Major Cyber Security Scandals of Recent Years

2014 hasn’t exactly been the most stellar year for corporate companies or customers as far as data security is concerned. Hackers have shown that they can easily outmaneuver the defenses of organizations to get to the information they require.

Matrix code supportJust last week, J.P Morgan Chase JPM disclosed that a major cyber attack during the summer had compromises information of nearly 76 million homes. This included sensitive information such as address, phone numbers and e-mail ids. Apart from this about 7 million small business customers of the company were also affected. This is widely believed to be the biggest cyber attack in the history of Corporate America.

At the headquarters of JP Morgan Chase on Park Avenue, bank officials and federal authorities are coming to a USD $ 2 million settlement in the case involving the bank’s ties with rogue financier Bernard L. Madoff.

 

Here is a look at some other major security breaches of recent years:

 

Target: Last year’s holiday season was a rather bleak time for customers of the Target franchise. A huge security breach at that time led to the personal information of 100 million customers being stolen. Almost a year later, Target is still convincing customers that it has taken all necessary precautions to prevent such an attack in the future. The costs associated with the attack were to the tune of $ 148 million for the company.

 

Apple

Then there was the infamous celebrity picture leak scandal of 2014 where hackers broke into the iCloud accounts of celebrities and made off with nude pictures. The celebrities affected included actresses Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton and Kirsten Dunst. At that time Apple said that the attack only targeted celebrities and did not affect the general population. They also said there weren’t any breaches in any of the apple systems including iCloud and Find my iPhone. However it did result in a bad rap for the company when its new iPhone 6 was released just a few weeks later.

Wal-Mart: Wal-Mart is the company that topped this year’s Fortune 500 list, and even they have not escaped attacks by hackers. In 2009, Wired reported that hackers broke into the database of the company’s WMT development team. They were then able to steal information from the cash registers. This data was tracked to a computer in Eastern Europe. Wal-Mart labeled it an internal issue and was not required to come out into the open with it. Wal-Mart’s Chief Privacy Officer has since said that the company is doing its best to systematically encrypt data to prevent future attacks.

 

Home Depot: The company was the victim of an attack that resulted in cyberthieves stealing almost 60 million credit card numbers. It happened earlier this year and it took almost five months for the authorities to even realize that the fraud was taking place. In September the company went on record to say that anyone who had used a credit card with them over a six-month period could have been a victim. CEO Frank Blake did seem to take the matter seriously and reassured customers saying that the retailer had beefed up its security measures.

Whilst most of the clients I have are not anywhere near the same scale of organisation as the ones above, its important for all businesses to have proper IT Security in place.  IN most cases this is offered as part of the IT Support in Northern Ireland service contract that many organisation have.

For more on the story above i encourage you to check out the link here

Can you setup a computer network for your small business yourself? Part 2

OK, back in the game guys!

Following on from previous post, you will need a way of connecting your router to your server or Main computer. This will allow other pcs, notebooks, laptops which have wireless capability to connect in and become a fully-fledged member of the networking party J

How secure it is though?

OK so far, so good, we have a network and its all purring along nicely. But lets pretend that someone or something wants to get in there and do some damage or steal some data. Cyber attacks are on the increase as more and more businesses and systems are moved online, so its imperative that you have confidence that your little network is adequately protected from such baddies.

So, where and when should security be applied to your little network?

Well, let’s start with the router. As the main “route” (haha) (sorry, a sucker for a PUN!) that your network connects with the outside world. In turn it is also the main route that the outside world uses to connect with your network. There are a number of encryption or protocols available to you in this quest. WEP for a wireless network is a good place to start.

You could also deploy user login credentials to your staff or computer users. Utilising Microsoft’s active directory system will allow you to set individual login credentials which the user can then administer themselves. You would only be required to assist in cases when the logins failed for whatever reason.

You should also check your internet browsers security settings. Essentially, the browser is the front door to the internet and all its riches. Again, in turn, its also the front door to all its threats. Settings should be set to block pop-ups and prompt when a webpage attempts to install programs etc.. you can also set webpages that are exempt from these security measures, of instance if your company uses an online business application which requires these. Adding this 2014-09-04 12_21_57site to the exemption list basically bi passes the rule and allows the site to use pop-ups etc.. as you know the site and trust it is not going to install anything risky.

