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JOSH BRIGGS WESLEY FENLON

 

It may be hard to imagine, but just a mere 20 years ago, the Internet was nothing more than a novelty -- a way for incredibly smart college professors and researchers to share information, and for a few people to network across the newly developed World Wide Web. E-mail was nothing like it is today. The primitive e-mail systems found at universities or even through accounts offered with the first Internet service providers (ISPs) such as Prodigy and America Online were often difficult to use.

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Fast forward to the 2010s and things have changed significantly. Where wired Internet once kept us tethered to a desk, today's laptops and mobile devices give us access to friends and endless entertainment practically anywhere via WiFi, 3G and 4G technologies.

While we use 3G and 4G data on our smartphones as we're out and about in the world, WiFi still dominates in the home. And in coffee shops. And libraries. And airports. Thanks to the ubiquity of wireless routers and hotspots, just about any plain old wired Internet connection -- faster and cheaper and without the limiting bandwidth caps of cellular data -- can be turned into a convenient WiFi zone.

Whether we install them ourselves or get them from our Internet providers, most of us have WiFi routers in our homes these days. That can cause a couple of problems: When wireless signals are operating on the same frequency, they can cause interference, especially if you're living in an apartment building. And without the proper security, someone could easily hop onto your wireless network.

Chances are you're reading this article because you suspect someone is piggybacking or using your WiFi without your permission. When wireless squatters steal your WiFi, they eat up your bandwidth. In extreme cases, they may even steal information off your computer or infect machines on your network with a virus. But fear not: It's easy to fight back. Let's start with a basic overview of managing a wireless network, which is the first step towards keeping your WiFi setup nice and secure.

Understanding Your WiFi Network

Before you can detect if someone is ripping off your wireless Internet connection, it's important to understand some basic computer networking lingo. For more information on how to set up a wireless network, take a look at How WiFi Works. Now, let's look at a few of the areas in a wireless network that will give you a baseline for determining if your WiFi signal is being sapped unexpectedly.

A wireless network is comprised of a broadband Internet connection from a DSL, cable or satellite modem. You attach the modem to the wireless router, which distributes the signal and creates a network.

This is what's called a local area network (LAN). This LAN is where you set up computer peripherals such as your desktop or laptop computer and printer. Your router will have what's called a dynamic host client protocol (DHCP) table. In essence, your DHCP table is your guest list of every allowed piece of computing equipment.

Each device has its own media access control(MAC) address. Think of this as its signature. Your router uses these addresses to assign each machine on your network an Internet protocol (IP) address. The MAC and IP addresses of your equipment will be useful in a moment when we look at ways to detect whether or not someone is stealing your WiFi. For a more in-depth understanding of IP addresses, read What is an IP address?

There are also a couple of important terms related to WiFi that you should know. A service set identifier (SSID) is the name that identifies a wireless network. By default, this will probably be the name of your router -- Netgear or ASUS or something similar -- but you can have fun by changing it to something more personal or creative, like Abraham Linksys. Today's most commonly used WiFi speed, 802.11n, is capable of up to 600 megabit per second data transfers. 802.11ac is the next standard, which will allow for wireless speeds of over one gigabit per second. 2.4GHz and 5GHz are two different wireless frequencies used in wireless routers.

If you're confused by some of this computer rhetoric, don't be. What's important is that you know what to look for when we get ready to diagnose your WiFi connection. Speaking of which, let's get to it in the next section. After all, that's what you came here for.

Setting up a Secure Network

Okay, it's time to get down to it. Is your wireless network running slowly? Do you have intermittent losses in Internet access and you can't figure out why? First, take a breath. In all likelihood, no one is stealing your Internet. Tons of things could cause a slow connection. Your Internet service provider might be having issues or is overloaded with traffic. Your WiFi router might be experiencing interference from other electronics, or simply be having trouble penetrating the walls and furniture of your home to get a wireless signal to your computer.

There's only one thing you need to prevent 99.9 percent of wireless squatters from using your Internet connection: a password.

The most basic element of wireless security is an encryption protocol such as WPA2, or WiFi Protected Access. Older standards like WEP and the first generation of WPA have been phased out for the more secure WPA2. You don't need to know anything about how the encryption works -- you just need to set up WPA2 security on you wireless router and set a password for the network. Make it something you can remember that's not easy for others to guess (please don't use "password" or "12345!") and you'll be well on your way to security.

So how do you do all of that? Well, that varies by the type of router you have, but most WiFi routers are accessible from a connected device via the address http://192.168.1.1 in a Web browser. Logging in is usually easy, too, as most router manufacturers use a simple pair of words like "root" and "admin" for the device's login and password (you should be able to find this information in the manual). That will take you to a management tool where you can change all kinds of settings, including your wireless security.

 

That tip might set off a little security alert in the back of your head. "Wait, a minute," you think. "If most routers use the same local address and login/password, couldn't anyone get in there and mess with my security settings?" Well ... yes! Without a password, your wireless network is open for anyone to hop on. But a password isn't quite all you need to be totally secure. You should also change the router's login information to something aside from the usual "admin." That will keep virtually everyone from messing with your router -- but let's take a look at how to detect a WiFi leach, just in case.

Detecting Wireless Piggybacking

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With WPA2 security enabled, it's unlikely anyone will ever piggyback on your network. But there's an easy way to spot squatters: Since every device connected to your network has a unique IP address and MAC address, you can easily see a list of connected devices -- often listed as "clients" -- on one of the settings pages for your wireless router. Many devices broadcast an ID because they've been named by their owners, so if you see "John's Laptop" connected to your network and you don't have a John in the house, you've found trouble! Even if a device doesn't show a name in the router's client list, you can count the number of devices connected and compare to the number of devices you know should be there to see if the numbers are off.

Want to make absolutely sure no one's going to figure out your password and worm their way onto your network? You have a few options. Your router can hide its SSID, meaning it won't show up for anyone searching for connectable networks. The address will have to be entered manually. You can also set up a wireless MAC filter to "whitelist" devices you own, disabling access for anyone else. Of course, this makes it a bit tougher for welcome guests, such as friends, to get online at your house.

