Posts

Is Your Small Business Staff Trained in Security Awareness?

The Ponemon Institute released a shocking statistic: about 80% of all corporate data leaks is due to human error. In other words, it only takes a single staff member to cause a huge issue. Here’s a scenario: Let’s say that you have an employee, Betty. Betty is lovely. We love Betty. But when Betty is checking her personal email during her lunch break and sees she has an offer that promises a 10-pound weight loss in only a week, she clicks the link. She wants to learn more about it, so she clicks the link in the email. What she doesn’t realize is that by clicking that link, she just installed a virus onto the computer. In addition, the virus now has access to your company’s network.

This was a very simple act, one that most of us do every day. However, this is why it is so important that your staff is up to date on security awareness. How can you do this? Here are some tips:

  • Present your staff with information about being aware of security, and then come up with a set up where you send them a link they want to click on. This is a process known as “phishing simulation.” If your staff members click on the links, and they probably will, it will take them to a safe page. However, on the page is a message telling them that they fell for a scam, and though they are safe this time, there could be great repercussions.
  • The staff members who click the link should be tested again. This way, you will know if the message got through.
  • Make sure when you give these tests that it isn’t predictable. Send the emails at different times of day and make sure they look different and have a different message. For instance, don’t send the “lose 10 pounds” email twice.
  • Think about hiring someone, a stranger, who will try to get your staff to give them sensitive information about your company over the phone, through email, or even in person. This is a valuable test, as it helps you to determine who the “weak links” are in your company.
  • Give your staff quizzes throughout the year to see who is paying attention to security.
  • You should focus on education, not discipline, when you are doing this. Don’t make them feel bad or punish them. Instead, make sure they know what they did wrong and work on not doing it again.
  • Ensure that your team knows that a data breach can also result in financial, legal, and criminal problems.
  • Schedule checks of workstations to see if any employee is doing something that might compromise your company’s sensitive data. This includes leaving information on a screen and walking away.
  • Explain the importance of security to your staff, and encourage them to report any activity that seems suspicious.
  • After training and testing your staff, make a list of all concepts that you want them to understand. Look at this list often, and then evaluate it time and time again to see if anything needs changed.
  • Don’t forget company officers. When company officers are omitted from this kind of training it poorly reflects on the organization. Some security personnel are afraid to put their Executives on the spot. That is a huge mistake. Security starts from the top.

Remember, there is nothing wrong with sharing tips with your staff. Post them around the office and keep reminding them to stay vigilant. This helps the information to remain fresh in their minds, and helps you to recognize those who are taking security, seriously.

Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen. See him knock’em dead in this identity theft prevention video.

Black Hat 2017 was an Amazing Event

In July, more than 15,000 security pros, hackers, hobbyists, and researchers met in Las Vegas for the Black Hat Conference 2017 at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. This was the 20th year that the security conference was held, and both black and white hat hackers joined together to discuss security.

For two decades, Black Hat has gained a reputation for demonstrations of some of the most cutting-edge research in information security as well as development and industry trends. The event has also had its share of controversy – sometimes enough to cause last-minute cancelations.

Launched in 1997 as a single conference in Las Vegas, Black Hat has gone international with annual events in the U.S., Europe and Asia.

Black Hat 2017 was almost a full week of everything having to do with IT security. There were hands-on training sessions, a full business hall where vendors gathered with swag and products, and of course, parties. I hit 5 parties in 3 nights. I’m totally spent.

This is a conference that attracted some of the brightest people in the world of security, and has a reputation for bringing together all types of professionals and amateurs interested in hacking, security, or the latest in encryption.

What’s interesting about Black Hat 2017 is that there is something for everyone. From hackers trying to hack hackers to remaining “off the grid,” you never know what you might find. In fact, most people who attended this conference decided to stay away from electronic communication all together. Let’s just say leaving devices in airplane mode, shutting off Wi-Fi, using VPNs, and always utilizing two-factor authentication for critical accounts is the norm during the conference for veteran attendees.

One of the most popular parts of Black Hat 2017 was the briefing on business protection. It’s important to note that many companies have employees that simply don’t comply with security policies. Additionally, these policies aren’t governed enough, and it is costing millions. In her presentation Governance, Compliance and Security: Three Keys to Protecting Your Business, the speaker from HP, Sr Security Advisor, Dr. Kimberlee Brannock, during her 16-year tenure at HP, Dr. Kimberlee Brannock has used her extensive education and experience in compliance and governance to shape HP’s security standards. shared why it’s not always enough to secure business networks and why governance and compliance really matters. With 25 billion connect devices by 2020, maintaining proper network and data security compliance is an important concern for any business, as noncompliance costs businesses an average $9.5 million annually through fines, lost business and lawsuits.

