Cyber Security Awareness Training

There is no greater peril to online companies than exposure to cyber attacks. Common as they are—and expensive—sinister cyber threats can often lead entire companies to collapse.

As a Sydney-based cyber security service provider, it saddens us to see online businesses being dismantled this way. With the right set of tools and strategies, most cyber attacks can be easily prevented.

The main problem is that many online businesses aren’t even aware they have been or are currently being attacked by cybercriminals. How do you defend yourself if you don’t even know there is a threat?

From early detection to early prevention, here’s how you can train your business team to be on the lookout for potential cyber attacks—and resolve them all.

Why is Cyber Security Awareness Training Important?

Statistically, the main reason company breaches happen can often be linked back to human errors. But, this is not necessarily due to negligence or malice but rather due to a lack of capability.

What sort of capability?

Well, firstly, the capability to recognise advancing threats. Here, we’re referring to company employees. Even the most well-intentioned employees can fall victims to a cyber attack whilst still lacking considerable insight to detect the exposure.

Phishers, for instance, can masquerade as employees, superiors, or potential business collaborators to get their hands on sensitive data. So, the ideal solution would be to stop them in their tracks before more significant damage occurs.

Should that fail, there’s also the capability of knowing when an intruder has already found their way inside your company data. You also have to understand how to report and deal with any surging issues, even with this knowledge. However, getting to the point of eradicating existing cyber attacks can be a difficult task.

What Should Cyber Security Awareness Training Focus On?

There are a variety of essential topics concerning cyber security awareness training.

Phishing, spam, malware, ransomware, and social engineering are some of the most common cyber security threats. You would need to thoroughly explain them to your employees and emphasise the variety of ways they can manifest.

One way to do this is to organise presentations and play videos or show your employees real-life examples of previous phishing scams. All employees need to be wary of suspicious online personalities, contracts, and offers. Therefore, you would do well to share insider tips with your team, so they better recognise obvious red flags.

Here are the areas in which cyber attacks can occur the most.

Password Security

Passwords are the first barrier that a potential intruder would encounter. Since passwords are so prevalent in all areas of our internet-based lives, their importance and strength may be often overlooked.

However, coming up with lacklustre passwords might seem like a non-problem to employees. Still, it may expose the company to greater danger. Therefore, suggest that your employees get creative with their password strength—and frequently change them. Showing your employees just how damaging cyber attacks can be could also help them take password strength more seriously.

Email and Social Media Dangers

There are unspoken guidelines on recognising email and social media red flags.

Namely, employees would greatly benefit from clear indications and policies which would inform them which link and email types they ought to avoid responding to.

Internal Guidelines

In the same vein, there should be clear guidelines regarding the protection of all company data. That means that employees should be regularly reminded what information must never be divulged to outside entities.

Immediate Reaction

Finally, you should trust your employees that whenever they encounter something problematic, they should immediately report it. Even when uncertain, they will always have a superior to rely on and won’t let suspicious activity pass unnoticed.

How Should Cyber Security Awareness Training be Organised?

While there are various ways to establish cyber security awareness, the following key points should be covered as a priority:

Compulsory Training for Newcomers

Every new employee should be immediately acquainted with the basic practices to ward off cyber security attacks. That way, all risks of committing rookie mistakes will be avoided, but the company will also paint itself in a more professional light.

Keep Up to Date

Follow cyber security trends in the attack and defence area and regularly upgrade the preparatory courses. Both older and newer employees should be informed of any critical issues as soon as possible.

Test, Test & Test Again

From time to time, you may decide to test your employees to see if they have missed a red flag or other notable vulnerabilities. If and when you do note a flaw, it is advised you point out the mishaps and offer the employee a solution on how to manage them better next time. The more you test, the more familiar your entire team will become with recognising possible online gravities.

Get Coached by Professionals

Hiring a potential training provider is the tie that binds your business to utmost safety. You needn’t look too far; at Essential IT, we’ve provided this service to countless companies in Sydney, Australia and beyond. Our team is one of the best companies that offer cyber security awareness training. With cyber security Sydney, you and your data are in safe hands.

Top 4 Benefits of Using Managed IT Security Services

Have you ever considered using managed IT security services for your company?

If not, you definitely should!