YOU NEED ANTI VIRUS SOFTWARE!

Did I say this loud enough? You need it you really do. It is not expensive and you should have active licenses for both your server and all devices on your network.

Along with AV, you need to ensure you data is backed up. Your critical business data is so important that you must ensure it is backed up and secure. One of the most popular ways of doing this these days is to utilize Cloud Computing for you Business backup requirements. Some providers of Cloud backup in the UK will hold versions of every file you use for up to 60 days, giving you a great roll-back facility if any of your data or devices are lost or unrecoverable.

One provider we’ve used and can recommend would be ukcloudbackup.com

Can you setup a computer network for your small business yourself? Part 1

Can you setup a computer network for your small business yourself?

This is a question asked of me by a business owner I currently do some consultancy work for. The business has been trading for around 5-6 years and has a healthy turn-over. The business owner currently employs a full time IT support person. The owner feels that this is a cost that a business of this size may not need (20 employees), it may be that this cost saving could be made and benefit the business.

Initially, in this case I would suggest that the best option would be to sub contract the IT support for this business. Generally, if you select a good IT Services company you can expect to get guaranteed response times for IT related incidents that are inevitable for everyone (let alone businesses). In addition you will typically receive a greater wealth of knowledge at your disposal, given that specialist IT support companies will have a larger number of staff and the good ones at least will be constantly training and keeping their employees professional certifications up-to-date. Typically, small businesses that employ a single IT technician find it difficult to shoulder the burden of constantly loosing days of productivity to achieve the necessary training and seminars required.

Given the sheer size and depth of skills under “IT” section, you can see the problem, it would be hard for a small business to employ and expert in Networking, Security, Email, Applications, Critical business applications, disaster recovery, data replication, backup, voip phone systems, cisco, wire shark, MS Office etc… the list is truly endless.

But back to the question: Can you (the business owner) setup your own SME computer network. And I will add in the additional questions of “is it worth it?” and “why do I need it?”.

 

Why do I need a network?

Networking allows a single broadband line to be shared amongst multiple computers and devices. It is also a good way of getting the most out of your PCs, macs and peripherals. You can share files easily between machines and you can in turn access media and other resources which are stored on other devices within the network.

What do I need to setup a network?

Typically you will need (at the bare minimum) operating systems on your devices that allow networking. All of the big ones do support this and some have been designed specifically to aid networking buy a non-technical person (a little IT skills always help though). So you’ll need something like Windows vista, windows 7 or windows 8. We no longer recommend the XP release of the operating system as Microsoft dis-continued support for this product earlier this year. This means that they will no longer update security patches for this product, which over time will degrade the security of your network.

If your on a mac, Apple’s OSX also will enable networking capabilities.  wikipedia osx entry

Wires! You will also need a way of connecting the machines in the network, unless you opt for a wireless option…..

More to come in part 2, stay tuned!

Is Windows 7 “the new XP”? simple answer, probably yes.

Microsoft has indicated that they  will support Windows 7 up to the january of 2020, after that they will continue to release security patches for the flagship operating system for a

windows XP

the beloved operating system – even after death :)

further 4.5 years after that point.  However it is worth noting that the current support (referred to as “mainstream Support” for this product will end on the 13th Jan 2015.  This is considerably closer and some would describe as “just around the corner”.

So why does this matter?

Well, stats from gartner have recently revealed that companies did not take advanced warning and plan accordingly when it came to the phase-out of the beloved Windows XP.  In fact at the time that all microsoft support for the product ended COMPLETELY, there were still 25% of PCs using the redundant an unsupported system.  Causing a costly upgrade plan for many companies that could have easily been minimized with a little forward planning.

Also worth noting, is that at the time of printing (sorry, i’m a bit old-school) that currently there are still 25% of PCs running windows XP ?!?!?!  so maybe not the rush to upgrade after all.