Technology Advisor Blog

Cybersecurity in 2021 - Security Awareness Training

Posted by Ann Westerheim on 3/11/21 4:43 PM


Here's a re-cap of our recent community cybersecurity training event.  Cybersecurity these days is like a game of chess.  For every move, there's a counter move.  As people put more technology protection in place, the cyber criminals just get more clever.  User awareness is often the key to staying safe!  Will your employee click on that dangerous link?  It takes just one wrong click to do a lot of damage.  The more you and your team know about the latest threats, the better.  We were pleased to host close to 100 local small business leaders from Westford, Acton, Littleton, Chelmsford, Concord, Waltham, Southborough, Northborough, and Wellesley during our recent small business cybersecurity awareness training session. Education is a key part of Ekaru's mission, and here are a few highlights from the event.

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Tags: cybersecurity, cybersecurity training

Keep Your Technology Fresh and Stay Secure

Posted by Ann Westerheim on 3/1/21 3:29 PM

An important part of staying secure on line is keeping your technology up to date.  If you're running old technology, you're not benefitting from the latest security protections.  In January of 2020, Microsoft ended support for Windows 7. This led to a massive worldwide effort to get systems upgraded to Windows 10.  However, a recent report on The Verge indicates up to 100 million PCs are still running Windows 7.  Ouch!  If you made the move to Windows 10, kudos for you, but have you kept the rest of your technology up to date?

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Tags: small business, cybersecurity

Work From Home - An Employee Checklist

Posted by Ann Westerheim on 2/22/21 1:40 PM

It's hard to believe we're approaching the one year anniversary of COVID pandemic related shut-downs.  Thanks to technology like laptops, Zoom, high speed Internet, VoIP phones, and more, the scramble to work remotely was possible for many.  With all the associated distractions, cybersecurity often winds up being an afterthought for many.  As a technology service provider in the greater Boston area, we've worked with many local small businesses to enable a smooth transition to remote work, and we strongly encourage a continuing culture of cybersecurity to keep your business safe.

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Tags: small business, small business technology, cybersecurity, work from home

The Florida Water System Hack and What it Means for Local Towns in Massachusetts

Posted by Ann Westerheim on 2/15/21 1:49 PM

Image Source: Krebs on Security

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Tags: cybersecurity

CMMC - Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification - 101

Posted by Ann Westerheim on 2/12/21 9:52 AM

Changes are ahead for businesses of all sizes in the Defense Industrial Base (DIB) sector and the supply chain of the Department of Defense (DoD) with new cybersecurity certification requirements on the way. 

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Cyber Burnout Getting you Down?

Posted by Ann Westerheim on 2/2/21 1:50 PM

New normal. Our new reality. These are the various ways that we describe everyday life in the time of a global pandemic. It means a lot of change, in a lot of ways, for a lot of people. While parenting is definitely more challenging when it comes to managing to homeschool and work from home at the same time, spending so much time on the computer can lead to cyber burnout. Helping the children with schoolwork, jumping on the fifth zoom call of the day, and then trying to stay connected with friends and family on the computer can just be too much. As an IT Managed service provider helping small businesses in the Boston area, we have a big mission to help everyone get their technology to work, and at times we're also feeling a bit stretched thin.

This is a time that we're all depending on technology to "just work". At Ekaru, our jobs already had plenty of “I need help RIGHT NOW” moments that require us to solve problems fast. Careers were depending on emails getting out, networks being up, and employees knowing how to use software and hardware effectively and safely. An ongoing cybersecurity program? It is a priority, but not often one that was at the top of the list – until a breach occurred. Then we're jumping and fixing and panicking right alongside our client. And how did the breach occur? Most likely through human error.  The FBI is reporting that cyber threats are up 400% during the pandemic.  The bad actors are counting on people being distracted and stressed.

Stressful? Yes, we’d say so.
Take that, throw in the complete overhaul of how the global workforce now does their job, mix it up with a global healthcare crisis, and you have a stress smoothie that anyone would have a hard time digesting. "Work from home" to most people means that they are now setting up a space to work effectively or designating an area for the kids to go to school. To the IT employee, it means at least a dozen other things to consider that go alongside which way to face your new desk or place the art station. Securing networks, passwords, supporting remote locations, and ensuring that not only are people working securely, but they are also working within the parameters that you’re able to support if something should go wrong. Stopping rogue downloads of software that they “think might help them do their job in this new scenario” are like trying to contain a balloon that a child has let go of. A small office with eight employees now means eight remote locations.

All of this has led to a cyber fatigue that can lead to all workers experiencing exhaustion and stress.

