Cyber breaches are one of the most serious threats facing American businesses today. From phishing attacks that prey on the uninitiated end users, to account hacking attempts that exploit weak passwords, cyber criminals utilize a variety of attack strategies to achieve their malicious aims. As cyber threats have a global scope to them, businesses with IT support needs in Brunswick and beyond are no exception to these threats.
Recent cybercrime statistics illustrate the scale of the problem and analysts agree that the cyber threat picture is only likely to deteriorate further.
- 61% of SMBs were the target of a cyberattack in 2021
- Almost half of all cyber breaches affect businesses with fewer than 1000 employees.
- In 2020, over 700,000 cyberattacks were launched against small US businesses, resulting in financial losses of over $2.8 billion.
Business owners widely recognize the gravity of the situation, yet many organizations, particularly SMEs, don’t understand how to properly defend themselves against online threats. Then of course there are those who naively believe that cyberattacks only affect large businesses, as these represent the most lucrative targets. Data shows however, that small businesses are now increasingly being targeted by opportunistic cybercriminals. This is largely due to weak cybersecurity postures driven by complacency, that make it easy for the attackers to achieve a ‘quick win.’
Coastal Computer Consulting – Full-Service IT Support and Management for Georgia Businesses
Based in Brunswick, South Georgia, Coastal Computer Consulting offers everything you need for secure, optimized and fully managed business technology. Our managed security offering encompasses all the vital tools businesses need to defend against the majority of online threats.
Building a resilient digital ecosystem means apply protections across the board, and prioritizing key vulnerabilities to reinforce them against cyber intrusion. This is something many businesses struggle with, so we want to help by explaining the key technical cybersecurity defenses organizations can use to mitigate cyber risk. Here’s our quick guide to the essential cybersecurity defenses all Georgia businesses should be leveraging.
Network security devices work to protect your internal, trusted network from a range of threats emanating from untrusted external networks – in most cases, the internet. The term “network security” has become synonymous with firewalls, but while firewalls remain a vital safeguard, modern network security incorporates a much broader range of security platforms that work in harmony to provide robust network protection.
Encryption has become a key network security protection, and one that’s particularly relevant in the remote work era. Encryption works by scrambling data into an indecipherable format that can only be decoded by authorized individuals who possess the required “decryption key.”
Businesses can apply encryption to both transiting data (information being sent between devices) as well as to static data (data at rest on hard drives, devices and in databases). Remote access VPNs are a common application of encryption protocols, allowing remote users to access a company’s internal network using an internet connection, without exposing data to the threat of malicious interception.
Firewalls have been around since the 1980s, yet they remain a critical component on network security. The evolution of firewall technology over the years has seen new capabilities developed and added, however the underlying purpose of a firewall remains relatively unchanged.
Firewalls regulate inbound and outbound network traffic by applying a set of user-defined “rules” which set restrictions on traffic, based on factors such as destination IP address, port numbers and protocols. This allows businesses to block access to high-risk sites and online services that aren’t required for work purposes, and are more likely to host harmful content such as malware.
Many modern firewalls feature more advanced capabilities, that allow them to detect behavioural patterns and traffic anomalies that are indicative of an imminent attack. These systems often feature real-time IPS (Intrusion Prevention System) capabilities, that enable immediate action to be taken to thwart live intrusion attempts, and provide security personnel with the insights they require to address network vulnerabilities.
Secure Email Gateways (SEG)
A Secure Email Gateway is an umbrella term for devices and software designed to intercept email-borne threats. Email-based Phishing attacks are by far the most common cyberthreat faced by American businesses, so email gateway security has never been more relevant or valuable as a network safeguard.
A secure email gateway sits between an organization’s email server and the internet, screening inbound mail for hallmarks of malicious intent. Much like a firewall, SEGs can apply admin-defined rules about the types of email communication permitted to leave and enter your network. SEGs also leverage known-threat libraries in order to block inbound mail from rogue domains and quarantine mail identified as harboring malicious links and attachments. Advanced SEG systems also feature language analysis and domain name validation to detect and block suspected phishing attempts.
While email gateway technologies are not infallible, they can have a significant positive impact on the number of malicious or spam emails that reach user inboxes.
Anti-malware protection refers to security devices capable of detecting, disabling and removing malware from network-connected devices and systems.
Malware (a compound word meaning “malicious software”) is a broad term used to define a wide variety of harmful programs that hackers use to exploit, damage and corrupt devices and corporate networks. Some common malware types you may have heard of include viruses, worms, trojans, ransomware and spyware.
Anti-malware solutions typically leverage a technology called “signature-based detection.” This practice compares program characteristics and code patterns against a library of known threat signatures. If a match is found, a number of actions can be triggered with a view to isolating and removing the malignant file, including deletion, quarantining or alerts sent to the user or administrator.
Malware can be delivered onto your network through a number of pathways, including the connection of infected removable media (such as USB drives), malicious files attached to phishing emails and “drive-by-downloads” encountered on compromised websites. Malware can infect all network-connected devices, including mobile, phones, tablets, laptops and peripheral devices, so it’s important to apply anti-malware measures network-wide and ensure updates are applied regularly to keep threat libraries up-to date. Configuring anti-malware programs to automatically screen inbound files for the presence of malware is advisable to prevent the accidental actioning of harmful programs.
