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Sensitive Data Exposure – What Does It Mean For Your Business And How To Avoid It

sensitive

Sensitive Data Exposure – What Does It Mean For Your Business And How To Avoid It

In the modern global data ecosystem, businesses collect and hold a lot of sensitive consumer data. Company databases store sensitive information such as credit card numbers, passwords, house addresses, phone numbers, social security numbers, and email addresses. Although this data is an asset for most companies, it becomes a risk in case of a data breach.

Sensitive data needs to be protected against all unauthorized access to prevent exposure to potential hackers and fraudulent activities. When unauthorized individuals access consumer data, it can be quite costly. Statistics show that the cost of a data breach in 2022 stood at $4.24 million per breach. It also compromises privacy and can lead to stolen identities and fraud. Therefore, if this happens to your business, the consequences could be severe enough to affect your operations.

In this article we’ll explain how does sensitive data exposure happen and how to avoid it?

What is sensitive data exposure?

Sensitive data exposure occurs when unauthorized people access personal information or company data. It usually happens when a company accidentally exposes sensitive information due to inefficient security measures, poor encryption, misconfigurations, and inappropriate data systems. 

Data exposure leads to unlawful destruction, alteration, and loss of sensitive data. Here are some of the attacks that expose sensitive data.

  • SQL injection attacks — they occur when an attacker introduces malicious queries into your system to extract sensitive user information with a simple command.
  • Insider attacks — they happen when a current or former employee with authorized access breaks into your system to steal data.
  • Phishing — designed to mislead users to get them to offer sensitive information via text messages or emails.

How does data exposure happen?

Most organizations have invested heavily in complex IT systems to boost their data security. Despite that, sensitive data is still vulnerable to exposure either through employee errors or poor data control systems. To effectively protect your data, you need to know the different methods of data exposure.  

Data in transit

Data is always traversing through networks, servers, or people. For instance, when you send an email, the information moves from on-premise to the cloud. As data is being exchanged between application programming interfaces (APIs) and servers, it’s at risk of interception. 

Cybercriminals exploit any security flaws between two applications or servers to get the data. Sensitive data is exposed during transit due to a lack of encryption, poor data control policies, or when employees use insecure connections. 

Data at rest

As of 2022, 60% of all corporate data was stored in the cloud. While this helps companies with data management, they face dangerous cloud data risks. In an average company, 157,000 sensitive records are at risk of being exposed through various channels, representing $28 million in data-breach risk.

The security of stored data depends on the protocols in place to protect it. The information is prone to SQL injections and other attacks when there’s no proper encryption on company files and databases. Additionally, sensitive data at rest can be exposed if there are misconfiguration errors, such as having private information available on the internet for anyone to access. 

How to avoid sensitive data exposure

Exposure of sensitive data can be prevented by taking the right steps to mitigate the risk and quickly detect potential breaches. Here are some of the steps you should take.

Classify your data

To avoid sensitive data exposure in your business, you first need to know where all your sensitive data is. For instance, you should know which files and databases contain customer information and which ones hold important passwords. This way, you can devise better ways to secure the data.

In order to avoid sensitive data exposure, create an automated classification system that gives a clear picture of the location, owners, type of security, and governance measures your business has.

Improve your access control

Some data attacks happen due to poor sensitive data visibility. For example, you’ll find that some businesses don’t know which files or databases contain sensitive information, and where the data — like passwords, and customer information like Social Security numbers — is stored. When your business has poor visibility and classification, you can’t track and secure all the data.

One of the ways to boost your data security is by improving and automating your data access service. This determines who can access files and the networks in your business and for how long. Develop an automated access management policy that determines the privilege of every user that does not rely on manual granting and accessing of sensitive data. With proper access controls, only the intended individuals can view and alter sensitive data.

Regular testing

Attackers use different vulnerabilities to gain access to sensitive data. For instance, if your system is not properly encrypted, it becomes easier to penetrate and get this information. However, with regular penetration testing, you can detect weaknesses and strengthen security measures.

Penetration testing simulates how real-world attackers use your vulnerabilities to gain access to your data. Conducting these tests regularly provides insights into your defenses. You can hire a data expert to launch these penetration tests if you process sensitive information on a larger scale. Once you have the results, you can add extra layers of security to protect your business from potential data breaches.   

Summary

Businesses must keep sensitive data unexposed. While sensitive data is at risk when in transit or at rest, you can protect your business by ensuring that you conduct regular testing, classify the data, and improve your access control measures. Additionally, you can safeguard data by using tokenization which protects social security numbers, credit cards and other well-defined databases.

It’s important to pay attention to your data, especially due to the emergence of for-profit attackers who are looking to re-sell sensitive information or hold businesses for ransom. 

Author’s bio

Ben is an experienced tech leader and book author with a background in endpoint security, analytics, and application & data security. Ben filled roles such as the CTO of Cynet, and Director of Threat Research at Imperva. Ben is the Chief Scientist for Satori, the DataSecOps platform, as well as VP of Marketing.

 

cyber-security

Cyber-Security Takes Its Rightful Place At The Forefront of Multinational Corporation (MNC) Growth Strategies

Over the last few years, cyber-attacks have become more and more prevalent across the United States and no doubt in the global news cycle. ‘Ransomware’ has become a household name and in short, found its potential to hold America and its businesses hostage.
From the attack on the JBS meat plants to the Colonial Pipeline, the correlative effects are clear and present to both small enterprises and multinationals.

The potential for digital warfare to spill beyond Russian and Ukrainian IP addresses should serve as additional notice that companies need to be thinking pragmatically and be on high alert.

Atlantic Data Security is a Cybersecurity solutions provider that manages, consults, and offers wholescale security protection solutions. Named the “Most Promising Cyber Security Solution Provider by CIOReview,” Atlantic Data Security can analyze all types of system configurations, then recommend, deploy and manage all critical security components of a company’s network.

Scott Kasper serves as the company’s CEO, herein addressing the challenges and opportunities inherent to the industry of cyber and to cyber stakeholders.
Please provide our readership with background on the steer and scale of Atlantic Data Security?SK: Atlantic Data Security has over 30 years of experience in the cyber security industry providing high-level cyber consulting and professional services to some of the world’s top corporations.  We also provide end-to-end value from architecture to professional services, managed services, post-deployment support, and consulting.

