3 Cyber Security Concerns That Were Unheard of Just a Few Years Ago

Blog - ARC Managed Services

Everything you should know about the progression of cyber crime

A lot has changed since the emergence of malicious hacking in the 1970’s, when tech savvy criminals began manipulating phone systems as a means of making free long distance calls.   Personal computers began hitting the market, and the world wide web gained traction, becoming a momentous commercial success.  In fact, in 1995 there were just 16 million internet users worldwide.  Today, there are 4.2 billion.

With such dramatic growth, it was to be expected that cybersecurity would become a pressing concern. Just like in the real world, criminals look for opportunities, and the digital world offered plenty of them.  Cyber crime cases like the Datastream Cowboy and Kuji attacks, as well as the Melissa Virus, made businesses, government agencies, and other organizations aware of how devastating computerized crimes could really be.  Fast forward to the present, and 230,000 new malware programs are being produced each and every day, while ransomware attacks grow by more than 350 percent per year— proving that the evolution of cyber crime should be a concern for everyone.

In a nutshell? It has never been more imperative for companies to understand cyber security best practices, and have expertly-conceptualized strategies in place to combat these computer-based attacks.  So, what are some of the most concerning cybersecurity developments that have occured in recent years? And how can business professionals protect themselves and the organizations they work for?  These are the questions we’ll be answering in today’s blog.

 

Here Are 3 Cyber Security Concerns That Were Unheard Of Just a Few Years Ago: 

 

1. Steganography Attacks

Steganography is the practice of replacing portions of data within files like images, audio files, and graphics with different, infected code. This method is particularly worrying since it completely hides the fact that malicious code is being uploaded or downloaded, leaving computer users vulnerable, unaware that a virus is lurking within the file.  Additionally, many anti-virus programs and security tools are unable to detect the code, due to the clever ways cyber criminals embed the code within the file.

Security researchers reported a 600 percent upsurge in steganographically-based attacks in 2017, which is highly problematic.   Thus, it’s crucial that businesses and organizations invest in cutting-edge technologies and prevention strategies to ward off these types of threats. Speaking with a reputable and experienced managed services provider is always a great place to start. 

 

2. IOT (Internet Of Things) Attacks

The Internet of Things is a term used to describe all of the various device types available today that can connect to the internet— from refrigerators, to vehicles, televisions, e-readers, and more.  All of these devices (as long as they are connected to the internet) can be hacked, and once they are, any of the information stored on the device is up for grabs.  Additionally, once a hacker has found their way into one of the devices on your IoT network, it becomes easier to gain access to the others.

Some recommended ways to protect your devices from IoT attacks include:

  • Always changing the default username and password on your devices, and using password best practices when creating your new login credentials.
  • Updating and installing IoT firmware regularly.
  • Disconnecting IoT devices from the internet whenever they aren’t in use.
  • Deleting apps that you don’t use or that look unfamiliar to you.
  • Do your research— read up on your new device and see if other customers have experienced security issues when using the device.

Remember, approximately 50,000 IoT attacks were documented in 2017, and that number is expected to rise.  Hiring a managed services company is an excellent way to ensure your business is guarded against these threats.

 

3. Spear Phishings

You’ve probably heard of phishing, or fraudulent email campaigns that do their best to seem legitimate, as a means of obtaining sensitive information about the receiver. But this classic online scheme has taken on a whole new level with the emergence of spear phishing.  It’s the same concept, but hyper-focused, with cyber criminals focusing on one individual instead of casting a wide net and seeing what turns up.  These cyber criminals will use extreme measures to gain whatever information they can about their target— and then ultimately use that information to execute better, more difficult-to-detect attacks.

The key here is that the criminal focuses on getting to know their victim, observing their online behavior and using tactics that are targeted towards the victim’s habits, interests, and vulnerabilities.  This detailed and methodical approach is a recent development, proving that the evolution of cyber crime has been shaped by criminals who are willing to use whatever means necessary to infiltrate their targets.  More often than not, spear phishing is done via emails, so being highly aware is essential if you want to combat these types of attacks. Employees need to be educated on email safety and should always secure their accounts by making use of spam filters and screening their inboxes for viruses.