Extended Detection and Response (XDR)
Extended detection and response solutions merge many of the capabilities we’ve already discussed into a single, unified cybersecurity solution that can be applied across devices, networks, cloud environments, applications and user identities. Providing holisitic, round-the-clock threat monitoring and remediation, XDR systems represent the next generation of cybersecurity technology.
XDR systems work by combining time-tested threat detection technologies (such as signature-based detection) with newer, AI-powered functionality capable of perceiving subtle clues indicative of an imminent security breach attempt. Unlike security tools which focus on threat detection and response at a specific location within a network’s architecture, XDR systems combine information from numerous data points to identify complex threat pathways that traditional tools wouldn’t be able to spot. Some of the data analysed by XDR platforms includes network traffic metrics, endpoint activity, user behavioural patterns, application-level activity, threat intelligence feeds, incident logs and email content. By applying machine learning algorithms to this vast data pool, these powerful platforms can spot trends and correlations that go against the grain, allowing security teams to take action against suspicious activity before a threat actor is able to gain ground in the network.
Security Update Management
Strictly speaking, security update management isn’t a technical security measure, but rather a best practice that is vital to ensuring the overall integrity of business’s digital ecosystem. So why is it important?
Over time, software system developers identify security vulnerabilities in their programs. To ensure users continue to benefit from secure, stable platforms, developers create and release “patches” to address these vulnerabilities, which in many cases users or their IT support teams are responsible for testing and applying in a timely manner. Timeliness is everything when it comes to patch management, due to the fact that the release of a patch alerts threat actors to the presence of the vulnerability. The longer the patch remains unapplied therefore, the greater the window of opportunity available to hackers to exploit the vulnerability it was created to address.
Some systems support automated patching, which ensures security fixes are swiftly applied without the need for user intervention. In the case of cloud-hosted, vendor-managed software services – such as Microsoft 365 – responsibility for patch management lies with the service provider.
Software programmes hosted internally however, typically require organizations or their IT providers to test and apply patches manually, in a proactive and diligent manner. Start a conversation with your IT support provider if you have any doubts about their patch management practices and the integrity of your systems and software more generally.
Identity and Access Management
Identity and access management is a cybersecurity consideration that combines technical controls, policies and best practices. In essence, it involves authenticating the identities of those trying to access your network, and applying appropriate access and privilege restrictions to each user in a way that mitigates data breach and account takeover risks
Listed below are some of the key technologies and strategies you can use to enable effective identity and access management in your organisation.
Multi-factor authentication (MFA) requires users to submit an extra piece of identifying information when signing into an account or service, in addition to their username and password. This additional identifier typically consists of information that cannot be easily spoofed or guessed by a malicious actor. This makes the account far more difficult to break into by force. Common MFA methods involve biometric identifiers such as fingerprint or face scans, the use of one-time pins or passcodes, token-based authentication, and security questions that only the authorized user would likely be able to answer.
Governing account privileges and access rights at application level is vital to ensuring sensitive data is only accessible to those who need to see it. Admin-level privileges should be confined to a small number of accounts to minimize risk.
With employees commonly using mobile devices like phones, tablets and laptops to access corporate data, effective governance of remote devices has become a vital security consideration for many companies. Using a mobile device management (MDM) platform allows security settings, policies, encryption protocols and other precautionary measures to be enforced across remote endpoint devices.
The Principle of Least Privilege
Under the principle of least privileges, system administrators are encouraged to extend user privileges and access rights sparingly. Best practice dictates that users should be granted enough access and functionality necessary to carry out their job role: no more and no less. This approach contains the spread of harm should a typical user account be hacked by a malicious actor.
Identity and Access Management Solutions
Identity and access management solutions like Microsoft’s Azure active directory, condense IAM activities into a single command center, for improved oversight and streamlined governance. Such systems provide sign-in event logs which allow security teams to monitor and investigate suspicious login attempts. Centralized access governance also allows privileges and permissions to be extended and withdrawn at the click of a mouse, making it easy for administrators to regulate access to sensitive data and apply privileges in a controlled, measured way.
Cybersecurity requires organizations of all sizes to remain vigilant in the face of an ever-changing threat environment. This article provides a brief overview of some of the most impactful cybersecurity technologies businesses can deploy to mitigate cyber threats and defend their precious digital assets.
If you have concerns about your organization’s current cybersecurity posture, initiate a constructive dialogue with your IT support provider to determine whether they could be doing more to protect your network. If you currently lack a cohesive cybersecurity strategy, reaching out to a managed security service provider could be the best option for your business. This will ensure you get the level of protection and support you need to counter today’s burgeoning cyber threat landscape.
Coastal IT Support in Georgia, Brunswick
Are you prepared to revolutionize your business in Southeast Georgia, particularly in Brunswick? Look no further! Contact Coastal Computing today and embark on a transformative journey towards streamlined efficiency and accelerated growth in Southeast Georgia.
We understand that managing IT infrastructure can be complex and time-consuming, distracting you from core business objectives. That is where Coastal Computing’s expertise in providing expert IT Support in Brunswick, Georgia, comes in. With extensive experience and cutting-edge solutions tailored to the needs of the Brunswick area, we seamlessly handle all your IT needs, allowing you to focus on your business’s success.