We have physical offices up and down the East Coast.  We partner with the leading suppliers of cyber technology to meet the ever-evolving needs of our clients.

The notion of quasi-‘State Capture’ through ransom-ware has captivated the media cycle as of late. Where are the pain points in an organization assessing their weaknesses against ‘phishing’-oriented and cyber-security threats?

SK: Phishing attacks are considered among the most challenging cyber-security threats faced by all organizations.  Regardless of how much you train your employees, or how cautious they are online, there remains a high probability that your company or agency will still be attacked.

Phishers keep developing their techniques over time and as long as there is electronic media, they will find vulnerabilities to exploit.  Ransom-ware attacks are becoming daily headlines precisely because they are so prevalent.  360-degree knowledge about your environment is the first step of being prepared for an attack.  Here’s our approach:

First, we conduct a Readiness Assessment.

A Readiness Assessment will improve your organization’s ability to respond to a ransom-ware attack quickly and effectively.  Our firm is made up of experts who have extensive experience in cyber-security and incident response (IR) plans.  We will review your IR plan, capabilities, and technologies. If you don’t have such a plan, we’ll help you craft one.  Our consultants will highlight gaps and identify areas for improvement to bolster your readiness and strengthen your overall cyber defense capabilities.

Here’s what we’ll do as part of our typical Assessment:

1.  Analyze relevant firewall and network device configurations for security weaknesses;

2.  Review user activity logging and audit configurations to prepare for a potentially broader investigative efforts;

3.  Review network and endpoint security monitoring solutions and processes;

4.  Evaluate email and web filtering options and configurations to prevent phishing attacks and malicious payload delivery;

5.  Review access and privileged access controls and processes; and

6.  Evaluate overall vulnerability and patch management controls and processes

Next, we’ll teach you to run a Ransom-ware Tabletop Exercise.

Performing the Ransom-ware Tabletop Exercise will improve your organization’s ability to quickly and effectively respond to a ransom-ware attack.   At Atlantic Data Security, we will design and facilitate a ransom-ware attack tabletop IR exercise.  We base the exercise on the many investigations our IR team will have performed to test your readiness by means of a simulated attack.

We also educate and train your teams to practice IR processes and workflows. It is important to keep up-to-date on modern day attack techniques to evaluate effectiveness in, and be ready for, real-world scenarios.

Where are the opportunities for industry growth in the arena of cyber security?

SK: At Atlantic Data Security, the opportunities for growth are nearly infinite.  We are building a generation of expertise in an area where real world experience is frighteningly rare in the existing talent pool.  While it is said there is a zero percent unemployment rate in cyber, that fact does not take into account the dearth of practically tested experts. We provide that real world experience because we’ve been there since the beginning.

Today there is an even greater need for top-level, defensive talent. With increased use of the cloud and the accelerating rate of people working remotely, the market needs professionals trained and experienced in keeping organizations safe.

Where does Atlantic Data Security seek to expand within the course of five years’ time?

SK: Atlantic Data Security is poised for vibrant growth over the next five years.  Towards the end of 2020, I was tasked with engineering our business practice to take fuller advantage of our primary resources – our consultants.  Atlantic Data Security’s long history and background puts us in the unique position of being one of the top cyber consulting firms in the world.

Like the business management firms McKinsey, Boston Consulting Group and Bain & Company, Atlantic Data Security is becoming the leader in cyber consulting.

As we grow, we are investing in 5 key areas:

Brand name:  Our brand is our promise to our customers. We see it as our responsibility to provide advice, guidance, and assistance to protect against cyberattacks with proactive, focused, industry-relevant threat intelligence. That’s why our name gives our clients the confidence that comes from knowing their business is secure.Strategy work: At Atlantic Data Security, we focus on strategy work, which is the cutting-edge of consulting work in the cyber industry.   We also partner with other leading cyber agencies and leaders to ensure we are providing the latest and absolute best advice and counsel to our clients.

Strong client relationships:  Advising and standing by our clients for over three decades, we have built very long-standing relationships. Atlantic Data Security has a history of client retention because we put tremendous value on client trust and on the quality and impact of our work.  We feel as though we are truly an extension of each of our clients’ team, and that is how we work.

Investment in personal development: Atlantic Data Security invests heavily in the professional development of our consultants. Some of our consultants come to us with years of experience, but that is never where the learning ends.  Our consultants have the opportunity to learn and develop many skills, both hard skills and soft skills, in a short period of time. Atlantic Data Security believes mentorship is essential and facilitates frequent peering sessions and exposure to best practices among all divisions.

Talented, smart people: Atlantic Data Security hires the smartest, most talented people around. Our clients know that when a consultant is working with them, they are not part of a training cycle or in the middle of a learning curve.  We have the most knowledgeable and professional consultants in the industry.

Lastly, in the era of en masse virtualization accelerated by COVID-19 social distancing, how can technology safeguard work-from-home employees of MNCs?

SK: There are a number of ways companies and employees can safeguard work from home especially if they are working for Multinational Corporations.  For instance:

For the Employer:

Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN).

The use of a VPN is a fundamental safeguard when users access the company’s network from home or a remote location. A VPN also allows for encryption of data, which adds a level of protection for information such as passwords, credit card numbers and other sensitive or private information. A VPN can also provide a level of anonymity through capabilities such as masking of location data, website history and IP addresses.

Implement Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA).

The simple principle of MFA is that an authorized user must provide more than one method of validating their identity. Even if a cyber attacker has obtained a user ID and password, MFA decreases the risk that an attacker can gain access by requiring an additional means of validation. Multi-factor Authentication uses something you have such as an authenticator app on a smartphone, something you are such as a fingerprint or something you know like a PIN number.

Ensure systems, software, technologies, and devices are updated with the latest security patches.

Employers should track the equipment to be used in a home environment and provide a means of updating software security patches.

For the Employee:

Prevent unauthorized users on company resources (e.g., laptops, mobile devices).

Employees should not allow anyone to access company resources, including family members.

Use only company-authorized devices for remote work.

