Choosing to Enact a Zero-Trust IT Security Policy Can Significantly Reduce Problems

cyber security

It’s often difficult to figure out who and what you should trust with your business’ cybersecurity. How can you know for sure that each individual accessing your infrastructure is secured from threats? A zero-trust model can help by providing reassurance that everyone accessing your network is who they say they are. 

What is Zero-Trust? 

Zero-trust policies are when you don’t inherently trust anyone or anything on your network. This includes devices, accounts, or users on the network. Basically, if someone wants to access your network or any information located on it, they will first have to identify themselves, no matter who they are. They could be a business executive or the average office worker; there are zero exceptions made for a zero-trust policy. Generally speaking, zero-trust policies are governed by some form of external authentication. 

There are many benefits to a zero-trust model. As you might expect, when nobody is inherently trusted on the network, security is drastically increased. When identities are verified before any activity occurs, the network is much more secure because only authenticated individuals can do anything on it. On the other side of this benefit is what happens when the user is genuine but cannot verify themselves. This might make for a rough implementation process, but once your policies get settled, you’ll find that it will make network access much less stressful for your company. 

What Are the Downsides? 

The greatest challenge that an organization will face when implementing zero-trust policies in the workplace is the major infrastructural challenges that will come about as a result of their implementation—particularly for larger enterprises with large workforces, as this means more devices accessing the same infrastructure, and therefore, more need for continuous authentication. The technologies involved in reinforcing these zero-trust policies can make the logistics difficult without committing wholeheartedly to the process. We recommend that, before you implement zero-trust policies, you consult with security professionals like those at 4 Corner IT to determine if it’s the right call for your business. 

 

If you do decide that it’s the right decision for your organization, 4 Corner IT can equip your company with the policies and technologies needed to ensure it is a successful deployment, as well as the support you might need. With multi-factor authentication and additional protections, you can make sure that only authorized individuals are accessing your network. To learn more, reach out to us at 954.474.2204. 

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Discerning Between a Data Breach and a Security Incident Can Fuel Your Response to Each

data breach

Cybersecurity is an incredibly important part of any business, but there are slight differences in various terms that can make for huge misunderstandings. For example, the average office worker might hear of “data breaches” and imagine they are “security incidents.” They might not technically be wrong, but the two terms aren’t exactly the same, either. Let’s examine the definitions of a data breach/security threat and provide some clarity on these terms. 

 

What is a “Data Breach?” 

A breach occurs when someone outside of your organization accesses some of your business’ data through their own specific efforts. Trend Micro defines it as “an incident wherein information is stolen or taken from a system without the knowledge or authorization of the system’s owner.” 

 

Essentially, a breach is when data stored by your business is accessed by an unauthorized user. A data breach is not necessarily a malicious action, but it is still a problem. 

What is a “Security Incident?” 

A security incident refers to any violation of established security policies within your organization, no matter how small. A security incident is, again, not inherently malicious, but they are still problematic for any organization, particularly in regards to security and compliance. 

 

As a blanket term, “security incident” covers a wide range of circumstances, including: 

 

  • Malware infection 
  • Spam hitting an unbox 
  • Physical access to IT equipment and infrastructure 
  • A Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack 
  • Portable storage being misused 
  • A brute force attack enabling network access 

 

Security incidents are usually categorized according to their severity, as in how serious the incident is and how much of a company’s attention has been given to resolve them. Serious problems like data breaches, Distributed Denial of Service attacks, and advanced persistent threats (APTs) are considered high-priority security incidents, whereas others like malware infections or unauthorized account access might be considered medium priority. Low-key incidents would be things like false alarms or false positives. 

Isn’t This Just a Difference in Semantics? 

It might not seem like a big difference, but the difference is in fact quite important. If you don’t know what type of security issue you are dealing with, you don’t know how to resolve it. If you can encourage your team to use the correct terminology when discussing security threats, you can ensure that they know the warning signs and are able to appropriately report what they are experiencing. This will give your business the ability to catch and resolve threats before they become even worse problems. 

