Category: Disaster Mitigation

Managing Cybersecurity with a Top-Down Approach

Employees are often the target of cyberattacks that can compromise private company data. New employees in particular can be the most susceptible to common attacks such as social engineering and phishing. To stay ahead of cybercriminals, organizations should educate and train all employees through a top-down IT security approach.

A top-down IT security approach begins with the IT department and management communicating the importance of cybersecurity and creating guidelines for reporting suspicious activity. IT Departments are not the only ones targeted by cybercrimes, leaving the potential for any employee to become a security liability. A top-down approach shifts the sole responsibility away from a single department.

A combination of general security training and instructions to recognize and report breaches are essential for keeping company data safe. Wahaya IT Consulting works with organizations to create a custom IT Policy handbook to distribute to every employee. Click here to see more of our recommended cybersecurity training best practices.

Focus on the first steps you need to take as an organization to better prepare your employees to identify and mitigate cyber threats. For example, employee training is just one part of Wahaya’s layered approach to IT security. Minimizing the of a cyberattack can help to avoid the following repercussions: 

  • Negative affect on brand image: Business disruption due to downtime or having your business data (including customer and vendor details) stolen reflects poorly on your brand.
  • Loss of customers: Customers may take their business elsewhere if they don’t feel safe sharing their information with you.
  • Financial loss: Data breaches make you liable to follow certain disclosure requirements mandated by the law. These may require you to make announcements to the media, which can become expensive. You may also have to hire a PR team to address communications during this time. 
  • Potential of lawsuits: A company could be sued by customers whose Personally Identifiable Information (PII) has been compromised or stolen. Depending on the industry, there may also be steep fines for noncompliance. 

Your company’s organizational structure should acknowledge the fact that IT security is not only your IT department, CTO, or Managed Service Provider’s (MSP) responsibility. IT Security is dependent on every part of the business. Starting from the top and encompassing every employee within the organization approach will lead to success in keeping customer and business information safe and secure.

Cover your vulnerabilities with a cybersecurity prevention plan. Contact us to learn more about our cybersecurity solutions.

Multi-factor Authentication Demystified

Multi-factor Authentication Demystified

You have probably come across the term multi-factor authentication of late. It is an IT buzzword today and is fast becoming one of the best practices of cybersecurity. So, what is multi-factor authentication, exactly? Read this blog to find out.

Multi-factor authentication, as fancy as the term sounds, is just multiple barriers to data access which adds to the security component. In simple terms, imagine, your data in a box and that box fit into another, and then into another–all with locks. It is basically adding layers of security to your data. In fact, we are already experiencing multi-factor authentication on a regular basis. For example, when you want to make a transaction online using your banking portal, chances are, it sends you an OTP (one-time-password) to your mobile number that’s registered with your bank. Some banking portals also ask you for the grid numbers on the back of your debit card, some online transactions using credit cards ask for CVV or expiry dates.

Even Gmail, Facebook, and LinkedIn use multi-factor authentication when they see unusual activity in your accounts such as a first-time log-in from a device you haven’t used before, or a log-in at a time that you don’t usually access your Gmail, Facebook or LinkedIn accounts. Going beyond OTPs, Facebook takes multi-factor authentication a notch higher by asking you to identify a couple of your friends on Facebook or your most recent profile picture.

According to Wikipedia, Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is an authentication method in which a computer user is granted access only after successfully presenting two or more pieces of evidence (or factors) to an authentication mechanism: knowledge (something the user and only the user knows), possession (something the user and only the user has), and inherence (something the user and only the user is). In simpler terms, that means,

  • As the first layer of security, we have passwords, answers to security questions, PIN numbers etc.,
  • The second layer includes authentication methods such as OTPs, security tokens, access cards, etc.,
  • The third, and final layer is something personal to the user. Examples include biometric validation such as an eye scan, fingerprint scan, voice commands or facial recognition.

So, you see, even something as simple as withdrawing money from an ATM has you going through the multi-factor authentication process. You need to key in your PIN number and use your debit card to be able to transact successfully. With cybercrime being rampant, businesses cannot rely on the old school access authorization methods using a single password or PIN. Contact us about setting up a strong, reliable, multi-factor authentication system for your data.