Again, a seasoned and established managed services provider can ensure you have the right preventative strategies in place, and ensure your system is up to date and secure.

 

Managed Services Trends for 2019

Blog - ARC Managed Services

We discuss the most compelling managed services trends businesses can expect to see for 2019. 

If we’ve learned anything in 2018, it’s that businesses are turning to managed services providers (MSPs) more than ever before, looking to outsource their IT needs to knowledgeable experts.  In fact, the managed services market is expected to grow from $180.5 billion in 2018 to $282 billion by 2023.

At ARC Business Solutions, we believe this projected growth is a direct result of the benefits managed services providers can offer the businesses they work with.

These benefits include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • The improved efficacy and reliability of IT systems
  • A preventative approach to IT maintenance
  • Calculable monthly costs
  • Guaranteed compliance with privacy laws and legislative policies
  • Increased scalability of IT systems
  • Access to industry expertise whenever required

Because business owners are pressed for time and constantly bombarded with operational tasks, having a dedicated team of professionals they can trust their IT maintenance with is not only convenient, but incredibly relieving.  But how can business owners be sure they have hired the best MSP available to meet their needs?  Well, to start, they can read up on these managed services trends and present them to their potential MSP, allowing them to gauge how innovative and informed the vendor really is.  So, let’s get to it.

 

Here Are The Top Managed Services Trends For 2019:

 

1. Cloud Computing

According to Microsoft, cloud computing is the delivery of computing services—servers, storage, databases, networking, software, analytics, intelligence and more—over the Internet.  Businesses are often drawn to the idea of cloud computing because of the associated cost savings. In fact, average entry-level cloud computing pricing has declined by some 66 per cent over the last two year period to November 2015, and it has been forecasted that average public cloud pricing will fall even more, by a predicted 14 per cent by the year 2020.  Additionally, most cloud computing services are offered on a pay-as-you-go basis, meaning that businesses only pay for the services and features they use, and none of the extras.  A bonus that most businesses simply can’t refuse.

 

2. Cyber-Security

One only needs to look at some of the cybersecurity statistics available online to understand how essential it is for modern-day businesses. For example, from 2016 to 2017 alone there was a 22.7 percent increase in cybersecurity costs, and the average cost of a data breach is expected to exceed $150 million by 2020.  To prevent these devastating financial losses, business owners are turning to managed services providers with the intention of strengthening their IT security.  And it works!

Hiring a MSP actually results in a 50 percent reduction in the possibility of having a data breach caused by some of the most common external threats.  This is because MSPs are qualified and highly trained to offer only the most up-to-date security solutions, and know how to protect data using methods like backup processes, access control, and encryption.

 

3. Managed Services For Developing Technologies

As you most likely already know, computer systems and software solutions are constantly evolving. Recently, the increasing popularity of technologies like Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain have completely transformed the way people process and transfer data.  Eventually, these new technologies will be subjected to data, security, and privacy regulations, putting added pressure on businesses to comply with legislative policies and protect their operations from potential threats.

For business owners who want to remain ahead of the curve, discussing these emerging technologies with a managed services provider is essential. The most cutting-edge and industry-leading MSPs will already be aware of these technologies, and will be proactively brainstorming ways to address them.  It is to be expected that many business owners will be unaware of these new technologies, or will experience a significant learning curve as they become more popular.  Having a dependable, skilled managed services company on your side is the ideal way to reduce confusion and protect your venture during these technological advancements.

By researching and familiarizing themselves with these managed services trends, entrepreneurs and business professionals can better prepare for what’s to come, and implement the advanced solutions they’ll need ahead of time.  At ARC Business Solutions, our managed services team is continually evolving, learning, and advancing. It is our priority to offer top-tier network security, response services, and troubleshooting support to our clients, at all times.