We Can Help You Prevent Data Breach Threats from Getting That Far 

For any security initiative, it’s important for users to be aware of how their actions can impact the entire organization. 4 Corner IT can help you train your employees and implement comprehensive security measures to keep your company safe. To learn more, reach out to us at 954-474-2204. 

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Ads Can Carry Malicious Code

malware

Sometimes you might be browsing the Internet and come across an advertisement for free downloads of Windows applications. Obviously, this is too good to be true, and hackers tend to exploit advertisements to spread their malware across devices. Malvertising is used to deliver various types of threats, all of which can cause considerable harm to unprepared businesses. 

 

The particular malvertisement threat in question is a new campaign targeting users in Canada, the United States, Europe, Australia, and Nigeria, and it aims to steal information like usernames, passwords, and other sensitive credentials. 

 

ZDNet reports that this new malvertising campaign—called Magnat by Cisco Talos—spreads a malicious browser extension using Trojan malware, providing a backdoor entrance to the user’s device. This new, as-yet-undocumented threat appears to be custom-built over the past several years. Other types of malware used in this campaign include a password stealer which is installed on the user’s device through the use of the backdoor. 

 

The browser extension (also a keylogger) and the password stealer are standard fare for threats, but the backdoor, called MagnatBackdoor, is a special type that allows attacks to gain remote control over a PC without detection. It also adds a new user to the device and installs keyloggers, as well as other malware, that enable the attacker to steal sensitive information. Researchers believe that the threat works like a banking trojan with the primary aim being to steal credentials for individual sale on the Dark Web. Of course, the credentials could also be used by the attackers, too. 

 

This malware is distributed primarily through advertisements that link to malicious file downloads, with the big kicker being that these adverts advertise popular software applications. While there is reason to be concerned about this campaign, however, it’s also important to know that it’s nothing new. These threats are commonplace and security researchers, as well as security professionals in the field like ourselves, fully understand how to keep your devices as safe as possible. 

 

4 Corner IT wants to help your business keep itself safe from these types of threats (and more). If you need some pointers on how to keep your employees from clicking on these advertisements, we can provide training, as well! To learn more, reach out to us at 954-474-2204. 

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Unfortunately, Ransomware is Just Getting Worse

ransomware

Ransomware is a top threat, and it’s definitely not going anywhere anytime soon. To help you best combat it, let’s take a look at what you can do to keep ransomware from disrupting your organization and its operations. We’ll provide a brief overview of what ransomware is and what you can do to take the fight to it. 

What is Ransomware: A Review 

Ransomware is a type of malware that locks down a device or system until a ransom has been paid. It’s been around for quite some time, and it has only grown more dangerous since. Trend Micro reports that 84 percent of organizations have experienced either phishing or ransomware in the past year, with the two often going hand-in-hand. 

 

There are plenty of innovations that modern ransomware has brought with it, along with countless ways for it to weasel its way past even the most carefully-laid defenses. Instead of simply infecting devices, hackers now use ransomware to steal and leak data if the ransom is not paid, which creates a lot of problems from a compliance standpoint. Furthermore, some cyber criminals offer ransomware-as-a-service to anyone willing to pay for these attacks. Sometimes hackers will even fake ransomware attacks just to make a quick buck, claiming that they have infected a PC when in reality they simply haven’t. 

 

So, how does your business take the fight to ransomware? We hope to answer that question here. 

What to Do to Face Down Ransomware 

The precautions taken against ransomware have been consistent, but more advanced variants require more complicated measures. The best way to combat ransomware used to be storing a data backup off-site, but now that ransomware has started using the above-outlined double-extortion methods, this is not always guaranteed to be effective. While we always recommend data backup in the first place, a backup is not the best way to protect against ransomware anymore. The best way to secure your business is to utilize multiple measures, including the following: 

Keeping Defenses Up-to-Date 

Ransomware can be stopped by some basic security solutions, like firewalls and antivirus programs, so don’t neglect these protections. It’s important to keep them up-to-date. The same goes for any patches or security updates to your business’ chosen solutions. Of course, we do recommend using more advanced protections, as well. You should implement a monitoring solution to keep tabs on your infrastructure—especially with email. If possible, have your IT resource configure your email gateway to scan ZIP attachments and block executable files. Long story short, the fewer ransomware attempts that your employees are exposed to, the less likely you are to suffer from one. 

