How can Schools Increase Security to Protect Private Student Records

Security-Practices-to-Protect-Private-Student-Records Banner

How can Schools Increase Security to Protect Private Student Records?

Schools handle numerous sensitive pieces of information about students and their families. Administrators must actively secure the data from unlawful disclosure by following laws, regulations, and ethical commitments.

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), which gives kids control over their educational data, is one of the statutes that the U.S. Department of Education is dedicated to upholding to protect students’ privacy. Schools, faculty, and employees must follow regulations governing internet safety and the protection of student data.

Data on students can easily be accessed thanks to technology. All student data must be strictly confidential to safeguard students’ rights, security, and dignity. Federal and state laws and regulations may have requirements governing the kinds of security measures that must be implemented concerning this data, but they might not list specific actions.

Unluckily, not all school districts might offer a more thorough analysis of those rules and regulations. As a result, particular precautions must be taken when protecting student data.

 

What is Student Data Privacy?

Student Data Privacy is a term used to describe the protection of student data, which can be anything from academic records to health information.

It aims to ensure that only authorized parties have access to student data and that it is used for the purpose for which it was collected.

State and federal governments enforce Student Data Privacy laws. The U.S. Department of Education has policies regarding student data privacy, and each state has its regulations.

 

Why is Student Privacy Important for Schools?

A school’s policy on student privacy should include information about what can and cannot be recorded, how often cameras will be used, and how long data will be stored. Schools should also provide students with clear information about exercising their rights under the law when school officials or third parties violate their privacy.

Students who feel their privacy has been violated should have an avenue for recourse available to them through their school’s disciplinary process.

Because there are ethical and legal limitations on the acquisition, use, distribution, and treatment of student data, protecting student privacy is crucial. Press the Tab to write more…

  • Make tailored adverts or email scam contact lists.
  • Find the emails and other contact details of your family members.
  • Grade adjustment for a student
  • View private information that should be kept confidential, including prescription medicines and learning and physical problems

Therefore, protecting student privacy is essential to averting issues like these.

 

Security Practices to Protect Private Student Records Middle7 Security Practices to Protect Private Student Records

Let’s look at some strategies schools can do to safeguard students’ privacy better.

 

1.    Purge Unnecessary Student Records

Purge unnecessary student records from your system so hackers cannot access these accounts. This is important because if hackers manage to break into your network and steal data from student accounts, there is no way for you to know who accessed it or for what purpose.

 

2.    Establish Transparency with Laws and Guidelines

Another thing that schools can do is establish transparency with laws and guidelines. These rules vary from state to state but often include policies for how long students’ records can be kept and what they can be used for after graduating high school or moving away from their home state.

This type of transparency will help ensure that students’ rights are being protected and help clarify terminology when discussing matters with parents or teachers.

 

3.    Choose Who can Access the Data

Yes, in daily life, your data must be protected, but what would happen if you had an electrical problem, perhaps in the thick of an emergency? Do you have access to the files and registers of every student?

You can purchase an Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) unit, allowing you to continue working or accessing your files while on the premises. Alternatively, you might want to think about how to go outside the building to access your records.

 

4.    Encrypt Data

Likely, schools will still need to keep some sensitive information about children and their parents after completing minimization and cleansing efforts. Careful security should be maintained for those records using a combination of technical and administrative safeguards.

Adopting robust encryption technology to safeguard the information that is either at rest saved on a server or device or in transit, being transferred over a network, is the most significant technical control schools can apply to information. Schools should recognize equipment that houses sensitive data and implement encryption at the file and disc levels.

 

5.    Train Your Staff

Accessing student data comes with much responsibility. A school system cannot rely on the fact that staff workers always know how to handle this information in specific ways. Employees must understand how to access information safely, how to use a breach reporting system, and what to do in the event of a breach.

 

6.    Carefully Manage Data

You ought to be aware of the information that each individual or company has access to. If you handle the data correctly, you can ensure that it is treated correctly. Publishers of textbooks, for instance, do not require student addresses or phone numbers.

The precise forms of data that are required must be synchronized. Automated bi-directional data sharing is necessary for many contemporary learning management systems and can give you finer control over the data you send.

 

7.    Create a Student Data Policy

Make a plan to regularly assess the organization’s data privacy requirements since data privacy is a never-ending process. Make sure the schedule is consistently updated. Learn the fundamentals of the data gathering, storage, and sharing procedures used by your company first.