4 Lesser-known benefits of hiring an MSP

4 Lesser-known benefits of hiring an MSP

You are probably aware of the most common benefits of signing up with an MSP such as

  • On-demand IT support: Having an MSP ensures that you get priority IT support when you need it.
  • Scalable IT infrastructure: With an MSP by your side, you can scale your staff structure up or down without worrying about the IT aspect of it. Need to add 20 people to your workforce? You focus on the hiring, while your MSP will work out the IT logistics
  • Lower IT costs: Overall, having an MSP gives you a lot of cost savings vis-a-vis having an IT team in-house. Even if you have an IT team in-house, you can have them work in tandem with your MSP for the best results. Or, have them focus on research and optimization of your IT environment instead of focusing on mundane tasks like backups or software updates.

But, here are a few more benefits that are often overlooked.

IT analysis

An MSP has the expertise needed to analyze your IT infrastructure and identify problems that impact your workforce’s productivity negatively. Whether you sign up with an MSP or not, you should definitely hire one to analyze your existing IT infrastructure. They will be able to identify possible IT glitches, security lapses and hardware or software problems that can trigger a breakdown of your IT architecture.

Better deals on IT purchases

MSPs often have agreements with software or hardware vendors and will be able to get you a better quote on your IT purchases. Plus, with their knowledge and expertise, they are in a good position to help you choose the hardware or software that will work best for you.

Hassle-free compliance

As a business, you have certain IT rules and regulations to adhere to. An MSP can help you meet these effectively. With an MSP on board, you can focus on running your business without worrying about meeting regulatory requirements.

Staying ahead of the curve

An MSP is an expert at what they do. They are in the industry, working closely with hi-tech companies, analysts and vendors. They are more likely than your internal IT team to be aware of newer technology and tech-related market trends. By making them a part of your business, you benefit from their knowledge and your business stays ahead of the curve from the technological point of view.

Working with an MSP offers numerous benefits to an organization, especially, to an SMB as it allows them to divert their resource investments to more productive assignments.

Ready to work with an MSP? Click here to contact us!

Dark web monitoring: What you need to know

Dark web monitoring: What you need to know

The dark web is essentially a marketplace for cyber criminals. If your data has been compromised, the dark web is the place where it is traded. It could be sold by miscreants, to miscreants, who can later hack into your system or extort money from you to prevent a data leak and so on.

What can be the implications for your organization if you are on the dark web?

If your data is on the dark web, it puts your business and your customers at risk. For example, as a business, you possess a lot of the Personally Identifiable Information (PII) of your customers, which, if leaked can even shut down your business by

  • Attracting lawsuits that require you to shell out large sums of money in the form of fines or settlements
  • Causing serious damage to your brand
  • Resulting in the loss of customers and new business

What are dark web monitoring services?

One way to mitigate the risks of the dark web is by signing up for dark web monitoring services.

As a part of the dark web monitoring service, a company may keep an eye out for any information you specify or that is related to you that may be present or traded on the dark web. There are various avenues where such information may be made available on the dark web. Examples include

  1. Chat forums
  2. Blogs
  3. Social media platforms
  4. Online marketplaces (Dark web’s equivalent of eBay or Craigslist)

Another service offered as a part of dark web monitoring includes vulnerability alerts. On the dark web, there will be entities who will be willing to give away information about vulnerabilities in certain systems/software for a price. A company that offers dark web monitoring will keep an eye out for such information and alert its customers of such threats.

Companies offering dark web monitoring services may also be able to offer you industry insights, trends, and benchmarks that can help you proactively tighten your cybersecurity.

What you can do: Safeguarding your data against the dark web

With dark web monitoring services, you will know if there has been a data breach. Let’s say you come to know your e-commerce website’s user IDs and passwords have been stolen, or your customer’s credit card data has been leaked via your database, you can take the necessary steps to mitigate a possible ransomware attack or data leak before it happens. But, that’s reactive. That’s damage control after the damage has been done. While dark web monitoring services can warn you if your data has been compromised, here are a few things that you can do to keep your data safe in the first place.

