Category: Security

Security, SMB

SMBs Ready to Embrace Managed Security Services

Security, SMBSmall and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) have traditionally not been keen on outsourcing for a few reasons, but a sea change is occurring for SMBs when it comes to security and technology. Businesses using managed services to handle security needs have to hand over mission-critical control of their network infrastructures to service providers. A rising number of SMBs are electing to do this and more.


In-House Security Losing Steam

While managed security was initially popular with enterprises hoping to simplify and coordinate security across multiple locations, it is looking more and more attractive to one- and two-location business owners who realize these threats are indiscriminate in who they target.

 

With new security threats churning out at a fever pitch, it is almost impossible to stay relevant with security in-house. Even with just one location, adequate security needs to consider firewall management, intrusion detection, malware detection, compliance requirements, email encryption, user authentication, and, most importantly, active monitoring.

 

According to a study cited in CIO, 40% of businesses are using part time employees to manage their security. That is alarming. This setup compromises effective monitoring and cuts down on time to detect attacks from 24/7 to someone not even on the clock 9-5. The level of scrutiny and speed of reaction need to be looked at if you want to take your network security seriously. Outsource to a provider that guarantees around-the-clock monitoring in the service level agreement. Employees do not come with SLAs.


Security Specialization

The number and variety of security threats facing businesses today require true specialization to conquer. Although enterprise businesses led the charge for managed security, there is a multi-dimensional landscape of security concerns that affect businesses of all sizes. Skills and time are at a premium, and a greater number of business owners are finding security is not a piece of their business they want to gamble on.

What is your peace of mind worth? MicroCorp can connect you with a portfolio of managed security providers to find the right fit for your customer’s security vulnerabilities.

Hacker

Preparing for Today’s Generation of Ambitious Hackers

HackerOnline businesses are increasingly improving against their brick-and-mortar counterparts. With this success, however, has come a whole new threat: the rise of a cyber attacker who isn’t showing much restraint, even for the biggest targets.

Hacker Ambition on the Rise

In just the last couple years, hackers have been seen going after targets that even five years ago might have been unthinkable. While retail store breaches were standard fare, new cyber attackers pursued online banks, and some evidence suggests that hackers may have even targeted the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election, though to what extent is unclear.

The growth of the Internet of Things (IoT) has emboldened some hackers, who in another incident used connected devices as part of a massive botnet of semi-autonomous connected devices to engage in distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks that shut down websites.

Surprising Weaknesses Appear

Perhaps the good news in the current hacking-filled environment is that it reveals just how insecure networks really are. Stolen credentials are only the beginning, and lower-tech attacks do plenty of damage as well. Business email compromise–essentially just highly-targeted phishing operations–caused $3 billion in losses over three years, according to Symantec.

More Cloud, More Problems

Perhaps worst of all, companies are contributing to their own downfalls through everyday business processes. The growth of the IoT is putting more potential points of access into play, and many of these are poorly secured thanks to a faulty perception that a connected device is a low-value target. The device itself may be, but the network that it’s connected to is of much higher value.

Symantec’s reports were grim on this front as well; attacks on IoT devices doubled throughout 2016, and at the worst of it, there was one attack every two minutes on an IoT device. Increased movement to cloud-based systems was likewise bringing out fresh targets of opportunity for hackers.

Eternal Vigilance Is the Price of Liberty…Online

So what can be done? Proper security must be observed at every turn, even when doing so seems inconvenient or cumbersome. Furthermore, the tools to protect security must be improved; after all, tools that cause as many problems as they prevent aren’t worth using.

Tools like those found at MicroCorp can be a great start toward a process of continuous security improvement, helping users better protect systems against outside intrusion. It’s a project that requires everyone’s cooperation, from the end user to the security developer, and one that makes us all safer. For more information about how MicroCorp can help secure your business, contact us today.

Use #WannaCry to Your Advantage

The ransomware attack from early May that affected more than 200,000 people and computer networks in more than 150 countries is an opportunity for partners to have a conversation with their customers about security. While it may seem heartless to use a cyber attack as a sales tactic, this is more about protecting customers for the future, and making sure everyone has a backup plan.

The malware, dubbed WanaCrypt0r 2.0, or WannaCry, affected Europe the most. Companies from FedEx to Telefonica, universities to hospitals, were attacked. The pervasive nature of this most recent incident should be the kicker for partners to start checking on customers’ security strategies. Of course, there are obstacles, but there are ways to overcome them.