Internet monitoring software is also an option. For example, free utility AirSnare will alert you when unfamiliar MAC addresses log onto your network. But with a secure connection, you shouldn't have to worry about that. The truth is, WiFi is not a precious commodity like it once was. You can get it at practically any coffee shop. Millions of us carry around smartphones with always-on data connections. To some degree, that makes WiFi access a faster, cheaper option of Internet access, but it's not always the most convenient one.

As long as your network is passworded, only a hacker using specialized software is going to get past your security. Technology site Ars Technica has detailed how a $2500 program called Silica can be used in conjunction with Web sites containing dictionaries of millions of words to connect to a secured network and crack its password [source: Ars Technica]. But there's still an easy way to stop even serious hackers in their tracks: Use a better password. The longer and harder to guess, the safer your network will be.

With a strong password, you shouldn't ever have to worry about keeping tabs on who connects to your network. Piggybackers will have to find someone else to mooch off of.

Author's Note

Smartphones changed everything, didn't they? A few short years ago, we hoarded WiFi like a precious commodity. Your neighbors might steal it! Criminals might park outside your house and download illegal files on your network! Sounds horrifying, doesn't it? Well, once we got smartphones with omnipresent data connections, we calmed down a bit. WiFi is now so ubiquitous that you don't have to worry too much about you neighbors leeching off of you -- they've probably got WiFi, too. We don't need to find hotspots when we've got 3G and 4G on our phones. Updating this article, it was amazing to see how much our Internet access has changed in a few short years. And wireless security is a lot better, too -- the article's old mentions of WEP felt archaic in a much more secure WPA2 world. In a few years, someone will no doubt look back on my update revision and say "WPA2? How quaint!"

Sources

Air Snare. "Intrusion detection software for Windows." (April 19, 2009) http://home.comcast.net/~jay.deboer/airsnare/index.html

Broida, Rick. "Stop Internet poachers from stealing your WiFi." PC World. Jan. 27, 2009. (April 18, 2009) http://www.networkworld.com/news/2009/012709-stop-internet-poachers-from-stealing.html

Leary, Alex. "WiFi cloaks a new breed of intruder." St. Petersburg Times. July 4, 2005. (April 20, 2009) http://www.sptimes.com/2005/07/04/State/Wi_Fi_cloaks_a_new_br.shtml

MonsterGuide.net. "How to tell if someone is stealing your WiFi." Feb. 26, 2009. (April 19, 2009) http://monsterguide.net/how-to-tell-if-someone-is-stealing-your-WiFi

Musil, Steven. "Michigan man dodges prison in WiFi theft." CNET.com. May 22, 2007. (April 17, 2009) http://news.cnet..com/8301-10784_3-9722006-7.html

 

The TCP/IP Guide. "TCP/IP dynamic host configuration protocol (DHCP)." (April 18, 2009) http://www.tcpipguide.com/free/t_TCPIPDynamicHostConfigurationProtocolDHCP.htm

http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/1wDeng/:1L4$gW1lE:!eCezjPS/electronics.howstuffworks.com/how-to-tech/how-to-detect-stealing-wifi.htm

Microtechs 24/7/365 White label Technical Helpdesk

In today's world, a rock solid IT infrastructure is key to every successful business. At Microtechs we have the experience and resource to ensure your company has the support it needs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. We are able to provide an immediate response from our state of the art Technical Operations Centre which is based in the heart of Surrey.

With our rapidly expanding team, all specifically trained, working 24/7/365, we are able to provide excellent customer service and technical support. All of our services are available completely white labelled, ensuring a seamless extension to your company.

Through our services you are able to extend your hours to 24/7 or simply use us as an over flow assistant during office hours. This is all tailored to your business needs.  

How does Outsourcing your helpdesk benefit your business?

1.       It reduces your staffing costs. Why hire another member of staff, if you can outsource all of your calls for less? We are normally between 25-50% cheaper than an in-house option.

2.       It expands your opening hours. We have a technical operations centre which is open 24/7/365.

3.       It will improve your customer experience. Are you taking multiple calls from clients, but can’t get back to them as quick as you would like? Well now you have a team of 30 staff taking your support calls for you. Have an important meetings? No problem, your helpdesk has your back.

We work with over 60 IT & Telecoms Businesses who trust us to deal day to day with their clients.

Feel free to call our friendly solutions team, who will be happy to discuss further and help tailor a solution to you.

Call us now on 01483 407417

 

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BY CLAIRE FLETCHER –  via Network Communication News

Expanding on our article on data breaches from ex-employees, Alvaro Hoyos, CISO at OneLogin discusses how businesses can solve the issue.

From recruiting the most talented employees, to ensuring accounts are in order and providing staff with the latest technological innovations, businesses across the globe work tirelessly every day to strive for success. Lurking behind every policy, best practice and guideline, however, is a world that often gets neglected. What happens when someone leaves the company?

Of course, in an ideal world, businesses recruit a capable replacement, tie up any loose ends on a project they were previously working on, and of course, throw a leaving party to ensure both the employee and business can part ways on the best of terms.  Sadly, we do not live in an ideal world and, on occasion, an employee’s departure isn’t quite so clean cut and can cause issues months after they have left the company. This begs the question, are organisations doing everything in their power to make sure a soon-to-be ex (employee) does not walk out the door with access to everything the business holds dear?

Former employees are not always your friends

We have all seen the hugely damaging actions that former employees can inflict upon businesses. One such example is a huge data breach experienced by OFCOM, when they discovered that a former employee had downloaded and shared over six years’ worth of data with their new employer, which happened to be a major broadcaster.

Luckily for OFCOM, the broadcaster in question chose not to exploit the data and alerted OFCOM to the stolen information. Shockingly, the latest research from OneLogin shows that despite the threat of former employees, more than half (58%) still have access to the corporate network once they have left an organisation and almost a quarter of businesses (24%) experience data breaches due to the action of ex-employees.

The OFCOM data breach could have been catastrophic if it had have been used by a competitor, not to mention the potential damage to brand reputation. Similarly, businesses must also consider that when the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into effect in 2018, UK firms could face a penalty of up to 2% of their annual worldwide revenue, or €10 million, whichever is higher, enoughto leave an organisation with financial difficulties. Of course, there are scenarios where organisations have not been as lucky as OFCOM.