Password hygiene

Follow good password hygiene and industry best practices. Establish clear password policies and rules and regulations regarding password sharing. For example, discourage the use of the same passwords for multiple accounts or use of passwords that are too simple or obvious such as user’s name, date of birth/date of joining organization or numbers in sequence, etc, establish policies regarding password update at regular intervals.

Train your staff

Train your staff to identify spam, phishing, and other malware traps. Conduct tests and mock drills and re-train those who don’t pass them. Provide updates when there’s a new threat in cyberspace that may affect you.

BYOD policies

If you allow your employees to bring their own devices to work, establish a clear BYOD framework that will help you manage the risks associated with this setup.

Access permissions and roles

Establish different user roles for your staff and give them role-based data editing, copying or sharing permissions, so that each employee only has as much access to information as they really need.

Being exposed in the dark web can be exhausting, scary and life-threatening to a small or medium-sized business. Teaming up with an MSP who specializes in cybersecurity or offers dark web monitoring services can help keep you safe.

Click here to learn more about our cybersecurity solutions.

BYOD can have some downsides

Employers know that employees prefer BYOD policies and that they can increase productivity. However, BYOD can have some downsides. Probably the most prominent concern among those who have to address the BYOD issue is the increased risk to data security. Obviously, the more devices you have with the ability to connect to your data, the more opportunities you create for a breach. Simply put, a house with 20 doors and 50 windows with multiple lock styles is a bit more vulnerable than a house with one door and one window.

BYOD increases risk to the organization. Data breaches bring a few layers of concern. First, the loss of proprietary data can affect your competitive status in the market. However, the real high-visibility concern is the theft of your customer’s personal data. Theft of personal data brings three serious consequences.

First, data breach laws require informing all victims of the data breach and in some cases, the media must also be informed. This public visibility can have long-lasting implications for brand value.

Second, you face a short- and long-term revenue hit. Customers angry and frustrated, as well as others who learn about the breach through social media, word-of-mouth, and traditional media sources, may move their business to the competition.

Third, data breaches can bring civil penalties. In the case of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union, these penalties can be extremely severe. ( And keep in mind, the GDPR doesn’t just apply to entities physical operating within the EU. It applies to the data of any user who is a citizen of the EU.)

In summary, given the severity of the consequences and the increased vulnerability created by BYOD, it is important to create a BYOD policy with strict parameters. It cannot be a “wild west” of anything goes.

Click here to learn more about our IT solutions.

The dark web: An introduction

The dark web: An introduction

Have you come across the term, dark web, recently? As a business, you might have heard that you need to keep your data safe from the dark web. So, what is the dark web anyway? Read on to find out…

What is the dark web?

The cybercrime landscape is evolving fast. The “Nigerian” email scams are now old. Cybercriminals are smarter and more organized now–almost functioning like professionals. In fact, there’s a sort of a parallel universe where they all operate in a very corporate-like manner. And that parallel universe is called the Dark Web.

The surface web, the deep web and the dark web

Essentially, the internet can be categorized into 3 parts.

  • The surface web, which includes your ‘regular’ websites–the kinds that just show up on web searches. For example, you type, Dog Videos and links to a bunch of dog videos on YouTube shows up. YouTube, in this case, is an example of the surface web.
  • The deep web, which shows up in web searches, but requires you to log in to view specific content. For example, your internet banking page or your netflix subscription.
  • Then comes the dark web.

The dark web is part of the internet that isn’t visible to search engines and requires the use of an anonymizing browser called Tor to be accessed. The dark web offers anonymity and hence is the hub for all sorts of illicit activities in today’s internet age. Strictly speaking, the dark web typically hosts illicit content. The kind of content that you find in the dark web include

  • Credit card details, stolen login credentials for something as serious as internet banking accounts to something as trivial as Uber or Netflix,
  • Contact details/communication platform for striking deals with hitmen, drug dealers, weapon dealers, hackers, etc.,
  • Marketplace to buy malicious codes to help corrupt or jam IT systems and even RaaS (Ransomeware as a service!)

All of the above and more, for a fee of course. In short, the dark web is like the underworld of the internet.

Interested in learning more about our dark web and cybersecurity solutions? Click here to contact us.

