Category

Managed IT Services

Vulnerability Management

By | Data Security, Email Security, Managed IT Services, Managed Security

We keep repeating this, because it bears repeating: Cybersecurity is one of the most pressing issues facing businesses in today’s technological world. Business size, resources, location, and other characteristics are almost irrelevant. From small, individualized breaches to worldwide ransomware attacks, the scope of cybersecurity compromises has risen dramatically throughout the last decade.

This trend has led to the need for organizations of every size to establish strategies to enhance cybersecurity and combat attacks. One such approach is known as vulnerability management (VM), which focuses on identifying threats and reducing exposure rather than merely reacting to incidents. In broad business terms, this approach differs from the old quality control systems (detecting problems as they happened or early in their appearance, thereby containing potential crises) and is more like the newer quality assurance approach (putting measures in place to assure the prevention of problems occurring at all). Quality assurance approaches include expeditious handling of issues that occur, but they focus on identifying potential systemic weaknesses and strengthening them in order to prevent issues from the start.

How is this done? What does this mean in practical terms? How can even small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) employ a sufficiently robust VM plan?

The following are a few answers to these key questions:

Treat the Issue as More than Just a Requirement

Too many companies approach cybersecurity in general, and vulnerability management in particular, as an item on a checklist – a chore that must be done. These companies perform an annual scan and often use outdated or mismatched software systems. Treating cybersecurity simply as a requirement leads to inadequate protection and a never-ending cycle of escalating issues over which they never gain full control. Solving a serious problem requires seeing it as a serious problem and then treating it as such.

Conduct Regular Vulnerability Scans 

Solid VM programs involve much more than just threat-detection scans. They do employ regular scans (at least quarterly) using up-to-date systems, but they also include additional elements, such as root-cause analysis, tracking, remediation, and detailed reporting. Without such comprehensive essentials, businesses leave themselves open to risks that can be eliminated systematically.

Consider Both Authenticated and Unauthenticated Scanning

Unauthenticated scanning is a simple scanning process through which devices are scanned remotely to determine exposed vulnerabilities. Authenticated scanning goes one step further and logs into the system with a valid user account. Using authenticated scanning can identify system configuration issues, as well as embedded vulnerabilities that simple scanning cannot catch.

Use the Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS)

The CVSS uses a calculation metric to assign severity scores to vulnerabilities. The three core areas analyzed are: base metrics (qualities that are intrinsic to a vulnerability), temporal metrics (vulnerabilities that evolve over time), and environmental metrics (vulnerabilities that require specific implementation or a particular environment). This allows organizations to prioritize their responses in an intentional, meaningful, and productive manner and avoid the tendency to spend disproportionate time and resources on minor threats.

Fix the Issues That Cause Vulnerability

Scans merely identify threats. Most companies do nothing more than remove the threats discovered by their scanning measures. What they fail to do is fix the core issue that allowed the threat into their systems in the first place. Thus, the same threats often reappear, are discovered by future scans, are removed once again, and the cycle continues. Eliminating the entry portal exploited continually by the threat closes the existing security gap and stops this cycle of entrance and removal, which altogether eliminates the risk posed by the threat.

If Necessary, Outsource Vulnerability Management

Vulnerability management can be overwhelming, especially for SMBs with limited technical expertise and limited budgets. Just as outsourcing HR, legal, or security services can be beneficial, partnering with an established, knowledgeable Managed Security Services company can be a perfect, cost-effective solution to such a daunting task.

Make Your Employees Your First Line of Cybersecurity Defense

By | Communication Security, Data Security, Managed IT Services, thinkCSC Leadership Series

One of the most common misconceptions about cybersecurity is that small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) don’t need to worry about cyber-threats or attacks. This simply is untrue. Over the last few years, more than 70 percent of the organizations that have lost money to cyber-crime have been SMBs. Make no mistake: Small businesses are a big target. There are many reasons for this, but one of the most prominent causes is a lack of training and awareness among employees. People are the biggest threat to an organization’s security. But you can make your people your first line of defense.

