Hacking Love Bugs

Hacking Lovebugs

These poor critters never stood a chance.  There they were, flying along, in love with life and whack - that was the end of it.  Do you ever feel taken by surprise, how can we avoid blind spots in our daily commute of delivering services to clients.

Technology Blind Spots
How can we avoid business disasters, specifically for our IT Services and Support?
  1. Every business has blind spots, especially when it comes to technology.
  2. No one solution will help to prevent a disaster.
  3. It takes a committed team effort to watch out for dangers.
  4. Keep in mind, the landscape is constantly evolving.

The Full Scoop

It is Lovebug season again in Tampa Florida, and chances are if you're out and about - you're running into Lovebugs.  My first reaction after a short drive is frustration, the bodies of Lovebugs are acidic and damage paint; and once they dry it is hard to remove them.  As I stood in my driveway feeling frustrated, I also felt kinda bad for the poor creatures.  There they were, flying merrily along, and I put an end to their cute little short lives without even so much as a warning; and that got me thinking...

Sometimes as a business owner, we have blind spots.  There are areas in our business that need attention and we are so busy helping clients, or handling an emergency (or trying to figure out how to spend less time on emergencies) that we are taken by surprise.  Sometimes the consequences can be severe, with long lasting impacts.

At times there are warnings, which we ignore due to suspicion or lack of awareness (or we think someone else is taking care of it), but so often there are the daily surprises that really catch us off guard.  As an IT Provider, we run into this regularly with businesses; especially when it comes to computer security.

Cyber security is a popular topic these days, more so than ever, but we are still finding that many business owners hesitate to take the necessary steps to secure and upgrade their networks and systems.  The reasons are understandable, upfront costs and the learning curve can be intimidating.

One important point to keep in mind, is there is no one thing you can do to secure your network.  Long gone are the days of installing anti-virus software on your PC, and logging off for the evening; but on the flip side, there are a number of things you can do to secure your systems that are not overly expensive or time consuming.  You will find a layered approach is needed to securing your technology.

Here are some pointers to help you get started,

  1. Backups
    • Make sure you have file and data backups, and test them regularly.  If you haven't tested your backups, you can't know for certain they are working as expected.
  2. Next Generation Firewall(s)
    • Don't assume the free firewall and router you received from your local internet service provider is all you need, many newer firewalls come with active technology that works in a similar fashion to anti-virus software; updating and scanning traffic in real-time.
  3. Operating System Updates
    • Are you still on Windows 7, XP or an older server operating system?  New vulnerabilities are identified daily, keep in mind older software is not patched or updated to handle these evolving threats.
  4. Passwords
    • Do you share passwords with employees?  Have some of those employees now left your company?  Are there accounts for previous employees you should disable?  Do you have passwords that you haven't changed in years or that you use across multiple systems and websites?
  5. Spam Filters
    • Many, many attacks come in through email, an employee clicks on a link by mistake, and disaster ensues - spend the extra few bucks on decent spam filtering, it is well worth the investment.
  6. Battery Backups
    • I was standing in line once at a local store, and they were unable to process credit card transactions.   The power had gone out and as a result, all of their computers had gone down hard; an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) will help prevent these situations from affecting your computers and servers, and they are very easy to install.
  7. Old Equipment
    • Your computers and network equipment was not meant to work indefinitely, think about it - they often run 24/7, year after year.  If it has been 3-5 years since they were purchased, chances are, you need to consider an upgrade.
  8. User Training
    • All the sophisticated cyber security in the world at times is not going to prevent an employee who has not been trained, from doing something that will impact your network.  Often threats are allowed into the network from the inside.   Take the time to talk with your employees about cyber security, there are resources you can use and providers who will provide training to help keep everyone alert.

These are a few examples, but there is of course always more you can do to protect your system - ultimately you as the business owner will have to decide how much focus to place on computer security.  If your environment is complex and heavily dependent on technology, consider deeper protections such as 2FA and SIEM logging, more advanced backup solutions that can virtualize servers, and documentation systems for tracking your evolving system and configuration management needs.

If you have questions on how to secure your network, reach out to us; we'd be happy to help answer and provide suggested solutions to the situations you are facing.  Don't be caught off guard, with a little bit of attention you can prevent a world of downtown.  And.. never assume someone else is working on these points, trust but verify, and ask for reports from your assigned technology professionals on how or if these action points are being verified on a regular basis.