As more consumers shift to online shopping this holiday season, they expect their information to be protected every time they make a purchase. With just weeks left until the holiday season kicks off, now is the time to review your current website security strategy. It is important to ensure you’re well equipped to protect your customers’ data when cyber criminals attack.
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Most businesses hang on to too much data for too long. And it’s often data that they don’t need. Or worse, didn’t realize they even had. So do a spring-cleaning. Do an inventory of all your data and everywhere you keep it. Identify what you don’t need, then get rid of it forever. And not by simply hitting the Delete key, but overwriting it to military standards or shredding it. When it comes to data breaches, you can’t lose what you don’t have.
2. What You Do Keep, Know Where It Is
So many data breaches result from data being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Like highly sensitive customer or employee information being carried around town or across the world on an unprotected laptop. As part of your inventory you need to know where your data is at all times so that you can protect it at all times. That means checking servers, desktops, laptops, websites, tablets, phones, removable storage, filing cabinets, storage lockers, warehouses, third parties and anywhere else it might be hiding.
3. Classify Your Information
Not all information is created equal. And understanding that you can’t protect all data all the time, you have to focus on the stuff that’s worth protecting. That’s where data classification comes in. There are a number of different ways to classify data, but they’re usually a series of three to five categories of importance – from top secret to simply private and confidential. By assigning a security classification to your data, you make it easier for employees to instantly understand how they need to handle that data.
In most states, you get an almost free pass on data breaches if the breached data was encrypted. That’s how good encryption is at making data useless to hackers. Encryption is getting much easier to implement and afford. Encryption isn’t just for credit cards and online transactions. In any business you can easily encrypt files, folders, hard drives, texts, phone calls and emails, photos and videos, and just about any kind of data.
5. Comply With PCI
The credit card companies are pretty good when it comes to protecting information, which is why PCI compliance is a great baseline. It’s not perfect and not a guarantee, but you should never be without it.
6. Lock Down Your Website
Many of today’s breaches start with the exploitation of poorly protected and patched websites. Which is really a shame because it’s so easy to protect your website. Make sure you’re using some kind of web scanning or monitoring service that will find and fix security holes before hackers do.
7. Turn Every Employee Into a Data Sentry
Technology only goes so far when it comes to preventing data breaches. People fill that gap, and the most important people are your employees. Every employee needs to understand the value of data, the risks of breaches, and how their choices can make all the difference
8. Try Not to Move It
If you know where your data is and you don’t plan to move it any time soon, then it’s very easy to lock it in place. But data is at its most vulnerable when it’s on the move – like stored on a traveling laptop or phone, sent on tape to a third party like a payroll processor, or even being emailed between employees.
9. Don’t Forget Paper Records
It’s estimated that one in every five data breaches involves paper records. That means documents stolen from a briefcase or in a burglary, dumped without shredding, or simply mislaid. So as part of your inventory you need to go through the piles of information in every office, pick what you have no more need for, and shred it.
10. Use Layers of Security
While antivirus software is important, it’s not enough. While website security is essential, it’s not enough. While good passwords are a must, still not enough. Hackers after your data are relying on the fact that you might be relying on just one or two layers of security between them and your data. Good security is about creating multiple security perimeters that convince hackers that you’re just not worth their time and energy.
Securing your website can be a daunting challenge. Contact a SiteLock consultant today to learn how to quickly and easily secure your site.
It’s not often we get a chance to attend a security breach postmortem — a step-by-step, hack-by-hack, mistake-by-mistake account of what went so horribly wrong. The U.S. Commerce Department recently presented their report into all the mistakes Target made, and which could have avoided, in its recent massive data breach.
The report provides what’s referred to as an “intrusion kill chain” that highlights all the places Target had a chance to spot the breach and stop it. But missed. For example:
- The hackers were able to identify a potential Target vendor or supplier to exploit because Target made such a list publicly available. That was the starting point for the hackers.
- The vendor targeted had very little security in place. The only malware defense they appeared to have used to protect their business was free software meant for personal and not business use.
- The vendor’s employees had received little if any security awareness training, and especially on how to spot a phishing email. So the hackers used a phishing email to trick at least one of those employees into letting them in the back door.
- Once in the vendor’s systems, the hackers were able to use stolen passwords without the need for authentication because Target did not require two-factor authentication for low-level vendors.
- The hackers are suspected of gaining further access from the vendor by using a default password in the billing software the vendor used. If the default password had been changed, the attack might have stopped right there.
- There were few controls in place to limit access the vendor had on the Target network. Once the vendor had been compromised, Target’s entire networks were exposed.
- When the hackers installed their Point of Sale malware on Target’s networks and began testing the malware, that activity was detected by Target’s security systems but the alarms were simply ignored.
- When the hackers created an escape route and began moving the stolen data off Target’s networks, that activity triggered alarms too but once again, the alarms were ignored.
- Some of the data was moved to a server in Russia, an obvious red flag for Target security which once again was missed.