Personal devices may not have the same level of security and privacy protections as company devices. If your company has a “Bring Your Own Device” policy, be sure that your use of a personal device is in accordance with that policy. This includes home printers and personal email accounts.

Dispose of company documents properly.

Review your company’s records retention and management policies, as well as information management policies, to ensure compliance. If you must dispose of hard copies of company documents, either shred them or securely retain them for proper disposal when you return to the office.

supply chain security ctpat

Improving Security Along Your Supply Chain: 7 Pointers

Disruptions in the supply chain can ripple throughout entire industries. As the world becomes more interconnected, these threats become increasingly worrisome, with widespread issues throughout the COVID-19 pandemic highlighting their severity.

Supply chain attacks rose by 42% in Q1 2021 in the U.S. alone, impacting 7 million people. In light of these rising threats, supply chain security is more important than ever. Here are seven pointers for improving safety.

1. Restrict Access Privileges

One of the primary drivers behind rising supply chain attacks is these networks’ wealth of valuable data. Logistics organizations have gone digital and now generate and store vast amounts of information that cybercriminals can steal or hold for ransom. Restricting access privileges can help mitigate these threats.

The more people have access to a system or database, the more potential entry points there are for cybercriminals. Supply chains can eliminate these vulnerabilities by restricting who can see or interact with which systems. A good practice to follow is the least privilege principle: Only those who absolutely need given data to perform their duties can access it.

Tighter access privileges should pair with thorough authentication measures. Users must verify their identity through multifactor authentication (MFA) before accessing anything they’re authorized to.

2. Verify Third Parties’ Security

Third-party actors are another common vulnerability among supply chains. As an example of how pressing this issue is, the now-infamous SolarWinds hack, the biggest cyberattack of 2020, came from a third party. Hackers gained access to thousands of businesses and agencies by infiltrating SolarWinds, a third-party service they all used.

Supply chains must verify the security of any third party before doing business with them. That can mean asking for proof of security measures, only partnering with certified organizations or auditing third parties’ security through independent specialists.

Organizations should also apply the principle of least privilege here. Third parties should only have access to the systems and data they need and nothing more. That way, a breach on their end will cause minimal damage.

3. Secure All IoT Devices

Many have unknowingly created new vulnerabilities as supply chains have embraced new technologies. The widespread use of Internet of Things (IoT) devices to track inventories and shipments can put supply chains at risk. While these gadgets are extraordinarily helpful, they’re notoriously risky if companies don’t secure them properly.

A seemingly innocuous IoT device can act as a gateway to more sensitive systems and data on the same network. Thankfully, the steps to mitigate this threat are relatively straightforward. First, supply chains should host IoT devices on separate networks from other systems so hackers can’t access more sensitive data through them.

Next, supply chains must encrypt all IoT communications to secure their data transmissions. Encryption is often disabled by default, so this step is easy to overlook. Enabling automatic updates will help keep these devices secure, too.

4. Equip Workers Appropriately

While cyber threats may be the most pressing aspect of supply chain security, organizations shouldn’t neglect physical security, either. Piracy, physical theft and similar crimes are still relevant dangers. Supply chains can protect against these by hiring security staff and equipping them appropriately.

New padding technologies can consist of 0.01% solid material but still provide sufficient protection. Equipment like that will help security workers stay safe while not restricting their comfort or range of motion. Other tools like metal detectors, flashlights and ID scanners can further provide these employees with the utmost protection.

Equipping drivers and other supply chain workers with emergency resources is crucial, too. Radios, medical kits, rations and similar supplies should be standard in trucks, ships and other vehicles.

5. Improve Supply Chain Transparency

Supply chains can improve physical and digital security by increasing transparency. The more an organization can see about its operations, the faster it can respond to any incoming threats.

IoT security systems can let workers monitor cameras from their phones, giving quick access to security information. Similarly, organizations can employ smart sensors to monitor for break-ins, fires, leaks and other threats to alert employees when a situation arises. When companies learn of these risks faster, they can respond more effectively.

Similarly, network monitoring tools can give IT teams insight into potential data breaches. Artificial intelligence (AI) systems can continuously monitor for suspicious activity, alerting workers when there’s a possible cybercrime attempt.

6. Train Employees in Security Best Practices

No matter what other security steps an organization takes, employees must be taught about them. All it takes is one misstep from a worker to jeopardize a supply chain’s security, regardless of how strong its other defenses are. For this reason, as many as 85% of data breaches result from human error.

Every employee should receive security training covering relevant risks, best practices and emergency procedures. It’s important to stress why these methods are important so workers understand the gravity of their actions in some situations.

In addition to initial security training sessions, supply chain organizations should host regular refresher training. That way, proper procedures will remain fresh in employees’ minds, preventing mistakes related to them forgetting best practices.

7. Create an Incident Response Plan

Supply chains must understand that no defense system is perfect. Disruptions in this industry are too risky, and it’s likely they will someday experience an emergency. They should create a formal incident response plan to enable quick, effective action should an unexpected event occur.

More than half of all companies have experienced downtime that’s lasted eight hours or more in the past five years. Supply chains can prevent this through a disaster recovery plan. What this looks like will vary among organizations, but it should include backup resources, communication strategies, specific protocols for each department and contingency plans.

Supply chains don’t need to prepare for every emergency but should determine which events are the most likely or potentially destructive. These incidents deserve formal, detailed response plans, which all employees should know. To ensure ongoing efficacy, organizations should periodically review and update these plans.

Supply Chain Security Is Essential

If a supply chain experiences a security breach, it could affect far more than the logistics company itself. That risk, coupled with the rising trend of supply chain attacks, makes these security steps essential.

These seven points are not a comprehensive list of security procedures but cover the most important factors. Supply chain organizations should ensure they consider these steps and take further action if necessary.

biometrics

Top 4 Trends Propelling the Growth of Biometrics Market Over 2021-2027

The biometrics market has already established its significant presence across the security landscape in a bid to combat the increasing instances of data theft, security breaches, and data hacking. The growing significance of accurate access control systems across corporate organizations and commercial complexes has instigated the deployment of biometric solutions to a great extent. The widely used biometrics technology is fingerprint recognition, which is considered ideal to ensure accurate employee identification and track attendance automatically. Besides, facial recognition is also gaining traction, especially in government organizations for tracking criminals. These organizations use facial recognition technology to compare the facial features in real-time with the existing database of blacklisted people. The growing popularity of these technologies is accelerating the expansion of the biometrics market.