Create procedures for handling any data produced by the Internet of Things gadgets. There are more gadgets, which means there are more online targets. Preventive actions can be helpful, such as limiting bandwidth access and ensuring that devices are correctly patched and segmented.

 

Conclusion

Schools must use discretion and prudence to prevent inappropriate use of student and family information. Several basic security procedures can help educational institutions maintain public trust.

As such, a college or university must follow specific federal and state laws when handling student information. However, these laws can be tricky, especially when sensitively handling student information. For instance, a school may be required to follow specific privacy laws like the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) when handling student information. However, there are particular ways you can work with a school to help ensure that their student information is dealt with in a manner that complies with FERPA laws. One way to do this is to work with a cybersecurity provider expert to protect student records.

Employing a professional IT solution, such as Protected Harbor, is the best way to handle your data digitally, monitor it, and safeguard student privacy. Rated by Goodfirms as the top cybersecurity and cloud service providers in the US, we have been protecting data for all industries, including schools, for the last two decades.

From anti-malware protection, ransomware protection, and identity and access management to threat detection and response, we have you covered. Our 24×7 tech team and proactive monitoring redefine security. Contact us today to get a free cybersecurity audit.

The Power of Multi-factor Authentication

The-Power-of-Multi-factor-Authentication-banner-image

 

The Power of Multi-factor Authentication

Today’s cyber threat landscape is more complex than ever before. New threats are discovered practically every day, and hackers are finding new ways to exploit those threats on an almost daily basis. This means businesses need to be more vigilant about the security of their networks, devices, and user accounts. Every organization should implement multi-factor authentication (MFA) as a strong and consistent security policy.

MFA strengthens your user account security by requiring users to verify their identity in addition to simply providing a username and password. There are many types of multi-factor authentication, but most involve something you know (like a username and password), something you have (such as an access code sent via text message), or something you are (such as a biometric identifier such as a fingerprint or facial recognition).

Download our infographic Security: The Power of Multi-factor Authentication to understand MFA in detail.

 

What is Multi-factor Authentication?

Multi-factor authentication, or MFA, is an access control method used to verify a person’s identity attempting to log on to a computer system or website by combining two or more authentication factors. For example, logging in with a username and password is a single-factor authentication because only one piece of information is verified to be accurate. In contrast, logging in with a username, password, and a code sent to a smartphone via an app is multi-factor authentication because multiple verification methods are used. Multi-factor authentication is a security method that requires users to provide two or more pieces of proof that they are whom they say they are before being granted access to a secured system or resource.

 

Types of Multi-factor AuthenticationThe-Power-of-Multi-factor-Authentication-middle-image

One of three additional forms of information serves as the foundation for most MFA authentication methods:

  1. Things you know (knowledge)- A passphrase, PIN, or password.
  2. Things you have (possession)- A timely, individual verification code. Typically, a mobile app or security token will produce these authentication tokens and send them to you through text message.
  3. Things you are (inherence)- These are biometrically a part of you, such as a speech pattern, iris scan, or fingerprint.

MFA Examples

Using a combination of these components to authenticate is an example of multi-factor authentication.

1. Knowledge

  • Personal security questions and answers
  • Password
  • OTPs (Can be both Knowledge and Possession – You know the OTP, and you have to have something in your Possession to get it, like your phone)

2. Possession

  • OTPs created by mobile apps
  • OTPs transmitted by text or email
  • Smart Cards, USB devices, key fobs, and access badges
  • Software certificates and tokens

3. Inherence

  • Voice, voice recognition, eye or retina scanning, or other biometrics such as fingerprints
  • Behavior analysis

 

Conclusion

MFA is an essential part of any security strategy. While protecting online accounts, your computer, or other devices, utilizing MFA is a great way to protect against hackers and malicious threats. With MFA in place, hackers will have a more challenging time accessing your accounts and will have to employ more sophisticated methods to crack your passwords. Implementing MFA isn’t always easy, but it’s worth the effort.

Protected Harbor experts say MFA is a must. The company has been in the business for over a decade and is among the top cybersecurity providers in the US. It has been keeping pace with the latest technological advancements to provide top-notch cybersecurity solutions to its clients. With our cybersecurity month discussing safety measures against

It is easy to implement and can be activated for an account. You can keep your data safer and much more secure with just a few clicks. Download our infographic to learn how to implement MFA and secure your data. Contact us today for a free cybersecurity audit.

