Outdated machines, software or employee practices can lead to major security problems. These big companies faced painful fines for their IT mistakes.
As companies increase their online activity, data collection and eCommerce, the stakes will continue to rise. Companies that are lax, poorly prepared or sloppy are facing disastrous tech breaches. Equifax, Uber, TJX and Visa are just a few of the companies that have had to face hefty payouts for data breaches. The public relies on companies to act professionally and secure their information. Many companies that face a security breach or lost data will not be able to stay in business.
With a security breach, the customer’s trust is lost. Not only will the reputation harm business, but fixing the issue will cost more than preventing it. Fines and payouts will also add to that cost. And, the more consumers affected by a major problem in the company’s security, the more painful the clean up. You can’t afford to slack when it comes to IT security.
The infamous Equifax data breach of 2017 has lead to 147 million affected customers. The settlement announced by the credit reporting company included $175 million to 48 states, $300 million towards free credit monitoring services for the impacted customers and $100 million to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for civil penalties.
Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chairman Joe Simons said, “Equifax failed to take basic steps that may have prevented the breach that affected approximately 147 million consumers. This settlement requires that the company take steps to improve its data security going forward, and will ensure that consumers harmed by this breach can receive help protecting themselves from identity theft and fraud.”
The FTC smacked Facebook with a $5 billion fine for the Cambridge Analytica incident. This privacy violations fine was in response to personal data taken from over 87 million Facebook users to create more persuasive and personalized ads.
In 2016, Uber had over 57 million user accounts compromised–and then tried to cover it up by paying the perpetrator $100k. This lead to the largest data-breach payout at the time of $148 million because they broke data breach violation laws.
When the US health insurer Anthem was hacked in 2015, over 79 million customers had their names, birthdates, social security numbers and medical IDs compromised. The company paid out $115 million in a class-action lawsuit in 2017 regarding the breach. The US Department of Health and Human Services fined them an additional $16 million for HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) violations.
When over 96 million credit and debit accounts were hacked in a widely-publicized data breach that lasted from 2003 to 2007, TJX promised pay outs. This came under the terms that 80% of card issuers agreed to the recovery offer and promised not to take further legal action. TJX agreed to fund the settlement as a resolution to those U.S. Visa holders with cards from taking further legal action. This amount was not part of the $256 million the company said it had budgeted to deal with the breach.
Between 2012-2013, the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center lost one unencrypted laptop when it was stolen from an employee’s house and two unencrypted USBs that contained sensitive patient data. The health information of over 33,500 individuals was compromised and the center faced a $4.3 million fine for HIPAA violations.
In 2012, Fresenius Medical Care North America (FMCNA) was fined $3.5 million for HIPAA violations after five separate breaches in different company locations. The Office for Civil Rights noted that FMCNA could have avoided this with a thorough risk analysis to find the potential risks and vulnerabilities. Many of their breach problems included lacking security policies and failing to encrypt sensitive health data.
A good company will take proactive IT security measures with a great tech team. By outsourcing IT security through a managed IT service company, you can get the best security without hiring a team full-time. Your IT team will provide an audit of your company to help you find the places where your security, devices or practices might be a threat to your company. Ensure you are using the right equipment and your employees are trained to meet compliance standards, privacy laws, customer expectations and more so your company can succeed.
Do you know about the “Dark Web”? It’s the part of the Internet where your private data – passwords, social security, credit card numbers, etc. – could be for sale right now. Do you know how to check if they are?
The Internet isn’t all funny videos and social media.
Between phishing, malware, and a seemingly never-ending list of scams, there are a number of serious dangers that are important to be aware of.
But there’s an even a darker corner of the web where few people dare to venture that can have a wide-reaching and severely damaging effect on your business: the Dark Web.
Recently, cyber thieves released a huge list of compromised emails and passwords known as Collection #1. It contains 773 million records, making it one of the largest data breaches to date. If your information has ever been breached, it’s most likely on this new list – and that list is on the Dark Web.