 

The Dangers of Ransomware (And the Potential Ramifications for Your Business)

Blog - ARC Managed Services

Detect, remove, and prevent ransomware attacks with the help of trained IT professionals

For many business owners, the term “ransomware” isn’t a familiar one. But when you mention computer viruses, the connection is often made, and the associated consequences are understood.  As more and more IT systems become increasingly integrated into business operations, the potential threats and downfalls of these systems become of greater concern.

At ARC Business Solutions, we know that many entrepreneurs do not have the time, interest, or know-how to combat ransomware attacks or other malicious software issues. That’s why we offer managed services for our valued clients, monitoring their IT infrastructure and keeping their data secure.  But even if an entrepreneur has solicited the help of a professional and knowledgeable IT company, there are some basic methods of protecting against ransomware that they (and every business owner) should know.

In this blog post, we’ll be covering some of the most common missteps that make companies susceptible to malicious software, and sharing our recommended strategies to stop ransomware from jeopardizing your business.  Let’s get started!

 

What is Ransomware And What Does It Do?

 

Ransomware is a type of malicious software that does exactly what it sounds like: uses encryption to hold your data for ransom. Essentially, the software will prevent you from being able to access your much-needed data, extorting you for money with the promise of restoring your access if you pay up.  Typically, the creators of this kind of malicious software disguise their malware, making ransomware appear as a program, app, or media file that you want to install on your computer.  Unfortunately, once you have clicked the “install”, “save”, or “download” button, you are immediately at risk, and the ransomware will begin to infect your device.

 

What Are The Ricks Associated With A Ransomeware Attack? 

 

There are several ways that ransomware can negatively impact your business. Some of the most common disturbances include:

1. Infiltration Of Databases, Back-Ups, And Drives

One of the most worrisome impacts of a ransomware attack is the fact that they are developed to be highly sophisticated, and they can access just about anything that is connected to your computer or electronic device.  From cloud-based storage systems like Dropbox, to hard drives and removable storage systems like USB drives – if access is available via your computer, the malware can worm its way in and compromise any files that are saved via that particular system. This means that files can be corrupted, altered, or deleted, leaving your business scrambling to restore your documents and other important files, while simultaneously trying to prevent the malicious software from spreading further.

 

2. Loss of Access To Computer Systems

This is an especially concerning problem. Many business owners aren’t aware that a specific form of malicious software, referred to as locker ransomware, can actually shut down your entire computer operating system, preventing you from logging in at all.  Since it is absolutely not beneficial for any business owner to be completely barred from their computer, this particular consequence drives home the importance of ransomware protection unlike any other.

 

3. Financial Loss To Repair Compromised Systems

When a company’s IT systems have been infected with malware, it’s almost always guaranteed to cost them money.  In fact, in 2017, the average cost of a data breach in North America was $1.3 million for enterprises and $117,000 for small and medium-sized businesses.  That’s easily enough money to cause major interruptions in a business, and potentially derail the future success of a company.

These costs come from a range of services that must be completed to rectify the damages of an attack, including:

  • Replacing infected devices
  • Recovery of proprietary data (if possible)
  • Loss of production due to IT systems being down
  • Damage to brand and reputation
  • Potential loss of clients
  • Potential legal fines

And more.

 

What Should I Do to Protect My Business Against A Ransomware Attack?

 

Being proactive is the most advantageous thing you can do to stop ransomware from wreaking havoc on your company.  It’s crucial that you take the time to do a threat and risk assessment to identify weak points in your IT systems.   If you do not have the manpower internally to conduct these assessments, we encourage you to consider trusting our highly-trained IT professionals.

At ARC Business Solutions, we offer unmatched security services, meaning your systems will be backed up regularly, monitored for potential threats, consistently upgraded to ensure maximum protection, and thoroughly inspected to ensure all components are set up securely.  If protecting against ransomware is a priority for you, and you’re looking for a hands-off experience with trained experts you can trust, our managed services division is an ideal option for keeping your IT systems safe.

Lastly, if you suspect a computer or device within your company has been compromised, isolate that device as quickly as possible. Completely disconnect it from other devices, go offline, and document the ransom note by taking a photo of it with your smartphone, or simply jot down any details you can remember.  From there, it is recommended that you contact an IT company or experienced IT professional so you can identify exactly what type of ransomware you have been infected with, and determine the best course of action for combating it. 