Should I Allow a VPN? (NO!)- How do I Send Data Privately?

Should-I-Use-a-VPN-How-to-send-data-privately-Banner

Should I Allow a VPN? (NO!)- How do I Send Data Privately?

Do you have sensitive data that you need to send over through email? If so, are you taking the proper security measures when sending them? If you need to exchange files and documents with others online, you want to be able to do so as quickly, securely, and painlessly as possible.

When it comes to sending data privately, you have a few options. The primary way that people do this nowadays is by using a Virtual Private Network (VPN).

According to SurfShark’s data on internet users, VPN usage has been rising gradually worldwide, particularly since the widespread use of smartphones and the rise in certain online activities like business transactions and remote work.

However, some significant drawbacks of VPNs and other methods can cause people to stop using them.

 

Should You Allow VPN to Transfer Files Securely?

The answer is probably not if you’re using a VPN and want to transfer files from your phone or computer.

Here are some reasons why VPNs aren’t always secure:

  • They can’t create or enforce policies that protect credentials: For example, if you use your Netflix account with a VPN, it might be easier for hackers to steal your login information.
  • Lack of accountability: Since VPNs hide IP addresses and locations, it’s hard to know who is behind a particular connection. This makes it harder for law enforcement agencies to track down criminals who use them for illegal activities.
  • VPN isn’t legal in all countries: Some countries ban VPN use altogether, while others require users to register with the state before operating.
  • No Hacker Protection: It is only a tool that makes your online activity more anonymous and secure. The fact that it hides your IP address and location shows that it has some level of encryption, but it doesn’t mean that your data is encrypted.
  • You may experience connection breaks: VPNs can cause connection errors or disconnections, which means your data could be at risk of being intercepted by someone else. You could get kicked out of the VPN for no reason or lose access to your favorite websites if the VPN provider goes out of business.

So, if you want to get work done on your computer while connected to a VPN, don’t do it — even if it’s only for a few minutes. If someone compromises your connection, they can see everything you do online and steal any passwords you use in their system.

Should-I-Use-a-VPN-How-to-send-data-privately-middleHow do I Send Data Privately?

Consider these tips for sending data safely:

 

1.    Only Receive Data Transfer from Trusted Sources

You need to use a trusted source to send and receive data privately. If your device has access to the Internet, it can be compromised by malicious software or hackers.

If a hacker gains control of your computer, they can steal the sensitive information on your device and use it to commit identity theft. A good solution is only to use trusted cloud storage and file-sharing services that work with your operating system.

 

2.    Install Firewall, Antivirus, and Anti-Malware Programs

Firewalls block incoming connections and prevent unknown programs from accessing your computer. The best way to protect yourself from computer viruses is to use a firewall. You can also set up a parental control feature on your computer that blocks access to adult sites and websites with inappropriate content.

3.    Use Trusted Cloud Storage and File Sharing Services

For this purpose, you can also use trusted cloud storage services like Dropbox or Google Drive. These services provide end-to-end encryption for all files uploaded through their servers so that only the person who uploaded them can access them. This is much more secure than sharing folders or other cloud storage services that might allow anyone on the Internet to access your files anytime because those sources are not encrypted!

 

4.    Encrypt Your Files Before Transferring Them to Other Devices

Before sending any sensitive data files, such as financial information or social security numbers, outside your organization, consider encrypting them using file encryption. File encryption is a method used by many organizations to protect sensitive data files like financial documents and social security numbers from being accessed by unauthorized users.

When encrypted, these files cannot be accessed by anyone other than the person who created them or has physical access to the device that was created (e.g., a USB flash drive). This prevents outsiders from seeing or accessing these files, which could cause significant problems if they become compromised or stolen by someone else.

 

5.    After Transferring, Turn Off the Wireless Connection

If you have a wireless network, it’s possible that your transfer could be interrupted by someone else who is using the same network. Turning off your wireless connection immediately after the transfer is complete will prevent anyone else from stealing your information.

If you’re using a wired connection instead of a wireless one, anyone who manages to tap into the line between you and your computer will be able to steal any data sent over it. The easiest way to avoid this is to use a password when logging into any servers that might contain sensitive information.

 

6.    Use Open-Source OS to Transfer Data Safely Using Physical Media

Using an open-source OS, like Linux, can be very helpful in reducing the danger of transmitting malware into your computer when transferring sensitive and crucial data between devices, such as when using a USB stick or other physical media.