Who?

Every person – from the President, CEO, and Chairman of the Board to the custodians, cashiers, and administrators – should receive cybersecurity training and be held accountable for following all security policies. It is important to note that almost half of the losses associated with cyber-crime have been attributed to insider fraud and carelessness.

Given how widespread the usage is of personal devices among employees, on and off company premises, BYOD security policies must be addressed, as well. This is particularly true when employees use personal devices to conduct company business – including accessing work email accounts. Any device that connects, even sporadically, to company systems and accesses business data can be targeted by cyber-criminals and should be subject to specific security requirements.

Why?

Employees need to understand not only what the risks are but why training is so critical. Most millennials and post-millennials are well-versed in the use of technology, but even the savviest tech user is easily tricked by ransomware. And most people are unaware of the extent of cyber-attacks in today’s business world.

What?  

Employees cannot avoid nor help address what they do not understand and recognize. Whether the potential risks are phishing emails, malware, ransomware, out-of-date software, or the use of unapproved applications, employees must be taught to recognize and report suspicious activity, to avoid clicking on links and opening attachments, to think before clicking. Threats are far more likely to be handled properly and avoided altogether when employees are routinely trained. Thus, it is critical to make cybersecurity training an integral part of the onboarding process, as well as an ongoing practice  throughout their employment. This training should include the basics of current threats and information regarding emerging threats.

How?

The following elements should be a part of both initial and ongoing training:

  • Common Threats Employees must understand and be able to recognize signs of common threats. At the very least, these warnings should be written down and displayed in visible locations in every department. Download our email security guide to get started (PDF).
  • Communication Employees need to feel encouraged to speak up and speak out if they suspect an issue. They need to feel empowered to take time away from normal business long enough to address concerns with a supervisor, manager, or managed services partner.
  • Prevention Rules Employees need clear guidelines regarding the sites from which they can or cannot access information, as well as guidelines detailing what may or may not be installed on their company computers and devices. They need simple instructions about what attachments should not be opened and which links should not be clicked. They should be required to report any solicitations or non-work-related messages from unrecognized sources. Finally, companies should use high spam-recognition standards to minimize threats that otherwise would require skilled employee intervention.
  • Password Standards One of the most frustrating aspects of our modern technological world is the need for multiple passwords on multiple devices and accounts, especially the frequent changing of passwords for the same accounts. While biometric capability may soon relieve some of this frustration, insisting on strong passwords, multifactor authentication, and password security is essential.

None of these measures are terribly difficult; none of them are particularly time-consuming; none of them are overly-burdensome; all of them are critical. Given the rise in cyber-attacks over the last decade and, especially, the recent, coordinated, worldwide ransomware attack, not providing cybersecurity training to employees is not an option for any company that wants to survive and flourish. Of all expenditures that do not generate revenue directly, this is one of the most fundamental and unavoidable. It cannot be ignored.

While thinkCSC believes that employees will always be the first line of defense against ransomware attacks, the only real solution is for leaders of all organizations and businesses of all sizes to invest in stronger IT security that includes offsite backup and recovery. These protections, combined with ongoing staff training, strict security policies, and constant vigilance, are an absolute necessity in today’s cyber-environment.

For new customers interested in information on obtaining our services, please contact us at sales@thinkcsc.com.

thinkCSC Nominated Best Information Technology Company by Columbus C.E.O. Magazine

By | Business, Managed IT Services, Press Release, thinkCSC

thinkCSC is proud to announce that our firm is a finalist is Columbus CEO magazine’s Best of Business 2017 in the category of Information Technology Companies. Voting is open now through July 14.

VOTE NOW for thinkCSC.

Columbus C.E.O. magazine’s annual Best of Business poll gives the Columbus community an opportunity to spotlight everything that make central Ohio’s business scene great.

thinkCSC has been nominated for the Best of Business award in information technology. There are more than 100 categories. Vote today, and don’t forget to choose “thinkCSC” as the Best Information Technology Company. Results will be announced in the November issue of Columbus C.E.O. Magazine.

