Technology Advisor Blog

Got a consumer class router?  Power cycle it NOW!

Posted by Ann Westerheim on 5/29/18 4:02 PM

FBI - Cyber WarningThe FBI has issued an important warning about certain consumer-class routers after a massive malware attack was detected.  Turning the router off, then on again is a simple and important step to help stop the malware.  Additionally, it's recommended that you update the password and make sure the firmware is up to date.  The malware is capable of blocking traffic,  collecting information that's transmitted through the device, and disabling devices entirely.

The devices affected include Linksys, MicroTik, Netgear, and TP-Link.  The malware attack is being linked to Russia.

We strongly recommend that all businesses, no matter how small, always use a business-class firewall.

For additional information, we recommend excellent summaries in The NY Times and Krebs on Security (a lot more technical detail).

 

Tags: cybersecurity, malware

Cybersecurity - What is the cost to Small Businesses? Another factor to think about related to Microsoft Security Patches...

Posted by Ann Westerheim on 5/14/18 10:55 AM

App_Security_400We've all seen the headlines of the major cybersecurity incidents:  Target, Yahoo, Equifax, Sony, etc... Cybersecurity is a topic that affects everyone, and we view it as a public safety issue.  With all the headlines over the past years, at this point, most people "get it" that cybersecurity is a big problem, but the education can't stop there.   

Too many SMBs see the big companies listed in the headlines and  think they're "under the radar" when it comes to cybersecurity, but half of all attacks hit small businesses.   A big part of our mission at Ekaru is to bring enterprise class IT to small businesses, and security is a big part of it.

And there's more:  The headlines tell just part of the story -it takes a little more digging to identify the real costs.  As an example, the San Francisco metro system was hit by Ransomware over a year ago.  At the time, the network was held hostage for $73K.  All ticket point of sales systems were rendered useless, so to keep people moving, free fares were offered for the busy holiday weekend.  With an estimated 700,000+ rides per day at a fare of  $1 to $2.25, the system lost between $1.3M and $3.3M.  This figure includes lost revenue, and doesn't include all the round the clock work to restore systems from backup.

The cost analysis doesn't stop there, though.  Last week Microsoft released a critical zero-day security alert.  As bad actors continue to find and exploit cyber vulnerabilities, the major tech vendors continue to update products to address the vulnerabilities.

In the case of security patches, these are actually required by law by the MA Data Security Law, HIPAA, and other industry-specific regulations.  

 "For files containing personal information on a system that is connected to the Internet, there must be reasonably up-to-date firewall protection and operating system security patches, reasonably designed to maintain the integrity of the personal information. "

So here's the curve ball.  The critical security patch released by Microsoft last week had a bug:  systems that got the security patch lost their ability to connect to the network!  This meant that these PCs became basically useless until the network connections were restored.  This led to downtime at customer sites, and enormous efforts by IT support firms like Ekaru to restore connectivity for affected users.  As we consider the overall cost of security, the downtime associated with failed security updates is also a major consideration. 

To secure networks and comply with regulations, we rely on Microsoft to continually address security vulnerabilities with security patches.  With the complexity of modern computing systems we realize that things are changing all the time.  Going forward, more diligence by Microsoft in testing of security updates is needed - 2018 has gotten off to a rough start!  That said, our message to all SMBs is that the risk of not complying with security updates is far greater than the risk of the rare problem update. 

So we continue our message to all users that cybersecurity is a public safety issue and we're all in this together and we all need to do our part!

 

Tags: cybersecurity, ransomware, cybersecurity

Ekaru Now Delivers Dark Web Monitoring Services through ID Agent Partnership

Posted by Ann Westerheim on 5/9/18 8:29 AM

Ekaru Offers Monitoring and Alerting of Stolen Digital Credentials, Increasingly Valuable Asset on Dark Web

Hacker_BlogEkaru announced its new Dark Web monitoring services provided through its partnership with ID Agent, provider of Dark Web monitoring and identity theft protection solutions. With Dark Web ID, Ekaru offers around the clock monitoring and alerting for increasingly compromised digital credentials, scouring millions of sources, including botnets, criminal chat rooms, peer-to-peer networks, malicious websites, bulletin boards and illegal black market sites.

 “Too many small businesses think that they’re “under the radar” when it comes to cybersecurity.  Users have weak passwords and often reuse passwords at multiple sites.  About half of all cyber attacks hit small businesses, but they just don’t make the headlines like the big companies.  It’s been Ekaru’s mission from the beginning to support and protect small businesses”, said Ann Westerheim, PhD, President at Ekaru.

 The Dark Web is made up of various digital communities, and while there are legitimate purposes for the Dark Web, it is estimated that over 50 percent of all sites on the Dark Web today are used for criminal activities, including the disclosure and sale of digital credentials. 