This is because most viruses and malware cannot be executed on your machine. After all, the open-source OS prevents them from doing so. Before the transfer procedure, the harmful files will go inactive, and you can quickly delete them.

 

Final Words

There are numerous reasons to use a VPN service, but the pros do not necessarily outweigh the cons. If you value privacy, there is no reason to let a Virtual Private Network or any other service send your data through an unencrypted channel. It’s better not to use a VPN and to switch to other secure sources to transmit data effectively and privately.

Other options are available such as Google Drive and Cloud services, they are just as easy to use and have better outcomes.

Protected Harbor data protection service secures data and sends it privately, so your data remains, well, private. It offers a security-first approach to data transfer, making it the best option for enterprises to transfer their sensitive data.

This service secures your network endpoints plus keeps your data secure by encrypting it before it ever leaves your network. Finally, it meets the standards for compliance with regulations like GDPR. It’s a secure and easy-to-use service that can be implemented quickly with a simple click-to-send button.

Moreover, it permits only authorized personnel to access the data, which is critical for enterprises. If you are looking for a best-in-class cloud solution, choose a trusted service like Protected Harbor.

Consult with our data security expert today to learn how we keep your data safe.

The Importance of Encryption in Data Security

The Importance of Encryption in Data Security

Importance of Encryption in Data SecurityData security has become a point for convergence with the widespread use of the Internet and the adoption of network applications. The information and data transmitted over the Internet should ensure its integrity, confidentiality, and authenticity. One of the most effective ways to resolve this issue is to leverage advanced encryption techniques. Encryption is one of the most crucial methods to secure data online. It’s a process of converting plain text into ciphertext that is not understood or transformed by unauthorized users. Encryption is a cybersecurity measure protecting sensitive data using unique codes that encrypt data and make it unreadable to intruders. This article will discuss fast-speed symmetric encryption, secure asymmetric encryption, and hash functions. Then we’ll figure out the importance of encryption and how can end-to-end data encryption prohibit data breaches and security attacks.

What is Encryption?

To get secure in this digital world, the fundamental necessity is to hide sensitive data and information from unauthorized users or malicious actors. Encryption is the best way to protect data from being hacked. It’s a process of making data and files unreadable using an encryption key, so if somebody tries to gain access to sensitive data, they only see gibberish. Encryption provides security and privacy by hiding information from being shared or hacked by malicious actors. To preserve the integrity and confidentiality of data, encryption is an essential tool whose value can’t be overstated.

The encryption takes place through a proper process. The data that needs to be encrypted is known as plaintext. This plaintext is passed through some encryption algorithms. Apart from it, an encryption key is required to convert the plaintext into ciphertext. When the data is encrypted, the ciphertext is sent over the Internet instead of plaintext. Once it is reached the receiver, they use a decryption key to convert ciphertext into the original readable format.

The need for data security has given birth to various encryption techniques, such as symmetric, asymmetric, hash functions, message authentication codes, digital signatures, and more. But in this report, we highlight symmetric and asymmetric encryption techniques and hash functions to secure data.

Symmetric Encryption

In symmetric encryption, also known as private-key encryption, a secret key is held by one person only and exchanged between the sender and receiver of data. Both the sender and receiver should have a copy of a secret key to transfer data. The recipient should have the same key as the sender before the message is decrypted. The standard symmetric encryption algorithms include RC2, AES, DES, RC6, 3DE, and Blowfish. The positive aspect of symmetric encryption is that it is faster. However, symmetric encryption is not much robust technique for protecting data. It can be easily decrypted, hacked, and prone to attacks. But if planned and executed carefully, the risk of decoding can be reduced. Symmetric encryption is suitable for closed systems having fewer risks of a third-party intrusion.

Asymmetric Encryption

Asymmetric encryption, also known as public-key encryption, is a two-key system with a public and a private key. As the name suggested, the public key is available to anyone, but the private key remains with the recipient intended to decode data. The user sends an encrypted message using a private key not shared with the recipient. If a user or sending system first encrypts data with the intended recipient’s public key and then with the sender’s private key, the recipient can decrypt data first using the secret or private key and then the sender’s public key. Using the asymmetric encryption method, the sender and recipient can authenticate each other and protect the data’s secrecy. The asymmetric algorithm includes RSA, Diffie Hellman, XTR, ECC, and EES. The positive aspect of asymmetric encryption is that it is relatively safe and secure than symmetric encryption. However, it is slower than symmetric encryption.

