We believe that there’s a huge positive to come from the recent global ransomware and cyber attacks. This may sound perverse, however the huge media attention given to cybercrime and its consequences has placed the topic of IT Security at the forefront of everyone’s minds and that has got to be a good thing. We’ve now passed the point of no return and IT Security has to be a major focus for business owners and managers going forward, we’ve had our warning! We really do hope the you give it the attention it deserves and trust us that the recommendations we are making are on the basis of protecting you and your business.
In our experience of dealing with Ransomware and cyber attacks on a weekly basis over the past 24 months, 99% of the time it’s initiated from an email that contains attachments or links and a user has to click on it to start an infection. Alternatively it comes from browsing the internet and clicking on a malicious link.
The following is a listing of ways you can help protect yourself and your business from such infections.
If you are on Office 365 for email and have the add on for Advanced Email Threat Protection then you have done as much as you can, if you have not then we would strongly recommend you implement it straight away. If your email is not in Office 365 then we are limited in the amount of protection we can provide hence why we believe moving to Office 365 for email is more secure. More information on Advanced Email Threat Protection is available here
If you have a Firewall with a UTM (unified threat management) subscription which limits your employees access to only sites in certain categories e.g. (education, health, general etc.) then you have limited your exposure significantly. To really protect yourself, we would recommend you also filter out unrated sites and adopt an approved list of sites that will build up over time. This does curtail internet access significantly but it will reduce your risk of getting a ransomware attack even further.
Should users require more open Internet access then let them connect via their smartphones only either on 4G or over the Wi-Fi.
If your internet is unfiltered then it’s only a case of when someone clicks on a link that they shouldn’t, you will be infected with some form of Ransomware.
Other ways of protecting your business against cyber attacks:
Use this opportunity to get the message out to staff to “Think Before You Click”. Call a staff meeting this week, send emails, talk to everyone individually and make them aware that they play a huge role in protecting your business. Your computer users are your last line of defense.
Windows XP PC’s:
If you have any PC’s in your network running anything other than Windows 7 or Windows 10, then get it isolated from the network immediately and disconnect it from the internet. NO EXCEPTIONS.
Windows Server 2003 or older servers.
If you have any servers in your network running anything other than Windows 2008, Windows 2012 or Windows 2016, then take if off the network immediately and disconnect it from the internet. NO EXCEPTIONS.
To Patch or not to Patch:
In an ideal world every server, PC and Laptop should be patched with the latest updates from Microsoft. However the impact of doing patch updates on your IT systems is generally not good especially if you are not up to date with the latest version of your business software (eg. Sage, Navision, Drive, Keyhouse, Opera etc). We would recommend that all PC’s/Laptop’s are patched with the latest updates and that a choice has to be made with servers. Our attitude on this re servers is patch what you can and limit your exposure. The impact of patching servers will mean downtime, but it’s got to be accepted within your business if you want to stay protected. For now, get windows updates on all PC’s and Laptop’s.
If you do get infected the backups are your only fail safe. Check you backups, know what’s been backed up, monitor it and test it regularly.
Finally, if you feel that you have done everything mentioned above, there’s probably no more you can do. The threat of cyber attacks are not going to go away and from what we see the attacks are getting more brutal.
IT Security has to be a topic of discussion regularly between your management team, employees and HCS. We have worked with a number of customers over the past 12 months who take IT security seriously and we have devised a security audit which focuses on securing and protecting your business against cyber attacks, malicious intent and disasters. The audit reviews every aspect of your business with regards to IT security and data protection. The output of the report is generally a listing of recommendations and policies that you need to put in place or action to become more secure and protected. The audit generally take about 2 to 3 days to complete depending on the size of your business. More information available at www.hcs.ie/hcs-techsecure
We hope you find this information of benefit to you. Please call HCS Business Solutions on 01 8734120 | 051 595200 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to ensure your business is protected against cyber crime today.