Considering how the world is becoming increasingly dependent on internet technologies, the number of potential targets for cybercriminals is undeniably rising. Cyber security attacks are, if anything, further improvements – both in terms of subtlety and insidiousness.

Consequently, a large number of businesses are focusing on strengthening the security of their networks, databases, and systems. Yet, this is neither an easy or a cheap task.

Consequently, many businesses are focusing on strengthening the security of their networks, databases, and systems. Yet, this is neither an easy nor a cheap task.

The viable alternatives include hiring a professional, internal cyber security team or training the existing IT services team, focusing on cyber security.

Again, whilst neat, both options are time-consuming and hefty, budget-wise.

For this reason, a potential solution would be to partner up with managed IT security services, also known as Managed Security Service Providers (MSSPs).

What follows are the benefits that managed security services for IT can bring along.

1. Far More Cost-Efficient

The primary reason for resorting to managed IT security services is their cost. As it turns out, using managed IT security services is significantly cheaper than using other cyber security managers.

Whether the business considers constructing its own Cyber Security Operations Center (CSOC) or hiring outside professionals – who usually come as entire teams – the overall costs for such an endeavour to mid-to-large organisations might add up to above $1 million.

Additionally, since such teams can function as an ‘in-house’ service, the hiring business will become responsible for the individuals offering these services and the teams’ needs concerning constant technological upgrades.

MSSPs, on the other hand, offer their services for an astoundingly lower price.

They are hired at-need and can simultaneously collaborate with several businesses. Furthermore, the amount they charge is not fixed and depends on both the client and the particular task at hand.

Related Reading: Cyber security Sydney

2. Experience, Knowledge, Versatility

As we saw, MSSPs do not have one fixed client and constantly solve different kinds of issues. Because of this, they are typically much more versed in dealing with various cyber security problems.

They operate 24/7, constantly monitoring the entire system they are tasked with protecting. They are also able to locate any vulnerabilities across multiple platforms. Thus, they can point out potential weak spots in the business networks, data, or systems.

Following this – and due to their experience – MSSPs can easily recognise an advancing threat. Most cyber security attacks can be uprooted before they are even properly executed. This is partly because managed IT security services are good at tracking them.

Due to the regular occurrence of such attacks, MSSPs are equipped with a plethora of new and diverse technologies which internal cyber security teams may not be acquainted with. They are precisely the types of tools that will enable rapid detection and elimination of cyber threats.

These tools, along with the professionals’ expertise, can also guarantee that when a threat slips through and enters a business’ cybersphere, it will be dealt with as soon as possible before it causes any significant damage.

3. In-house IT Benefits

It is easy to see how not only a company but its internal IT service team can also benefit from hiring an MSSP.

Firstly, the internal IT services team will be relieved of the enormous responsibility of cyber security and will be able to delegate their time to other areas of the business.

Secondly, the business would not have to spend copious amounts of money training the in-house IT team to become a cyber security team.

Finally, suppose the internal IT team does need to learn something related to cyber security (for whatever reason). In that case, they will have some of the best experts to assist and mentor them at hand throughout the process.

4. Positive Side-Effects

Managed IT Security Services can prove beneficial in other, more general, ways.

For example, MSSPs need to be constantly up-to-date with all shifts in cyber security and data regulations, aspects that many companies might not always be aware of. The MSSP will help the company keep track and abide by such standards.

Similarly, businesses may often purchase IT security packs that are not used to their full potential. An MSSP would notice this and utilise all the company’s means at its disposal.

Time to Reach Out

So, what now? Joining forces with an MSSP is as easy as giving us a call. We provide excellent cyber security services to businesses in Sydney, where our offices are based.

If you’re interested in forming a strategic defence plan to protect your business, don’t hesitate to contact us today!

Why All Remote Businesses Should Use MFA

With each passing day, hackers and cybercriminals improve their tactics and strategies. Therefore single-factor authentication (SFA) is no longer the safest method of securing your data and accounts. The most used SFA is a simple username and password form, which can easily be cracked.

Another method commonly being used in Australia and throughout the world is multi-factor authentication (MFA) to add another layer of security. We’ve improved our clients’ cyber security tenfold by simply adding another layer of authentication.