Encryption in Data SecurityHash Functions

A hash function is a unique identifier for a set of data or information. It’s a process that takes plaintext data and converts it into unique ciphertext. Hash functions generate unique signatures of fixed length for a data set. There is a unique hash for each data set or a message that makes minor changes to the data or information that is easily traceable. Data encryption using hash functions can’t be decoded or reversed back into the original format. Therefore, hashing is used only as a technique for verifying data. Hash functions ensure data integrity, protect stored passwords, and operate at different speeds to suit other processes.

Importance of Encryption

There are a lot of reasons for using encryption techniques. The following points can define its importance. Encryption is essential for data security because it provides

  • Confidentiality_ This is critical because it ensures that no unauthorized user can understand the shared information except one having the decipher key.
  • Data Integrity_ It ensures that the received information or data has not been modified from its original format. While transferring data online, it may get changed by malicious actors. However, data integrity confirms that data is not intact by an unauthorized user. It can be achieved by using hash functions at both sender and the receiver end to create a unique message.
  • Authentication_ It’s ensuring the intended recipient’s identity. The user has to prove their identity to access the information.
  • Access Control_ It’s a process of restricting unauthorized users from accessing data. This process controls who can access resources and prevent data from malicious actors.

Conclusion

Today most of us communicate or send information and data in cyberspace, putting security at risk. Users transmit their private information and data that malicious actors can hack into over the Internet. As a result of the widespread adoption of advanced technologies and the Internet, there is a need to implement robust security measures, and data encryption is one of them. This article has learned a lot about data encryption and its various methods, including symmetric, asymmetric, and hash functions. Moreover, we have seen how encryption provides data security, integrity, and confidentiality value.

Protecting your network against cyber threats requires an integrated approach with solid security infrastructure. Encrypt your data on site-level and at the cloud level to keep your information safe from hackers. If a hacker breaks into your data center, you’d want to know right away. The best way to do this is to monitor your data 24/7/365. You can do this by hiring a data security specialist such as Protected Harbor.

Protected Harbor’s suite of services includes remote monitoring and support, software updates, anti-virus, anti-malware, data backup, encryption, and much more. We are providing a free IT Audit to the business looking to safeguard themselves. Contact us for an audit today.

5 ways to secure your enterprise mobile app

5 ways to secure your enterprise mobile app

ways-to-secure-your-enterprise-mobile-appNowadays, there is a substantial increase in the usage of mobile applications and the exponential growth of internet-connected devices in enterprises. Generally, Enterprise mobile applications foster workers and processes by allowing mobile computing across wireless networks and mobile devices. Enterprise mobile applications are considered emerging technology but can be challenging for organizations.

With the advancement in digital technologies, cyber threats have also increased. Cybercriminals are constantly searching to find vulnerabilities in a company’s IT infrastructure. There can be some loopholes within an application that may lead to the infiltration of hackers. To protect your business, it’s necessary to have the top-notch security of your mobile application. This article will discuss ways to secure your enterprise mobile application.

What is an enterprise mobile application?

An enterprise application is a program that can help to improve certain aspects of an enterprise. For instance, it can help to automate the company’s repetitive tasks and with the company’s communication. These applications are used in the context of mobile apps brought/created by individual organizations for their employees to carry out operations required to run the organization. An enterprise application is expected to be used by the employees of that organization only.

If you have been keeping up with the news, you must hear about the ongoing issues regarding cyber threats. It includes hackers and malicious individuals who steal or exploit sensitive information from enterprises for their profit. They perform this by infiltrating the system through the entry point and Enterprise mobile applications. We’ll see how an organization can protect these Enterprise mobile applications. But first, let’s see some of the common reasons that can compromise security.

Common reasons that can compromise mobile app security

ways-to-secure-your-enterprise-mobile-app1Many reasons can compromise security in enterprise mobile applications. Hackers can find loopholes in your application due to the lack of security knowledge in a new language or technology and a small security budget. Here are some common reasons that could allow hackers to get into the application and insecure your organization and your user’s data.

  • Lack of secure data storage
  • Missing authentication
  • Bad encryption
  • Weak server-side security controls
  • Absence of binary protection techniques
  • Malicious code on the client-side
  • Weak implementation of hidden fields

As advanced technologies exist, attackers try to invent new ways to breach. The critical aspect is creating, using, and implementing a secure environment for applications. Let’s discuss some tips to secure enterprise mobile applications.

