Keeping your network secure – this is a subject that should be carefully considered for any network whether business or personal. Technology is the main way that people communicate today and we increasingly rely on email communication. Cyber criminals are using this as an opportunity to send more and more scam emails, texts and phone calls. Often all very realistic. Making sure your network has the best security systems in place will help to keep your network and data secure.
Password Security and 2FA
When it comes to password security the one main rule is NEVER EVER share your password with anyone. Then next is to ensure that your password is difficult to guess. 123456 or password are sadly still often used despite them being so easy to guess. Making sure you have a password that is harder for criminals to guess is vital. Alongside using different passwords for each account. With so many passwords to remember for your work and personal accounts it is becoming harder to separate these out as well as remember them all. This is where 2FA( 2 factor authentication) is an advantage. Many on-line accounts now require 2FA, where you will enter your normal password and are then required to confirm the log in with an additional code generated by text, email or an authenticator app.
Finally if you are ever asked to reset a password via an email – check it is a genuine request. It is very unlikely that any organisation would ask you to reset a password unexpectedly. Many people unfortunately become victims of scams through realistic looking requests to update passwords.
Firewall – why do you need one?
In the construction industry, a firewall is historically the protection between two buildings to prevent fire spreading across adjacent buildings.
The computing equivalent works in a similar format. Acting as a security fence surrounding your network, a firewall observes and restricts information coming in via email or the internet. The firewall will only allow information from sources pre-determined by your firewall and can either be a network or host based security system.
In most homes and businesses, routers are used to enable the connection of various devices to the internet. Prior to routers, each individual device would need to be plugged directly into the modem. When connected directly in this way, a device has a public IP address a allowing information to be accessed by anyone on the internet. As technology has developed most devices will have their own firewall built in. However larger networks will have a separate firewall to protect the security of the network.
Antivirus Software – why do you need it?
Did you know that the first computer virus was released in 1971? The Creeper virus was not designed to be malicious or cause damage but was an experiment to demonstrate a mobile application. Today, it is believed that over 6000 new viruses are released each month.
Antivirus software, also known as anti-malware, is a computer program designed to prevent, detect, and remove malware. Antivirus software can protect users from: malicious browser helper objects, browser hijackers, ransomware, keyloggers, backdoors, rootkits, trojan horses, worms, malicious LSPs, dialers, fraudtools, adware and spyware. There are various levels of protection available on the market. It is important that your choose the right anti-virus software for your network. Some products also include protection from other computer threats, such as infected and malicious URLs, spam, scam and phishing attacks, online identity, online banking attacks, social engineering techniques, advanced persistent threat and botnet DDoS attacks.
Security Awareness Training and Testing (SATT)
In addition to Firewalls and anti-virus software, MPR IT Solutions also offer SATT, Security Awareness Training and Testing. The purpose of this is to stop security incidents on your network, by providing your end users with Security Awareness Training and regular Testing. SATT is a fully managed service that is bespoke and tailored to every individual organisation. It takes up none of your time or resources, and is guaranteed to make a difference.
The SATT service combats the weakest cyber security link in any organisation – your end users – and is delivered in three stages over a 12-month service agreement. The total cost for the 12 month SATT service is far less than the cost of just one security incident.
Contact our team today
Supporting companies from a wide number of industries, MPR IT Solutions are experienced in the multitude of options across the markets and can tailor the right security systems to keep your network secure.
For more information on protecting and securing your network contact our team today on 0800 030 20 30 or email firstname.lastname@example.orgRead more
ANTI VIRUS PROTECTION – PROTECTING YOUR BUSINESS
Ransomware! CryptoLocker! Blaster Worm!
In recent years the threat from Cyber-criminals using these and many other virus and malware has been increasing and evolving. An attack on your network can be extremely costly, time consuming and frustrating for you, your employees and your customers.
Don’t think it can’t happen to you, until it’s too late.
MPR IT, is trusted and relied on by hundreds of businesses in the South East for many areas of IT Support and infrastructure, including network protection from such virus and malware threats?
MPR IT Solutions, continually strive to ensure that we offer the market leading services to all our clients. Our team of experts regularly review the market leaders in all services that we offer, and work hard to ensure that we are providing the best services to our clients to meet your individual needs. With this in mind we have recently taken the decision to use Webroot for protecting both our own and our customer networks. We feel that this is the best option in the market.
