IT Best Practices that Get Missed: Cybersecurity

Sam Bloedow
man at a desk leaning back with hands on head comfortably looking at laptop while office window overlooks city

In this installment of the series of “IT Business Practices that Get Missed” we’re focusing on cybersecurity. While meeting with business leaders, we are seeing an unfortunate trend. The majority are not cybersecure, because these five security basics are not in place: 

1. Turn on two factor authentication, to access your company's network and all the web portals.   

When you remote in to the office, there should be a text back to your cellphone to confirm it is really you logging in. The same thing goes for Office 365: when you log in to the web portal, there should be a text back to your cellphone to confirm it is really you. By enforcing multi-factor authentication, bad actors need more than your password to access your information. 

2. Enforce a complex password policy. 

We find that complex passwords are either not enforced or too short, meaning less than 12 characters.  The length of time it takes to crack a password grows exponentially with each character added.  9 characters can be cracked in 2 minutes, 10 characters in 2 hours, 11 characters in 6 days and so on.  Current security standards recommend 19 characters, and then only having to change it once per year.  We find users prefer this over 12 characters and having to update it more frequently. 

3. Remove users’ local admin rights on their computers.   

By removing your people’s local admin rights on their computers, the risks from clicking on bad links in websites or emails is reduced because the corresponding action of downloading and executing a malicious payload is less likely to be successful.  There is no such thing as a perfect computer user, but there are best practices to follow to help protect your organization from a phishing attack beyond just educating users. 

4. Isolate your backups and backup appliance from your network.   

When a cyber-attack happens, it is designed to run across the entire network in your business.  By preventing your network from accessing your backups and backup appliance you protect yourself, in the event of an attack because you still have secured data to restore.  We are seeing ransomware designed to attack back jobs first erasing restore point after restore point before they are all gone and then affecting the live network.

5. Continuing to use Microsoft Exchange server.   

Whether on premise or hosted, the Microsoft exchange server which used to be the gold standard for email, calendars, and task management, is now a huge vulnerability to your business on three fronts: 

  • multiple cybercriminal groups are continuing to exploit vulnerabilities in the platform in new and different ways each day.  This is allowing them to gain access to your exchange server and thereby giving them a foothold, allowing them entry to your entire network. 
  • Microsoft is not keeping up with fixes for these vulnerabilities, at the rate they are happening, instead they created a replacement from the ground up in office 365, which doesn’t contain the same security vulnerabilities. 
  • We are seeing cyber liability insurers warn their clients that if they have a Microsoft exchange server in their environment come policy renewal time, they will not allow them to renew their cyber liability policy.   

Cybercrime is escalating 

Cybercrime is projected to be a $6 trillion industry this year which is 6x larger than the global drug trade industry. Organized crime gangs account for 55% of cyberattacks, and by 2025 Cybercrime is projected to be a $10.5 trillion industry.  This is already bad and will continue to get significantly worse.   

We’re now beyond cybersecurity’s “whack-a-mole” past of addressing one-off vulnerabilities.  The IT function can and should, be an essential ingredient to business success.  But for that to happen, executives need to embrace their role in embedding cybersecurity across a company’s entire landscape AND IT needs to have the right strategic leader and process to make the function thrive.  

Let us get you started on implementing 500+ IT Best Practices and schedule a meeting today! 

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