HOW TO VOTE:

  1. Click this link
  2. On the page that opens up, click on “Vote Now” button
  3. Vote in the categories you want, but be sure to stop at the seventh one down “Best Information Technology Company” and click to open the category. Scroll down to thinkCSC and click “vote.”
  4. Tell your friends about voting by tagging thinkCSC on Facebook

 

All of us at thinkCSC appreciate distinct honor of being nominated for this prestigious award. We work hard every day to support each other and deliver top-notch service to our clients. Help thinkCSC win in the category of Best Information Technology Company by voting for us here:

Security Alert: WannaCry Ransomware

By | BDR, Data Security, Managed IT Services, Ransomware, thinkCSC Security Alert

thinkCSC has been closely tracking a global ransomware attack called “WannaCry” that was initiated last Friday and has impacted organizations in at least 150 countries. The attack began in the UK, shutting down several hospitals, thereafter spreading to Spain. The attack has now spread globally to organizations of all sizes in all industries, including those in the United States.

Please note that organizations with network visibility and a comprehensive patching program are protected and will be able to defend themselves against WannaCry. This ransomware is spread throughout an organization’s network by taking advantage of vulnerabilities in Windows Server Message Block (SMB). Targeted organizations are those who failed to deploy the patches Microsoft had released to protect against these vulnerabilities.

To learn more about the SMB security patches and software vulnerabilities, read more here: https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/security/ms17-010.aspx

What Happens When WannaCry Ransomware Attacks?

When WannaCry ransomware is deployed, it encrypts files and demands a ransom of $300 in Bitcoin. thinkCSC urges organizations NOT to pay the ransom, as payment has not resulted in a release of the encrypted files. Read more here: http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-39920269

To learn more about the WannaCry ransomware attack, read more here: http://www.pcmag.com/article/353670/wannacry-ransomware-what-you-need-to-know

thinkCSC Coverage:

The thinkCSC team is actively monitoring the situation.

All thinkCSC Managed Services Clients have patches in place for exploitation attempts against the Windows SMB vulnerability, as well as IPS network detection for the WannaCry ransomware.

Keep in mind that this is an ongoing campaign, and we are regularly updating our detection capabilities. Additionally, we are keeping a close eye on customer networks as events unfold. Please notify thinkCSC of any reported cases of WannaCry ransomware in your organization.

Recommended Courses of Action:

thinkCSC recommends all organizations take the following actions:

  1. Ensure that “Security Update for Microsoft Windows SMB Server (4013389),” reference Critical Microsoft Security Bulletin MS17-010, has been applied.
  2. Update endpoint protection and antivirus software definitions, and have all users leave systems powered on so they can receive patches and definition updates.
  3. Remove public access from any Windows system with Server Message Block that has not been patched (as a best practice, SMB ports 139, 445 should not be exposed publicly and should be blocked from all externally accessible hosts).
  4. Ensure that all internal Windows systems are patched, to avoid internal spread of WannaCry ransomware.
  5. Ensure critical files are backed up appropriately.

While thinkCSC believes that employees will always be the first line of defense against ransomware attacks, the only real solution is for leaders of all –organizations – businesses of all sizes, government entities, schools, hospitals, and –others – to invest in stronger IT security that includes offsite backup and recovery. These protections, combined with ongoing staff training, strict security policies, and constant vigilance, are an absolute necessity in today’s cyber-environment.

For new customers interested in information on obtaining our services, please contact us at sales@thinkcsc.com

IoT Security: What Your Business Must Know

By | Data Security, Managed IT Services, thinkCSC Security Alert

One of the most recent and exciting developments in technology has been the Internet of Things (IoT). This is the term coined to describe the networking of devices we use as part of our daily lives that communicate with one another via Wi-Fi: appliances that can be programmed and started by using a smartphone app, self-driving cars, automatic messages reminding us of our to-do list items, etc. The industry is expanding rapidly, and many businesses are developing smart devices in their efforts to remain competitive, but IoT security, however, has lagged behind.