5 ways to secure your enterprise mobile application

Here are the approaches that you can use as best practices to protect your mobile applications and sensitive enterprise data.

1. Harden the endpoint- Mobile application security starts with the device, and every mobile operating system from Android to iOS requires a different approach to harden the device. Recent iOS and Android vulnerabilities have exposed mobile users to attacks, such as XcodeGhost and Stagefright. Apart from mobile OS flaws, IT must take on a never-ending succession of app fixes and updates. IT administrators should check mobile devices and applications and ensure that the latest updates and patches have been applied to protect mobile applications from hackers.

The most effective method to manage iOS devices is through an enterprise mobile management (EMM) or mobile device management (MDM) product or devices. The relatively lower prices of Android devices make them critical to global organizations. The Android version you should use in an enterprise is Android for Work (A4W). It encrypts the device and separates professional and personal applications into two different profiles.

2. App authentication

Implement multi-factor authentication to prevent unauthorized access and malware attacks. The three essential factors for authentication are

  • something a user knows, such as a PIN or a password.
  • something a user has, such as a smart device.
  • something a user is, such as a fingerprint.

The proper authorization and authentication measures can help the application know who the user is and validate them before sharing the data. It adds a security layer within the application along the login process. Apart from using strong authentication processes, it’s recommended to use Single Sign-On (SSO) to protect your applications. This technique helps users sign in to different applications using a single password.

3. App Wrapping

It’s a mobile application management strategy allowing developers to add an extra security layer to applications. Adding the extra security layer doesn’t change the application’s core functionality. It helps to protect business data without changing the functionality and look of the application. The app wrapping procedure requires a thorough knowledge of application SDK so that the admin can deploy an API using which the policies can be set. The elements that ensure the security of an application include copy/paste protection, corporate authentication, data wipe, jailbreak detection, and application-level VPN runtime integrity check.

4. Strengthening the operating system

During the development phase, strengthening the operating system can reduce security-related issues. Application developers should understand how apps can be deployed and updated for each mobile operating system and the distribution rules imposed by each app store and manufacturer. These rules have mobile data security implications; all mobile operating systems require apps to be signed but differ based on who issues the signing certificate and how that impacts the application permissions. The best practice is to educate developers. For an app development company, it is required to consider and follow robust security guidelines.

5. Encrypt mobile applications and servers

With threats like man-in-the-middle attacks and snooping attacks over cellular or WiFi networks, IT administrators should ensure that all communication between app servers and mobile applications is encrypted. Robust encryption that uses 4096-bit SSL and session-based key exchanges can prevent the most determined attackers from decrypting communications.

Moreover, OT should confirm that data at rest is also encrypted. Network and device encryption prevents data and security breaches and eventually improves applications’ security. There is a need to ensure that the application goes through two security checks, Static Application Security Test (SAST) and Dynamic Application Security Test (DAST).

Final Words

This article has discussed a few best practices to secure enterprise mobile applications. Therefore, an organization should understand the evolving state of cybersecurity and mobility while implementing security tips to protect their applications and data. If you are looking for the best solution to protect your application and data, Protected Harbor is highly recommended to bring value to your business. With our expert tech team, we strive to satisfy our clients. Modern-age solutions include 99.99% downtime, remote monitoring, protected phones, desktops, and cybersecurity. Take the step forward and move towards a safer future with Protected Harbor today!

What is a data breach? How to prevent one?

What is a data breach? How to prevent one?

Data breach has become more common every year. According to the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) data breach 2021 report there were over 1291 data breaches that exposed more than 7 billion records last year. Data breaches can harm your company’s reputation, bringing production to a halt, and even cause enough financial harm to send your company under. In this article, we will review what is data breach and how to stop one?

 

What is a data breach?

A data breach is a cyber-attack where unauthorized individuals gain access to sensitive personal or confidential information. When a security breach occurs, the hacker can steal and misuse personally identifiable information (PII) such as social security numbers, credit card details, bank account numbers, and even your protected health information (PHI) that could be used for fraudulent activity. A data breach on an organization leads to the release of client information or internal content, moreover, it can be intentional (theft, sabotage) or unintentional (internal error).

Among the data breaches, this year, the manufacturing and utilities sectors were deeply affected, accounting for 48 breaches and 48,294,629 victims. The healthcare sector was second, with 78 compromises and more than 7 million victims. In addition, financial services, government, and professional services each sustained more than 1.5 million victims.

