Category: Network Backup

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.

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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.

Cyber insurance: What’s the cost and what does it cover

Cyber insurance covers a range of elements, the most basic being the legal expenses incurred as a result of falling victim to cybercrime. This includes legal fees, expenses, and even any fines that you may have to pay or financial settlements that have to make with your customers or third parties who have been affected as a result of the incident. Apart from this, depending on the coverage you opt for, your cyber insurance may cover the following.

Notification costs

In the event of a data breach, the business is required to inform all affected parties of the breach. This involves reaching out to them individually and also through the press. Cyber insurance may cover the costs related to this process.

Restoration costs

After a cybercriminal attacks your IT infrastructure, you will have to spend money restoring it. There will be considerable expense in terms of recovering the lost data and repairing or replacing affected IT systems.

Analysis costs

In the event of a data breach, you will have to conduct a forensic analysis to identify the root cause of the breach and figure out how to prevent further occurrences. Cyber insurance may cover the costs of such an investigation.

Downtime costs

When your business operations shut down, even temporarily, due to IT issues, you lose revenue. You could get a cyber insurance policy to cover such downtime costs.

Extortion money

In some cases of data theft like a ransomware attack, cybercriminals usually demand a certain amount of money as ransom or extortion to let you access it again. Considering how rampant ransomware attacks are these days, it may make sense to opt for a policy that covers this angle as well.

How much does cyber insurance typically cost

Depending on the coverage and risk, annual cyber insurance costs range anywhere from $1000 a month to about a million dollars. But, what you need to ask yourself is, how much can it cost you if you ignored cyber insurance? The answer is, it could cost you your business, your customers and your brand reputation. With cybercrimes rising at alarming rates, cyber insurance is not a luxury that only the big players should invest in. It is the need of the hour for any business, irrespective of its industry or size.

Click here to learn more about our cybersecurity and compliance services.

The reality of cybercrime requires permanent organizational change

Because cybercrime isn’t going anywhere soon, every business needs to consider changes within its organization to institutionalize its emphasis on data security. This is not a problem that can be handled within a few particular operational or administrative silos.

Here are just a few things to consider:

  1. BYOD policies: A Bring-Your-Own-Device policy, which refers to allowing employees to use their own laptops, tablets and other mobile devices instead of company-issued ones, has become common practice in many organizations. However, permitting BYOD opens up new security issues because your IT department has potentially less control over how company data is accessed. With BYOD, many additional doors are being used to access corporate databases, etc., so it can be harder to keep your data secure. Because of the ubiquity of cybercrime, IT departments need to approach BYOD with a heightened awareness of new security vulnerabilities.
  2. Employee Training – Generally a topic for Human Resources, IT needs to now be involved in designing ongoing employee training to teach employees how to be vigilant about data security, password hygiene, and similar topics. Employee errors, such as opening phishing emails, are one of the largest causes of data breach events in the business world.
  3. Operations and IoT technology – Another area where there should be a re-focusing of attention involves the Internet of Things (IoT). The IoT has, at least in part, been introduced operationally, with Line of Business managers (LOB) discovering new specific applications for IoT devices, adopting them, and then being responsible for their maintenance and security. Such devices are introduced as-needed to address discrete needs throughout the organization. As a result, IoT devices have tended to function in operational silos. The unintended consequence is that the IT department, traditionally responsible for security issues, is left out of the loop. This means that data security is un-coordinated across all of the IT facets of the organization and security vulnerabilities are being overlooked. C-level tech leaders need to recognize this and adapt accordingly.
  4. The corporate mission – In order to give appropriate recognition to the threat that cybercrime represents to the health of a business, companies should consider including security as a core part of their mission. Both B2B and B2C customers take security very seriously, so companies should realize their mission is not to “provide X product or service,” but “securely provide X product or service.” To paraphrase a car maker’s phrase from many years ago. “Security is Job One.”

Click here to learn more about our cybersecurity solutions.