Contact us today to discuss how we can protect your business 0800 030 20 30 or email@example.comRead more
Email security and cybercrime – Almost daily there is a story that covers this subject in the news, whether it’s a large global corporation or an elderly retired person. So many people are still unaware of the risks that can be faced with email security.
Here at MPR IT, we have sadly gained a considerable amount of experience in dealing with these threats. We would therefore like to remind our customers of some simple guidelines that you should ensure your staff follow for email security. These include recommendations from the Government Cyber Essentials Scheme. We also strongly advise if you or any employee is concerned they have an affected PC/Laptop – call us asap
- Email Attachments – Never open an email or attachment if you don’t know the sender. If you are not expecting an attachment from a known sender – call them and check they did send you something
- Check email addresses – criminals will set up accounts with very similar email addresses making it easy to trick you into thinking you know the sender firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
- Malware Protection – do you have a robust malware in place? This will stop viruses and ransomware from getting through to your emails and employees
- Access Control – encourage your staff to choose passwords that would be hard to guess and not simply change the number on the end each time it needs to be Password or 123456 are not ever going to be good choices. Also ensure that admin passwords are only given out to members of staff that should have access to these.
- Firewalls – investing in a high end firewall can prevent hackers from gaining access to your systems and to make certain there are no leaks.
- Secure configuration – Is your system configured to ensure security for your organisation. Are all laptops, PC’s and phones password protected? Do files need to be password protected?
- Patch Management – the likes of Microsoft and other operating systems regularly release new updates to their software. Ensure you are fully up to date as these updates will often include patches to ensure your systems are more secure. As hackers become more clever the software providers work hard to identify areas to increase security.
We also recommend you view the following websites
- National Cybercrime Website
- Thames Valley Police – Little Book of Cyber Scams
- Thames Valley Police – Little Book of Big Scams
Whilst the majority of news stories cover ransomware and data being lost or damaged, we have known criminals to spend months watching systems, gathering information and general daily routines. Then with a simple email, that looks to have come from a sender you know they have managed to gain access to your bank accounts and emptied them before anyone has realised. Either way it is extremely costly to your business. Please ensure your staff are fully briefed on email security and the types of scams and crimes that can & have happened. If any doubt or you would like more information please contact us to discuss.
Cyberscams affect people in many walks of life. We have all seen the stories in the news of large corporations that have been hacked such as the recent NHS attack or Talk Talk in recent years. Companies of all sizes are at risk to being hacked or cyberscams, SME’s are targeted just as often, we just dont see it reported as much. Even in your personal life you can be at risk for cyberscams, through social media or email. The cyber criminals are getting sharper and also now send text messages as well as emails to trick people. Everyone no matter their age can be at risk.
Cyberscams can be devastating, with criminals asking you to click on a link to confirm your details and taking you to a dummy site that looks very real. They can also access your systems and monitor your activity, create ghost accounts that make you think you are dealing with a supplier you deal with all the time when in fact they are scammers looking to steal your data and money.
Whilst as a company MPR IT, often given advice and have written a number of blogs on this subject, we have recently come across these two books written by Thames Valley and Metropolitan Police. We feel these are extremely useful and would strongly suggest that you take the time to read and digest. Obviously if you have any questions or require any additional support regarding this subject our team will be pleased to help.Read more
Ransomware, cryptolocker and cybercrime seem to be the most popular topics in the news this year. I look after the social media here at MPR IT and a large chunk of my role is to review numerous websites looking for news that may be of interest to not only our customers but also to our team. By keeping on top of the news means we can be one step ahead of new technology coming out, and also what to watch out for.
Most of the news seems to be about cybercrime and hackers lately. Companies are attacked daily, from small websites through to the American government. Utility companies, dating sites, children’s toys they have all been in the news and not for the best reasons. Just this week it was reported that train companies in the UK had been hacked. With more and more companies relying on technology to run it, I sadly fear it won’t be long till some unscrupulous organisation will try a major attack to infrastructure.