 “Digital credentials such as usernames and passwords are widely used to connect to critical business applications – the reason these credentials are among the most valuable assets found on the Dark Web,” said Kevin Lancaster, CEO of ID Agent. “Unfortunately, the unaffordability of cyber offerings has played into the cyber poverty line experienced by small businesses. Dark Web ID, however, delivers an affordable model that provides small businesses with the same advanced credential monitoring capabilities used by Fortune 500 companies to organizations in the SMB and mid-market space.”

Dark Web ID is the industry’s only commercial solution available to detect customers’ compromised credentials in real-time on the Dark Web. It vigilantly searches the most secretive corners of the Internet to find compromised data associated with your customers’ employees, contractors and other personnel, and notifies them immediately when these critical assets are compromised. There are a few competitors in the market but none completely focused on the Dark Web as ID Agent’s solution.

About ID Agent

ID Agent provides a comprehensive set of threat intelligence and identity monitoring solutions to private and public sector organizations and to millions of individuals impacted by cyber incidents. The company's flagship product, Dark Web ID, combines human and sophisticated Dark Web intelligence with capabilities to identify, analyze and monitor for compromised or stolen employee and customer data, mitigating exposure to clients’ most valuable assets – their digital identity. From monitoring your organization’s domain for compromised credentials to deploying identity and credit management programs in order to protect the employees and customers you serve – ID Agent has the solution. For more information, visit: http://www.idagent.com or go to LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook.

About Ekaru

Ekaru has been a leading provider IT support services, hosting, and data protection to small and medium businesses since 2001. Our curated technology platform is designed to give you the level of support you need, with a budget that fits, so you can focus on your business.  For more information, visit www.ekaru.com or go to LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook.

 

Contact:                                                          

Ann Westerheim, PhD

Ekaru

978-692-4200

awesterheim@ekaru.com

Tags: cybersecurity, data security

Cybersecurity - Why you  need to train your employees

Posted by Ann Westerheim on 5/3/18 3:13 PM

In case you missed it... here's a review of our latest webinar on cybersecurity from earlier today.

Train, test, and prevent Cyber attacks.  Big companies make the headlines when there's a cybersecurity breach, and too many SMBs believe they are "under the radar". Today's threats are automated, and everyone is at risk.  Some reports indicate that up to 95% of breaches are caused by human error.

Will your employees click on that link they're not supposed to click?  Do they know not to install a USB stick labeled as "Company Financials"?  Cybersecurity protection requires layers of protection with attention to Technology, Process, AND People.

Training your employees is specifically required by the MA Data Security Law and other industry specific regulations such as HIPAA.  There's no such thing as 100% security, but don't leave your network exposed to avoidable human errors, and don't take on the liability of knowingly ignoring the law.

The Employee Security Training program is a cost-effective way to increase security and protect your business, and demonstrate compliance to training requirements of the MA Data Security Law, HIPAA, and other industry specific security compliance requirements.

Here's a recording of today's session on cybersecurity and employee training :

To learn more about the training platform and sign up, visit www.ekaru.com/training.

Tags: cybersecurity, training

Cybersecurity is a LOCAL issue - Massachusetts school district pays $10,000 ransom to unlock its files after cyber attack.

Posted by Ann Westerheim on 5/2/18 3:59 PM

This past week a Massachusetts school district paid $10,000 ransom to unlock its files after a cyber attack.  The Police Chief commented that there is no further investigation of this crime because solving this crime is "impossible". This is unfortunately a sign of the times.

 

At Ekaru, it's been our mission for years to SECURE and EDUCATE our small business clients.  All of us see headlines in the news when big companies get hit with a cyber attack,  and too often we think that's a problem that only happens to large well known companies  (Sears, Equifax, Sony, Target, etc). 

Today's modern threats are automated and indiscriminate.  ANYONE,  no matter how big or small can get hit with a cyber attack.  When an attack is local, it's a reminder that cybersecurity affects ALL of us, and this is a matter of public safety.

In the case of the school, its unclear how the ransomware got onto the network, but one of the most common attack vectors is email, so its vitally important to train employees.  Clicking on phishing emails and using weak passwords are easy to fix with some security awareness education.   In addition, its clear that the school district didn't have a disaster recovery plan or even a robust backup if they had to pay the ransom.  

We're working to spread the word that with some technology, process, and people fixes (training!), we can all greatly reduce the threat of cyber attacks.

Unfortunately, sometimes it takes a case close to home to remind us of how real these threats are.

To read the full article, go to cbsnews.com.

Tags: cybersecurity, cybersecurity, ransomware, Cybersecurity, email scams

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