In fact, Marriott Hotels experienced the full force of a disgruntled former employee in 2016. According to court documents, a former Marriott employee was fired from the company in August 2016, and was told not to access the company’s internal systems.

However, despite this warning, the former employee accessed Marriott’s reservation system from the comfort of their home, slashing room rates down from $159-$499 to $12-$59. This particular breach cost Marriott $50,000. Mariott, however, isn’t the only organisation to have left themselves open to disgruntled ex-employees. In fact, 28% of former employee’s accounts remain active for longer than a month.

HR & IT must collaborate and take accountability

A former employees’ word is not enough. HR and IT must work together to avoid situations such as this and it doesn’t have to be difficult or time intensive. Automated processes can be used to deprovision all access to corporate accounts within minutes of an employee’s contract being terminated to protect valuable corporate data. There are tools available to ensure that once an employee has logged off for the final time they are locked out from that moment onwards.

OneLogin’s research revealed that only half of UK businesses use automated de-provisioning technology to ensure this happens. In addition, 45 per cent of businesses don’t use a Security and Information Manager (SIEM) to check for application use by former employees, leaving vital corporate data exposed to potential leaks. Businesses revoke a former employees’ means of physically getting into the office, so it is essential that their digital access is also revoked on departure.

Stick to the solution

It is crucial that businesses wake up and acknowledge that former employees exploiting corporate access is a problem and yes, it could happen to any company. It is clearly not enough to rely on the goodwill of ex-employees, however trustworthy they may appear to be. With so much at stake, are organisations really willing to leave the key to the business’ most precious assets in their hands? Quite frankly, there is no reason to.

Some employees leaving an organisation don’t have many loyalties to their previous employer, no matter how amicable their departure was, meaning security risks are highly likely. Therefore, it is imperative that deprovisioning employees’ corporate access on their last day is an absolute priority. Companies need to use the right tools to ensure this happens. These include:

Automated syncing of HR directories such as Workday, UltiPro, and Namely, which are the source of truth for employee status, and IT directories such as Active Directory and LDAP, which often control access to applications.

Automated deprovisioning of employees from applications that have an application programming interface (API) for user management. Most “birth right” applications that are widely used in companies, such as Office365 and G Suite, have these APIs.

Automatic checklist generation for IT admins, to ensure that they manually deprovision all ex-employees from all apps. Most applications don’t yet have an automated deprovisioning API and require manual intervention from IT.

Application access events sent to SIEM systems, to double-check that no ex-employees are accessing applications.

IT and HR can work collaboratively to fully deprovision all employees. If these steps are carried out correctly, a business can be safe in the knowledge that precautionary measures have been taken to protect confidential data from a departing employee.

http://networkcommunicationsnews.co.uk/2017/08/haunting-presence-ex-employee/

Microtechs 24/7/365 White label Technical Helpdesk

In today's world, a rock solid IT infrastructure is key to every successful business. At Microtechs we have the experience and resource to ensure your company has the support it needs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. We are able to provide an immediate response from our state of the art Technical Operations Centre which is based in the heart of Surrey.

With our rapidly expanding team, all specifically trained, working 24/7/365, we are able to provide excellent customer service and technical support. All of our services are available completely white labelled, ensuring a seamless extension to your company.

Through our services you are able to extend your hours to 24/7 or simply use us as an over flow assistant during office hours. This is all tailored to your business needs.  

How does Outsourcing your helpdesk benefit your business?

1.       It reduces your staffing costs. Why hire another member of staff, if you can outsource all of your calls for less? We are normally between 25-50% cheaper than an in-house option.

2.       It expands your opening hours. We have a technical operations centre which is open 24/7/365.

3.       It will improve your customer experience. Are you taking multiple calls from clients, but can’t get back to them as quick as you would like? Well now you have a team of 30 staff taking your support calls for you. Have an important meetings? No problem, your helpdesk has your back.

We work with over 60 IT & Telecoms Businesses who trust us to deal day to day with their clients.

Feel free to call our friendly solutions team, who will be happy to discuss further and help tailor a solution to you.

 

Call us now on 01483 407417

b2ap3_thumbnail_password.jpg

Written by Yair Finzi Co-founder and CEO of SecuredTouch

Pick a number, any number, or any combination of numbers, letters and special characters, just not 12345678, password, or admin. Most of us have multiple passwords that we need to remember just to get through an average day; many of those passwords have already been guessed or are for sale on the black market.

The way we’ve been managing passwords just isn’t working, and the United States National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has made some recommendations for best practices for user password management to try to address the situation.

The new recommendations include removing periodic password change requirements, which many people currently address by creating a rotating set of passwords so they can keep track of them all. Requiring all passwords have multiple cases, numbers, and symbols is also going by the wayside, as most people chose ever-simpler passwords to try to minimize their own confusion.

NIST also recommends requiring the screening of new passwords against lists of commonly used or compromised passwords, an easy task everyone can perform via search engine.

To strengthen security, though, most applications require more than passwords. Just logging into a news website requires both a username and password. For more secure sites, a username, password, and additional identifying code is required.

With the ever-increasing activities on our mobile devices, multi-factor authentication – which is becoming mandated by regulations across industries – takes authentication a step further.

Multi-factor authentication is a combination of something you know, something you have, and something you are. Something you know – username, password, identifying code – is “easy.” Something you have is usually a token or an SMS sent to your mobile device, by which you can receive one-time usage codes. Something you are may require additional hardware, such as a fingerprint reader, or leverage existing hardware, like the camera or touchscreen.

The complexity of authentication is becoming such a hassle that many people give up before they get to the point of performing a transaction. Not only that, but most authentication delivers only a one-time authentication, which means an app can be hijacked immediately after log-in by malware that lie in wait, leading to fraud or data theft.

Passwords and one-time multi-factor authentication ultimately aren’t going to cut it – they can all be hacked and hijacked. They also are massively cumbersome and interfere with the user experience.

