WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST THREATS TO BUSINESS DATA SECURITY?

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1 WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST THREATS TO BUSINESS DATA SECURITY?

2 Contents Introduction... 3 Primary Sources of Security Threats... 3 Instant Messaging Optical and Flash Media... 4 Social Media... 4 VoIP... 5 Network Vulnerabilities... 5 Software Vulnerabilities... 5 Human Error... 6 Mobile Devices... 6 Solutions for Data Loss Prevention... 6 Safend Protector... 7 GFI EndPoint Security... 7 Conclusion... 7

3 Introduction Data breaches and data loss is one of the most common and costly problems that organisations of all sizes face. And with today s data being transferred among business networks, the cloud, mobile devices, and BYOD, data breaches have steadily been on the rise. Recent studies have shown that many companies and organisations have suffered a data breach more than 17,000 times annually. Most of these breaches have resulted in a significant data leak that caused loss in productivity, decreased consumer confidence, and increased costs associated with organisation response. Because of the growing number of security threats, data loss and data leakage in the workplace has become a major concern for many companies and small businesses. According to a Cost of Data Breach Study conducted by IBM and the Ponemon Institute, the cost of data breaches is on the rise. Most countries experienced an increase in stolen data and malicious attacks during 2014 which resulted in a higher than average cost for recovery. The study involved more than 300 organisations located across eleven countries. The research also revealed that deploying a network security solution for business continuity management to remediate breaches was high on the list for more than 95 percent of the organisations involved in the study. The IBM/Ponemon Institute Cost of Data Breach Study offers detailed information on the cost of a data breach with just under ten years of data. Additionally, it is based on the organisation participant s experience with security breaches involving anywhere from 1,000 to more than 100,000 files, documents, and records. In terms of cost measurement, this is based on opportunity, indirect, and direct costs associated with the organisation s response to the breach. In this article, we will present an overview of the major security threats an organisation typically faces along with a few solutions on how the threats can be effectively addressed. Primary Sources of Security Threats There are numerous different ways that a security breach can occur within an organisation. The threats range from network vulnerabilities to hardware and system issues, human error, viruses and malware, software corruption, natural disasters, and BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) programs that more companies are using on a daily basis. Some of the threats include the following: Instant Messaging Instant messaging is great for speeding up communications and providing great customer service, but it is also a growing threat as a malware carrier. More and more businesses are using instant messaging not only to send text messages but also to transfer documents and files. As a result, an IM application can easily transfer many different types of malware. Additionally, multiple vulnerabilities can exist in instant messaging clients. The vulnerabilities can provide hackers with remote access to your network and the opportunity to spread fast acting threats. This typically occurs by locating vulnerable hosts, collecting information from contact lists, and more. IM clients are also proficient at directing IM traffic through secure network environments by using open ports in business network firewalls. This provides additional opportunities for viruses and malware to enter your network and bypass the typical controls and authentication systems.

4 The above problem among others means IM clients can place the integrity and confidentiality of critical business information at risk. It can also allow data being accessed by authorised employees to also become accessible to the hacker. Businesses of all sizes have come to rely on as a means of facilitating fast communication and sharing information cost effectively. Next to online collaboration, is the primary method of communications used by many businesses. The downside is that can be filled with a variety of security risks including infected attachments, phishing scams where criminals use every type of method you can think of to obtain sensitive information, and spam that can carry a wealth of viruses and malware. Not to mention these issues can compromise other aspects within your communication infrastructure. A lot of security threats are even capable of completely shutting down business systems and applications and other mission critical activities you rely on for daily business operations. Additionally, many of the viruses and malware programs have gotten very sophisticated and can appear to be harmless to the end user. Although some of them are designed to launch when an attachment is opened, others will launch automatically without requiring any action on the part of the end user. Optical and Flash Media For both employees and network administrators, optical and flash drive media can serve many different uses. This type of portable storage allows you to carry a large amount of files with you on a small device that is compatible with many different types of operating systems. Employees can easily carry files home with them, during business travel, and to other places without having to carry around a heavy device. Administrators and help desk personnel often use flash drives as a portable toolkit for performing network repairs and maintenance tasks. The removable media often stores recovery tools, diagnostic utilities, specific system updates, and in some cases, new drivers. The removable media can also be used as a tool for PC registry backup and more. Optical and flash drive media presents two primary threats to your network, which include an opportunity for malicious programs to enter the network and data theft and loss. The dilemma is it is nearly impossible to restrict these devices since your staff relies on them for daily productivity. For this reason, it is necessary to deploy additional security solutions that address the issues associated with the use of optical and flash drive media. Social Media According to Nexgate, a leading pioneer in social media compliance and security and a recognised organisation by research firms Gartner and Forrester, social media threats to organisations of all sizes are on the rise. The explosive growth of social media as a means for improved communications has created the perfect opportunity for criminals and sophisticated hackers to target your social media marketing investment. During a recent study called The State of Social Media Infrastructure: The Security Threats to the Social Infrastructure of the Fortune 100, more than 40 percent of Facebook accounts and 20 percent of Twitter accounts that claim to represent a Fortune 100 company are fraudulent. Since the latter part of 2013, social media spam has skyrocketed by as much as 650 percent and 98 percent of malicious URL website addresses lead to malware or phishing websites.