Another very popular briefing at Black Hat 2017 was Staying One Step Ahead of Evolving Threats demonstrated on average, an organization has more than 600 security alerts each week, and over 27,000 endpoints leading to 71% of data breaches starting from the endpoint.

Most put in thousands of hours, and dollars, for that matter, on securing servers, laptops, and data centers, but many companies are ignoring other areas of security vulnerability. One of the best things about this briefing was that the leader, Michael Howard from HP, Chief Security Advisor, as Worldwide Security Practice Lead, Mr Howard is responsible for evolving the strategy for security solutions and services in Managed Services. He gave a lot of information on printer security, something that most businesses fail to address. He used real-world examples of how some of the most secure organizations are still lagging in their print security and share how he uses a proven framework to secure the print infrastructure.

Overall, Black Hat 2017 was an eye-opening experience, and with the world of network security changing all of the time, all in attendance surely learned something new. I met a ton of very cool characters, partied hard, drank too much, ate too much, slept none and to keep my data secure, I’m considering moving off grid to a cave in the Outback of Australia.

Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen. See him knock’em dead in this identity theft prevention video.

ISPs invading Subscriber’s Privacy

It’s hard to keep track of the news of politics these days, and even if you can, how do you know it’s even real? The political landscape has greatly changed since January, and there have been a lot of laws passed that will affect us all, including the repeal of a law that protected your privacy on the internet. Basically, with this repeal, your internet service provider, or ISP, can sell your browsing history to anyone.

If you use the internet, you will be affected by this law. Not only will this change allow your ISP sell your browsing history to the highest bidder, it could also make it easier than ever before to access information about your family, your finances, and your health. Your ISP can now sell this information to companies, and they don’t need your permission to do so.

So, what does this mean for you? After all, you might not think it really matters that much. In simple terms, it means that your ISP can collect data about your browsing habits, create a record of this, and then sell it to advertisers. Think about your browsing history yesterday. If you want, open it up right now from your browser. One minute, you might have been buying dog food on Amazon, and then next, reading the latest news from the Kardashians. Regardless of if you want advertisers to know that you are a Kardashian fan, or not, to them, your data is a gold mine.

Now, think about your browsing history over the past few weeks or months, and then consider that your ISP knows each and everything you have searched for. It knows about that weird smell coming from your laundry room that you checked out online, and it knows that you have listened to that catchy new pop song a few times. It also knows your deepest worries, your sexual preferences, your political leanings, and what you are feeding your family. This information is invaluable to advertisers, but do you really want it getting out?

Luckily, you have options, one of which is called a VPN, or Virtual Private Network, which will encrypt data. Some of these, such as Hotspot Shield VPN, a client, is a good option. Also, start paying attention to those cookies and delete them.

Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen. See him knock’em dead in this identity theft prevention video.

How to Digitally Secure The Remote Teleworker

If you employ remote workers, your IT staff has a unique challenge keeping your organization safe. Fortunately, using a combination of best practices for cybersecurity, user awareness campaigns, and a strong policy will help to keep data safe.

New advances in mobile technology and networking have given remote workforces a boost, and while policies for most remote workers generally depend on manager or company preferences, most businesses must accommodate a mobile workforce on some level…and here’s where the challenge lies.

Things such as emails, vulnerable software programs and work documents are all tools that cybercriminals can use to infiltrate your company’s network. These remote workers, no matter how convenient they might be, are the weak link in any company’s security plan. Cybercriminals know this, which is why they often focus on these workers. So, what do you do to find a balance between the convenience of remote workers and the importance of network security? Here are eight way that you can secure your remote workforce:

  1. Use Cloud-Based Storage – One way to make your remote workers safer is to use cloud services that use two factor authentication. These often have a higher level of encryption, so any data that your workforce uses is not only accessible, but also protected.
  2. Encrypt Devices When You Can – When giving mobile devices, including laptops, to your remove workforce, make sure that the hard drives are encrypted to protect the data on the machine. However, not all security programs will work with devices that are encrypted, so make sure that you double check all the tech specs before loading them up.
  3. Set Up Automatic Updates – You can also take the steps to automate any software updates, which means as soon as an update is released, your remote workforce will get the software on their devices. This can also be done via Mobile Device Management software.
  4. Use Best Practices for Passwords – You should also make sure that you are implementing good practices with passwords. You should, for instance, safeguard against stolen or lost devices by requiring that all employees use strong, complex passwords. You should also request that your team puts a password on their phones and laptops, since these items are easily stolen.
  5. Create Secure Network Connections – Also, ensure that your remote employees are connecting to your network by using a VPN connection. Encourage your IT staff to only allow your remote workers to connect to the VPN if their system is set up and patched correctly. Also, make sure that they are not connecting if their security software is not updated.
  6. Increase Awareness – Instead of attempting to restrict personal use of the internet, you should instead encourage education about internet use. Create and enact a cybersecurity policy, ensuring that it covers concepts such as phishing, scams, and social engineering tactics.
  7. Use Encrypted Email Software – Checking business email offsite is quite common, even among those who work on-site. Thus, it is extremely important to use a secure program for email.
  8. Use an Endpoint Security Program – Finally, if you haven’t already, implement an endpoint security program. These programs can be remotely launched and managed from one location. This software should also include components to keep unpatched programs, safe.

Yes, remote workers can be a challenge for your IT staff to manage, but when you use a strong policy, good practices in response to cybersecurity, and a comprehensive campaign for user awareness, you and your staff can keep all of your data safe.

Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen. See him knock’em dead in this identity theft prevention video.

How to erase Yourself from your Job

You shouldn’t leave any digital trace of yourself after you leave a job. Hopefully, you’ll be leaving voluntarily and thus have the time to first make backups before you delete anything. This may seem easy, but you need to take inventory to make sure you get EVERYTHING.

3DNote: make sure that every suggestion below is allowed via a company’s internal policies.

An article at wired.com gives these recommendations:

  • Use a flash drive for smaller amounts of data.
  • An alternative is a personal account with Dropbox or Google Drive.
  • For more data use an external hard drive.
  • Don’t include company information in your backups.
  • Forward e-mails you want to save to your personal e-mail.
  • Delete all e-mail files, then close down your e-mail account.
  • Check USB slots.

Your Computer

  • Clear out your personal data if you don’t have authority to wipe the device.
  • Delete all your passwords, usernames, etc., that are stored in the computer.
  • Browsers like Chrome and Firefox will save passwords and tie them to Google ID or Firefox Sync. Don’t just close out of the browser; log out so that nobody sees your passwords. Do what you can to make the browser forget your passwords.
  • In Chrome is “Manage Saved Passwords” in the settings. Use this to delete passwords from any Google account you’ve used. Warning: Hopefully you don’t use the same password and username for workplace Chrome as you do for home, but if you do, deleting this information at workplace Chrome will also clip them at your home computer.
  • In Safari, go to “Preferences,” then “Passwords” and delete.
  • For Microsoft Edge, click the three dots in the upper right; go to “Settings” and then “View Advanced Settings.” Click “Manage Saved Passwords” and delete.
  • If you’re allowed to, wipe the computer.
  • The wired.com article recommends KillDisk and DP Wipe.

Your Phone

  • Wipe your mobile device that’s provided by the company, assuming you have permission.
  • If you don’t have permission, ask the IT team to do this. Just make sure you’re logged out of all applications.
  • Shut your company voicemail down—after you delete remaining messages.

Robert Siciliano CEO of IDTheftSecurity.com, personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen. See him knock’em dead in this identity theft prevention video.

Jihadis using easy to get Privacy Software

Over the past two years, the media has tended to sensationalize jihadists’ rapid adoption and strategic use of social media. Despite perpetual news coverage on the issue, the public, by and large, continues to be relatively in the dark about the intricate ways in which many jihadists maintain robust yet secretive online presences.

To accomplish their goals — ranging from propaganda dissemination and recruitment to launching attacks — jihadists must skillfully leverage various digital technologies that are widely advertised and freely accessible online.

Just as smartphones and portable devices have transformed the way much of the world communicates and interacts, jihadists, too, have rapidly adopted and availed themselves of these technologies.

Their grasp of technology, which is quite savvy, yields one of the most frequently asked questions about the jihadists today: What is in their digital toolbox and how do they exploit these technologies to benefit their activities? This report explores these questions.

ISIS is no exception to the many entities out there, good and evil, who want a strong grasp on technical savvy, particularly software that can oppose surveillance. The Dark Web is abuzz with jihadist threads about how to beat surveillance systems. And they’re learning a lot, says a report from Flashpoint, a cybersecurity firm.

For instance, ISIS knows how to use Tor and Opera to scavenge the Web undetected. That’s just the beginning of their software knowledge. Jihadists also use:

In short, ISIS is very well keeping up with communications technology. Evil can be technologically savvy, too. Do not underestimate the technical prowess of jihadists, even though it seems as though some of them live rather primitively.