A solution does exist: behavioral biometrics. While behavioral biometrics is a subset of “what you are” in multi-factor authentication, it adds an additional layer of security because it ensures continuous authentication from initial login to the final transaction.

Behavioral biometrics works behind the scenes, analyzing exactly how you interact with your devices, such as the pressure of your finger on the screen, how quickly you type, the angle at which you hold the phone, and many other parameters that leverage the existing technology on your phone. The combination of these behaviors is used to provide a trust score, allowing the transaction “owner” to automatically assign the level of transactions you can perform during that specific interaction. If the trust score is low, it’s probably not you initiating the transaction.

If the score is high, then you’ll be eligible for the full rights and privileges you have earned as a customer, because the “owner” reduced their own risk by knowing it’s you.

Meanwhile, the consumer has no idea that it’s going on behind the scenes, so the app provider doesn’t need to educate or bother the customer about how to interact with new security requireme6nts nor do they need their customers to sign up for anything.

Behavioral biometrics activities cannot be hacked or duplicated, as no one can imitate exactly how another person uses their phone. As an additional benefit, automated bots are even easier to detect and stop because they have no characteristics that identify them as a human. Behavioral biometrics eliminates the need to register individual users on a shared device, as each profile can be linked to a specific user simply based on their physical interaction with the devices.

In certain circumstances and locations passwords might still be part and parcel of the experience, but as we increase our interactions with mobile devices and IoT grows to where we all have smart cars and appliances, those devices, too, will recognize us by our touch not our username, password, and additional security codes.

https://www.infosecurity-magazine.com/opinions/password-takes-last-breath/

Picture credit: webair.com

Microtechs 24/7/365 White label Technical Helpdesk

In today's world, a rock solid IT infrastructure is key to every successful business. At Microtechs we have the experience and resource to ensure your company has the support it needs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. We are able to provide an immediate response from our state of the art Technical Operations Centre which is based in the heart of Surrey.

With our rapidly expanding team, all specifically trained, working 24/7/365, we are able to provide excellent customer service and technical support. All of our services are available completely white labelled, ensuring a seamless extension to your company.

Through our services you are able to extend your hours to 24/7 or simply use us as an over flow assistant during office hours. This is all tailored to your business needs.  

How does Outsourcing your helpdesk benefit your business?

1.       It reduces your staffing costs. Why hire another member of staff, if you can outsource all of your calls for less? We are normally between 25-50% cheaper than an in-house option.

2.       It expands your opening hours. We have a technical operations centre which is open 24/7/365.

3.       It will improve your customer experience. Are you taking multiple calls from clients, but can’t get back to them as quick as you would like? Well now you have a team of 30 staff taking your support calls for you. Have an important meetings? No problem, your helpdesk has your back.

We work with over 60 IT & Telecoms Businesses who trust us to deal day to day with their clients.

Feel free to call our friendly solutions team, who will be happy to discuss further and help tailor a solution to you.

Call us now on 01483 407417

 

 

https://redshift.autodesk.com/keep-your-it-support-in-house-or-outsource/

To Tech or Not to Tech: Keep Your IT Support In-House or Outsource?

https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/c0dc14230df14850e7fc705f70697988?s=240&r=g

BRIAN BENTON

Every company has some sort of information technology (IT) needs, and those needs are influenced by what your business does, the tools used, and the size of your company. Should you hire a full-time IT manager? Or would it be better to hire an outside IT consulting company? Before you decide to hire an employee or a company, you should first determine if you need full-time IT support.

Many small businesses don’t have a full-time IT employee. Those tasks have fallen to the person who is not afraid of computers, servers, or software. Perhaps that person is younger, tinkers with computers, or is a hobbyist.

Here are a few signs that you might need to hire a full-time IT employee or consultant.

·         The person who handles your tech needs has little to no billable time.

·         Your business can’t get work done efficiently because of your tech.

·         Your equipment is aging.

·         You have many software issues. Consistently.

·         Clients suffer because of your tech needs/issues.

·         Your tech just gets in the way.

There are two very viable solutions to dealing with your company’s tech needs. One is to hire an IT expert in-house. Another option is to hire an IT consulting company to do the heavy work. This option is often referred to as “managed services.” Both solutions have their own sets of advantages and disadvantages.

IT support

In-House Employee. Hiring an employee provides several benefits that you won’t get from outsourcing your IT needs. A direct hire is immediately available during business hours. You will not have to wait in line or fight for time from your service provider. This person can also fix simple issues, such as printer paper jams, a dead keyboard, or a flickering monitor due to a bad plug. Because you have a dedicated IT person, they aren’t pulled away from a billable project. Direct employees also care deeply about you and your needs. You are their only “client” and the only one they have to keep happy. They work on a daily basis with your employees and work closely with your various departments. This intimate relationship means they understand what your other employees need and can invent clever ways to help them accomplish their daily tasks with solutions tailored to their individual needs. Having a direct employee also means that you will not have to plan ahead for extra IT labor costs—their salary has been planned and budgeted already. New software and hardware will always cost you more money. But a good IT plan and budget will help eliminate many surprise costs.

Outsourcing a Consultant. There are several reasons why you might want to outsource your IT needs to a managed service provider. These companies have a larger pool of resources than that of an individual IT direct hire. They have multiple employees that can assist you during a time of need—if your IT manager is sick or on vacation, your company can still continue working when a printer catches fire. There are no training costs to keep up with the constant change of technology. If agreed to ahead of time, an IT company can monitor your systems 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If there is a problem, they are alerted to it immediately and can fix it before the office opens in the morning. Monday mornings often bring weekend server failures that can cripple the start of the workweek. A managed service provider can help to minimize this.

Either IT solution has its advantages over the other one. Both can successfully fill your IT needs. An employee is more dedicated and knowledgeable about your daily needs. A consultant has more resources. Consultants don’t necessarily understand your unique needs, but they also don’t have the costs that come with an employee (vacation, insurance, sick time). Consultants are likely to cost less—far less in some cases—but an employee has greater potential to better understand exactly what you need.

To learn more, check out this article from the Houston Chronicle on the advantages and disadvantages to outsourcing IT.