According to the recent report by Global Market Insights, Inc., biometrics market size is projected to surpass USD 45 billion by 2027, considering the following trends:

Growing popularity in the retail & e-commerce industry

The mounting popularity of biometrics in the retail & e-commerce industry can be ascribed to the growing necessity of understanding in-store consumer behavior among large retailers. They are majorly incorporating analytics with facial recognition for the same and offering customized services according to individual preferences.

Quoting an instance, in 2020, CyberLink Corp. collaborated with NTT DATA to deploy a remote retail solution based on the former’s FaceMe® facial recognition engine, at an unstaffed concept store with Tokyu Hands in Shibuya. According to the company, this integrated solution combines remote serving, anonymized AI data analytics, and digital information monitors to facilitate a strong self-service customer experience.

Increasing adoption of iris recognition technology 

Iris recognition technology is witnessing heightened demand as it offers higher accuracy in the process of user authentication. The identification algorithms used in this technology locate the boundaries of the iris and processes the image to deliver a concise and distinct representation of individuals’ iris patterns.

In addition, iris recognition has a very lower false match rate and is primarily used where the size of the population is large. For instance, in India, iris data from over one billion people has been collected for the Aadhaar Unique Identity program. Similarly, iris identity validation is used in the air and seaports of the UAE.

Rising demand from the automotive sector

The automotive makers are now increasingly integrating their vehicles with in-car biometric solutions for user authentication, driver liveness detection, and payments. These systems allow automakers to enhance passenger convenience. For instance, voice-enabled access control technology helps in addressing car thefts by enabling accurate user identification.

Another technology that is in huge demand in the automotive sector is iris recognition. Hyundai Motor Group, for instance, is working on adding an iris recognition feature that sends an alert when the driver is not attentive. It detects the risk of intrusion and lane departure caused by the driver’s carelessness in advance and calls the driver’s attention with cluster warning lights, alarm sounds, and vibrations.

Thriving electronics industry in North America

The ongoing expansion of North America’s consumer electronics sector is positively impacting the biometrics industry as electronics manufacturers are now integrating facial recognition and fingerprint authentication features in their devices. This helps in ensuring that the device is being accessed only by authorized individuals.

The integration of biometrics eliminates the need to enter credentials, providing better confidentiality in the event of security breaches caused by password leakage. Besides, the growing adoption of biometric systems in the government and defense sector is also favoring market growth. For instance, the application of voice recognition systems in government facilities enables seamless identification of individuals using their unique voice patterns.

The rising demand for accurate access control across corporate offices coupled with the growing necessity for identification solutions in the automotive sector, BFSI, government organizations, etc. is largely driving the growth of the biometrics market. Increasing adoption in the consumer electronics sector and continuous technological advancements are further strengthening the business space.

cybersecurity

3 Biggest Threats to a Bank’s Cybersecurity

Our world is changing. It is undergoing rapid and massive digitization. It would be safe to claim that we have the global pandemic to blame for that. However, we believe that we would have gotten there anyway given the trajectory of our current technological advancements.

Education, various business processes一almost everything can already be done online these days. The world has passed a point of no return and will never go back to what it was pre-pandemic. What has been made digital will remain digital. While this new normal does offer a lot of conveniences, it also presented a new set of challenges, particularly in cybersecurity. And of all the industries that have gone online, it is probably the world of banking that we are most concerned for. What are the financial problems that these changes will pose?

In this article, we are going to talk about the biggest threats to cybersecurity in the banking sector. Let’s start with the most basic: unencrypted data.

Unencrypted Data

Data encryption is the process of converting data from a readable format into a decoded one. Various institutions usually have their own specific codes. In this way, no one would be able to easily read their data outside the firm, should their data fall into the wrong hands.

Think of data encryption as both the vanguard and the rear of cybersecurity. An effective encryption process can deter people with malicious intent. And if they ever get their hands on the said data, they would still have to try to decrypt it anyway before it can be of any use to them. These added security measures can be truly valuable for any financial institution.

Malware

The next imminent threat is malware. While we have no doubt that most financial institutions work with competent cybersecurity agencies in order to protect their devices from being hacked, it is also true that this might not include their staff.

A breach into a system is still possible through a compromised employee phone. All he needs to do is to connect to the office’s computer network and a hacker can already begin accessing compromising information.

The same thing can happen when you’re collaborating with a third-party service. We understand how convenient it is to employ a third-party service. It can potentially save time, money, and other resources.

However, it can also expose your financial institution to certain risks if your partner doesn’t have effective cybersecurity measures in place.

The best solution to prevent potential attacks in this manner remains to be adequate employee training. Make your staff aware of the very real (and billion-dollar) repercussions of a security breach.

It is also possible to limit the access of your employees. Just let them access the minimum data that they need in order to perform their tasks. This is for their own protection as well.

Finally, running comprehensive background checks and being particularly careful with the people you hire will also help. Just make sure that your checks remain compliant to prevent any issues.

As for business partners, one should never be afraid to ask about potential partners’ cybersecurity efforts.

Data Manipulation

Another big concern is data manipulation. There are three ways in how your data can be manipulated. First, it can be stolen, copied, and distributed elsewhere, much like how hackers are able to create realistic company pages for phishing. This is called spoofing.

Data can also be deleted. This is particularly true for bigger financial institutions with competing firms. An attacker might not really have the intention to steal information but to mess up the system by deleting crucial bits of data.

Can you imagine the panic that will ensue if a financial institution suddenly lost all its client information?

Finally, data can be edited without the owner’s knowledge. Despite the common belief that data-stealing is the worst cybersecurity attack that can happen, we still believe data alteration worse. That’s because this attack is a bit difficult to detect right away.

It’s easy for bigger companies to detect if their data has been stolen and being used with malicious intent. Data deletion is a complete giveaway. You will learn that an attack has happened right after it did. There’s even a chance of stopping it halfway if you’re lucky to catch it early enough.