Even the federal government has had a hard time locating those responsible and stopping them. The Department of Homeland Security made their first bust involving criminals selling illegal goods on the Dark Web just last year. The arrests were made after a year-long investigation. Though this is good news, it doesn’t even scratch the surface of all the criminal activities taking place on the Dark Web.
The bottom line is that you can’t wait around for the government or anyone else to protect your business from cyber thieves. You have to be proactive about securing your database. Your personal and business information should not be for sale on the Dark Web, but how can you stop this?
What Is The Dark Web?
The Dark Web is a small part of the much larger “deep web” – the common name for an extensive collection of websites that aren’t accessible through normal Internet browsers. These websites are hidden from the everyday Internet — or Clearnet — users through the use of overlay networks.
They’re built on the framework of networks that already exist, and there are a lot of them. In fact, the Deep Web makes up the majority of the information online. Which, when you consider how vast the corner of the Internet you frequent is, is nothing short of terrifying.
This unseen part of the Internet is a perfect place for less than scrupulous individuals to connect, network, and share tools, tips, and information. And it should go without saying that whatever their up to on these sites is nothing good.
Personal information such as school and medical records, bank statements, and private emails are all part of the immense Deep Web. To gain access to this information, you must be able to access an overlay network using specialized software and passwords. This is a good thing, because it keeps sensitive information safe, and prevents search engines from accessing and indexing it.
Why Is The Dark Web Used To Sell Private Information?
The added security of the Deep Web makes it attractive for those who want their online activities to remain anonymous. Unlike the Deep Web, which prevents outsiders from accessing information, the owners of Dark Websites allow anyone with the right browser to access their sites. One of the most popular of these is The Onion Browser, more commonly known as Tor.
The Dark Web is like “The Wild West” of the Internet. It’s an area beyond the reach of law enforcement, hence the complete lack of regulations or protection. Although not everyone who uses the Dark Web engages in illicit activities — it has a history of being a platform for political dissidents and corporate whistleblowers — many visitors are there for less than upstanding reasons.
Cybercrime costs US businesses billions of dollars each year. The majority of information hackers steal from businesses ends up on the Dark Web for sale to identity thieves and corporate spies.
But, the real danger is that it provides communication and educational training ground for hackers and would-be hackers. Although the competition among different hacking groups is fierce, there’s still a willingness among cyber criminals to share techniques and assist one another.
It’s this access to the “tools of the trade” and the guidance required to pull off successful hacks, attacks, and scams that makes the Dark Web so dangerous to your business. Anyone with the time and inclination to learn how to steal valuable data from your business can check out an online tutorial or two, pay for some basic hacking software from one of these marketplaces, and set their sights on you.
While they might not be the stories that make national headlines, small and mid-sized businesses are targeted every day by cybercriminals looking to make a fast buck.
How can you protect yourself?
When a news story comes out about a large corporate hack, businesses often scramble to learn how they can better protect their businesses – but that’s the wrong time to start thinking about it.
Don’t wait until a breach occurs – start protecting yourself now. The advice you should follow centers around educating your employees about the dangers of online crime and developing company procedures to prevent it from happening.
The first step is to make sure you (and your staff) use stronger passwords…
Length and Complexity
Keep in mind that the easier it is for you to remember a password, the easier it’ll be for a hacker to figure it out. That’s why short and simple passwords are so common – users worry about forgetting them, so they make them too easy to remember, which presents an easy target for hackers.
Numbers, Case, and Symbols
Another factor in the password’s complexity is whether or not it incorporates numbers, cases, and symbols. While it may be easier to remember a password that’s all lower-case letters, it’s important to mix in numbers, capitals, and symbols in order to increase the complexity.
Many users assume that information specific to them will be more secure – the thinking, for example, is that your birthday is one of a 365 possible options in a calendar year, not to mention your birth year itself. The same methodology applies to your pet’s name, your mother’s maiden name, etc.
However, given the ubiquity of social media, it’s not difficult for hackers to research a target through Facebook, LinkedIn, and other sites to determine when they were born, information about their family, personal interests, etc.
