Getting Away With IT

As for the robbers, tracking them down has proven difficult because they ask for ransom in the form of bitcoin. Bitcoin is untraceable and can be encrypted to ensure anonymity.

Riviera Beach Fla., another victim of ransomware, agreed to pay over $600,000 to criminals and they still haven’t been identified. With payouts like those ransomware attacks are not going away.

The F.B.I. said it received nearly 1,500 ransomware reports in 2018 and the agency acknowledges all report numbers are under-reported. In other words, the problem is even bigger than anyone knows.

What New York is doing only begins to scratch the surface of this epidemic.

Cities, like Lake City,Fla., are rushing to improve and strengthen their back up systems and infrastructure. It’s even adopted a cloud-based back up system that cost $60,000 a year.

Then again, what would you pay to protect your business?

For more on cyber security, cloud and tech, follow us on social media to stay updated.

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