Avoiding Cyber Burnout
Emergencies are inevitable but assessing your technology ahead of a crisis is going to offset some of those unexpected failures. Take time to tend to your own business so that you can better serve your clients. Ensure that employees are taking time off. Giving your team acknowledgment of their efforts and accomplishments will always go a long way, even if you can’t afford large financial incentives, feeling valued is… well, invaluable. We continue to have ongoing conversations around cybersecurity status so that you can plan ahead, make changes, and provide a response in non-emergency times rather than in just times of crisis. A ransomware attack is the LAST thing anyone can really deal with right now.

The human factor in preventing breaches extends beyond the user, and in this case, is directed at taking care of the humans who support the effort as well. Take a break, get outside and away from your screen, and re-charge. Adapting to the day to day stresses, and staying focused on long term strategic goals is possible with a bit of balance.

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Building a Cybersecurity Culture with Training

Posted by Ann Westerheim on 1/25/21 5:00 PM

Technology is an important part of any cybersecurity plan, but technology can only take you so far.  Getting the right firewall, security patches, antivirus, and other protections are an important part of your small business security foundation, but the last line of defense is your employees.  Will they click on that link?

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Tags: cybersecurity, cybersecurity training, Security Awareness

Keyboard Shortcuts - A Few of My Favorite Things

Posted by Ann Westerheim on 1/18/21 4:43 PM

The New Year is a great time to get organized!  Learn how to use some simple keyboard shortcuts to boost your productivity.  Keyboard "shortcuts" are a combination of keys that give quick access to a particular computer function.  Shortcuts rely on the special keys:  Ctrl, Alt, Shift, Tab, Windows Logo Key (the key with the Microsoft four squares on the lower left of the computer).   

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Tags: productivity, windows 10

Cybersecurity Trends for 2021

Posted by Ann Westerheim on 1/11/21 5:18 PM

Bell bottoms, neon colors, Rubik's Cube, pet rocks, kale…  Trends come and go, and generally, we’re not one to care much about what’s in style, but cybersecurity trends? That’s one we can get behind and think that there can never be enough of!

So, what can you expect to see as both a consumer, employee, employer, business owner or just a member of the general public who has a computer? Let’s take a look at what we are seeing.

Home is where the heart is.
And it is where the school is, and the office, and unfortunately it is where the likelihood of an attack or breach happens as well. That means that you need to ready your home and prepare to not only protect but also respond in the event of your network or smart devices being compromised. Ensure that as a worker or student, you are well protected and working with your IT support staff to have all security measures in place. It won’t be easy since many of us are playing catch up to the unexpected transition from last year to work from home scenarios, but it will be of the utmost importance as we move forward with this being the structure for the foreseeable future.  Don't get overwhelmed as there are many smart and affordable options for security.

Inside Job
There is a horrible phenomenon that is growing in popularity known as insider-threat-as-a-service. Yes, you can buy a disgruntled employee to sabotage a business and compromise data integrity by stealing information or breaking the business from inside. While this has been around for longer than 2021, with the hiring process for remote employees being done via video or other long-distance methods, it isn’t always easy to gather and gain the trust you might have had from years of sharing office space.  A solid onboarding AND offboarding process are important parts of any business plan.

Fake ID
Stolen credentials can be used for more than obtaining a credit card. Yes, you can build up an identity and establish credit, but you can take it a step further and build up a history that doesn’t exist in reality to the person it is being created for. This is a step up from the insider job that can happen, but you do need to be aware of who you are hiring and providing your confidential information to.  "Deep fakes" are a big trend, and we can't always believe what we see. 

Bigger Phish
With humans being the biggest risk to cybersecurity and working from home being the norm, you can expect a rise in attacks. Why? Because humans are the easiest point of entry for any hacker, and unmonitored humans are even easier to trick. So phishing scams will be even more popular when it comes to attack attempts. No one thinks they'll be the one to click on the wrong email, but people do.  These types of emails are designed specifically to trick people into opening them.  You can mitigate your risks by using a training platform to make sure everyone on the team is up to date with the latest threats.

The bottom line with any trend is that it will increase and decrease in popularity over time, but the one trend that isn’t going anywhere is the threat of data breaches.  There's no such thing as 100% security, but some basic and affordable solutions will help your organization drastically improve your protection. 

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Tags: small business, cybersecurity

Do I need a password manager?

Posted by Ann Westerheim on 1/4/21 5:22 PM

Do I need a password manager?  The quick answer is YES!  

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Tags: password, cybersecurity

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