Sunday, May 20 , 2018, 3:39 am | Fair 52º

 
 
 
 

CompuVision Shares Tips for Minimizing Computer, Network Security Risks for Businesses, Nonprofits

Recent announcements of massive data breaches impacting personal or credit card data of 145 million eBay customers, 70 million Target customers and 3 million Michael’s customers may spotlight only the largest companies as targets for cyber-attacks. What many may not know is that these are not isolated incidents and that cyber-crime has become the fastest growing area of illegal activity in this country, is big business for criminals and can happen to organizations of any size.

These types of attacks may pose even more damage to the average business or nonprofit that do not have the vast resources to remedy damages.

The first step to protecting a business is to be aware of top computer and network vulnerabilities, and how to assess and protect access to the company and customer data that flow through those networks.

“Computer and network security is one of the most critical functions facing today’s technological world,” said John Hunt, CEO of locally owned and operated CompuVision. “Any given organization’s IT environment will incur more attacks this year than in the last five years combined.

“Nationally, data breach related costs have risen for the fifth consecutive year. The cost for organizations is expected to continue to increase as malicious or criminal attacks increase in regularity. Hacking into an organization not only has dire financial consequences but also damages a company’s brand and job security for its employees.”

Despite these bleak findings, organizations that have invested in finding and remediating data breaches are finding that their efforts have been paying off. Companies who serve business or consumers, as well as nonprofits who collect donor and volunteer information or contributions should be aware of network risks and remedies. Below are some top computer and network security risks and how to remedy them.

Heartbleed Bug

There are a long list of malware (malicious software), viruses, and security bugs finding their way into computer networks. One of the most notorious is the recent Heartbleed Bug which allows anyone on the Internet to read the memory of the systems protected by the vulnerable versions of the OpenSSL software.

This compromises the secret keys used to identify the service providers and to encrypt the traffic, the names and passwords of the users and the actual content. This allows attackers to eavesdrop on communications, steal data directly from the services and users and to impersonate services and users.

What you can do: Since anyone who logs in to a server remotely can be in danger, both employees and customers should be directed to change their logins and passwords as a first step. A next step in securing your network is to invest in a dual factor authentification solution, which would require a combination of 1) something you have and 2) something you know. For example logging in using both a USB token then being prompted to put in password. In today’s world of increasingly sophisticated hackers, using passwords alone is a thing of the past.

Ransomware

Ransomware, which originated in Russia and Eastern Europe, is a kind of malware that criminals install on a computer so they can encrypt it from a remote location. Ransomware generates a pop-up window, webpage, or email warning from what looks like an official authority. It explains that your computer has been encrypted because of possible illegal activities on it and demands payment before you can access your files and programs again.

What you can do: Organizations should inform their employees, customers and other stakeholders about the possible threat and have policies in place that require logins and passwords to be changed. As in previous scenarios, investing in a dual factor authentification solution is a way to prevent a breach from occurring in the first place. Security experts, like CompuVision, can offer organizations help with creating and enforcing policies, providing expertise in working with staff and stakeholders in addition to technical solutions.

Windows XP: Microsoft Support Termination

On April 7, Microsoft discontinued support for its Windows XP operating system, leaving systems vulnerable to potential new security risks. Despite a major awareness campaign, many organizations may not even know if they still have XP running.

“We believe that 76 percent of small businesses and nonprofits in the Tri-Counties have at least one system still running XP," Hunt said. “Similar to locking up your home, just one unlocked door or window can put your entire household at risk. If you have one PC running XP, you have a gaping security hole, potentially putting your entire operation at risk.”

What you can do: Your IT staff or consultant can use free, available tools to "survey" your network, taking inventory of your systems to discover if any systems are still running XP.

— Candice Tang Nyholt is a publicist representing CompuVision.

 

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