Technology Advisor Blog

Boston Data Security Services: Why Data Protection Matters

Posted by Ann Westerheim on 6/21/24 2:16 PM

Boston Data Security Services

Data security in Boston, and other major business centers, is becoming a pillar of business readiness, as leaders look to proactively protect their business data.

This guide will uncover what data security is and how data breaches in Boston occur. We’ll also provide data security tips Boston businesses use to protect their network and look at Boston data security services that companies can take advantage of.

What is Data Security?

Data security is a subset of the much more intensive cybersecurity. Cybersecurity applies to maintaining the functionality and security of the IT network as a whole, its accessibility, controls, and endpoints, as well as software and physical equipment. Data security specifically focuses on the data itself, the information within your IT network. Data security is an array of procedures and technologies in place designed to prevent data theft and loss.

Today, data is the lifeline of any given business and industry. Not only is data critical for supporting market growth and strategic development, but it also helps you streamline and conduct critical business tasks virtually. If your personal laptop is dropped or stolen you can buy a new one - recreating data that is lost or stolen in a data breach isn’t so easy. Sometimes it’s impossible to recover your data, or your data gets exposed online for criminals to use and profit from. This brings many repercussions, even business failure, which is why companies work with data security services to ensure they are taking the proper steps to prevent data breaches.

Why Boston Data Security is Necessary

Data security in Boston needs to be a priority because cybercriminals primarily target major cities and business epicenters. At the same time, Ekaru stresses to our clients that no one is safe from cyberattacks. Whether you’re a small-to-medium-sized business or a large corporation, criminals are targeting every organization they can. The idea that hackers are scheming for major attacks on the largest corporations to achieve major extortions is a Hollywood myth that many small businesses think means they’re safe. But this isn’t true; 43% of cyber-attacks are launched at small and medium-sized businesses.

When these data breaches occur, the costs are immense due to a combination of operational downtime, data recovery and IT expenses, potential legal fees, and reputational damage. Without the data you need to complete central tasks, you can’t provide services to customers, so you’re losing money the entire time. For small businesses, the average cost of a single cyber attack can range from $826 to $600K+. At the same time, some sources have recorded that the average data breach cost in 2023 was over $4M.

By 2025, cybercrime costs, most commonly involving data breaches, are projected to increase to $10.5T. The only way for organizations to avoid such business-ending expenses is to incorporate small business data security policies that can keep up with cybercrime trends.

Data Breaches Boston Businesses Face

It’s important for every organization to understand how data can be stolen with or without the proper measures in place. The primary ways a bad actor will infiltrate your network to steal data include:

  • Phishing emails to deploy malware
  • Unpatched software vulnerabilities
  • Weak or reused passwords
  • Human error
  • And more

The most common way data breaches occur is through phishing attempts via email. Unsuspecting employees will open a deceptive email and click a link within the message that then creates a backdoor into your network to plant malware to steal data. However, one thing you’ll notice is how all of these breaches compound on one another. This is because data security requires both mindfulness and technology to be effective. This can be seen in how effective phishing emails are at slipping past standard IT defenses. One Deloitte study found that 91% of data security breaches are attributed to phishing emails that are opened by unsuspecting staff members who fail to recognize the threat.

Human error is so prominent in data breaches that one of the core focuses of data security services in Boston, like Ekaru, is helping companies train staff on identifying and avoiding phishing scams. Ekaru sees Boston data breaches that are unleashed by accident all the time. Busy employees go through many emails every day. Maybe they get an email that looks like it's a resume for a job that was posted or a bank account low balance alert. They open it without assessing the message or noting strange language, and click the link within, except nothing happens or then they realize that something’s off.

Oftentimes people will think, ‘I shouldn't have clicked on that, but everything looks okay’ because nothing appears to happen immediately. But this is no guarantee. You may not see anything at all, but cybercriminals could still have gained access to your network and data, and have been poking around for days, weeks, or months without being detected. By the time individuals notice problems and alert supervisors, it’s too late. Malware has been dispersed, data is being stolen, or the system is hijacked by ransomware. At this point, businesses require emergency Boston-based emergency data recovery services to intervene.

This is why a large part of local Boston data security measures need to focus on data security training and having an open environment where people can immediately report when they discover a suspicious email and/or click a strange link. Despite the value and strength of security software and antivirus technology, these are not enough to protect your data.