Something is better than nothing

More often than not, a company’s CTO will shrug off security solutions as too expensive. Small and medium-sized businesses cannot often afford the $25,000/month price tag for a soup-to-nuts solution. But partners should emphasize that customers do not need to go whole hog in order to protect themselves “just enough.” There are pieces of solutions that go for a fraction of the package price that will protect customers somewhat — and that could make or break their business.

The true cost of a breach

60% of small and medium-sized businesses are out of business within six months of a cyber attack. Further statistics show that companies spent an average of $879,582 in the aftermath of damage or theft of IT assets. And disruption to normal operations cost an average of $955,429.

Partners can show these quotes to their customers. Then they can ask the CTO if he really thinks that investing in a security solution today isn’t worth the money.

Take this most recent ransomware attack, the Target breach of 2013, and any one other of the myriad cyber attacks of the last couple of years, and present the case to customers. Now is not the time to shy away from protective technology. Emphasize that the true cost of a security breach is a customer’s entire business.

You don’t have to be the expert

Don’t let the daunting nature of security technology be the reason you leave your customers without solutions. Take the time to get with a couple of providers that have security products to find out about what the solutions are, and then you’ll be in a good place to talk to your customers about security. You can admit you are not the expert, but you work with experts, and can connect your customers. That’s where a program like MicroCorp’s Team Alliance Program comes in. The program is designed to connect partners with experts of all kinds in the channel — security is no exception.

At the very least, your customers should have a basic security assessment done. Discuss where they are vulnerable with them so they know where their risks are. From there, it is their decision about how robust they want to get with a security solution.

Putting your head in the sand isn’t going to make the risk go away. Talk to MicroCorp today about how to proceed with working with your customers on securing their businesses for the future.

Preparing for the Next Generation of Security Intelligence

Are you familiar with security intelligence? If not, you should be. Here’s what you need to know about this growing data-gathering activity that will protect your digital assets from cyber criminals.

Introducing a New Kind of Intelligence

Since cyber threats continue to increase regardless of how sophisticated cybersecurity software gets, governments and businesses are turning to the next phase of defense — intelligence gathering. This solution involves collecting huge amounts of actionable information on cyber threats, then using big data tools to protect organizations from outside threats.

Time and Cost Efficiency Factors

IT teams should not go overboard chasing intelligence if it’s not helping the company. Security intelligence is meant to enhance security systems, not replace them. If a company devotes too much time and money to this data collection process, they may lose focus on what the business is really about — which is making money, not spending money. The key is to synchronize big data tools when necessary to guard against dangerous attacks.

Modern malware can hide for many weeks in a network before it initiates damage. It can be prevented using machine learning strategies that predict disasters. Detailed intelligence will help companies determine the safety of their existing protection.

Cyber Myths

Before venturing into big data collection, you should be aware that many myths surround intelligence gathering in the digital world. It’s not designed to predict presidential elections, military outcomes, or the stock market. Many people may assume too much from the word “prediction.” What this intelligence does is bring together the most relevant data on cyber threats so that analysts can quickly make determinations on avoiding disasters.

In recent years, a majority of North American and European businesses have been victimized by cyber crime in some form. As much as the government is working to crack down on cyber criminals, all it takes is one attack to wipe out a business. The Internet of Things and expanding interconnectivity of devices are creating increased vulnerabilities.

Perhaps the biggest cyber-myth of all is when companies believe that simply installing firewalls and doing routine screening for bugs will be sufficient protection against cyber threats. Adding security intelligence will help businesses gain more confidence in their protection from cyber crime moving forward.

Conclusion

Firewalls, ransomware protection, and other security solutions can be maximized when using data collection and analysis software that predicts cyber attacks. The reason governments and corporations are adding security intelligence to their systems is because they anticipate cyber crime to escalate in the coming years. Contact us to learn more about how MicroCorp can strengthen your defense against cyber crime and improve profitability.

How to Start the Security Discussion

It’s the last thing most partners want to talk about because it’s the topic they are the least familiar with, but as security evolves, it becomes impossible to avoid.

Customers want to discuss security, and for good reason. The cyber landscape is changing for individual users, giant corporations, and governments alike. Partners need to understand why customers are interested in security and be able to have a discussion with them about protecting networks. But how do you talk to your customer about a topic outside your wheelhouse? There are a few tactics to take.