Jumping on the IoT bandwagon is an exciting opportunity for business growth, but ensuring security is the only way to mitigate the risks involved. In an area where real-time human oversight of wireless transmissions is difficult, methods of maintaining security must keep pace with the technology itself. However, as with all technological advances, this is a daunting task.

What are the risks involved with IoT for your business?

  1. The biggest risk with IoT is its reliance on wireless connections, as well as the sheer number of devices that are being connected together. Hacking is easier and more common in the wireless world, and hacking communications that are not being continuously monitored is easier and less risky for cybercriminals. In short, their chance of being detected and caught is lower in an IoT environment than with a more traditional network. This is complicated by many businesses feeling pressured to join the IoT movement prior to fully understanding the risks involved and developing solid security systems accordingly. A lack of good planning and preparation has caused many devices to be programmed using older generation operating systems, buggy software, generic manufacturer passwords, and other technical problems. These issues compound the security risks for all communications using IoT devices.
  2. In addition to the common reasons IoT introduces risk – stealing data, unsecured data connections, privacy issues – there is one threat that seems to fly under the radar, and that is the ability hackers have to introduce botnets and severely disable or interrupt legitimate internet activity, the method used by hackers on October 21, when a series of Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks caused widespread disruption in the US.
  3. More and more people are using personal devices, and those devices often are not secured properly. When these people access these devices at work, they often operate through your organization’s network. This means that your network is facing a potential security breach and attack by connecting to a less secure device. Banning devices from the workplace may be impossible. Your first line of defense against the unchecked proliferation of IoT, then, must be a robust, layered network and endpoint security, as well as threat detection protocols.

A Note for IoT product and system developers

For product and system developers, security cannot be stressed enough, since compromised security can devastate an endeavor. Even the perception of higher risk can doom a new product, especially one involved in the transmission of sensitive data. It is not enough to have the same level of security as traditional systems. IoT security is more complicated and must be more robust. Tighter access controls, more complex operator verification processes, stronger encryption, more extensive initial development, newer operating systems, more frequently changed password requirements (including the need to change the manufacturer password prior to use), etc. are vital to the security of your network and your business.

Handling security risks

IoT security is new, complex technology. It is beginning to reach into every aspect of our lives, and it will continue to grow in the foreseeable future. It is something that most individuals and companies can’t handle on their own. More than most other aspects of business, IoT security requires collaboration with experts. If you are concerned about your ability to adequately handle the risks, we are here to help in any way we can to meet your needs and raise your level of understanding, protection, and safety.

At thinkCSC, we believe that in order to achieve maximum success, regardless of the size or type of organization, you must make IT an integral part of your overall business strategy and partner with IT professionals who not only understand how to leverage technology to their advantage but who are also committed to understanding your business goals and aligning your IT strategy to them. We pride ourselves on having the best business-savvy technical experts in the industry. If you would like to learn how to create an IT security strategy aligned with your organizational goalscontact thinkCSC for more information.

IT Security, Strategy, and Infrastructure – A Look Ahead

By | Cloud Services, Data Security, Managed IT Services

the-future

For most organizations, preventing, detecting, and overcoming cyber threats will become a necessary factor in every business function. With billions of devices connecting to and sending data through the cloud, viable artificial intelligence becoming a reality, and businesses relying on APIs to deliver better customer experiences, security will take a front seat in every business decision. Here’s a look ahead:

Internet of Everything

By 2020, it’s predicted that there will be billions of devices, appliances, cars, and other objects connected to the internet, speeding data around the world at a rapid pace. This phenomenon is referred to as the Internet of Things, or IoT. No industry will be left untouched by IoT, from agriculture and healthcare to manufacturing and government. Gartner estimates that there will be 25 billion of these smart devices – smart cars, smoke detectors, thermostats, industrial robots, traffic lights, medical devices (many implanted), public transportation, and refrigerators – communicating personal data to and through the cloud. Everything we do, from stopping at the store on the way home from work, to managing our health, will be facilitated by IoT. For businesses that will be developing or selling smart devices, the most critical component of the process will be maintaining the highest possible level of security to protect the data that will be continuously transmitting back and forth. This means not only developing products with built-in security but also ensuring that the gateways that connect the devices are equally secure.