This article will dive into how MFA may be appropriate for your business and why you should consider using it.

Related reading: Cyber Security Sydney

Multi-Factor Authentication Advantages

The major advantage of multi-factor authentication is that it increases the overall security of your business by ensuring your staff prove their identity with more than just a username and a password. As this report suggests, in 2020 businesses in Australia experienced a whopping 40% more phishing attacks than the previous year and have been receiving fraudulent messages 15 times more during the pandemic.

Implementing the usage of multi-factor authentication elements such as a fingerprint or a physically made hardware key increases your business’s likeliness of overcoming attacks from cyber criminals. Think of an SFA like a car with a seatbelt but without airbags to paint a picture for you. MFAs are cars with seat belts, airbags, and a 5-star ancap safety rating. Easy switch and worth the investment, right?

MFAs are particularly important given that cybercriminals can easily use tools to gain your team’s login credentials and access vulnerable data and resources. Simply by adding one more layer of authentication, hackers cracking tools and password sniffers can be rendered useless.

How do MFAs Work?

As you’ve probably got the gist of it, multi-factor authentication operates by requesting extra information for authorisation, like one-time passwords. They are abbreviated as OTP and are the most prevalent MFA elements that users will be used to. OTPs are four to eight-digit credentials that you may get by email, SMS, or even a specific mobile application.

When using OTPs, a new code is produced regularly or whenever a user requests a verification. The pattern of the code is constructed using a seed variable provided to the user when they make registration initially, as well as another element such as an adjunct counter or a time limit.

The majority of the MFA algorithms rely on 1 out of 3 forms of extra data that you need to fill out, such as what you know, what you own, and other personal things. This is sometimes known as personal authentication.

Finally, biometrics such as fingerprints or facial recognition can be used for extra-strong security. These are, evidently, very hard to counterfeit. Before we bore you with the technical nitty-gritty of MFAs, let’s move on to the more pressing question our clients often ask us.

When Should Our Business Use MFAs?

The answer to this will change depending on the exact needs of your business. Still, the baseline response to this question generally stays the same—MFAs should be used when digital resources are accessed from outside the physical walls of the office.

Think Emails, VPNs and accessing cloud storage from home. As for how often an employee should fill an MFA depends significantly on the sensitivity of the data you need to protect and will change on a case-by-case basis. We recommend some of our clients have their employees use an MFA once per day and every time a device is restarted.

Why do Remote Accessible Businesses Need MFAs?

The most common reason why businesses refuse to adopt an MFA is that they feel it is a little cumbersome and complex. However, suppose remote and in-house companies do not use a multi-factor authentication method. In that case, they increase the risks of data leaks and security breaches.

One Ponemon Institute study declared that, on average, the price businesses pay due to data breaches is $6 million. While not suffering as severe attacks, smaller firms do incur comparable monetary losses. It is also critical to acknowledge that multi-factor authentication is quickly going to be a big requirement to avoid costly repairing expenditures that could have been avoided.

Cyber security intervention programs do not compensate for those expenses. Furthermore, fixing your cyber security vulnerability does not compensate for the original deficit, for instance, if the sensitive data is breached or your technology has gone down for a lengthy period.

Another key reason is that remote workers are inherently more vulnerable to cyber-attacks because they might not actively work inside the organisation’s network anymore. Personnel might also utilise their gadgets to perform their tasks; thus, the company cannot have complete authority over their equipment. VPNs are progressively being used by businesses to get remote access to the internet. They’re usually safe; however, the VPN’s end-to-end encryption can be rendered useless if an attacker already knows the credentials.

The Bottom Line

With cybercriminals getting more advanced year in and year out, SFAs don’t cut it anymore. When dealing with valuable data and multiple remote teams, it’s imperative to add that extra layer of security to your business—MFAs do just that. If you are looking to make your business less vulnerable to cybercrime, Essential IT will be happy to provide a free IT assessment and implement MFAs into your business’s processes.

How To Avoid a Ransomware Attack

Ransomware is one of the more devastating ways your business can be affected by weak cyber security. Read to find out how to avoid it and get tips from the experts.

With work from home measures becoming more prominent Ransomware attacks have been a hot topic for many business owners over this past year.