5 The fact of the matter is that social media threats can be as costly to your business as other issues such as attacks, digital fraud, network intrusions, and more, according to the Nexgate study. Additionally, in a previous report released by Nexgate, social media spam has grown to nearly tenfold what is was in 2013 with about 2.30 accounts per business exhibiting indications of hijacking via malware links. Nexgate also found that the hijacks have become so common that the organisation is now able to identify specific patterns that can be used to identify when a hijack has taken place. The report also stated that the primary reason for social media threats is to cause damage to your brand, steal sensitive customer data, launch Internet scams, and manipulate markets. VoIP VoIP has become increasingly popular due to its low cost and convenience. Unfortunately, with the rise in popularity also comes the increased security threats that are aimed at destabilising VoIP security. VoIP contains the letters IP, which stand for Internet Protocol. This means that hackers already have a pre-made set of scams and attacks to select from their repertoire. There are numerous security risks when using Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) just as there are with any other type of technology. The risks can include Vishing where the hacker impersonates a specific regulatory organisation in an effort to extract personal information. Then they use the credentials to pass on the costs to another user. VoIP can also be susceptible to Denial of Service or DoS attacks, which involve flooding your network with packets of data to deny employees access to the VoIP services. Once this occurs, the hacker seizes control of all administrator privileges. Additionally, once service is restored, a hacker can temper VoIP calls by introducing an excessive amount of noise in the communication channel or inflicting delays in all VoIP calls. Hackers also attack VoIP systems by spamming voic inboxes, which is commonly known as SPIT, or Spamming over Internet Telephony. When this happens, your voic inbox is filled with bogus messages that render the voic useless, which results in loss of productivity. Network Vulnerabilities Network security is the process of implementing applications and devices that help to protect your network and then testing the network for any vulnerabilities using intrusion detection, pen tests, and other methods. These regular activities protect the integrity of your network and make it more reliable and usable. It also prevents viruses and malware from entering through vulnerabilities and keeps your data safe and secure. The most common threats include Denial of Service (DoS) attacks, spyware, data theft and loss, identity theft, zero-day attacks, and viruses, Trojan horses, and worms. Depending upon the severity of the attack, it can cause a temporary loss of productivity or significant data loss. In most cases, the attacks are specifically designed to impact mission critical applications and network infrastructures that you rely on for daily business operations. Software Vulnerabilities Software vulnerabilities can represent a serious security risk to your data and applications. A software vulnerability is a weakness that is found in an operating system or software application. Once the weakness is discovered, a security patch is developed to repair the problem. If the vulnerability goes undetected, this provides the perfect place for hackers to enter your network.