 

Does your company use an in-house IT employee or an outsourced managed service provider? Please share your experiences below in the comments section.

 

Here at microtechs we offer outsourced IT and technical support solutions, for more information call us today on 01483407417

By Eckhard Herych Faculty Member of the CGOC

We are now less than a year away from the implementation of the European Commission’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) on May 25, 2018, and the stakes for companies are high.

First, the GDPR “applies to all companies processing the personal data of data subjects residing in the Union, regardless of the company’s location”.

Second, non-compliant organizations can face devastating fines as high as four per cent of the annual global turnover or €20 million, whichever is higher. Third, preparing to meet the requirements of the GDPR cannot be done overnight simply by deploying security software, which, unfortunately is where too many GDPR response discussions start.

The good news is that companies that begin now can make tremendous progress toward creating a data infrastructure that dramatically reduces the likelihood of GDPR non-compliance and that minimizes the financial impact even if something goes wrong. Here are the five key steps organizations must take to get ready.

Unify data management strategically

In the face of the GDPR, other evolving regulations, and advances in technology, data management and governance practices must be unified and auditable across all geographies and lines of business, and across on-premises, private cloud, public cloud, and hybrid infrastructures. The first step to achieving this is recognizing that every executive, manager and user has a stake in data management. C-level champions are essential, and CIOs, CDOs, and privacy officers must take the lead. This initiative must directly connect the data management, information security, legal and information governance teams, along with the lines of business.

Locate and understand the flow of all data

Stakeholders must work together to locate all data stores with collected information (such as customer data), created information (such as work product that might include customer data), and derived information (such as the results of analytics and machine learning that might include customer data).

They must understand the flow of information – the movement of data in business processes across multiple stakeholders (such as corporate counsel, strategic partners, etc.) and systems (such as legacy systems, cloud service providers, PCs, BYODs, etc.). Data mapping is an essential tool to create a visual depiction of how personal information flows across systems and devices as part of business processes. The map can include an overlay of GDPR requirements. In fact, the careful analysis of data flows in business processes is an essential component in our GDPR readiness assessment activities to ensure that our clients gain a sound understanding of their information landscape.

Evaluate all data

Only with the ongoing efforts of the first two steps can stakeholders evaluate the purpose or use of data and the regulatory obligations associated with it. Business users need to understand the value of the information they use to the organization. This is essential to helping all the key stakeholders (CIO, CDO, Privacy Officer, Legal, and InfoGov) assess:

·         What information is subject to GDPR?

·         If data must be preserved, for how long? Is there a conflict between preservation requirements and GDPR requirements? If so, how will it be resolved?

·         Is some data of “Legitimate Interest” to the organization for possible exemption from certain GDPR requirements (for example, GDPR Article 6 Lawfulness of processing)?

·         Has consent been obtained for the intended use of the information (GDPR provides clear requirements and conditions to gain and establish consent)?

Dispose of all disposable data

Now that value has been assessed, it is possible to get rid of all data that has no business, legal or regulatory value, as well as all data that must be deleted to comply with the GDPR. In addition, now that IT knows where all the data is located, it is possible to ensure the proper deletion of all relevant data. This is critical to minimizing the impact of breaches and GDPR non-compliance. Moving forward, the deletion of obsolete data must become an integral part of operations to ensure that companies dispose of records or data in a controlled, legally defensible fashion.

Protect what’s left

·         This is where most GDPR preparation discussions start, but only after following the first four steps is it actually possible to:

·         Properly track the collection and movement of data

·         Effectively control access to sensitive and private data

·         Knowledgeably employ the most appropriate vendor security solutions, such as firewall, anti-virus, anti-phishing, etc.

·         Automate disposal

·         Provide employee training on data protection and privacy that has a chance of being effective

·         Prepare for crisis management

·         Establish processes and procedures to enable the organization to react to inquiries by authorities or individuals within the time frames defined in the GDPR

The inevitable GDPR time bomb is going off soon, and doing nothing to prepare for it beyond some new security measures and training is a recipe for costly data disasters. A real preparation effort will take time, and the sooner you start on this iterative journey, the better the position your organization will be in to avoid GDPR penalties or a least minimize their impact.

https://www.infosecurity-magazine.com/opinions/gdpr-essential-steps-survival/

Picture credit: personnelltoday.com

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In today's world, a rock solid IT infrastructure is key to every successful business. At Microtechs we have the experience and resource to ensure your company has the support it needs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. We are able to provide an immediate response from our state of the art Technical Operations Centre which is based in the heart of Surrey.

With our rapidly expanding team, all specifically trained, working 24/7/365, we are able to provide excellent customer service and technical support. All of our services are available completely white labelled, ensuring a seamless extension to your company.

Through our services you are able to extend your hours to 24/7 or simply use us as an over flow assistant during office hours. This is all tailored to your business needs.  

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An operationalized cloud-to-cloud brute-force attack against Microsoft Office 365 users has hit high-level employees at multiple Fortune 2,000 organizations.

According to Skyhigh Networks, which remediated the attack, the perpetrators used popular cloud service platforms to conduct a persistent attack to log into corporate Office 365 accounts. The campaign had a “slow-and-low” pattern of coordinated attacks on high-value targets, including more than 100,000 failed Office 365 logins from 67 IP addresses and 12 networks. The attempts in all targeted 48 different organizations.

Skyhigh said that the duration and measured pace of the attacks suggest a determined effort and the desire to avoid detection. Within each organization, the attackers targeted a small number of senior employees across multiple departments.

The attackers tried logging in with different versions of employees’ Office 365 usernames, suggesting they may already possess some combination of employee names and passwords and were seeking valid Office 365 usernames for data access or spear phishing campaigns. Password data could have been obtained in a database breach of a service like Yahoo or a phishing attack, given that password reuse across accounts remains rampant.

Similarly, if the attackers confirmed an accurate Office 365 username with a correct reused password, they could successfully log into corporate Office 365 applications and potentially additional cloud service accounts.