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence, or AI, is the development of machines and robots with the humanlike capability of making decisions and handling tasks typically performed by humans. While advancements in AI have been occurring for the past few decades, it’s never been more ubiquitous. Scientists predict that artificial intelligence will not only make the world safer, by providing robots that can act as first responders during crises, but that the ability of humanized computers to learn more quickly how to save us from climate change, poverty, and other global challenges will increase exponentially. AI will likely even improve the lives and longevity of humans, as implants and other medical uses of AI become more prevalent. As with IoT, AI must be developed with the idea of security in mind. We don’t need a team of robots who can be hacked and controlled by cyber criminals. At the same time, artificial intelligence may take center stage in improving cyber security.

 

API Management

According to Forrester Research, companies will spend more than $3 billion on API development by 2020. An API – application program interface – allows your customers to access specific data or interface with specific components of your website. A doctor’s office might use an API to allow patients to schedule appointments online; a social media company might use APIs to access Twitter to generate monthly reports. All of this back-channel communication is crucial to delivering the best experience to your customers, regardless of industry, but it also highlights the importance of implementing serious, multi-layer security and detection to protect your organization and your data.

An Ongoing War on Cyber Threats

For most organizations, preventing, detecting, and overcoming cyber threats will become a necessary factor in every business function, and IoT, AI, and APIs will only make security more necessary. Yet even without these technological developments, the security of every organization is continually threatened. From email security to the physical security of structures, cyber threats are a growing risk. It will continue to be an ongoing battle, in which new security protocols are developed and cyber criminals become more sophisticated in their ability to circumnavigate these safeguards. The human element – employee training, limited access, strict and enforced policies – will play an essential role in the success or failure of these efforts.

At thinkCSC, we believe that in order to achieve maximum success, regardless of the size or type of organization, you must make IT an integral part of your overall business strategy and partner with IT professionals who not only understand how to leverage technology to your advantage but who are also committed to understanding your business goals and aligning your IT strategy to them. We pride ourselves on having the best business-savvy technical experts in the industry. If you would like to learn how to create an IT security strategy aligned with your organizational goalscontact thinkCSC for more information.

Security Concerns Will Drive IT Security Spending Over $100 Billion by 2020

By | BDR, Business, Data Security, Email Security, Managed IT Services

IT SecurityFor many years, organizations have argued that security budgets are already stretched to the max and that there is no more room for increased security. With costly security breaches impacting governments, social media platforms, the IRS, and more small and mid-size businesses than we can count, the investment in security suddenly seems like the least expensive option.

IT Security vs. Security Breach

Whether you increase your spending on IT security or simply find a better way to spend your budget, one thing is certain: what you spend on IT security is a predictable, planned cost that doesn’t send your shareholders into a panic, doesn’t make your customers question their loyalty, and doesn’t put you out of business. A security breach, on the other hand, can result in fines, lawsuits, costly recovery, and a loss of customers.

If your organization has decided to increase IT security, how do you make sure you’re getting the most out of your investment? We recommend focusing on these areas:

Email Security

Email is still one of the most popular ways for hackers to penetrate your security, because all it takes is one email on one employee’s system compelling them to open an attachment or click on a link to create a breach that will affect your entire IT infrastructure. People will always be the weakest link in security. Sender policy framework protocols, hosted email exchange services, and ongoing employee training are all essential. Download our email security guide to help your employees think before they click.