Security magazine’s top data breaches list for 2021:data breach

  • Brazilian Database — 223 million, January
  • Bykea — 400 million, January
  • Facebook — 553 million, August
  • LinkedIn — 700 million, June
  • Cognyte — 5 billion, June
  • Other notable breaches: Ubiquiti, Clubhouse, USCellular, Twitch, T-Mobile, Panasonic, GoDaddy

How do breaches happen?

Data breaches come in many forms. In the case of Asian delivery and rental company Bykea, it was a lack of server encryption. A flaw in Facebook’s address book contacts import feature was their undoing. Cognyte let an unsecured database get indexed, Twitch got hit due to a bad server configuration, and for T-Mobile, it was weak access control points.

Missing Security Patches –  Security tools can become outdated quickly and updates are needed to stop new threats. It’s not just antivirus software that needs patching, many network-level vulnerabilities are caused by unpatched Cisco, Microsoft, and Apache applications.

Unencrypted Data – It is simply plaintext or unaltered data that can be accessed by anyone. This can be sensitive information stored online on cloud servers with no layers of protection. By using encryption, you can prevent brute force attacks and cyberattacks, such as malware and ransomware. Using encryption, data is protected while being transmitted in the cloud or on a computer system.

Phishing – This is the most common hacking technique, that can trick an employee into clicking on a link or opening an attachment. Phishing attacks are used by hackers to gain direct access to a target’s email, social media, or other accounts or to change or compromise connected systems, such as point-of-sale machines and order processing systems.

Spyware – This is a type of malware that tracks your activity until a hacker has what they need to strike. Employee’s don’t even have to download an infected file to get tagged with spyware,

Worms – This is a type of malware hackers install onto a system’s memory. Once installed, worms infect your entire system, stealing data directly, changing system files, or opening a backdoor for hackers to control later on.

Virus – This relies on an employee activating the infected file themselves. The majority of viruses are downloaded from shady websites, usually by people who have no idea what they’re doing. This is another example in support of employee cybersecurity education.

Trojan horses – Attacks of this type pretend to be another program. If you attempt to pirate software or download it from an untrustworthy source, it will often come packaged with a trojan horse. After you’ve installed your program, it often works as it should, but at the same time, a trojan horse is collecting your data or controlling your PC in the background.

Ransomware– The most obvious and dangerous type of malware is ransomware. Viruses, worms, and trojan horses make it onto the computer, and it then annihilates it. To unlock the victim’s system, hackers force them to pay a ransom, often in bitcoin. Victims of cyber-attacks have in some cases paid millions of dollars to get back access to their networks.

How to prevent a data breach?

A data breach is a threat to every organization. It can happen to anyone, from the smallest e-commerce company to the largest bank. Although it’s on the rise, It can be avoided if you know how.

The first step is to stop thinking about your data as “yours” and start thinking of it as “theirs.” The security of your data is no longer just about what you can do to protect it; now, it’s also about what others can do to steal it. It’s not enough to secure your own network. You must also take steps to secure the networks and computer systems of those who connect to yours. Below are the best practices to follow to prevent data breaches:

  1. Educate and train your employees- Employees might be a weak link in the data security chain, and of-course human being human, open suspicious emails every day. A proper training and awareness plan would minimize the chances. As part of this effort, you can teach them how to create strong passwords, how often passwords should be changed, and how to identify, avoid, and report phishing scams.
  2. Create procedures and update software regularly- It’s wise to create data security procedures and update them consistently. Install patches, application software, and operating systems whenever available. Performing regular security audits reveals data integrity and serves as a data protection checklist. Also, perform regular vulnerability checks. Businesses must include in their vulnerability assessments all aspects, from data storage to remote access for employees to Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) strategy as well as policies and procedures.
  3. Data backup, recovery, and remote monitoring- It’s utterly important to have your data backed up because sometimes data breaches can delete your data. Your IT team should have a 24×7 remote monitoring of your network and an automated remote backup system in place. You can work with an MSP if you don’t have a dedicated IT team.
  4. Encrypt data- To maintain the confidentiality of your data while using email or other services, make sure that they are encrypted before they are being sent. Ensure your team has a dedicated Wi-Fi network that the public cannot access. The most sensitive data may need to be restricted from Wi-Fi use since it may allow cybercriminals to intercept it.
  5. Data protection regulations compliance- Organizations must adhere to the regulations and compliances to manage data privacy and people’s data. Companies that store, process, or transmit credit card information must abide by the PCI DSS to safeguard sensitive PII such as credit card numbers. The HIPAA regulations govern who can view and use protected health information, such as the name and Social Security number of patients.
  6. Developing data breach response plan- Even though many companies haven’t developed response plans for breaches yet, such a framework has an important role to play in dealing with cybersecurity incidents, limiting damages, and rebuilding trust among employees and the public. To do this, you need to clearly define the roles and responsibilities of those tasked with handling breaches. A summary of the investigation process should also be included. Additionally, consider multi-factor authentication and encryption as methods of protecting your data.