What to consider before hiring an MSP for your Dental Practice

What to consider before hiring an MSP for your Dental Practice

No doubt, having an MSP to manage the IT requirements of your dental practice offers multiple benefits. But, be sure to consider the following before you sign up with one.

Experience

Check how experienced your MSP is in their line of business. How long have they been providing managed services? How many clients are they serving currently? What kind of managed services are they well versed with? Getting answers to these questions is very important before you proceed with them.

References

Ask your MSP to provide you with references of existing clients. Preferably, ask for a couple of references from clients that belong to your own industry–medical/dental practices. Sometimes, there are certain IT challenges/requirements that are very industry specific and you want to be sure that your MSP will be able to handle them for you.

Proximity

When your IT system breaks, it can virtually bring your whole dental practice to a grinding halt. What you need is quick, timely support. Signing up with an MSP who is close to your location and can be at your office on short notice is a huge plus.

Downtime guarantee

Check if your MSP offers cyber insurance or downtime guarantee. When your IT shuts down, you lose business. Many MSPs provide downtime guarantee, that is, a commitment that your downtime will be limited to a certain number of hours–sometimes even zero. In the event this guarantee is breached, the MSP will compensate you. Opting for an MSP that offers such guarantees is simply safer.

Hiring an MSP to manage the IT needs of your dental practice is a great decision that can save you both– time and money. The right MSP partner will help you grow and grow with you.

Interested in hiring an MSP? Click here to learn more about our managed solution services. 

Benefits of hiring an MSP for Dental Practices

 

Benefits of hiring an MSP for Dental Practices

When we talk about the benefits of hiring a Managed Services Provider–an MSP for businesses, the kind of businesses we think about are retail, shops, restaurants, etc. We often tend to overlook the healthcare industry and particularly, dental practices, when, in fact, there’s a lot of value that an MSP can add to a dental practice. This blog discusses how a dentist’s office can benefit from hiring an MSP.

Timely support

Having an MSP on board ensures you get timely IT support. It is like having an IT team at your beck and call. On the other hand, if you don’t have a service level agreement with an MSP, there’s no guarantee that you’ll get the IT help you need when you need it. MSPs tend to give preference to their SLA customers over one-off calls.

Reduced IT costs

Signing up with an MSP can help you cut your IT costs drastically. Here’s how it works.

Cheaper than the fire-fighting approach to fix your IT problems
An SLA with an MSP is always cheaper in the long run than adopting a fire-fighting approach to IT problems. When you rely on an IT technician to resolve your IT problem on-call, you are charged for the service on an hourly basis. Usually, the per hour rate is also quite high. If you sign up with an MSP, depending on your contract, you will be paying a fixed amount monthly or annually and they bound to fix your IT problems for you at no additional charge–irrespective of how long it takes.

Cheaper than getting full-time IT staff on board
Having an IT team in-house can be quite expensive and the cost is often not justified. For example, your in-house IT team may be working to its full capacity only in the event of an IT emergency or during certain times of the week or month when you require back ups, maintenance, etc., So,if you hire IT staff to fulfill these requirements, you may not be able to justify the costs related to them. Plus, having employees on payroll increases your liabilities from the legal angle, which is not the case when you sign up with an MSP.

Legal and regulatory requirements such as HIPAA and PCI

Being a dental practice, you will be governed by the HIPAA regulations. You also need to adhere to Payment Card Industry Standards (PCI). You need to ensure you comply with these regulations at all times. Failure to do so can attract severe legal penalties and fines. Partnering with an MSP who is well versed with the IT regulations related to your industry can be of immense value add.

Software/hardware installation

Technology is changing the landscape of medical practices, including dental. Your MSP can guide you when it comes to choosing hardware or software, procure it for you, and also provide assistance with its installation and repair, if need be.

Better focused in-house IT team

Even if you have an in-house IT team, having an MSP to manage your routine IT tasks such as data backups, antivirus upgrades, system updates, etc., allows your in-house IT personnel to focus on more strategic aspects of IT.

Interested in hiring an MSP for your dental practice? Click here to contact us! 

3 Important IT checklists that no SMB should miss

3 Important IT checklists that no SMB should miss

IT Training checklist

Your IT staff is not the only one who needs IT training. Everyone in your office does. An IT training checklist serves as a good process document for any new staff or for any staff working on new hardware or software. Following the IT training checklist can help cut down the learning curve, and ensures the hardware/software is leveraged in the best possible way, thus making your staff more efficient. Here’s what your IT training checklist can offer.