Don’t try to onboard it all.
For partners to be relevant in the year (and years) ahead, they need to transform their main expertise into new areas, and you cannot train your way there. The landscape is changing so quickly — by the time you’ve trained yourself and your team on something like security, it’s evolved further. It is more worth partners’ time to connect with experts in order to broaden their own expertise.

Partner with purpose.
Our Team Alliance Program (TAP) was designed with these problems in mind: partners want to be able to speak to all customer issues, but don’t have the time or resources to become experts in every field. TAP allows partners to connect with experts in cloud, security, SD-WAN, and other technologies to get in on the knowledge while maintaining relationships with customers. The program is an ecosystem for education and partnership that will help you stay successful as technologies change.

In the end, it’s about trust.
You are your customer’s trusted advisor, so it’s important to maintain that level of credence. Acquiring a customer is the largest cost your business incurs — better to keep the ones you have. Partnerships with experts can help you stay relevant for your customers and devote time to maintaining your relationships with them. And that means that the future of the partner will be more about customer service than anything else.

These themes can apply to not just security, but multiple other technologies and systems that befuddle the partner. Take advantage of TAP and the MicroCorp’s ecosystem of experts to be the partner your customers want to keep.

Security: It’s Time to Pull Your Fingers Out of Your Ears

If you’ve been avoiding the topic of security — in general, or with your customers — you aren’t alone. Most agents avoid the subject entirely if they don’t feel 100% comfortable discussing the latest trends in cyber protection and network management. (And, let’s be honest, few do.)

But it’s 2017, and 60% of small companies go out of business within six months of a cyber attack. That figure alone should indicate that the time has come to do what no one wants to do and contemplate how to stay up-to-snuff on security. (It’s like going to the dentist.) What are the risks involved of falling behind, and what can you do to feel confident in talking to your customers about security?

First, know that the issue of cybersecurity poses more risks to your business than just actual hacking. If you aren’t educating yourself on how to talk to your customers on the topic, someone else is. Usually, if partners feel uneasy to broach a subject that is outside their areas of expertise, they’ll avoid it altogether with customers. But that tactic leaves room for another company — perhaps one that has done more research — to home in on those customers.

So, short of spending precious hours training to become a security expert, how can you approach the issue?

Look to the experts. Seek out partners who have already established themselves as security experts. A Fortune 500 customer hired one of our partners who is a security expert, and that relationship enabled the partner to gain a ton of buying power from the customer. The customer’s trust in that partner translated into giving the partner a blanket of sorts to recommend any provider they deemed fit. The power involved in being the expert in your field is real.

Try to educate yourself. Ideally, partners are taking the initiative to educate themselves each week on a broad view of topics — not just security — to stay relevant. But, of course that is easier said than done, especially when sales and customer service are at the forefront of business priorities.

Training! If both of those points sound daunting it’s because they can be. MicroCorp established the Ultimate Partner Training program to enable partners to learn about security, SD-WAN, cloud, and other topics that they might not be experts in — or even familiar with — so they can get high-level views of those subjects and stay relevant. Sticking your fingers in your ears and pretending nothing is changing makes you irrelevant. We want to help our partners be as well-rounded as possible.

The nature of the security world mirrors the nature of technology: it’s dynamic, ever-changing, constantly surprising, and difficult to keep up with. Our Ultimate Partner Training program aims to make the fluid world of technology easier for partners to navigate so that both partner and customer stay successful. Security expertise is a part of that equation now, more than ever.

10 Ways Partners Can Help Customers Protect Their Data

In this digital era, it’s inevitable that organizations will experience security breaches — both large and small businesses have seen unprecedented cyber attacks over the years as hackers get more savvy and business leaders stay in denial. Ignoring the most basic security fundamentals can lead to breaches and enormous losses.

How do you help your customers deal with the persistence of cyber criminals, and put preventative measures in place? The following are 10 tips on technologies and methods that can help you help your customers protect their data.

1. Train employees

10 percent of all websites encounter “drive-by” malware attacks, according to TechRepublic. Emphasize to your customers that employees need to pay attention to suspicious activity and refrain from interacting with unfamiliar parties. It’s best that employees are educated through cyber security awareness training programs.

2. Predict external threats

A new device fingerprinting tool allows your customers to collect IP-agnostic information from the source of incoming traffic which helps detect cyber threats. Hackers have used fake and automated traffic to disrupt networks, but device fingerprinting can spot nefarious sources before they attack.