Robert Siciliano personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen. See him knock’em dead in this identity theft prevention video.

Can Two-Factor Authentication actually fail?

You’ve probably read many times that two-factor authentication is a superb extra layer of protection against a thief hacking into your accounts, because gaining access requires entering a One Time Passcode (OTP)—sent via text or voice—into a login field. In other words, no phone, no access.

7WBut CAN a hacker get the phone? Ask Deray McKesson, an activist with Black Lives Matter. Hackers got his phone.

Now, this doesn’t mean they busted into his home while he was napping and took his phone. Rather, the thief took control of his mobile account.

The thief rerouted McKesson’s text messages – to a different SIM card that the mobile carrier, Verizon, had issued to the thief. This is how the criminal got the two-factor code. Next thing, the imposter was in McKesson’s Twitter and e-mail accounts.

So though two-factor is a pretty well-padded extra layer of protection, it can be circumvented.

“Someone called Verizon impersonating me,” tweeted McKesson on June 10. The crook got a different SIM this way. The flaw isn’t the two-factor system. In this case it was Verizon, allowing this to happen just too easily.

“Today I learned that it is rather easy for someone to call the provider & change your SIM,” says a subsequent tweet. Though Verizon does require the last four digits of the user’s SSN to get a new SIM card, this isn’t enough to filter out imposters, as we see here. McKesson further tweeted he was “not sure” how the imposter knew those last four digits, but that “they knew it.”

Verizon has since implemented additional safeguards.

So what really happened? How did someone get McKesson’s SSN? Did he reveal it somewhere where he didn’t have to? And then the wrong person saw it? Was he tricked into revealing it through a phishing e-mail?

Nevertheless, here’s what to do:

  • Set up a secondary code on your phone’s account.
  • This is a personal identification number that an imposter would have to reveal before any changes were made to the account—even if he gave out your entire SSN to the mobile company rep.

Robert Siciliano CEO of IDTheftSecurity.com, personal security and identity theft expert and speaker is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Identity Was Stolen. See him knock’em dead in this identity theft prevention video.

10 Ways to Protect your WordPress Site or Blog from Hackers

As much as you try, the unfortunate truth is that hackers are going to try to attack and access your WordPress website or blog, whether you like it or not. So, it is up to you to make sure you make the hacker’s job as difficult as possible. Here are some tips:

2D1. Use Plugins

One way to make your WordPress account less appealing is to use security plugins. These vary in quality, and you might have to purchase some of them, too. Just make sure to do some research before buying them, and when you do, only buy them from a trusted marketplace.

2. Choose The Right Password and Change It Often

When choosing a password for your account, make sure it is a minimum of 8 characters, and mix it up with letters, numbers and symbols. Also, change your password about every 2-3 months.

3. Change Your Defaults

Also, make sure that you are changing the default user name and password that you are given for your hosting account.  It’s best, in fact, if you change any detail that you are allowed to change, simply because you don’t know how secure your host’s servers are.

4. Only Choose Secure Hosting

Use a secure hosting company. There is no better tip that that. If you go with a free package, understand that you will get what you pay for.

5. Install All Updates

Make sure you are installing any updates you get from WordPress. These often contain security features that can protect you.

6. Consider Hosting Company Security Options

Many good hosting companies offer security options for their clients, and if you have this option, do it. Just make sure you are not paying too much, and look for coupon codes, if possible.

7. Delete What You Are Not Using

If you have unused images or plugins in your account, delete them. They waste space and can put your account and site at risk.

8. Back Up Everything

Your best defense against hackers is to make sure you are backing up everything, and do it often. You can delete any old backups to save space.

9. Watch the Powers You Give Contributors

Though it might be tempting to allow authorized contributors to post their own blogs and articles, don’t give them any more access to your site than you have to.

10. Use Security suites

There are a variety of web based security products designed to proactively monitor your site and block unauthorized activity. Check out Cloudbric. This all-inclusive solution helps in preventing web attacks including DDoS, while also providing SSL and CDN services.

Robert Siciliano is a personal privacy, security and identity theft expert to Cloudbric discussing identity theft prevention. Disclosures.

Before you die, do This

“Nobody likes to do it, but it has to be done.” You’ve heard that before. This time, it applies to 26 documents that you should have all bundled up in a folder that trusted family members have access to (someplace where fire and water won’t damage them). But first let’s go over some details about what should be in that bundle.