6 Once hackers discover the vulnerability, they research it and then create a malicious program that targets the vulnerability. Then they use the code to launch network attacks, insert viruses and malware, take over administrator privileges, and perform other criminal acts. Vulnerabilities are not limited to a particular software vendor and instead, are found in a wide variety of different operating systems and software applications. The end user does not tend to notice a vulnerability until it has been discovered by the vendor and a security patch is released. Additionally, if the hacker targets a specific weakness in the software, there may be no signs that an attack has taken place. Human Error Human error is a big concern for a lot of businesses and involves inadvertent exposure to data by staff and employees. This often happens as the result of employees saving data to storage areas, devices, and sites that are not secure. It can also happen as the result of inserting removable media devices in workplace computers that have been infected with viruses or malware from an external machine they used prior to coming to work. Human error can also happen via theft or loss of mobile devices, USB flash drives, or laptop computers. Additionally, social engineering attacks can cause employees to inadvertently be tricked into revealing confidential information. This can happen especially when employees are not educated on specific risks and how to go about identifying and avoiding them. Mobile Devices With more people using tablets and smartphones, more often than not these devices will appear on your network before permission has been granted to use them. For this reason, many companies have not yet implemented a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) program complete with policies and requirements. Unfortunately, the consumerisation of IT has opened up a completely new series of threats for businesses of all sizes and it is a concern that is quickly catching up to many IT departments. For this reason, more businesses have been required to focus on device detection on a network and identifying exactly what each device is doing on the network. This can create many complexities since it is a personal device and managing personal devices can prove to be a lot more difficult. Solutions for Data Loss Prevention The above information represents only a small portion of security concerns businesses face on a daily basis. The good news is that there are network security applications and services you can consider that are cost effective and provide you with an added layer of security to address the concerns we have discussed in this article. Unfortunately, firewalls and other security devices alone are not enough to prevent data loss, which is why there are a number of software-based preventative solutions such as Safend and GFI EndPoint Security. These solutions provide you with enterprise grade security by locking down the end points of your network, and more. The endpoints include components such as wireless connection, network ports, USB ports, removable media, and devices connected to a network.

7 Safend Protector A program such as Safend Protector allows you to identify all devices that connect to your network, in addition to allowing you to set restrictions for each specific device. Safend also provides security administrators with a set of controls for regulating the use of external storage devices. The controls allows you to encrypt all data stored on the devices, block or permit certain storage devices, monitor access to files and documents that are read from removable storage or downloaded to a portable storage source. The Safend program also includes other features such as the ability to inspect files according to type as they are transferred to and from portable storage devices such as optical media and USB flash drives. This provides you with an added layer of protection against data loss and prevents malware and viruses from entering your network. Additionally, administrators can control inbound and outbound files by setting policies that block or approve different file types. GFI EndPoint Security Another program known as GFI EndPoint Security helps you to add an extra layer of security from threats caused my mobile devices or employee personal devices. If you have experienced an increase in productivity as the result of implementing BYOD, this can be a valuable resource for protecting your network against data leakage and loss. GFI EndPoint Security is also capable of risk assessment, which helps you to identify which mobile devices pose a threat to data security. The program provides a centralised dashboard that provides quick access to all data related to assessments in addition to recommendations for increasing protection. The dashboard also provides you with easy access to security task shortcuts that allow you to access the tasks you use the most. Another valuable security feature offered by GFI EndPoint Security is the ability to perform assessments of data that is transmitted across network endpoints. This tool scans each file that is transmitted and then searches for the common types of sensitive data such as passwords, financial account numbers, Social Security numbers, and other data that can become susceptible to a breach. GFI EndPoint Security allows you to exercise control over portable storage devices from a centralised location. The controls allow you to grant temporary access for a specific period of time in addition to allowing temporary network or workstation access. Additionally, you can block portable storage devices according to port, device ID, class, or file extension. This type of application also offers a detailed reporting system, file control, automatic protection for new devices, and a centralised dashboard for monitoring all computers and mobile devices connected to your network. Conclusion If you are concerned about security threats for your small business and data loss prevention, hopefully the information we have provided here will give you a solid place to start. As you research the topic, you will find a host of other applications similar to Safend and GFI EndPoint Security that will provide you with the added layer of protection you need at a fraction of the cost of conventional security methods.

8 Who are Complex IT? Complex IT was born from the vision of creating a unique solution for organisations that require an additional skillset for assistance with an extensive range of complex IT requirements. Today, our vision is realised through a diverse range of strategic consultancy services, IT advisory solutions, complex IT application and fully managed IT solutions. These services are underpinned by over two decades experience in the London IT services sector, where we cater for some of the most demanding organisations in the heart of our capital city. Long-term relationships are built upon trust, and today, over 250 UK clients entrust us with their IT. We continue to deliver critical solutions, applying sector specific intelligence for the continuous improvement of IT infrastructure, mobile technologies, cloud-based communication and the provisions of data security strategies. We never knowingly apply short term fixes, only medium and long-term solutions for accomplishing continued business improvement. The highest standard of service cannot be applied without continuously improving our own resources. It is our responsibility to ensure that our team of consultants, technical engineers, project managers and business thinkers have the present competencies required to expand upon their existing skillset. Recognised company accreditations include ISO and 9001, Microsoft Gold partner status, Microsoft Small Business specialist, VMware Enterprise partner and Apple specialist certifications.

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