Educating and Evaluating Users 

On that same note, you need to make sure your team is aware of these threats and how to address them. Ideally, your staff will never encounter a ransomware attempt, but we rarely run business in an ideal world. Your employees will be the last line of defense against these attacks, so be sure they are armed with the knowledge to spot one. You should also make sure that you are regularly testing your employees to ensure they can put this knowledge into practice. Simulated attacks against your infrastructure can help to identify personnel who need a refresher on how to appropriately handle security issues with your business. 

Following Zero-Trust Policies 

There is always the possibility that one of your users will accidentally fall victim to a threat. This is why it is so terribly important to minimize the damage done as a result of an attack. A zero-trust policy is one way you can make sure this happens, as you are effectively limiting network access until you can guarantee the identity of the user. Furthermore, we also recommend enabling multi-factor authentication whenever possible. This gives you more of a buffer between threats and their targets. 

Maintaining Backup Practices 

Some attacks will take advantage of businesses that properly back up their data, but not all of them will. In any case, it never hurts to have data backup in place. It’s one cybersecurity practice that all companies should use, no matter what. 

Ransomware is a Challenging Threat—We Can Help You Address It 

4 Corner IT can help your business keep itself safe. To learn more, reach out to us at 954-474-2204. 

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Phishing Email Subject Lines You Should Know

phishing credit card data with keyboard and hook symbol 3d illustration

Even the best employees will encounter situations where they might accidentally put your organization at risk due to a phishing attack. What are some telltale signs of a phishing scam, and how can you tell when you need to be cautious? Certain phishing email subject lines can be indicative of their threat level. Let’s take a look.

Expel published a report on the most common subject lines of phishing emails, and the consensus was that they all urged the reader to take action of some sort. For employees who are impulsive and don’t think twice about their activities, this can be devastating, and that’s not to mention the businesses who employ them.

The study examined 10,000 known malicious emails and found keywords used in phishing emails. Many of them used a sense of urgency to convince the reader that action was necessary. This tactic is nothing new for phishing scams, and considering this language is also used in marketing emails, it’s no wonder that the lines get so blurry with this topic.

Ben Brigida, Director and SOC of Operations at Expel, had this to say regarding the matter: “Attackers are trying to trick people into giving them their credentials. The best way to do this is to make the email look legitimate, prompt one clear action, and lace it with emotion – urgency or fear of loss is the most common. The actions are as simple as ‘go to this site’ or ‘open this file,’ but the attacker wants you to be moving too fast to stop and question if it’s legitimate.”

In other words, simple and more direct subjects for phishing emails make for an easier hacking experience. This is reflected in the keywords utilized. You’ll notice that these subject lines also mimic those used by legitimate businesses. Here are three of the most common:

  • RE: INVOICE
  • Missing Inv ####; From [Legitimate Business Name]
  • INV####

Imagine receiving an invoice from a company with the threat of shutting down an important service that your business relies on. You might have so much going on in your business that you don’t even think twice and assume that you haven’t made the payment. Naturally, this is what the hacker is counting on. Take a step back and consult the appropriate resources before making a payment or clicking on a link. Sure, it could be legitimate—many invoicing companies and automated software use similar language—but it could also be a scam.

Other common phishing subject lines include words like “required,” “verification required,” or stem from file sharing, action requirements, or service requests. The tags that often get assigned to emails, like New or Update, don’t exactly help matters.

What are your thoughts on these phishing email subject lines? Would you or your employees click on them accidentally? Don’t take any chances with your network security—get in touch with 4 Corner IT today.