Endpoint Security

Every device that touches your network needs to be secure, whether it’s an employee-owned cell phone, vendor equipment, or a field tech’s laptop. It is crucial to identify every remote device that might potentially connect to your network; have a way to both detect that connection, protect that connection, and eliminate the connection if needed.

Threat Detection

Enterprise threat detection uses predictive analytics on a powerful and global scale to recognize and block threats before they happen. Rather than relying on end users to determine the safety of a file or a site, it uses intelligence to stop threats by preventing malware-infected devices from connecting and by blocking phishing sites.

Backup and Data Recovery

Unless you want to be permanently locked out of your data or forced to pay a ransom to restore access, having an offsite backup and recovery service is essential. The email security, endpoint security, and threat detection efforts you implement will prevent many of the ransomware attempts from getting through, but all it takes is one employee clicking on one link in one email that sneaks through to create havoc.

Effective network security that keeps your IT environment efficient and stable is about applying layers. The initial layer is a solid backup and recovery solution, protected by an antivirus solution, and then guarded by a firewall. Enterprise threat detection, email security, and endpoint security are the shields that head off attacks on your business before they happen. It’s more than peace of mind: It’s good business sense.

At thinkCSC, we believe that in order to achieve maximum success, regardless of the size or type of organization, you must make IT an integral part of your overall business strategy and partner with IT professionals who not only understand how to leverage technology to your advantage but who are also committed to understanding your business goals and aligning your IT strategy to them. We pride ourselves on having the best business-savvy technical experts in the industry. If you would like to learn how to create an IT security strategy aligned with your organizational goalscontact thinkCSC for more information.

Aligning IT Strategy with Your Business

By | Business, Managed IT Services, thinkCSC

 

aligning IT strategy with business goalsWhen it comes to IT infrastructure, managed services, and even IT security, there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all solution. Every organization – public, private, non-profit, and institutional – has unique needs and agendas. It’s essential, then, when developing your IT strategy, that you create solutions that serve your specific organizational needs.

To develop a strong IT strategy, you need to clearly understand the mission and strategy of your organization – and share that information with your managed services or IT services partner. If you do not treat IT as a valued piece of your business strategy, it creates significant risks, including:

  • The inability to meet customer and client needs
  • Increased costs for maintenance and upkeep
  • The inability to properly compete in the marketplace
  • Loss of customers and revenue as a result of downtime
  • Loss of competitive advantage or position
  • The inability to recruit and retain the best talent
  • Lack of innovation
  • Inability to maintain compliance

The scope and complexity of IT has increased significantly over the last decade, while at the same time, most organizations are pushed to operate leaner than ever, doing without full-time IT departments or even an internal IT specialist. While businesses rely more and more on technology to compete and thrive in a global environment, budgets often constrain how many personnel they are able to dedicate to the effort.

Developing a Comprehensive IT Strategy

Developing a comprehensive strategy requires an assessment of your current infrastructure. Are you still using legacy systems? Do you know where your essential data is and who has access to it? Are all of your licenses up to date? Is any of your hardware at risk of failing? If you were unable to access your building for an extended period of time, what would you need in order to meet your customers’ needs? Do you have any compliance or reporting requirements to which your organization must adhere?

As you work with your IT partner to answer these questions and others, you can develop a plan to consolidate servers, create security policies and protocols, and address regulatory requirements to ensure your organization is compliant. Layered network security, backup and disaster recovery, and other risk-mitigating efforts should be an integral part of the effort, along with email security, mobile device management, and secure data storage (on site and off).

At thinkCSC, we believe that in order to achieve maximum success, regardless of the size or type of organization, you must make IT an integral part of your overall business strategy and partner with IT professionals who not only understand how to leverage technology to your advantage but who are also committed to understanding your business goals and aligning your IT strategy to them. We pride ourselves on having the best business-savvy technical experts in the industry. If you would like to learn how to create an IT strategy aligned with your organizational goalscontact thinkCSC for more information.