What makes data alteration particularly detrimental is the fact that it can’t easily be detected. A firm can go on for months without even knowing that an attack has happened. After all, the manipulated data may look unaltered on the surface, but the truth is, hundreds (if not thousands) of micro edits have already been made. If the hacker succeeds, the financial institution may be held liable to pay millions of dollars in damages.

How Imminent Is the Threat?

The cybersecurity threats that we have mentioned above are just some of the most common ones that financial institutions globally are faced with every day. It’s just the tip of the iceberg. There are definitely other forms of cyberattacks out there, and even more, being developed by the minute.

According to Mark Whelan, a banking expert from the Australia and New Zealand Banking Group, cyberattacks are more prominent and brazen than ever before. It has even reached the point that they are receiving up to 10 million attacks in a month.

For him, this is the biggest threat that financial institutions are currently facing, and experts predict that it’s only going to get worse.

Final Thoughts

Indeed, it is a brave new world that we’re living in. The risks and threats that we are facing right now are so stark in contrast to what we have experienced in the past. Gone are the days of bank heists with guns blazing. Instead, the bigger threat is probably wearing a sweatshirt right now in a random room somewhere across the globe. The fact that you wouldn’t have to take such a risk on your life makes the prospect even more appealing.

This has led financial institutions to prioritize cybersecurity efforts and training. Fortunately, with adequate risk assessment and planning, we are confident that you will be able to prevent severe cyberattacks from happening.

_______________________________________________________________________

Jim Hughes is a content marketer who has significant experience covering technology, finance, economics, and business topics. At the moment, he is the Director of Content at OpenCashAdvance.com.

IT

Why IT is Key to Every Business’s Success

Many people in business view IT as the problem solvers to turn to when their computer programs are running slow, they need new batteries for their mouse, or when any other unavoidable technological issues arise. In reality, fixing computers is only a tiny piece of an IT professional’s duties. The IT department’s importance is often underestimated by other teams, but it is actually one of the key drivers to success in every organization.

Implement Tools Across the Organization

When we think we’ve seen all that technology can do, new tools are introduced that can solve problems that you’re experiencing in your everyday life. Whether it’s using smart appliances at home or ordering groceries online, people have become accustomed to the simplified life that technology offers. It’s no surprise that the workplace also follows this popular trend as technology makes professional life much easier.

IT plays an important role in deciding what technology an organization should implement. They might work with the Marketing and Sales departments to find lead generation tools or work with the Customer Service team to find technology that automates chat responses outside of business hours. IT can find the tools that will streamline communication, offer robust security, and automate slow, daily processes.

IT can help every department across an organization determine what technology is best suited for their needs and fill in the gaps. With IT’s help, each department can reach new levels of productivity with the new tools that allow them to focus on the most important part of their jobs.

Keep Up With Technology Maintenance

All of a business’s productivity problems don’t end completely after just finding the right tools. With constantly changing technology, IT helps with maintenance and managing the tools to keep everything running smoothly.

If the software that an employee uses daily is malfunctioning, not only will they not be as effective at their job, but their productivity may turn into a downward spiral. They’ll spend more of their day trying to fix the program that makes no progress on their workload. To prevent this, IT can once again step in to save the day.

IT is essential to an organization because it can stop other employees from wasting their time trying to fix a system. IT knows the world of technology inside and out so they are the best resource for fixing problems as they arise.

Keep Your Business Compliant

One of IT’s most important responsibilities is keeping the organization’s confidential data secure. And because of the extensive compliance regulations that could get a business in trouble if they fail to follow them, IT can literally be your business’s saving grace.

Some compliance regulations may allow only people in certain roles to view or edit a document. Other documents may need to be in a WORM format or be purged after a certain period of time. If you aren’t aware of all the security regulations that you must adhere to and follow them to a tee, you could be in serious legal trouble.

Since part of IT’s job is to worry about security measures, their expertise and training can stop you from ever having to worry about how well your organization does this. Keeping your business compliant can be a simple task with an impressive IT department.

Maintain Credibility Among Customers

If a business fails to adequately prioritize IT and doesn’t provide them with the necessary resources to be successful, a data breach that leaks confidential company information is difficult to avoid. This alone can wreck any customer relationship that you’ve spent years building.

Even if a business is lucky enough that their servers going down doesn’t result in confidential data being intercepted by malicious parties, customers that depend on an organization’s product will be in trouble. If a customer cannot carry out business as usual because of an issue with your system, you could lose all credibility with your customers. Your customers may immediately search for a more dependable solution.

By finding a diverse skill set and the right tools for your IT department, you won’t have to worry about what a security breach could do to your customers and business’s reputation.

A successful business is driven by a successful IT department. As technology becomes increasingly popular with more impressive capabilities than ever before, it’s vital that an organization provides the necessary resources to an IT department to stay on top of any issues.

_________________________________________________________________

Katie Casaday is a marketing content writer at eFileCabinet where she specializes in computer software and document management topics. She graduated from Utah State University with a BA in Global Communication. She has experience writing about B2B technology companies and besides enjoying writing, she loves nature and taking hikes with her companion, a Border Collie named Margo.

IT hires

The Soft Skills You Should Look For When Recruiting IT Hires

When you hear soft skills, you may wonder what it means. Like software, soft skills are innate, internal, and interpersonal skills that help people maximize their hard skills. Soft skills are so named because; you mostly don’t have a certificate to show for it. They reflect who you are independent of your educational and professional IT certifications

Soft skills include your communication skills, how you perform under pressure, your collaborative skills, etc. As an employer, it’s okay to want the most qualified person for the job, but much more than the certificate, you should look out for these soft skills too when recruiting your IT hires.

1. Integrity

As an employer, probably recruiting the first set of your IT hires or filling a vacant position, one uncompromising soft skill you will want to look out for is integrity. Yes! Integrity can’t be compromised, as your IT hires have to people you can trust wholeheartedly. 

The top signs of persons with integrity include the ability to give an honest report. They would also be forthcoming and straightforward. While this skill is not easily observed except when tested or the situation demands it, there are a set of interview questions you can ask to determine the strength of a person’s integrity. 