 

How Professional IT Services Help Businesses Remain Competitive in Today’s Market

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Discover the benefits of trusting your IT systems to industry experts

More than ever before, companies are conducting business via the internet. In fact, in the United States and Canada there are approximately 1.3 million e-commerce businesses, with more being established every year.  And even companies that do not operate primarily via the internet rely on technology in some form or fashion to complete daily tasks, store information, and communicate with their clientele.  Thus, the dependability of IT systems is crucial.  

Unfortunately, however, many business owners do not have the time or the know-how that is required to properly protect their IT systems and the data they contain.  To elaborate further, a study by Hiscox found that seven out of 10 businesses aren’t prepared to handle cyber attacks.  Additionally, 93 percent of companies feel that a connected digital infrastructure is important in serving customer needs yet 55 per cent believe their existing IT infrastructure limits their ability to do so.  These statistics show that while businesses are aware of how important it is to maintain efficient and secure computer systems, the reality is that many businesses are falling short.

So, what is the solution?

One of the most compelling fixes is to hire a managed services provider to proactively monitor your systems and address issues as they arise.  By trusting the maintenance and strategic planning of your computer systems to industry experts, you can ensure your business remains ahead of the curve, while freeing up your time to focus on your company’s overall mission and vision.

 

How Managed Services Can Help You Gain A Competitive Advantage In The Marketplace:

 

1. Controlled Spending

One of the benefits of managed services is that your company receives the tailored, individualized solutions it needs, ensuring that you only pay for what you require.   This gives you a competitive advantage, since other companies are likely troubleshooting their own IT issues in-house, and spending more time doing so.

With IT managed services, however, your company pays a convenient flat fee per month, and you (as well as your employees) benefit from no longer having the responsibility on your plate.  With the time and money you save, you can invest in other areas of your business that will lead to greater success.

 

2. Fewer Setbacks

There is nothing more costly than an IT breach.  In fact, according to the 2018 Cost of a Data Breach Study by Ponemon, the average cost for each lost or stolen record containing sensitive and confidential information is $148.00.  Yes, that’s per stolen record.  Additionally, it takes an average of 23 days to resolve a ransomware attack, and an average of 50 days to resolve a malicious insider attack.

Can your business afford to be hindered for that long? Most can’t.

Thankfully, with the help of the IT leaders at your chosen managed services company, you can prevent these costly misfortunes.  Remember, managed services providers have much more comprehensive network infrastructures than most businesses do. They also have the software and knowledge required to conduct regular audits and testing. Plus, they have the ability to monitor your systems 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.   This means that no matter how severe an issue is, your systems are being protected by industry-leading professionals and the most advanced security solutions, at all times.

In a nutshell? While your competitors are dealing with phishing attacks and malware, you’ll be busy doing what you do best: running your business.

 

3. Seamless Scalability

One of the greatest challenges companies face when it comes to their IT systems is scalability. After all, as your company grows, so too should it’s IT infrastructure.  Thankfully, the benefits of managed services address a lot of the scalability concerns that business owners have.  This is because when you hire a managed services provider, you no longer have to worry about hiring in-house IT professionals or expanding your resources in a hurry. Instead, you simply leave it up to the pros! 

Your IT managed services experts will be able to enhance your systems as needed, identify any areas of concern, and design scale directly into the solutions they provide to you.  What does this mean with regards to improving your competitive advantage? Well, when other companies are scrambling to expand their offerings and meet market demands, you’ll be prepared – increasing the likelihood that you will be top of the pack. After all, most clients need businesses that can fulfill their needs immediately, if not within a short period of time. 

It’s a classic case of the early bird gets the worm!

 

What You Need to Know About The PIPEDA Privacy Law

PIPEDA

Learn about maintaining PIPEDA compliance and protecting your business from potential threats

The Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) was established by the Government of Canada in an effort to safeguard the collection, use or disclosure of personal information during the course of a commercial activity. Or, in layman’s terms, it’s legislation that stipulates how businesses must handle the personal information of the people who interact with their company.  Its core purpose is to protect Canadian citizens from security breaches, placing the onus on businesses to properly manage the personal information they control.