Antivirus Is Not Enough Cyber Protection in Boston

Businesses tend to think ‘well, I've got antivirus on my computer, I should be fine’. But that's not the case at all. Antivirus technology is not a full source of IT protection, but a small component of your overall network and data security.

This is a conversation Ekaru’s data security services team has with many local businesses all the time, usually when they come to us seeking local emergency cybersecurity services. Years ago, in the Metro West suburbs in Boston, we encountered a client that only relied on antivirus and was convinced they were fine until we outlined how criminals are overcoming bare minimum firewalls and antivirus to steal data. Today, there's so much money in cybercrime and very little need for expensive technology or IT skills to break past these base layers of protection.

As mentioned, unpatched software and weak/vulnerable passwords, things like these are all easy to bypass if they break past your antivirus. Once they’re in, they’re in, unless you have a multi-tiered level of protection. Even still, an antivirus does not prevent human errors like opening a phishing email.

Remember, 74% of cyber incidents are caused by human mistakes. So despite all the tech you have in place, a malicious link is all it takes for your antivirus to fail and your data to be left vulnerable.

4 Data Breach Emergency Actions Once Hit

Whether you are prepared or not, when a data breach occurs, an immediate response is critical. Even if you partner with a data security services company to resolve the issue, there are important things you, as a business, need to do first before they even get to work. Here’s a quick list of initial responses you’ll want to take.

1. Contact your insurance provider

If you carry cybersecurity insurance, contact your insurance provider first. They'll have some specific instructions about what to do - which should fall within your coverage. They may even provide a breach coach and incident response team who will guide you through the entire recovery process. Make sure that you follow the rules provided by the insurance company. For those who don't have cyber insurance, we recommend talking to your insurance professional about getting coverage. It's not sufficient to just have business owner's insurance.

2. Alert your IT services provider

Whether you have an internal tech team or are working with a Boston managed IT Services provider like Ekaru, alert them at once and let them work. They’ll need to identify and isolate the area of the data breach in order to prevent its spread. Once, this is done, they’ll begin the process of recovering data and/or starting your backup. If you’re not sure what to do, don’t attempt anything yourself, this could result in further data loss and other problems.

3. Contact local Boston Data Security Services

Data recovery can be very complicated depending on the severity of your breach. If you do not have an in-house or outsourced IT services provider, you’ll want to bring in data recovery specialists. Make sure they’re reputable and local so you can get the fastest data remediation services possible. Make sure you give them as much detail on what happened, and where the files at risk might be located on the server. This will help them isolate and remove the cyber threat and identify what data is salvageable.

Data security services can also tell you how severe the data loss is and help you recover as much information as possible. Again, if you don’t know what you’re doing, don’t try to resolve the threat, you could risk losing more data. From here, the provider can help you close the gaps in your system to prevent repeat breaches.

4. Notify clients if necessary

Keep in mind, breach is a legal term, and should only be used if you know that data is exfiltrated. You might have just had a cyber incident, which is different. A breach has legal terms ramifications, so it shouldn't be used lightly. If you are confirmed to have a data breach, you may be required to disclose this as part of your industry’s obligations or local Boston data security requirements.

4 Data Protection Tips You Can Apply Now

Establishing reliable data protection and prevention measures throughout your company is much safer and less expensive than dealing with the various costs of a major data breach. To do this, every company needs to implement a blend of technology solutions, secure data handling procedures, and cybersecurity training and awareness. To do this, you may also want to consider partnering with a dedicated Boston data security services provider to build, implement, and maintain your company’s data protection.

Here are things you can do right now to strengthen your data security.

1. Get a cybersecurity risk assessment

Whether or not you have any IT security in place, get a cybersecurity assessment from a team of qualified cybersecurity specialists. This is important for assessing where your current data security vulnerabilities lie and whether you are equipped to prevent/mitigate a data breach event. At Ekaru, we use the risk assessment to go through the systems you have, taking an inventory of your base-level IT applications and computers, including cloud solutions, to see where there are gaps criminals can exploit to steal your data.

For example, if you have a Dropbox account that's just controlled by the provider, that's a giant security risk. All of a sudden, your company files are just out there in an account that you don't have any control over. That’s an issue our assessment brings to your consideration.

Another example is if you use Microsoft 365 like many Boston businesses, we’ll run security scanning to assess if you’ve encountered phishing and/or what data is most vulnerable to phishing attempts. We’ll identify if there have been suspicious activities like multiple password attempts to get in. Now seeing that people might be trying to break past your passwords, we can help you implement lockouts along with multi-factor authentication.