“Sensitive data has already moved to cloud applications, so it is only natural sophisticated attacks are following,” said Slawomir Ligier, senior vice president of engineering at Skyhigh. “While companies traditionally have invested extensively in perimeter security, those without a dedicated cloud security solution will lack visibility and control for a growing category of attacks. Enterprise cloud providers secure their infrastructure, but the ultimate responsibility to control access to sensitive data lies with the customer.”

Cloud services are on path to become the standard for enterprise IT solutions, and Office 365, which offers cloud access to Microsoft Word, Excel and other productivity apps, has taken a dominant role with 58.4% of all sensitive corporate data in the cloud is stored in Office 365.

Keith Graham, CTO at SecureAuth, told Infosecurity that with 85 million users working on a combination of desktop and laptop computers, mobile devices and web applications, Office 365 is a primary target for attackers.

“Breaches tied to phishing e-mail scams and lack of strong identity security are accelerating, and the latest discovery of brute-force attacks against Office 365 serves as further proof of the need for organizations to prioritize their identity security,” he said.

“Typically, organizations using Office 365 have been forced to rely on traditional and inadequate username-password authentication to try to protect themselves from sophisticated attackers. Current versions of Office 365 mail clients support basic two-factor authentication while older Microsoft clients and third-party email applications do not. Because of this antiquated approach to authentication, attackers know that Office 365 is ripe to be exploited, and we anticipate attacks against Office 365 to proliferate for the foreseeable future.”

https://www.infosecurity-magazine.com/news/widespread-bruteforce-office-365/

By Tara Seals US/North America News Reporter, Infosecurity Magazine

Picture credit: www.cio.com

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With our rapidly expanding team, all specifically trained, working 24/7/365, we are able to provide excellent customer service and technical support. All of our services are available completely white labelled, ensuring a seamless extension to your company.

Through our services you are able to extend your hours to 24/7 or simply use us as an over flow assistant during office hours. This is all tailored to your business needs.  

 

How does Outsourcing your helpdesk benefit your business?

1.       It reduces your staffing costs. Why hire another member of staff, if you can outsource all of your calls for less? We are normally between 25-50% cheaper than an in-house option.

2.       It expands your opening hours. We have a technical operations centre which is open 24/7/365.

3.       It will improve your customer experience. Are you taking multiple calls from clients, but can’t get back to them as quick as you would like? Well now you have a team of 30 staff taking your support calls for you. Have an important meetings? No problem, your helpdesk has your back.

 

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Cisco has warned that the recent Petya/NotPetya and WannaCry campaigns could foreshadow a dangerous new breed of “destruction of service” (DeOS) attacks.

Like the ‘Petya’ campaign which seems to have been primarily aimed at crippling organizations in Ukraine, these new DeOS attacks will look to make it impossible for victims to restore affected systems once infected.

In the case of ‘Petya’, the attack was crafted to overwrite the victim machine’s Master Boot Record, with no means of recovery.

Cisco claimed, in its Midyear Cybersecurity Report, that the exact make-up of these DeOS attacks will depend on the motivations of the hackers involved “and the limits of their creativity and capabilities.”

It also argued that the IoT would play a major role:

“What we can be sure of is that the emerging Internet of Things (IoT), and its myriad devices and systems with security weaknesses ripe for exploitation, will play a central role in enabling these campaigns of escalating impact. The IoT is a bold new frontier for attackers and defenders in their arms race.”

On the positive side, the report also revealed that Cisco has reduced its time-to-threat-detection from a median of 39 hours in November 2015 to just 3.5 hours for the period November 2016 to May 2017.

Fujitsu EMEIA head of enterprise and cybersecurity, Rob Norris, argued that the typical financial and reputational impact of cyber-incidents pale in comparison to those resulting from destructive attacks.

“Engagement must start from the top: the C-suite must understand the risks, ensure their organization is well prepared and develop a comprehensive plan. Time must also be taken to actively test existing networks, spot and quickly address any blind spots in the system and educate the entire workforce on best practice,” he explained.

“As technology such as Internet of Things, artificial intelligence and big data becomes integral to business operations, all staff will have to remain prepared for the increasing potential of cyber-attacks. Cyber-criminals are becoming smarter and naivety is no longer an option in a world where cyber threats could potentially halt your business in its tracks.”

By Phil Muncaster UK / EMEA News Reporter , Infosecurity Magazine

https://www.infosecurity-magazine.com/news/cisco-warns-of-coming-destruction/

Picture credit: itweb.co.za

Microtechs 24/7/365 White label Technical Helpdesk

In today's world, a rock solid IT infrastructure is key to every successful business. At Microtechs we have the experience and resource to ensure your company has the support it needs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. We are able to provide an immediate response from our state of the art Technical Operations Centre which is based in the heart of Surrey.

 

With our rapidly expanding team, all specifically trained, working 24/7/365, we are able to provide excellent customer service and technical support. All of our services are available completely white labelled, ensuring a seamless extension to your company.

Through our services you are able to extend your hours to 24/7 or simply use us as an over flow assistant during office hours. This is all tailored to your business needs.  

 

How does Outsourcing your helpdesk benefit your business?

1.       It reduces your staffing costs. Why hire another member of staff, if you can outsource all of your calls for less? We are normally between 25-50% cheaper than an in-house option.

2.       It expands your opening hours. We have a technical operations centre which is open 24/7/365.

3.       It will improve your customer experience. Are you taking multiple calls from clients, but can’t get back to them as quick as you would like? Well now you have a team of 30 staff taking your support calls for you. Have an important meetings? No problem, your helpdesk has your back.

 

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A new report from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) has shed light on which global cities are best equipped to become smart – with Singapore at the top of the tree.

The research looks at 10 cities – Barcelona is analysed but not given a score as the analysis is still a work in progress – across four continents, with each area being ranked out of 10 in areas such as unmanned transport, smart healthcare, and infrastructure readiness among others.

Singapore scored 62% in total, with London (59%) and Shanghai (56%) picking up the silver and bronze models respectively. New York and Moscow (both 53%) followed, then Toronto (52%), Tokyo (50%), Hong Kong, and Sydney (both 47%).

Not surprisingly, Singapore has the most top scores, in smart housing and utilities, digital economy, and open adaptive learning, alongside London, which came out on top for transport, infrastructure, and the ‘virtual city’, which includes 3D printing of buildings and online construction monitoring in its definition.