You can ask questions that border on past experiences like:

-What was your response to a situation that tested your integrity in the past?

-Can you tell lies to protect the company’s image?

Now, it’s not so much about the answers the applicant gives, but about how they answer the questions. Someone with integrity will not lie for any reason; instead, they will find ways to tell the truth in a way that won’t harm the company.

2. Intelligence

This is another very essential soft skill for an IT hire. Intelligence isn’t just about your school grades or awards. Intelligence is how well you can apply all the lessons you’ve learned since growing up to do a seemingly difficult task. To put it simply, intelligence is the activities you do that gets you out of a difficult situation, especially when you don’t know what to do.

As an IT employer, you shouldn’t just employ an honest person. They should be someone that is proactive and can think on their feet. You can assess this type of skill when interviewing by asking ‘on the spot questions’ unrelated to the technical field. Questions that require fast and on the spot thinking. 

The goal is to check the thinking pattern and how fast they can think. Another quick method to determine this is to play a game. Games such as ‘Chess game’ or caught in the maze require your intelligence to play effectively. 

3. Time Management Skills

There will be times when your IT Company will have to meet tight deadlines. The best approach to get the work done is to prioritize tasks in order of deadline. It is important your employees are people that understand the significance of keeping to time and managing time effectively. 

The time management skill will ensure they know how to prioritize tasks when necessary. You can assess this skill by asking hypothetical behavioral questions. You can also give some sets of mini-tasks within a stipulated time and see how well and how fast they get the job done. 

4. Communication Skills

The ability to communicate with people on a personal level will go far in growing your IT Company. It’s easy for IT recruiters to get caught up in the technology and forget to pay attention to the candidate’s communication skills. There is a fine balance between being tech-savvy and having a friendly personality – so you need to be clear on which quality the candidate possesses. 

As a recruiter, you need to know that your employee also has a soft side and is willing to connect with people personally. If the candidate doesn’t seem capable of doing that, it may be a good idea to find someone who does!

Besides, if the candidate can connect well with those in charge, they’ll likely do a better job – and the results will reflect that. It’s one of the many reasons that soft skills are essential in today’s IT industry.

5. Creativity 

Being creative is non-negotiable. The ability to be creative goes hand in hand with being intelligent. The only twist is that being creative gives you the edge of seeing more than one way to get a task done. With the ability to see more than one approach, you are usually at the forefront of most tasks. A creative person has a highly active and imaginative mind that makes innovation a part of them. 

Being innovative is a soft skill, but like intelligence, it also comes with being creative. This means that being creative allows you to have more than one or two soft skills. As a recruiter, one skill you have to set your eagle eyes on when searching for soft skills in your IT hires is the ability to be creative. 

You can test the skill by asking hypothetical behavioral questions or giving a task that demands creativity. 

6. Self-Motivation

Dragging employees around or giving instructions for every little detail can be tiring. You need employees that are self-motivated and can work independently with little or no supervision. The thing is, you may not be able to assess a person’s self-motivation easily. 

However, you can determine how self-motivated he is by checking the number of extra-curricular activities he has done before. These should be well highlighted in the resume. You can also ask questions like:

-How did he get to know about the job vacancy?

-Have you been in any leadership position before?

-Give instances where you worked with little or no supervision?

7. Enthusiasm 

One of the things you should look for when it comes to a potential candidate is their interest in learning more about the industry in which they’re interested in working. If the candidate seems excited about the opportunity they’re applying for, they’ll probably be happy to help you. 

If the applicant asks questions that show an interest in understanding the company more, they’ll likely do even better. This indicates that the candidate is interested in the company and can easily take the initiative. 

If you get a chance to meet such an applicant behind the desk, take advantage of this opportunity – you’ll get a great feeling from their personality that could easily transfer to the position you’re looking to fill. 

8. Teamwork

Some IT tasks require the ability to work effectively with a team. As a recruiter, you need to watch out for people that can work and cooperate well with others on the same task. Some skills required to achieve teamwork include excellent communication skills and the ability to follow instructions.

This is because cooperation can only be achieved when communication is effective. For instance, if the job role is coding, you may not need to worry about teamwork that much, but if the applicant roles involve networking or administration, they will definitely need to work with a team. You can check the resumes to see instances of teamwork done in the past.

The Right Hires Will Have The Necessary Soft Skills

Recruiting IT hires demands that you sharpen your eagle eyes and sense to recognize soft skills to promote your IT Company. Most companies now have IT departments that need people with hard skills like computer programming, software engineering, website designing, etc. And truthfully, there a lot of people with these qualifications. 

However, you also need people with soft skills that are self-motivated, good communicators, and enthusiastic about the company’s growth. The right hires are people that have balanced soft and hard skills. With these people in your team, your company can grow to its potential. And you do want that, don’t you?

data security

How Can Organizations Ensure Data Security

The cyber-security scene is advancing at a fast-paced rate and concurrently, advances in technologies are progressively becoming better at aiding cyber-criminals and hackers to take advantage of data security loopholes. The continuously growing scale of breaches and cyber-security attacks should be a major concern for all organizations. An example of such attacks is the WannaCry, a massive malware attack that affected over 150 countries, including the UK, Germany, India, and Japan. Considering all the sensitive data that organizations store online, including financial documents and customers’ private details, it’s evident that one breach could have a huge negative impact on their businesses. Here are a few measures organizations can take to ensure data security.

1. Protect the IT Infrastructure

Organizations need a secure and established IT framework to build a solid foundation for a healthy data security plan. As such, they should keep an eye on every component, including devices and systems. They should ensure all the computers and smart devices are adequately protected against advanced cyber-attacks and malicious hacks.

The IT team must ensure all systems are updated with the most recent operating systems and reliable anti-virus solutions. They must also put a configured firewall in place to ward off external attacks and unauthorized access on the network. NordVPN can be a great data protection tool, especially when browsing the Internet. By encrypting data, this VPN establishes an additional layer of security that keeps your browsing activity, financial information, and emails invisible to hackers.

2. Perform Comprehensive and Regular Audits

Data security measures can never be complete without thorough and regular audits. A regular audit is a practical approach that enables businesses to identify vulnerabilities in the existing security plan. Auditing data collected in the post-attack offers an organization a perfect understanding of the blunders that can result in similar breaches in the future.