Without getting too technical, a ransomware attack typically involves the insertion of malware into a device. The malware is designed to either corrupt, delete or steal data until a ransom for its restoration is paid.

As a leading firm in Sydney’s cyber security space, we have seen firsthand the increase of ransomware attacks. Some studies indicate Australia alone experiencing a 25% ransomware increase in 2021. Worse is that among the most affected are crucial industry sectors like health service providers, finance and legal services.

Your business should take the necessary steps to upgrade overall cyber security to avoid becoming a target. Luckily, we’re here to help. The team at Essential IT has put together some of the most effective things you can do today to mitigate your exposure to ransomware attacks.

Let’s break it down quickly.

A Good Defence is Your Best Offence

Ransomware’s biggest strength is its ability to quickly infiltrate, encrypt, and corrupt your data. This entails targeting and bypassing traditional security technologies that most businesses utilise—emails, attachments and any communication apps or programs that the company’s employees use regularly.

Having strong encryption for all files, educating employees on security awareness, constantly updating your software and adding new layers of security are the most important things you can do to prevent most attacks from happening in the first place. But that’s easier said than done, so let’s look into these things in more detail.

Out With the Old, In With the New

Update your hardware. Aside from using incredibly old software or never updating your systems, the team at Essential IT feel that hardware is often the most overlooked culprit in any ransomware attack. One of the most well-known ransomware attacks came with the WannaCry virus. This ransomware cryptoworm targeted the national health service in the UK.

Part of the reason why it was so successful was that the operating systems were attached to old machines that no longer supported any updates. This made it incredibly easy to hack the system and stay inside. Therefore, making sure your devices are up-to-date is equally as important as their actual systems being up-to-date.

Look to DNS Filters

Most employees and business executives are usually unaware of ransomware attacks before it’s too late. One of the ways they can infiltrate your business operations is through a virus disguised as business software or applications. This is where finding the right web filtering solutions is critical and where DNS filters can come in handy.

DNS filters are programs designed to aggressively block any unknown application, add-on, ads, files, or software. By utilising advanced AI technology, DNS filters can identify websites using suspicious programming such as deep fakes, which can help prevent you from interacting with illegitimate websites. If you’ve ever been emailed links with fake login scripts to programs like Microsoft 365, you may have been exposed to a form of ransomware attack. Often, these fake scripts are expertly crafted, and their legitimacy can be very difficult to prove from the naked eye. This is where DNS filters are highly efficient, as they will block these sites from ever loading on your computer in the first place. This is vital for protecting you from accidentally offloading sensitive information to criminals on the dark web. Our team at Essential IT have years of experience helping our clients identify the most suitable high-quality DNS filters for their businesses.

Backup, Backup, Backup

Another thing businesses often forget to do is back up their data. As IT professionals, we cannot stress enough how important this is to do. The best way to protect your organisation is always to have a plan B—which could be as simple as having another location to save your files. This is an excellent way to stop the spread of a ransomware attack. Having multiple places to store your data instantly reduces potential hackers’ leverage over you. After all, they can’t ransom you for data you have access to.

Most companies already do this, but it’s nevertheless highly recommended you find and use the best storage areas, additional local disks, and multiple cloud services. This way, you can prevent worse-case scenarios from happening, ensuring that your backup data is always safe in the event of environmental disasters or advanced cyber attacks.

Never Underestimate Proper Training

The call is coming from inside the house. This rings true in b-grade horror movies and many ransomware attacks. It is undeniable that employees often represent the most significant security risk to your company. Not out of foul play or ill-intent, just because we are all humans that make mistakes. Not only do one out of three everyday users not use passwords on their devices, but almost half of all employees believe that opening an unknown attachment is not cause for concern. Furthermore, this report shows that most employees regularly open attachments disguised as invoices or receipts and that 25% use the same cloud services at work and home.

Adequately training employees can prove a challenge, given the technical complexity involved with ransomware attacks and the behaviour necessary to stop them. However, it should be any business owner’s priority to train technologically illiterate employees—as an investment in this corner of their education will pay dividends when ransomware attack occurrences plummet.

The Bottom Line

Avoiding a ransomware attack requires a lot of time, commitment and resources. No one-and-done solution can instantly upgrade your systems, train your employees, buy you new hardware and improve security mechanisms for any sensitive files. That’s why being aware of the different kinds of threats ransomware attacks can present is how you can begin protecting your business.