- The login credentials of the vendor were used throughout the attack, yet Target’s security system wasn’t able to detect that those credentials were being used to perform tasks they weren’t approved for.
We keep saying that every business large and small has important lessons to learn from Target. Don’t waste the opportunity. Double-check your own security and see if there are any obvious gaps you haven’t spotted but need to be sealed. Need help? Give SiteLock a call any time, 24/7/365, at 855.378.6200.
Every year about this time, Verizon comes out with an annual review of the results of its investigations into thousands of data breaches and security incidents from around the world.
The report can be very data heavy and even a little depressing, but we can learn great things from it. Here are just ten:
Of all the threats that could be stalking your business daily, it is most unpleasant to think about the fact that the biggest threat could already be inside your walls, maybe even on your payroll. Unfortunately there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that the biggest source and cause of security incidents is the humble employee.
The good news is that few of these incidents are deliberate attacks or frauds by your most trusted insiders. Instead they tend to be innocent mistakes which could easily be avoided but which are quickly taken advantage of by hackers.
2014 could go down as one of the most significant years in the world of cybersecurity, and malware in particular. It wasn’t just the small window that revealed data breaches at Target, Neiman Marcus, Michaels Craft Stores and potentially dozens of other retailers. Nor was it the fact that this explosion in data breaches could all be the work of a seventeen-year-old.
With the Target data breach and its endless repercussions still on most people’s minds, next week’s Data Privacy Day (January 28th) is well-timed to pause and think about data privacy and what it means to your business and customers.
The idea behind Data Privacy Day has been around for a number of years, but began to really catch on in 2009 with the U.S. Congress declared the very first National Data Privacy Day. So every year around this time, privacy and security advocates use this annual event to raise consumer and business awareness about privacy, what it does and should mean to us, and why it’s so important for all of us to recognize.
It’s been less than a month since mega retailer Target announced that a little more than 40 million customer debit and credit cards had been stolen by hackers. Not long after that, we saw the first of those cards being sold a few hundred thousand at a time, in a variety of underground hacker forums. Although not that underground, since I was able to register on the most notorious hacker sites and see for myself how easy it was to buy an identity.
OK, so there’s no such thing. But guess what? It’s still October, which means it’s still National Cyber Security Awareness Month. Close enough, right? That also means there’s still plenty of time to focus on the security housekeeping that’s crucial to the success and survival of your web presence.
Security is like profit – it’s not an option. And that’s even more important to remember if you rely heavily on your website, either to promote your business or to process orders.
There are plenty of things your employees can do to make your business and their workplace safer. Here’s just a sample of some of the more important ones.
- Follow your security rules and policies. Which means you have to have some in the first place, you have to share them, and your employees must know there will be consequences if they ignore them.
- Protect their passwords. Password safety is not just about creating strong passwords and changing them often. It’s also about employees protecting their passwords, not writing them down where they can be found or hacked (like on a computer) and not sharing them with other employees.
- Ignore phishy emails. Phishing emails are still very effective in spreading malware and other threats. And advanced phishing schemes, like spear phishing, can be so convincing they can easily fool employees. So it has to be guard up, all the time. Trust, but verify.
- Surf more selectively. Where an employee wanders on the internet, and what sites they linger at, can determine their vulnerability to a host of web threats. One of the biggest threats is a watering hole – an infected web site lying in wait for every visitor (including your employees) to visit the web site, catch the bug, and bring it home.
- Believe that if security is good for business, it’s also good for their job. Sad but true, fear is a great motivator. If fear of the impact of a security breach on your business is enough for you to make security changes, same rules apply to your employees. If they can be made to understand that a data or security breach could result in layoffs, maybe they’ll think twice about the next online pharmacy they were thinking about visiting.
- Protect their laptops and other devices. The two worst things that can be on an unprotected laptop or smartphone are sensitive customer information and access credentials like a password. It doesn’t help if the devices store company secrets either. But the best way to prevent a missing laptop or phone from turning into a major security incident is to make sure employees don’t use them to store anything sensitive.
- Be careful on the road or out of the office. Like the knights of old, it’s easy to feel safe, comfortable and complacent behind castle walls, but things change when you’re out in the wild. Employees need to understand that security rules and practices follow them everywhere because hackers are everywhere.
- Beware of free Wi-Fi networks, and especially at hotels, coffee shops, and airports. Setting up a fake network with the network name WelcomeToStarbucks is child’s play, even for an amateur hacker. And a very easy way to eavesdrop on an unsuspecting employee.
- Be vigilant, challenge, and report. Encourage all employees to be vigilant around the workplace, whether it’s a stranger wandering around the office or sensitive data left unattended. Make it easy for them to take action when they see something suspicious, and even allow them to report it anonymously if they prefer.
- Lead by example. The greatest feature of a great leader is the ability to make others want to follow. If you don’t live, breathe, and talk security, why should you expect your employees to? Talk about security, as often as you can. And talk about it positively, as a business enabler and opportunity, and not in the way you might scold belligerent children.