Pattern and Sequences
Like the other common mistakes, many people use patterns as passwords in order to better remember them, but again, that makes the password really easy to guess. “abc123”, or the first row of letters on the keyboard, “qwerty”, etc., are extremely easy for hackers to guess.
Maybe you think your passwords are fine.
It’s certainly possible – but it’s one thing to skim over a list of common password mistakes and assume you’re probably still OK.
Sure, maybe that one password is based on your pet’s name, or maybe that other password doesn’t have any capitals or numbers – what’s the big deal, really?
If you’re so confident, then why not put it to the test?
Click here to test how secure your password is – take a few minutes and try a few.
How’d you do?
Probably not as well as you’d hoped, right? The reality is that truly complex passwords can be difficult to come up with, and even more difficult to remember.
Train staff members on the proper handling of corporate data and procedures to limit data loss, including ways to handle phishing scams.
Besides an initial onboarding training session, all employees should attend refresher courses throughout the year. The vast majority of cybercriminals gain access to a company’s network through mistakes made by employees.
Require the use of strong passwords and two-factor authorization.
It’s advisable that you assign strong passwords to each individual employee to prevent them from using passwords that are easy to guess, as well as implementing two-factor authorization.
Consider investing in hacking insurance and conduct penetration testing.
The cost of cybercrime will exceed 6 billion dollars by 2021. That’s a lot of money. Investing in cyber attack insurance is a good idea for businesses with a great deal of exposure.
Unfortunately, all these tips are meant to be preventative – they’ll increase your security and protect against cybercriminals taking your data in the first place. But what if you’ve already experienced a breach?
Even worse, what if you’ve experienced a data breach, but you don’t even know it? Case in point: it takes most businesses up to 6 months to find out that they’ve experienced a data breach.
What if you’re one of them?
How can you find out if your data is already up for sale?
What About Dark Web Scanning?
There’s only so much you can do on your own – but there are now more direct ways of checking whether your data has been compromised on the Dark Web. Many security vendors now offer cyber-surveillance monitoring solutions that can scan the dark web for your credentials.
One of the most popular of these solutions is Dark Web ID, which is designed to detect compromised credentials that surface on the Dark Web in real-time, offering you a comprehensive level of data theft protection – it’s an enterprise-level service tailored to businesses like yours.
This Dark Web monitoring solution keeps tabs on the shadiest corners of the online world 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – no exceptions.
This isn’t a matter of “what you don’t know won’t hurt you”. In fact, it’s the opposite. You can’t afford to ignore the dark web.
Traditional business risk has fallen into a few different buckets with the economy and competitors being two of the major forces under consideration. The tides change, and businesses today must add some additional items to that list and one of the most important is the issue of data security.
From protecting the information that is being stored within your organization to creating a positive way to support the transfer of data between your clients, your business and third-party partners, data security and compliance are becoming hot-button topics in technology and business circles. Protecting your organization from the potential multi-million dollar problems that come along with a data breach is a critical component of IT leadership in the modern world.
You don’t have to look too closely in the world news to see the dangers inherent with poor data security: Facebook, Marriott and even Equifax are recent survivors of serious data breaches. Each time a seemingly-indestructible company falls prey to a hacker, the business world holds its collective breath to see what will happen. Unfortunately, what’s happening is that these organizations are facing hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars in notification costs, lost productivity, poor consumer perception and remediation to ensure that their data stays more secure in the future. Even so, there are no guarantees that these businesses will not be hit again as they have already proven to be vulnerable from this type of attack. Major corporations are not the only ones being targeted, however. Small and mid-size businesses are also being targeted for attacks because there’s a perception that they do not invest heavily enough in cybersecurity and secure infrastructure.
Improving your business’s data security often starts with an audit of your current situation. This could include where your organization stores data, the type of information that is being stored, the individuals who are able to access your data and how that access occurs, the privacy and security policies of third-party partners and the various integrations that your business systems have with sensitive data. Businesses that are storing personal information (PI) that includes first and last names, passwords or passcodes, health or financial information need to pay particular care as this type of information is extremely sought-after by hackers who are interested in selling it for top dollar on the dark web. Once an audit has been completed, it’s time to start improving the security of your overall systems and storage.