To wrap things up

A data breach can happen to anyone and when it does, it’s not just your business that is affected. It’s your customers, employees, and brand. To mitigate the risks of a data breach by implementing a strategy that fits your organization’s needs it is important to invest in full-proof security and follow the best practices. Data breach response plans and the security infrastructure vary from organization to organization.

But you don’t have to go it alone. Partnering with a data security and managed IT services provider who understands your business and application needs can help set you up for success. Cisco, Symantec, Transunion, Protenus, and Protected Harbor are some of the top data breach solution providers. With the growing number of data breaches, it’s imperative to have an effective solution in place, so don’t waste any more time, get protected today.

Security Threats of Work from Home

What are the Security Threats of Work from Home?

 

With COVID-19 changing the way we work, employees using personal devices at home expose themselves to greater security risks.  Rest assured hackers and malware programs are working overtime to exploit gaps and security oversights.

So what should employers do to ensure their systems remain free of hacks, ransomware attacks, and viruses?

Some employees may think their home is secure and private, however, they most likely will still be less secure than any corporate infrastructures.  Employees’ home offices probably don’t have hardware firewalls in place, multifactor authentications, or VPN’s.   These should all be considered and implemented by someone who is well versed in IT.

One of the most prevalent problems facing employees working at home is email scams.  Yes, they have been around forever but are problematic and sophisticated.  Today’s “scammers” are getting smarter and some phishing scams are created to take advantage of the current work from home scenarios.  These scams can include names of company personnel and may send users to a fake login portal or ask workers to forward login information.

In today’s climate, companies are faced with making things up as they go along because often, they don’t have the time or resources to dedicate to the growing number of work from home offices.  It would be prudent to educate employees on current cyber-crimes and offer training to ensure best practices are adhered to. Multifactor authentication is a key component to prevent attacks.

It is important to provide the necessary steps to in keeping your systems secure and this should never come at the cost of security.  Remote work policies should be monitored and updated often.  Security is never complete because the latest generation of cyber-criminals are bolder and can adapt to endless scenarios.

This is where a company like Protected Harbor can help.  Protected Harbor helps businesses across the US address their current IT needs by building custom, cost-effective solutions.  Our unique technology experts evaluate current systems, determine the needs then design cost-effective solutions. On average, we are able to save clients up to 30% on IT costs while increasing their security, productivity, and durability.  We work with many internal IT departments, freeing them up to concentrate on daily workloads while we do the heavy lifting.  www.protectedharbor.com

TAKING YOUR PRIVACY BACK FROM GOOGLE

TAKING YOUR PRIVACY BACK FROM GOOGLE

 

With every new technology comes benefits and concerns.

Now Google can present coupons for stores you have purchased from while you are driving past them, and tell you what you need to buy in your smart refrigerator, or based on your driving pattern can tell you when you will next visit a location.

As someone who works IT, I do not like my refrigerator telling Google what I am eating and I don’t like Google knowing all the details of my life.

Google does not make it easy to control your data because that is how they earn revenue. Google doesn’t charge for Android, the majority operating system for cell phones because they earn money by monetizing your behavior and selling what you are interested in. Do a Google search for “Cruises from Boston” for example and see what ads appear in Google and are emailed to you.

Google tracks your location, what you search for, your buying habits and most activity on your cell phone.

For example, when I looked up a friend’s location history, I could go back to 2015 and see where they had been and for how long.

It is possible to take control over much of your Google data by visiting; https://myactivity.google.com/more-activity?authuser=1/ . This page presents a menu of data collection items, each one can be adjusted or disabled.

WITH EVERY NEW TECHNOLOGY COMES BENEFITS & CONCERNS
Google tracks your location, what you search for, your buying habits and most activity on your cell phone.