Whilst reviewing news sites this week, I was extremely pleased to see a report on a University in Florida. They are one small step closer to helping the world combat cybercrime, by designing a technique called Crypto Drop. The report showed that by monitoring activity on targeted files, it was possible to block ransomware when only a tiny percentage had been encrypted. Whilst it is not fail safe, it is a new approach against hackers. The technique includes countermeasures which are triggered once ransomware infiltrates the network. This technique relies on three indicators of ransomware activity:
- Bulk modification of file types
- Dissimilarity – plain text looks nothing like encrypted file
- Entropy – encryption produces high entropy
Whilst running the demonstration it was proven that Crypto Drop can contain the action of malware. Only 0.2% of files were encrypted. In essence this is an early warning system as opposed to a fail safe solution. Ransomware will still be on your network, and action should still be taken to clean the network, however only a small percentage of files will be lost as opposed to the network. This will not be an automated piece of software and will require your network administrator to run the software to help distinguish between expected and unexpected activity.
As we all know the people behind cybercrime are equally as clever and constantly coming up with new ways to infiltrate our systems and come up with new scams, once a program such as this is developed fully and launched they will no doubt be looking at ways to break through Crypto Drop.
So there is a little light at the end of the tunnel in the war against cybercrime. In the meantime please ensure you review your network security and business practises to ensure you do not become a victim to cybercrime. We have blogged before about the best ways to stay ahead of hackers and this technique will be no excuse to not continue ensuring your systems are secure and backed up regularly. If you require any assistance on making sure your network is secure at all times please contact us at MPR IT Solutions.Read more
Cybercrime and you
The hot topic for the first half of 2016 has been all about cybercrime, hacking and ransomware. It seems that no company no matter the size is safe from attack. In this blog we will talk about some of the companies that have been attacked and how this can ultimately affect you. We will also talk about the steps you need to take to ensure your systems and network are secure.
Can you name a well-known organisation that has been attacked? Here are just a few that you will know and possibly use:
Talk Talk – 57,000 customer personal details accessed and 15,600 customer bank details taken. This caused uncertainty for many customers as to what had happened to their bank details and at what cost to them. This attack cost the company upwards of £35million in compensation and loss of customers. 4 people were subsequently arrested in connection to the attack.
Vtech – Over 5 million customers affected by this attack on children’s manufacturer. Accounts set up online to allow children to play games were hacked, leaving them vulnerable. Whilst it did not store any bank or credit card details, it did store personal contact information. The company were not even aware of the attack until contacted by a journalist. A 21 year old was arrested, he had carried out this attack from his home in Berkshire.
BBC News, The New York Times, MSN – One of the more recent occurrence. These news sites were unwitting victims to malicious adverts on their sites or malvertising. Tens of thousands of people were exposed to these adverts, which could deliver malware to your device, encrypting your files. This was a large attack on well-known news outlets and if they had been successful could have been devastating for millions of people, however all ads were removed quickly.
Ashley Madison – The chances are you don’t know the company by name, but will have heard this story. The company are an on-line site encouraging extra-marital affairs. The site was hacked and user details stolen. The information was then leaked on-line causing many spouses to be very unhappy. We can all guess how that ended up for many people.
FBI – Slightly concerning that the Federal Government of America are also at risk. The same hackers also accessed the CIA director’s personal email. Having accessed the FBI Portal the hackers were then able to view records on arrested suspects. These details were then leaked on-line.
Donald Trump – Now no matter your view on the Presidential candidate for the US, it is surprising that even businesses owned by one of the most successful businessman at are risk. Malware was put into the Trump Systems and stole credit card details from hotels across the US. It is not known how many people were affected by this, but expected to be in the thousands. The hacktivists Anonymous have also recently announced they are declaring war on Trump.
Now for some of the lesser known companies, some of which are in our own region, just to show you that it is not just the large companies in the world that can be vulnerable. Do not have a false sense of security that this cannot happen to you. Sadly everyone is at risk.
Solar UK – Based in Battle, East Sussex, this small business of just 11 people were hacked by the current largest terrorist organisation, ISIS. The company website was vulnerable to attack and unbeknown to them, the website had been taken off line. Anyone searching for them, would be horrified to see CCA or the Caliphate Cyber Army videos. This hack was apparently in revenge for a drone strike in Syria. It is believed that the company was targeted by a search Robot trawling through the internet to find unsecure websites.