When it came to the city’s population, Shanghai was out on its own in terms of readiness for smart cities. The most populous city in the world ranked at 76% overall, compared with 53% for Hong Kong, Barcelona at 49% and Singapore on 49% - which was also the average across all cities analysed.

Apart from London, scoring 72% overall, the performance of the other cities for unmanned transport was minimal, with Moscow achieving a consolidated total of 27% for unmanned ground and aerial vehicles. As this publication has previously noted, driverless cars are only one piece of the puzzle when it comes to smart cities, with PwC sighting concepts such as high-speed trains, drone deliveries, and new areas for pedestrians and cyclists.

Writing for this publication, Mark West of ByBox discussed the importance of the supply chain in getting smart cities right. “City planners and local governments need to know that should an essential part break down, it will be not only replaced quickly – but potentially ahead of the breakdown,” West wrote.

“Most people never think about the supply chain. Many never even see it. And yet when something goes wrong, its importance becomes paramount,” West added.

You can read the full report here: http://www.pwc.ru/ru/assets/the-future-is-coming-eng.pdf

Written by James Bourne – Editor IoT Tech

https://www.iottechnews.com/news/2017/jul/10/singapore-and-london-best-track-smart-city-progress-pwc-says/

Microtechs 24/7/365 White label Technical Helpdesk

In today's world, a rock solid IT infrastructure is key to every successful business. At Microtechs we have the experience and resource to ensure your company has the support it needs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. We are able to provide an immediate response from our state of the art Technical Operations Centre which is based in the heart of Surrey.

With our rapidly expanding team, all specifically trained, working 24/7/365, we are able to provide excellent customer service and technical support. All of our services are available completely white labelled, ensuring a seamless extension to your company.

Through our services you are able to extend your hours to 24/7 or simply use us as an over flow assistant during office hours. This is all tailored to your business needs.  

How does Outsourcing your helpdesk benefit your business?

1.       It reduces your staffing costs. Why hire another member of staff, if you can outsource all of your calls for less? We are normally between 25-50% cheaper than an in-house option.

2.       It expands your opening hours. We have a technical operations centre which is open 24/7/365.

3.       It will improve your customer experience. Are you taking multiple calls from clients, but can’t get back to them as quick as you would like? Well now you have a team of 30 staff taking your support calls for you. Have an important meetings? No problem, your helpdesk has your back.

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Washrooms are among the highest-maintenance rooms in companies. A new Fraunhofer technology now monitors soap, cotton towel and toilet paper dispensers fully automatically, and notifies the cleaning staff when levels are running low. At the core of the "CWS Washroom Information Service" are sensors and some ingenious wireless technology.

"The cotton towels are running out in washroom 17 on the third floor, in washroom 21 on the fourth floor the soap is almost empty, and in 26 there is almost no toilet paper left. "Armed with this kind of information in advance, cleaning staff will be able to plan their rounds far more effectively in the future. No small thing, given that washrooms are among the highest-maintenance rooms in buildings. As well as having to be cleaned, their soap, hand-towels and toilet paper have to be replenished regularly. The Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits IIS has now designed a highly efficient solution to this problem. Together with the full-service provider CWS-boco International GmbH, Fraunhofer IIS has created the "CWS Washroom Information Service" system, which significantly reduces washroom maintenance requirements. In charge of the project is Prof. Thomas Wieland, head of the Fraunhofer Application Center for Wireless Sensor Systems in Coburg. In addition to the sensor technology, the Fraunhofer scientists also contribute a wireless system for transmitting the data. CWS-boco is responsible for the design of the various container and dispenser systems.

The basis of the "CWS Washroom Information Service" (WIS) are the sensors. They are battery powered and monitor the fill levels of soap dispensers, cotton towel rolls and toilet paper. The measurement method employed depends on the task. For instance, in the case of the soap dispenser, an optical sensor keeps an eye on the fill level, and the sensor module gathers the data from the meter in the soap dispenser that records every portion dispensed. Optical systems are also used for toilet paper, while a portion meter monitors the usage of the cotton towel dispenser.

The wireless network configures itself

The data collected by these means is then sent through a complex wireless transmission system. First, the dispenser information is transmitted to the nearest "Washroom Control Unit" (WCU) via energy-saving Bluetooth 4.0 LE (Low Energy). Each WCU is a collection point and communication node. They are distributed around the entire building and networked with each other. This is where the s-net® wireless technology developed by Fraunhofer IIS comes into play, by enabling the wireless network to configure itself. Each WCU in the network decides autonomously what device it sends the data to. "If a given module is out of order or cannot be reached for other reasons, the WCU sends its data to another module," Fraunhofer expert Wieland explains. This means the wireless network compensates automatically for a defective device or any disturbances in the transmission path. Once all the data has been collected, the final WCU in the transmission chain sends the entire data package -- again via s-net® -- to a gateway, which is generally attached to the outside of the building.

From there, the information is then forwarded via the cellular network to CWS-boco's server. A visual user interface displays the information for each individual washroom operator. The shift supervisor can then print out the washroom information as a shift plan or send it to the cleaning staff's tablets. Another option would be to have a display at the entrance to the washrooms that shows what the washroom requires.

Field trial starting 2017

With the development phase of the "CWS Washroom Information Service" now more or less completed, a progressive field trial with a pilot customer is beginning in the first quarter of 2017. CWS-boco will market the system, one of the biggest benefits of which is its flexibility. "We can integrate new devices with their own sensor systems. Pretty much any product can be fitted with sensors and integrated into the system, from soap dispensers to toilet paper holders and waste bins," says Jens Einsiedler, Head of Business Digitalisation at CWS-boco International GmbH.

And the Fraunhofer researchers aren't only thinking about washroom services. Sensor-based s-net® technology makes many applications possible. "The system is ideal for any situation where sensor data has to be gathered and transmitted," Wieland explains. Thanks to its ability to organize itself, the energy-saving s-net® is extremely reliable. But not only that, its transmission frequency of 868 MHz has excellent propagation characteristics, so it can penetrate walls with ease. That is particularly useful in complex buildings.