  1. Rules and regulations regarding software and hardware use
  2. Links to user manuals/instruction videos with how-tos for the software and hardware in use
  3. Information about whom to contact if there’s a need for troubleshooting
  4. Training schedules for each hardware/software, cyberthreats
  5. Information about whom to contact if there’s a perceived cybersecurity breach

Your IT staff is not the only one who needs IT training. Everyone in your office does. An IT training checklist serves as a good process document for any new staff or for any staff working on new hardware or software. Here’s what your IT training checklist should contain.

Data backups checklist

There are a number of factors that can affect the accessibility and quality of your data. Data backups are key to ensuring your data is not lost. You should maintain a checklist or a policy document that covers this aspect. Your data backups checklist should cover

  • What are the different data sets that need to be backed up
  • How often do each of those data sets need to be backed up
  • Where (location/device) will the data backup occur
  • How will the data backup happen
  • Who will be responsible for the data backup

BYOD policy checklist

In the current business environment where companies allow their employees to use their own devices for work purposes, a BYOD (Bring-your-own-device) checklist is a must. This checklist should answer questions like

  • Who is allowed to bring their devices to work (employees of some departments that deal with sensitive data like, the HR/accounts may not be allowed to do so)
  • What kind of devices are allowed/approved? For example, you can specify a version below which a certain OS may not be allowed, as it may be outdated, exposing your entire network to any security threat that it may be vulnerable to
  • Who is responsible for ensuring the security patches and antimalware protection is up-to-date

Having these checklists/policy documents do not ensure your IT infrastructure is always safe and secure, or never suffers a downtime. These checklists merely help in cutting down instances of security breaches or downtime and go a long way in helping you respond positively to any IT crisis that may befall your business. What we have discussed here is just the proverbial ‘tip of the iceberg’. Your checklists have to be comprehensive, in-depth and cover every angle with a clearly defined action plan for any IT contingency. Reaching out to an experienced MSP for assistance will ensure you leave no loose ends.

Click here to learn more about our managed service provider solutions.

Hiring seasonal staff? Here are a few things to consider from the IT

In many industries, there are seasonal spikes in business around specific times. For example, CPAs/Accounting firms, though busy all year, generally see a spike in business around the time of tax planning, IRS return filing, etc., the retail industry sees a boom around the Holiday Season, and so on. During such peak times, it is common practice in the industry to employ part-time staff to meet the immediate resource needs. While this works well in terms of costs and for handling additional work/client inflow, this poses a few challenges from the IT perspective. In this blog, we explore those challenges so you know what to watch out for before bringing part-time staff on board.

Security

When you are hiring someone part-time, security could be a concern. You or your HR person may have done a background check, but their risk score nevertheless remains much higher than permanent employees who are on your payroll. Trusting a temp worker with customer and business data is a risky choice.

Infrastructure

Having seasonal employees is a good solution to temporary spike in workload. But, there is still a need to provide your temps with the resources they need to perform their tasks efficiently. Computers, server space, internet and phone connectivity, all need to be made available to your temp workforce as well.

Lack of training

Your permanent employees will most likely have been trained in IT Security best practices, but what about your temps? When hiring short-term staff, SMBs and even bigger organizations rarely invest any time or resources in general training and induction. Usually brought in during the peak seasons, temps are expected to get going at the earliest. Often IT drills and security trainings have no place in such hurried schedules.

Collaboration needs

Often businesses hire seasonal staff from across the country or even the globe because it may offer cost savings. In such cases when the seasonal staff is working remotely, there is a need to ensure the work environment is seamless. High quality collaboration tools for file sharing and access and communication needs to be in place.

Having part-time or seasonal staff is an excellent solution to time-specific resource needs. However, for it to work as intended–smoothly and in-tandem with the work happening at your office, and without any untoward happenings–such as a security breach, businesses need to consider the aspects discussed above. A MSP will be able to help by managing them for you, in which case hiring temps will be all you need to think of.

Click to learn more about our managed service provider solutions.