 

Why PIPEDA Matters

In today’s world, businesses and organizations of all sizes, from all industries, rely on computerized data systems to manage information about their clients and the people they serve.  With so much information being shared via the world wide web, the importance of data protection and confidentiality has never been more apparent.  In fact, 87 percent of Canadian companies suffer at least one successful breach per year (of varying severity), and 47 percent of breaches result in sensitive data being stolen

When these security breaches occur, not only is the personal information of a company’s client base compromised, but their business could be subject to an audit by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada. In some instances, if it is found that a business has failed to meet PIPEDA requirements, the case can be sent to Federal Court, where a business can be ordered to publicly disclose their failure to comply, or even be ordered to pay damages of up to $100,000 per violation.

 

What Businesses Can Do To Protect Themselves And Their Clients

Now that we’ve discussed why data privacy is important, you need to know how to shield your company and your customers from a potential security breach.  Here are some simple steps business owners can take to ensure PIPEDA compliance and protect information within their company:

 

1. Develop And Implement A Security Policy

If you are an operating business, you should already have a security policy in place. But if you don’t, now is the time to get started. 

When brainstorming and creating your security policy, be sure to consider the following:

  • What physical measures can I take to protect personal information within my company? 
  • What technological tools can I use to protect the personal information my business has access to?
  • What organizational controls can I implement to safeguard personal information within my company?

Ask for feedback from your employees regarding your security policy, and dedicate time to identifying any loopholes or weak spots in your plan.  Then, ensure that all members of your team are aware of your security policy and are trained to follow the procedures meticulously.

 

2. Grant Access On A Need-To-Know Basis Only

This is by far one of the best ways to safeguard information within your business and ensure you are maintaining PIPEDA compliance.  Often, employees gain access to documents they don’t necessarily require access to, or employers intend to only provide access for a certain period of time, but forget to eliminate access after the given time period has passed.  

In some cases, former employees aren’t removed from specific programs or accounts, or current employees become complacent, using less-than-ideal passwords than can easily be hacked.  Whatever the case, developing clear and concise procedures for granting access to information is always recommended. These procedures should be followed rigorously, with the same protocols being followed each time access is granted or removed.

 

3. Assemble A Security Committee And Review Policies Regularly

The more time and manpower you dedicate to upholding your security policy, the less likely a violation will be.  Staying abreast of any updates or amendments to PIPEDA is also recommended. We advise checking the official blog of the Office of the Privacy Commissioner regularly for all the latest news.

Sometimes, the best offense is a good defense. For this reason, it’s advantageous to remain vigilant about data protection and to dedicate time to understanding the protection act.   The more knowledgeable and proactive you are, the more resilient your business will be.

 

When To Seek Managed I.T. Services

Sometimes, business owners simply do not have enough time to monitor their security as closely as they’d like, and that’s okay! Depending on the size of your business, the number of employees you manage, and how involved you are in day-to-day operations, it may be best to reach out to a company that offers managed services— like our team at ARC Business Solutions.

The benefits of hiring an IT company to oversee the security of your information include:

  • Peace of mind knowing your IT services provider will provide on-going, real-time monitoring of any potential threats
  • Being able to rely on professionals to enhance your security structures and implement preventative measures
  • The ability to trust your IT services provider to act as a gatekeeper, overseeing who has access to what within your organization
  • Quicker resolutions to security issues
  • Ongoing support and staff training (when required)

At ARC Business Solutions, our managed services team are trained and qualified to provide strategic and tactical security support, protecting you from cyber attacks and eliminating risks.  Remember, 80 percent of SMB owners recognize that today’s cybersecurity solutions have to go beyond basic antivirus, anti-malware and firewall solutions.  If you are one of the business owners who understands the need for increased cyber security measures, but needs assistance implementing a strategy that works, ARC Business Solutions could be the right fit for you.