The other thing the assessment does is vulnerability scanning, which insurance companies are looking for now as a part of coverage. This also indicates what systems need to be patched. by running vulnerability assessments, you can see where individual and broad-spanning issues may lie and then build protocol against the highest priority vulnerabilities. As a data security services provider, we try to look at your network and data security from both a human logistics and an IT functionality lens. Remember, human logistics is a core feature of data security.

2. Create a cybersecurity roadmap

Having a data security framework or roadmap outlining what data you have, where it’s located, and how you are protecting it is very important. You can’t protect what you don’t know, let alone recover from a cyber event when it happens.

A local business came to Ekaru a couple of years back after they suffered a cyber incident that presented major technical challenges, all stemming from a malevolent email. This firm didn't have adequate protections or a plan in place to deal with the data breach fallout. They didn't even know if their systems were even patched. This was because they were only a 20-person company and didn’t think establishing a data protection plan or investing in proper software was necessary. But again, this proved false when they became another Boston data breach statistic.

Sadly, their lack of adequate preparation resulted in their data backup being totally wiped. It wasn't an adequate backup in the first place because the threat actors just shut off the backup and removed it. There are actually ways of setting up a backup system that prevents this, but they didn’t take advantage of this because the firm didn’t prepare for such a scenario in the first place. What they needed was a disaster recovery and business continuity plan to outline the threats and help guide recovery. They didn’t outline compromised data backups as a threat. What’s more, they didn’t even know how to communicate effectively throughout the ordeal, making the situation worse.

In the end, the company did have cyber insurance that covered a lot of the losses. They were still out a lot of money, but that was the buffer that kept them in business. The lesson here is that mapping out your basic data security measures and the immediate responses in dealing with an incident goes a long way. It saves you time, money, peace of mind, and data.

Your initial roadmap can draw from the NIST Cybersecurity Framework that we recommend and help businesses establish within their organization to protect their data. This provides a simple basis for both establishing data defense and planning around when something does happen - the step-by-step to remediation. The more prepared you are, the greater your data protection. Be sure to check out some additional data security resources we’ve gathered for you.

3. Use Multi-factor authentication

Multi-factor authentication is critically important, so much so that Microsoft has stated that 99. 99% of security incidents involving Microsoft 365 occur from accounts that don't have multi-factor authentication. This is a simple but highly effective method that anyone can take to protect their data and ensure that passwords remain protected. Recently, one of Ekaru’s team members engaged a local accountant in Westford, Massachusetts, and was shocked to learn that they don't want multi-factor authentication because ‘I don't want to have to enter a code every single time I read or send an email.’

It’s true that sometimes, multi-factor authentication can seem tedious, but it’s not nearly as tedious as the actual data breach it’s helping prevent. What’s more, is that the technology is not typically going to have you authenticate yourself all the time as long as you don't travel to someplace really far away. So it's not on every email or sign-in necessarily. Instead of being intrusive or inconvenient, authentications wipe away a giant part of the data security risks Boston businesses face.

4. Build Cyber Awareness

Data security in Boston begins with understanding what cyber threats you’re actually facing. In fact, having a cyber awareness program in your company is required by the Massachusetts data security law. It's required by HIPAA too, and many other regulations require it. It’s required for a reason because cyber awareness empowers you and your team with the information you need to safeguard your company and your customers’ data.

Understanding how to identify a suspicious email can be the difference between avoiding a data breach or falling into a scam or ransomware trap that costs millions of dollars. AI and deepfake scamming are on the rise, with multiple examples of cybercriminals pulling off scams and data heists via voice and video cloning. Therefore, it’s critical to have up-to-date data security training because the threats to your IT network are only growing more complex.

In the end, your staff is the first and last line of data security. That’s why Ekaru offers extensive cybersecurity training programs to educate our clients and help them protect their company from the inside out.

Boston Data Security Services Can Help

Data security is as complex as it is essential to business success. The good news is that you don’t have to have a degree in computer science to start protecting your data. Simply forming a data protection plan and promoting cyber awareness are great starting points. But to really spearhead the development of a truly robust data security program, consider working with Ekaru’s data security services. We’ll help you develop the strategies and plans you need to protect your data and network, starting with a cybersecurity risk assessment. Contact us at ​​(978) 692-4200.

Topics: cybersecurity, cybersecurity training, Cyber Insurance

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