August 2, 2017

Сybersecurity Tips: How to Protect Your Data in 2017?

Universal and guaranteed protection against cyber attacks do not yet exist. At the same time, there are effective tools for cyber security for both small and large businesses. Compliance with several important rules will help to significantly reduce the risk of external compromise. We at JeraSoft gathered opinions on what to do to protect your computers and customers’ data.

If at one time, companies were divided into those who had already been hacked and those hadn’t yet been hacked, today another “classification” is closer to reality: those who are aware that they were hacked and those who do not know yet about the hacking. In time, identifying hostile interference in the corporate network or in separate devices—whether desktops, laptops or smartphones—can, if not prevent irreparable damage, then at least minimize the negative consequences.

Attackers can use a variety of tools and pursue a variety of goals. Financial institutions and retailers, as a rule, are attacked for financial reasons. Industry, energy, and other infrastructure, media companies or other large corporations are attacked to steal data and sabotage information systems.

How to Protect Small and Medium-Sized Businesses?

As a rule, small companies do not have enough funds for a full arsenal of modern cyber defense tools and qualified specialists in cybersecurity.

Сybercriminals find small and medium businesses much less interesting for targeted attacks. Such companies, however, should be afraid of the usual DDoS attacks and ransomware—when attackers remotely block a computer and extort a ransom for restoring access to it.

The main recommendations, except for the above, on cybersecurity for small and medium-sized businesses are: place your information resources in the most secure cloud services, for example, Amazon Web Services (AWS) or Microsoft Azure.

Large Business and Cybersecurity

Just a couple of years ago, even in large companies, there seldom were separate cybersecurity units independent of IT. At the same time, the main problem of security of information systems was due to incorrect setup of IT processes and technologies in companies. But even the ideal setup of information systems will not give an absolute guarantee.

New technologies and tools for cybercriminals appear almost daily, so no one, not even the most powerful and diversified company, can independently oppose them—technology will not help if the staff does not have specialists in cybersecurity with the appropriate skills. Therefore, the main trend in the cyber defense of big business today is SECaaS—security as a service. The company’s computer infrastructure is connected to a specialized professional cybersecurity management center. Such centers in real time receive and analyze a variety of telemetry of the state of computer networks and events in them and identify anomalies.

Here are the main tips from the security service of Great Britain, which they provide to domestic enterprises.

  1. The Minimum Privilege Protocol
    Make sure that employees have only the access they need to perform their duties. Do not give administrator rights on computers to employees of all classes.
  2. Manage removable media
    An external device connected to the network is the main route for malware to infect systems. Limit the use of external devices, such as USB drives, especially those that are brought from home by employees.
  3. Close network access
    Make sure that old systems, network devices, and sites are removed or taken out of service. Do not let hackers access your network through a forgotten entry point.
  4. A process for employees from beginning to end
    You have a clear process to determine which network privileges and devices new employees can use. What happens when employees move to another position or they are dismissed? You need to revoke all rights and access for the old employee and give appropriate access to the new user of the computer. Please note that this can be difficult if company employees use personal devices in the workplace.
  5. Determine the “permissible risk”
    What risk can your organization cope with to carry out its work? Can you allow your employees to use their own devices or take data files and documents home? This can help improve performance, but you need to understand all the risks involved: devices can be lost, stolen, hacked, or infected with malicious software.
  6. Training
    If your employees are not aware of the risks and legal requirements for data protection, you are vulnerable. Explain the problems and prepare best practices for your employees.
  7. Observe and report
    Encourage staff to be vigilant and report suspicious activity, such as suspicious messages or unexpected changes to the systems they use. In truth, most of the data security threats begin inside the business, not outside, with malicious, accidental, or imprudent employee actions that compromise confidential information.

The best protection is the introduction of technology to prevent data loss, data loss prevention (DLP), which prevents unauthorized preservation, copying, printing, or email of sensitive files to prevent accidental or criminal actions by insiders.

We also recommend you take these advanced steps to protect your and your clients’ data:

  • Disable the SMBv1 protocol (instructions on how to do this can be found on the Microsoft website).
  • Install a program to protect the master boot record (MBR) from unauthorized changes
  • Install the latest patches for the OS
  • Block launching files such as *.exe, *.js*, and *.vbs from the %AppData% directory
  • At the level of the mail gateway, block messages with active content (*.vbs, *.js, *.jse, and *.exe)
  • At the level of the proxy, block the loading of archives containing active content (*.vbs, *.js, and *.jse)
  • After an infection, do not restart the computer if it can physically connect to a network (wired connection or wireless hardware)
  • Do not open suspicious emails and especially their attachments
  • Update the anti-virus signatures and operating system regularly.

So, how does your organization use these simple safety tips? If the above simple rules are followed, the risks of unauthorized hacking and information leakage will decrease manifold.

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