Wireless sensor networks featuring this or other transmission technologies are a particularly effective way for the agricultural sector to monitor crop land. In cities, sensor networks can keep track of the water quality in rivers. Sensors can keep tabs on the stability of bridges and other constructions, and even in the field of health care this technology opens up new opportunities. For instance, the sensors could be integrated into textiles to monitor a patient's movements during physiotherapy.

Further applications are also an option in the field of Industrie 4.0. Wireless sensors are ideal for supervising production plants and monitoring the status of machines or workpieces. On this basis, the system delivers all the data required to manage the process in question. Meanwhile, Wieland and his team are also currently working on a more down-to-earth but no less useful project: monitoring the fill levels of the waste bins in the pedestrian zone in the city of Reutlingen.

Story Source: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/03/170315115020.htm

Materials provided by Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Microtechs 24/7/365 White label Technical Helpdesk

In today's world, a rock solid IT infrastructure is key to every successful business. At Microtechs we have the experience and resource to ensure your company has the support it needs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. We are able to provide an immediate response from our state of the art Technical Operations Centre which is based in the heart of Surrey.

With our rapidly expanding team, all specifically trained, working 24/7/365, we are able to provide excellent customer service and technical support. All of our services are available completely white labelled, ensuring a seamless extension to your company.

Through our services you are able to extend your hours to 24/7 or simply use us as an over flow assistant during office hours. This is all tailored to your business needs.  

How does Outsourcing your helpdesk benefit your business?

1.       It reduces your staffing costs. Why hire another member of staff, if you can outsource all of your calls for less? We are normally between 25-50% cheaper than an in-house option.

2.       It expands your opening hours. We have a technical operations centre which is open 24/7/365.

3.       It will improve your customer experience. Are you taking multiple calls from clients, but can’t get back to them as quick as you would like? Well now you have a team of 30 staff taking your support calls for you. Have an important meetings? No problem, your helpdesk has your back.

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Step by step, our personal and work lives are being transferred online and instantaneous connections, real-time cooperation, and free flowing information come at a price. Yes, cybercrime is hardly something new but the recent rise in global ransomware attacks are putting the question of online security into the spotlight and under scrutiny.

The hackers are getting more and more inventive, and it’s becoming harder for the individual as well as companies to protect themselves. What can be done? Can cloud storage save us from ransomware?

Cloud Storage vs. Ransomware

Cloud created a revolution in data storage. It’s cost-effective, easy to access and typically very well guarded. The convenience is reflected in its widespread use. A report by RightScale found that 82% of companies were already using multi-cloud storage strategies. According to a report by Intuit, 78% of small businesses will fully rely on cloud services by 2020. This mass migration of business of all sizes to cloud space rendered it an extremely attractive target.

Sadly, the NotPetya ransomware made it clear that ransomware has gone beyond local and physical storage, and can hit everywhere. Although being publicized as on one of the safest storage options, the cloud is not an exception to the threat.

Let’s Be Realistic

The best way to stay protected is to be realistic and keep informed about the capacity and power of the services on which you are relying. As such, cloud storage is not a magical bulletproof solution that will graciously save you from the ransomware.

To be able to withstand ransomware and other types of attacks, cloud and collaboration services need to start implementing or strengthening solutions that allow for real-time visibility, greater control, data loss prevention, and so forth. If hackers are getting more creative, the levels of security need to follow and surpass them.

How to Leverage Cloud Storage

Despite the cold splash of reality, not all is lost. Cloud storage can be a valuable partner in crime or - better said - your partner in preventing crime.

Scalability - Regardless of shortcomings, cloud services are still best equipped to act as a failsafe and protect you from ransomware today and in the future. Being flexible and scalable in essence, cloud services enable us to keep up with the changes and developments in the malware landscape. In other words, while the nature of the attack is unlikely to change, the delivery method will and cloud services have the agility to adjust aptly.

Security Layers - In most cases, the layers of security over cloud are considerably better than of any other private server. Typically, clouds are a sophisticated combination of elaborate access controls and encrypted technology with the capacity to expand. Plus, many of them provide protection against DDoS attacks which makes them all the more useful.

Backups - Due to reliability and resiliency, backing up your data with a cloud storage is far more efficient. When stored on local storage, frequent backups consume a lot of storage resources and negatively affect computer performance. With the cloud, backups of your information, data and documents can be frequent, and the streamlined failover process provides you with the comfortable safety of backup recovery. A recommended approach is to rely on several clouds simultaneously which provides a much more expansive protections without excessively high costs or unbearable complexity.

How do you know cloud is worth your time?

According to MarketsAndMarkets, the cloud security market will be valued at impressive $8.71 billion by 2019, so companies are ready to invest more and more to improve and strengthen the safety of the cloud environments from malicious attacks.

Cloud storage, although not the ultimate weapon against ransomware attacks, is by far one of the most efficient ways to protect your information without excessive spending or applying overly complicated scenarios. It’s also most likely to scale and thus continue withstanding cybercrime in the future. Nonetheless, it is crucial you select your cloud service carefully as not all are equal.

By Kent Raju CMO of FolderIT

The original article can be viewed at: https://www.infosecurity-magazine.com/opinions/cloud-storage-save-ransomware/

Picture credit: Cloudstoragebest.com

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With our rapidly expanding team, all specifically trained, working 24/7/365, we are able to provide excellent customer service and technical support. All of our services are available completely white labelled, ensuring a seamless extension to your company.

Through our services you are able to extend your hours to 24/7 or simply use us as an over flow assistant during office hours. This is all tailored to your business needs.  

 

How does Outsourcing your helpdesk benefit your business?

1.       It reduces your staffing costs. Why hire another member of staff, if you can outsource all of your calls for less? We are normally between 25-50% cheaper than an in-house option.

2.       It expands your opening hours. We have a technical operations centre which is open 24/7/365.

3.       It will improve your customer experience. Are you taking multiple calls from clients, but can’t get back to them as quick as you would like? Well now you have a team of 30 staff taking your support calls for you. Have an important meetings? No problem, your helpdesk has your back.

 

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