Top 5 Business Cyber Security Threats

The digital world has expanded exponentially over the last few years; the raging COVID-19 pandemic catalysed the speed of which. Most people have become accustomed to working from home—and many businesses have had to tackle the numerous cyber security challenges that this change in work environment has brought.

Too often, our Sydney Cyber security team read reports and hear stories of businesses cutting funding to their cyber security budget—convincing themselves that their money will be better spent elsewhere. We can presume that this isn’t just occurring in the landscape of Australian business but also around the world. It could also be presumed that the ongoing financial impacts of lockdowns and the consequences that come with them are likely influencing these decisions.

In this article, we will briefly explain 5 cyber security threats businesses in all industries face—and explain why cutting funding to battle this rising threat is a big mistake.

Endpoint Security

When working from home, lack of endpoint security is the number one cyber security threat that can affect your affairs. It doesn’t matter if you’re a part of a small, medium or large business, or perhaps even a freelancer or trader working from home; strong endpoint security is necessary. Endpoint security assumes taking measures that will prevent any endpoints (laptops, phones, tablets etc.) from being penetrated through a network.

As many home offices are not equipped to handle or deal with security breaches with the same robustness as business places, many remote workers’ endpoints have been targeted by cybercriminals. Standard protocols are thrown out the window. Some employees are likely to use many devices on the same unsecured networks, significantly increasing the chance of a security breach. By ensuring your employees have the appropriate antivirus software installed on work/home devices and educating them on cyber security, you can greatly reduce your businesses exposure to cyber crime via endpoint breaches.

This brings us to the next most significant threat.

Mobile Malware

The exponential use of mobile phones, both in our personal and professional lives, has dramatically increased the odds of employees being targeted by mobile malware. A significant error is businesses allowing employees access to corporate networks via unchecked and unsecured mobile devices. These actions correlate to an influx of malware attacks occurring through employees’ mobile devices.

This is especially true when employees aren’t provided with antivirus software and made aware of the consequences various kinds of malware can have on the businesses they are working for. We have seen bank trojans, click fraud advertising, remote access tools (RATs), and ransomware attacks, some of the most common kinds of mobile malware.

Deepfakes

Deepfakes are no longer a cyber security threat belonging to futuristic sci-fi movies and conspiracy theorists—they are a real threat. They can be very damaging to unsuspecting businesses. In layman’s terms, a deepfake is an AI program that analyses a person’s photo/video history to plant that image onto another person or thing—essentially falsifying their actions and speech. If done correctly, the attacker can impersonate an employer, for example, which can lead to damaging consequences.

Through deepfakes, cybercriminals may be able to give harmful instructions to employees, facilitate phishing attacks, or aid and abet hackers to storm and overrun security systems.

Phishing Attacks

While representing a much newer cyber threat, phishing attacks are the cyber version of identity theft. Phishing is when a hacker emails a person, employee or boss with a slightly altered email to gain access to personal or sensitive information.

Phishing made up one-quarter of all data breaches in 2020 and a staggering 78% of all cyber crimes in the last two years. Businesses should be aware that phishing schemes through cloud applications are one of the most common ways hackers can access company data and information.

Cloud Jacking

Much like the name suggests, cloud jacking is the process of infiltrating a business’s cloud computing service. Most cyber security experts will note that, besides phishing, this is one of the most frequent ways hackers gain access to a business’s sensitive information—seeing as many businesses may have cut funding to the security services in place protecting cloud services.

Hackers can gain information about employees’ sensitive data and company communications or manipulate operations and logistics, eavesdrop on important meetings, or even take over an entire cloud system. More concerningly, they can also plant phishing schemes into various documents that other employees have access to, helping spread malicious files through the workplace.

Conclusion

It may seem obvious, but protecting your company from cyber-attacks should be a priority for all businesses in 2021. Although spending may need to be cut across the board, Essential IT recommends it is not at the expense of your cyber business security—especially during this unprecedented time of remote work.

Finding the right Sydney IT security service is just the start of your journey towards a better business. To protect your business from cyber security threats, we have mentioned and many more, contact a member of our team today.

We’d be happy to help!