This information can be instrumental in the creation of a more powerful data security strategy coupled with more reliable data security policies. So, businesses must perform comprehensive and regular audits to enhance compliance and get rid of potential risks.

3. Limit Data Access

Most companies give a few employees privileged access to their most valuable data. Consider who in the company has access to important customer information. Do you know everyone’s access rights? Knowing the details of every staff that has privilege access to data and reasons for accessing it can help you prevent data hacking, theft, and loss.

Organizations must limit data access. They should determine the kind of data that a staff member needs to access to carry out their work obligations effectively and make sure they have access to just what they require. In addition to safeguarding sensitive information from theft or loss, limiting access could ensure more efficient data management.

4. Remove Stale Information and Put Secure Backups in Place

Many companies in the healthcare, education, and finance sector handle sensitive data as an important part of their businesses. Having the right data disposal strategies in place can prevent redundant data from being stashed away and lifted at a later date.

Regular data backup is a fundamental part of a complete IT security strategy. Organizations should have robust backups in place to ensure they still have access to their sensitive information even after accidental file removal or a full ransomware lockdown. They should store their backup data in a safe, remote location far from their main places of business.

5. Change Your Mindset

Many organizations don’t give data security the seriousness it deserves. They have poor passwords, unencrypted sensitive files, and misconfigured AWS servers. Due to this sloppy attitude, it’s estimated that more than 4 billion data records with valuable information were breached within the first six months of last year.

Companies must change their attitude. They must view data security as their top priority. Everyone in the company must understand the value of data security, not just the top executives. They should embrace security best practices such as authenticating digital identities of all employees and customers as well as using up to date VPNs like the NordVPN.

The Parting Note

With cyber-security threats increasing rapidly in today’s world, it has become important to be armed with the right security tools and privacy improvements that are required to protect the organization’s most valuable asset, that is, the data. Data security should be given utmost priority and all staff members trained accordingly.

insurance

Understanding Cyber Liability Insurance: Securing System Access to Secure Coverage

Organizations purchase cyber liability insurance as a way to mitigate the impact of data security incidents. However, as with any liability policy, cyber risk insurance incorporates a set of exclusions that allow insurance companies to deny coverage. While most policyholders and insurance professionals assume that external monitoring acts as the only way to ensure coverage and reduce the likelihood of costly coverage litigation, digital transformation has shifted the perimeter away from external controls such as firewalls towards a more focused approach on identity and access.

Understanding Cyber Insurance Exclusions

Everyone reads the Insuring Agreement, or the part of an insurance policy that provides coverage. Typically, this section lists out all of the events for which an organization can submit a claim. For example, many cyber insurance policies will cover unauthorized access to systems, networks, and software that leads to a data security event.

However, as in life, all promises come with conditions. In the insurance world, conditions are called the exclusions, or the activities that are reasons allowing an insurance company to deny coverage. Generally located at the end of a policy, these may seem logical. For example, in a cyber-risk policy, an insurer does not need to cover the loss if the policyholder failed to enforce reasonable security practices and systems maintenance procedures.

In other words, if a data security event is the result of failure to enforce best security practices, the insurance company can deny the claim.

Why Identity and Access Matter to Data Security

As evidenced by the recent Twitter breach, cybercriminals increasingly target users as a way to gain unauthorized access to privileged locations in an organization’s IT ecosystem. This tactic makes sense in many ways because privileged accounts traditionally have universal access to an organization’s most important services and data.

For example, to do their job, IT administrators need nearly unfettered access to an organization’s ecosystem. They need to create accounts and grant access to other users. However, that also makes them a high-risk user. They could conceivably create fake accounts and grant themselves privileged access then engage in malicious data theft or credential theft, moving around in the organization’s systems and networks without looking suspicious.

Similar to the Twitter breach, this type of activity is hard to recognize unless the organization is actively monitoring who has access, how they use their access, what they access, and why they need it.

Enforcing Identity and Access Controls as Data Security Best Practices

Data security best practices pose problems for organizations as no set definition exists because cybercriminals continue to evolve their methodologies. With most organizations embracing remote workforces for the foreseeable future, on-premises security controls no longer provide the necessary protection. In order to secure data and protect privacy, companies should look to the Identity perimeter to limit access and monitor privileged access within their ecosystems.

Enable Zero Trust

Zero trust, aka “never trust, always verify,” is a cornerstone of enforcing identity. This is widely becoming not just best practice, but a table stakes identity and access management strategy – especially for users with elevated privileges. In a business application landscape overrun by phishing and brute force attacks, there is little confidence in usernames and passwords being the primary driver for identity and access management. That’s not to say that usernames and passwords don’t have their seat at the table, but they can’t be sitting alone. Combining them with dynamic controls that evaluate the context of access to determine risk is critical. Trusting the same access privileges, no matter what the circumstances, will lead to security threats. IT leaders must assume that cybercrime can circumvent their perimeter identity controls and be acting accordingly.

Apply the Principle of Least Privilege (PoLP)

The first step to creating best Identity and Access Management (IAM) practices is to ensure all users have only the access they need to fulfill their job functions and nothing more. For example, someone in human resources (HR) might need access to an employee’s address, but that individual may not need all the banking information attached to the record if they are not in the payroll area.

Enabling PoLP Using Attribute-Based Access Controls

For legacy business applications, PoLP is a non-starter because access governance is dictated by static, roles-based access controls (RBAC). For example, an HR manager needs a certain set of rights within the organization’s system. However, RBAC only limits access based on what the user does in the company (unless manually changed). With attribute-based access controls (ABAC), organizations can set additional contextual attributes such as geographical location, IP address, or time of day. This additional context allows the organization to limit access to high-risk resources on a more detailed level. With the explosion of remote work, ABAC provides a way to limit users’ access when the organization has determined that a location or time of day would be considered riskier. For example, someone using a public WiFi is at a higher risk of a man in the middle attack than someone using their home WiFi. If the organization sets trustworthy IP addresses, users cannot access sensitive information from public WiFis, reducing the attack surface.