1PEssential Documents

  • Your will: Some say not a copy, but the original, accompanied by instructions. Supplying everyone in your will a copy is also advised by others.
  • A completed power of attorney form that your benefactors have access to, should you become rendered impaired.
  • Complete list of loans you’ve made to others, and debts.
  • Proof of ownership of the following if you have them: owned property/housing, vehicles, cemetery plots, savings bonds, stock certificates, brokerage/escrow mortgage accounts and partnership/corporate operating agreements.
  • Last three years’ of tax returns might seem excessive, but if you can, do it.

Bank Accounts

  • Name of bank and phone number, account numbers, online login information
  • Register a family member or spouse’s name with the bank; have them sign the registration document to allow them access to your accounts.
  • A list of safe deposit boxes if you have them

Retirement List

  • Pensions
  • Annuities
  • IRAs
  • 401ks

Medical

  • Power of attorney form. If you become incapacited, who will make medical care decisions for you? This should also be IN your will.
  • Choose your POA attorney while you’re of sound mind.
  • Have it spelled out how you’d like to be treated in the event of incapacitation (and this includes what should be done if you end up in a persistent vegetative state). Who pulls the plug?

Marriage & Divorce

  • Does your spouse know where your marriage license is?
  • If you’re divorced, make sure there are documents spelling out child support, alimony and any property settlements and financial divisions. To avoid disputes, include bank account numbers for the appropriate settlements.
  • Keep copies of life insurance documents.
  • Last but not least is the qualified domestic-relations order, that can prove your spouse got a share of your retirement accounts.

Life Insurance

  • Family members should have copies of life insurance documents and contact information for the carrier.

In a Nutshell, the Top 26

  1. Marriage license
  2. Divorce papers
  3. Living will (what should be done if you’re alive but incapacitated)
  4. Personal/family medical history
  5. Authorization to release medical care information
  6. Durable healthcare POA
  7. Do-not-resuscitate (DNR) order
  8. Tax returns
  9. Housing, land and cemetery deeds
  10. Escrow mortgage accounts
  11. Proof of loans made and owed debts
  12. Titles for vehicles
  13. Stock certificates, savings bonds and brokerage accounts
  14. Partnerships and corporate operating agreements
  15. Life insurance policies
  16. IRAs
  17. 401ks
  18. Pension documents
  19. Annuity contracts
  20. Bank account list
  21. List of bank usernames and passwords
  22. Safe-deposit box list
  23. Will
  24. Letter of instruction for the will
  25. Trust documents
  26. Updated passwords document for all your critical accounts.

Do you have docs you think should be on this list? Please provide in the comments.

Robert Siciliano is an identity theft expert to BestIDTheftCompanys.com discussing identity theft prevention.

Yes, Macs Can get Malware

So Macs can be infected with malware. Who would have ever thought? The malware at issue here is the dreaded ransomware. Ransomware scrambles up your files, and the hacker at the helm says he’ll give you the cyber “key” in exchange for a handsome payment.

6DRansomware historically has primarily impacted Windows users, but recently it got into OS X—its latest version, Transmission.

  • The virus cyber-incubates for three days.
  • Then with a Tor client, it connects to an Internet server and locks vulnerable files.
  • The cyber key costs $400.
  • Nevertheless, this attack, which doesn’t happen as easily as, say, being lured into clicking a malicious video, is easily spotted.
  • Apple quickly mitigated the problem before anyone’s data had a chance to get encrypted by the virus and held hostage for the bitcoin payment.
  • In summary, Macs are not immune to ransomware, but the circumstances under which the user is victimized are unique and rigid.
  • To avoid the crush of a ransomware attack, regularly back up your data!

It’s time to take precautionary measures, while at the same time, not allowing anxiety to creep in every time you use your device.

  • Be careful when downloading applications.
  • Never run apps that are unfamiliar to Apple. Go to System Preferences, then Security and Privacy, then General.
  • You will see three safety levels. Now, you should never download an app from a third-party vendor. One of the safety levels is called Mac App Store. If you choose this one, all the apps you get will only come from the Mac app store, meaning they will have been given the green light by Apple.
  • To widen the app selection, you can choose Mac App Store with identified developers. This will allow you to get applications created by developers whom Apple has endorsed. However, this doesn’t mean it’s as secure as the Mac App Store choice, because the identified developers’ product was not tested for security by Apple—but at least Apple will block it if it’s infected.

Updates

  • Never put off tomorrow what you can update today. Download updates the moment you are cued to do so.
  • Go into the App Store, hit Updates and then Update All to make sure you’re caught up on updates.
  • To avoid this hassle in the future, put your settings on automatic updates: System Preferences, App Store, Download newly available updates in the background.

Robert Siciliano is an identity theft expert to BestIDTheftCompanys.com discussing identity theft prevention.