Just as with many questions in technology, there isn’t a cut and dried answer: it depends on the current situation with your data, the type of data that’s being stored and several other factors as well. The best option is to work with a proactive IT solutions provider who has a deep understanding of data security and has helped secure other organizations that are similar in size and storage needs to yours. This allows you to leverage industry best practices to help keep your data safe and nudge you towards the right decisions both now and in the future. In general, moving to the cloud may help improve your security, especially if you have a limited number of internal IT staff members who are able to maintain your systems and data infrastructure. Cloud-based data storage and applications work together fluidly and often without the requirements for ongoing updates as these are applied at the data center level. This can take some of the pressure off of internal IT staff to provide proactive maintenance and allow these individuals to focus on improving the overall security posture of your organization.
As we enter the second half of 2019 and into 2020, CEOs and other top executives are increasing their focus on cybersecurity as a strategic initiative. This provides an added impetus for organizations to thoroughly review their data storage and use strategies and create a cohesive solution for data in transit and at rest that will help reduce the overall risk to your business. Reviewing your data security on a regular basis can help alleviate concerns about your storage procedures and ensure that your organization stays up-to-date with the latest recommendations from security professionals.
Technological downtime can make or break a law firm. Even an hour of downtime can cost a small or medium firm as much as $250,000.
Unfortunately, Murphy’s Law has been known to apply in legal cases, meaning if there is an opportunity for things to go wrong they will. It is important that your firm has a dedicated professional, our team of professionals, either inside or outside the firm that can honor your firm’s confidentiality and keep potential problems at bay and/or under control. Some potential issues include
Case Management Issues
Filing is most efficient when stored electronically. They manage related documents, billing, and customer relationships
Reputation is everything for a law firm, and that extends to the attorneys and other staff at the firm. Still, even with so much on the line, the American Bar Association found that as many as a quarter of firms did not have security policies in place. Nothing puts a damper on a firm’s reputation, or even on specific lawyers than a security breach,
Compliance Issues and Software Integration
Various industries and professions have their own set of confidentiality agreements, that any legal team that works with the company needs to follow in order to protect clients, consumers, and any others involved. Some of these include Health Insurance Portability and Accountability (HIPAA), the Gramm-Leach-Billey Act of 1999 (GLB) and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX). Following these privacy acts means that legal professionals are prevented from disclosing information. The same discretion needs to translate to technology compliance.It is necessary to have software in place that can handle this responsibility, and see to it that attorneys and anyone else with access can run any necessary software correctly and efficiently without violating compliance standards.
Internal Collaboration is an issue that needs constant monitoring due to the way social media quickly evolves. It is common for attorneys to use the internet for communication, however, it is less common for them to communicate internally about a case, which would make their casework more efficient. The right social media integration can help improve communication and make casework more thorough and efficient. Salesforce, customer relationship management solutions are a common tool used by attorneys and their firms in order to produce better results for clients.
Proactive and Regular Maintenance at a fixed can cost can help with all these issues by applying the knowledge to give your firm or business the right IT infrastructure that will support your needs. That means that attorneys and other employees will receive the training they need to serve your clients confidently and safely. if you have an existing system in place, we can analyze what you have been doing so that any necessary changes can be quickly set in motion.
While we at the Tektonic manage your system remotely, we are still there remotely to answer questions remotely that will improve customer relations and overall productivity. To learn more about how Tektonic can help your firm contact us today.
Got Your Sparklers Handy?
To make the most out of what we hope will be a gorgeous Canada Day long weekend, we will be closing our office for the day on Monday, July 1st.
Of course, just because it’s a holiday, that doesn’t mean you’ll have to make do without us. You’ll be able to reach us through our tech support phone numbers if any technical issues arise, and our on-call technicians will be more than happy to resolve those issues for you.