3. Eliminate internal threats

Intel recently conducted a study that found that 43% of internal data leaks are caused by internal sources. Your customers are probably focusing on cyber protection against external threats as internal data is left unguarded. Software such as cloud-based Teramind provides administrators with alerts when attempted internal breaches occur.

4. Planning for cyber safety

No matter how sophisticated security software gets, hackers still find ways to penetrate networks. That’s why it’s important to maintain a proactive approach to protection against cyber threats. Educate your customers on identifying and blocking hacker or suspicious visitors as soon as they become apparent.

5. Encryption and authentication

Encourage your customers to adopt two-factor authentication, or 2FA, which has become a cost-effective, fundamental cornerstone of maintaining a data protection. One of the main components of this technique to defend against password attacks is to require data that is exclusive to the user. Additionally, data encryption and proper key management figure into this strategy.

6. Data loss prevention software

The evolution of the web is creating a massive proliferation of data — as more data is created, the more it must be protected. Your customers should be aware of data loss prevention (DLP) — now a necessary tool. It is designed to give an administrator control over who can access certain information and who is allowed to send data to external sources.

7. Browser isolation technology

Much of today’s malware is delivered through web browsers. But a technique called “browser isolation” separates the network from suspicious sources. Instead of trying to identify unsafe web content, this technology takes the initiative for your customers by creating a virtual air gap between their networks and web content.

8. DNS server protection

Your customers’ DNS systems can be protected by surrounding them with DNS Firewalls, which provide immediate alerts that detect malware attacks. Experts say that in most cases, if you cut off communication between malware and the attackers, they will give up.

9. Program-based security strategies

The sooner you can help your customers resolve security issues, the more likely the damage will be minimized. To learn more about prioritizing tasks for responding to cyber threats, administrators should turn to firms that implement program-based security strategies, such as Skybox.

10. Multi-Layered Approach

The key to maintaining data protection these days requires a multi-layer approach with access to a wide variety of defense options. You want to help your customers catch the most number of attacks at the lowest cost. Using new tools such as Moving Target Defense can help lower cyber risks.

Your customers should be prioritizing cyber security so that they are always a step ahead of the crooks. The best approach is to build layers of protection around data and always know what to do in case of a breach. The more prepared you and your customers are, the more you both can minimize damage caused by attackers.

Why are Data Security Plans So Important?

Data breaches are not a new problem and affect all industries, but some more than others. For example, CRN reports that data breaches and security incidents rose 35% in 2016 for the healthcare industry compared to the previous year.

If your customers have private information about individuals or other businesses in their databases — whether it be credit card information, identity information, or other classified details — they are targets for hackers. What’s worse: most of your customers probably think their systems are secure. If there are two things the past few years have shown, it’s that no business is safe from cyber threats, and too few put safeguards in place only after damage has been done — not before.

So how do you protect your precious customer data and your customers’ data? You make a plan. And you make a plan not just for yourself, but one for your customer, too. That way, everyone stays secure.

Any plan should integrate these key concepts:

Identify reporting requirements under federal and state law – Which industries are your customers in? When a breach does occur, there will likely be a number of things that need to be reported to state and federal officials, depending on their markets. Knowing what these requirements are can keep your customers from running afoul of ever-changing laws. Consulting with a legal professional can help keep an organization up-to-date with what needs to be done in regards to breach reporting.

Know the biggest security vulnerabilities – Help your customers develop security plans by identifying the most likely avenues of attack. Denying hackers an easy way into a system is proactive, and — once these points are known — it becomes easier for a security team to create stronger defenses specific to each individual vulnerability.

Develop a testing and cyber-defense protocol – Periodic testing of a system helps your customers to make sure that there are no new vulnerabilities that need to be immediately addressed. The defenses put into place by a data security team should include active monitoring of the server as well as individual links with the central database. Scheduled penetration testing should be done on the most vulnerable areas to ensure that current defenses are sufficient for new methods of attack.

Pay special attention to external communications – While your customer may have robust security procedures in place, they can all be undone by a careless third party. If a vendor is putting your customer’s business at risk with its security shortcomings, it may be necessary to either require them to upgrade their cyber-defenses or find a new vendor. At a minimum, there should be an agreement between vendors that requires one party to notify the other party if a data breach occurs.

Educate yourself – You can only help your customers if you have the know-how. The security world is changing constantly, with new types of threats emerging around the clock. Educate yourself with research and talking to experts so that you can bring top security advice to your clients.

To find out more about the cyber threats and data security plans, contact MicroCorp today.