Chatham Town FC – In January of 2015, this small part time football club had its page hacked and in place of the usual content an image was put up supporting the perpetrators of the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris. Luckily all the content of the Football website was backed up and was back up and running after a couple of days with no data lost.
The list seems to go on and on of varying different business types that are vulnerable, we highly recommend that you review all your network and personal security. The Government Cyber Essentials scheme backed by the FSB is key to help win any government contracts and is good practices for all businesses. It is no longer something that businesses should think it would be nice to have in place, it is essential. The risks are extremely high, not just for your customer’s details, but also your business as a whole. If you are unfortunate enough to be attacked, it will be costly both in monetary value for custom, but also in getting it fixed and downtime for your staff.
These are the 5 key points on the Government Cyber Essentials scheme
Malware Protection – do you have a robust malware in place? This will stop viruses and ransomware from getting through to your emails and employees.
Access Control – encourage your staff to choose passwords that would be hard to guess and not simply change the number on the end each time it needs to be updated. Password or 123456 are not ever going to be good choices. Also ensure that admin passwords are only given out to members of staff that should have access to these.
Firewalls – investing in a high end firewall can prevent hackers from gaining access to your systems and to make certain there are no leaks.
Secure configuration – Is your system configured to ensure security for your organisation. Are all laptops, PC’s and phones password protected? Do files need to be password protected?
Patch Management – the likes of Microsoft and other operating systems regularly release new updates to their software. Ensure you are fully up to date as these updates will often include patches to ensure your systems are more secure. As hackers become more clever the software providers work hard to identify areas to increase security.
We also recommend you view the national cybercrime website or if you have any concerns about any of the issues raised in this blog – please contact MPR IT to discuss the current state of your network and if there is anything else we can help you with to improve security.Read more
Ransomware – Cryptolocker
In simple terms this is a version of ransomware based on holding users to random for their data. Malware is installed on your system through spam emails and will hijack your data, then hold you to ransom by demanding payment to release the data. Chances are you will never see your money or your data again.
How this works
Using social engineering, CryptoLocker will trick the user. A Trojan email will be sent to you with a Zip file and ask you to open this with a password that is included in the email. Once the system attempts to open the files, CryptoLocker will take advantage of Windows default behaviour by hiding the real malicious file and installing this on your system. It will save itself to a folder in your user profile with a key register to make sure it runs every time your computer is started.
Once installed it will generate a random key for each file that it encrypts, the only person with the key is the person that has sent the Trojan email and only they can decrypt it to open your files. Once it has encrypted all your files, it will pop up a message on your screen asking for a ransom to obtain the key and a time limit for you to pay.
How to ensure you are not affected by this
Essentially this is down to the individual. The one main rule everyone should follow is ‘Never open an attachment from someone you don’t know’. Following this rule is the first step to avoid any virus, not just CryptoLocker. The second key rule to follow is ‘Regular and consistent back up of all files’. This means that you will effectively only lose the data that has been created since the last back up e.g the night before. The third and quite possibly one of the most important rules ‘Never pay up’. By paying these ransoms you are effectively letting them win. Scams such as these and many others will only continue if people pay up. It becomes a source for a large amount of income and encourages these scammers to come up with new and wonderful ways to scam people. Make sure that your Operating system is regularly updated to ensure that any fix/patch from Windows is installed in your system to avoid any infiltration. Operating systems are regularly updated to combat any new virus threat as they become known.
- Never open an attachment from someone you don’t know
- Regular and consistent back up of all files
- Never pay up
- Make sure that your Operating system is regularly updated.
As time has gone on and Operating Systems have been patched for these threats, we are now starting to see variation on Cryptolocker and it is now often seen as Crytpowall. It is essentially the same threat, however sticking to the above rules you are more likely to escape this threat.
We have had a number of cases of this being reported to us from companies. If you have any concerns for your current email filtering and virus protection, please contact us a matter of urgency to discuss your options. It is easier and more cost effective to protect you from virus threat than it is fix the problem. If you become a victim of any virus it will not only be costly to fix, you may lose valuable data and work time.