Continuously Monitor Access

The same continuous monitoring mantra that exists at the network perimeter also holds true at the Identity perimeter. With user access monitoring, organizations can review the resources accessed to ensure they are appropriate to the users’ needs. Organizations need a way to detect suspicious access to sensitive information. For example, if an HR representative is accessing healthcare information at 2:00 AM, the organization needs to know whether that employee typically works late at night or whether this is an outlier signaling a potential data security incident. Without visibility into when and how users interact with data, organizations cannot prove that they enforced their access policies as a best practice.

Digital Transformation, Remote Work, and Securing Coverage

Digital transformation, accelerated by the rapid move to remote workforces, streamlines productivity but also increases risks. With more users connecting more devices from more places at less regular times, identity and access is an integral part of an organization’s data security.

Establishing and enforcing strict access policies is now more important than ever before. Malicious actors will continue to look for user accounts that act as back doors to organizations’ systems, networks, and software. In order to secure cyber liability coverage, companies need to be more actively engaged in monitoring access and mitigating potential threats arising from compromised accounts.

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Piyush Pandey, CEO at Appsian (www.appsian.com) is a technology executive with 19 years of global experience in strategy, sales, mergers & acquisitions, and operations within software companies. Over the last 10 years, he has worked with enterprise software companies including Oracle, Epicor, Concur, Citrix and Microsoft on various transactions. He has held various leadership positions at Procera, Deutsche Bank, Stifel, Wipro Technologies and a wireless startup.

data security

Why the Keys to Maintaining Data Security in a Remote Environment are Control and Visibility

Remote workforces are nothing new to most organizations. According to Buffer’s 2019 State of Remote Work report, 44% of respondents noted that at least part of their team was “full-time remote,” and 31% said that everyone on the team works remotely. Further, at the time of the report, 30% of respondents said that their entire company worked remotely. However, the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the work-from-home model. By March 31, 2020, the percent of users working remotely had increased 15 percentage points since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak. With that in mind, organizations are assessing how they can maintain granular levels of control and visibility when business data is being accessed remotely.

Adopting Contextual Controls to Protect Data

Most organizations already leverage role-based access controls. These controls, which align data access privileges and job function resources, provide a baseline for data governance. However, they often lead to excessive levels of data access and, in turn, produce additional risks. Contextual controls enable an organization to dynamically control access to data during varying contexts of access, often aligning to least privilege best practices. Migrations to cloud applications are largely due to contextual controls being a business requirement, simply because the interconnected applications required a more dynamic approach.

With the move to a remote workforce, organizations need to create more detailed and more dynamic access controls. With attribute-based access controls (ABAC), a company can incorporate additional context such as geolocation, time of day, and IP address to both ensure the appropriate user is accessing the resources and prevent users from having more access than they need. For example, if the organization knows that an employee should be working from Connecticut, ABAC can prevent access to resources if the user’s location is suddenly California – or a foreign country.

Contextual controls provide both the prevention of access policy violations, along with alignment between business requirements and security protocols. Because the organization can limit access according to the principle of least privilege, it reduces the risk of data leakage and financial fraud. Meanwhile, by creating more granular, data-centric access privileges, an organization can ensure that users do not get too much or not enough access – limiting the potential negative effects of restricting access excessively.

User Activity Monitoring for Security and Managing Productivity

Monitoring user access to resources and tracking how users interact with data provides an additional benefit for many organizations as their workforces move towards a remote model. Most organizations recognize the benefit of monitoring user access – but not just instances of logging in and logging out of applications. Understanding data access and usage is now a key requirement when maintaining visibility over business data. Organizations are turning to analytics platforms that both include granular access details, along with a visualization element (for example, SIEM). Data is only as useful as the insights it provides, and rapid aggregation and visualization of user access data is a crucial requirement for data security.

Using “Virtual” Work Hours

Looking at a common security use case, many organizations leverage “virtual” work hours to detect anomalies. For example, an employee usually works between the hours of 8 AM and 6 PM but monitoring and alerting to activity around sensitive data at 3 AM, for instance, can be indicative of unauthorized behavior. This uncharacteristic behavior may be an anomaly, but the organization needs to monitor the user activity more closely. If the user denies accessing the information at 3 AM, then the organization needs to focus its monitoring and have the employee change their password. If the organization detects additional unusual activity, then it may need to review the employee’s activities or investigate a potential data breach.

Monitoring User Productivity

From a workforce management perspective, organizations can leverage these insights to review employee productivity. Two use cases present themselves. First, many organizations have contracts that stipulate late payments incur a late fee. If the organization knows that employees should be processing payments ten days prior to the payment date, then they can leverage these reports to ensure that employees meet their timelines, even from a remote location. Additionally, by tracking resource usage data, organizations can monitor whether workforce members are appropriately prioritizing their workdays. If the employees are only accessing a business application at the end of the month, then they are likely waiting until the last minute to input payment information. Preventing these potential revenue losses or rush projects in other areas by speaking with the employee enables the organization to stay on top of its financials.

Enabling Visibility for Business Applications Has Never Been More Critical

Creating trust within and across distributed workforces ensures productivity. However, continued status update meetings across multiple time zones decrease workforce member efficiency. Organizations already monitor user access to their systems, networks, and applications. As part of a robust security posture, organizations should apply protections at the new perimeter – user identity. Rather than micromanaging employees via emails or chats, managers can gain valuable insight into how users are accessing resources and prioritizing work schedules by reviewing data and resource usage.

In an unprecedented time, companies need to find ways to enable their levels of control and visibility over business data. Whether a business application is on-premise or in the cloud, enhancing these solutions should be a mission-critical objective.

Risks against an organization are prevalent in a remote environment, whether those risks are security-related or employee-related by fraud, theft, and error. The keys to maintaining data security ultimately lie in your ability to provide oversight for your data, and the time to act is now.

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Piyush Pandey, CEO at Appsian (www.appsian.com ) is a technology executive with 18 years of global experience in strategy, sales, mergers & acquisitions, and operations within software companies. Over the last 10 years, he has worked with enterprise software companies including Oracle, Epicor, Concur, Citrix and Microsoft on various transactions. He has held various leadership positions at Procera, Deutsche Bank, Stifel, Wipro Technologies and a wireless startup.