Financial Compliance

What are Risk Assessments?

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Risk assessment is a process that helps identify internal and external vulnerabilities and threats to business data, systems, software, clouds, and networks. It also helps us identify and understand consequences if threat actors exploit vulnerabilities, and know the possibility of harm that may eventually unfold. Failure to conduct regular risk assessments can be costly!


Knowing Your Security Risk Environment

Did you know that only about 40% of owners believe there is sufficient risk assessment conducted in their company? Additionally, cybercrime has shot up by 40% since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. If you don’t know your risk, you can’t fix it, and not being alert to threats can make you the next target.

About 70% of organizations faced a cloud data breach in 2020 and it is also predicted that ransomware attack will occur every 11 seconds in 2021. These threats leave no room for complacency when it comes to data security and risk assessment.


The Consequences of Undetected Risks

If any business risk goes undetected, it can snowball into a severe breach and cause a variety of problems for your organization. Some of these consequences can include a loss of productivity, where average downtime of employees is close to two hours, or financial loss. The average total cost of data breaches in 2020 is estimated at $3.86 million. Other major consequences can include reputational damage and legal liability. According to the IDC report, one-third of customers will be their association with a business following a major breach. And in 2020, the OCC fined Morgan Stanley $60 million citing failure to comply with standards and secure sensitive data.

Regular risk assessments are a positive and preventative investment in protecting your business.


Maintaining Regulatory Compliance

To stay ready and compliant with security requirements of most regulatory bodies, regular risk assessments are essential to identifying and measuring potential business impacts. You can classify risks as high, medium, and low.

High impact risks, if unchecked could lead to a major breach and have significant impact on the operations of your business or even result in external monitoring and enforcement. Medium impact risks, if unchecked could adversely affect your business’ cybersecurity posture and lead to demand for operational changes by the external enforcement agency. Low impact risks, if unchecked, might contribute to failure in accomplishing some of your business objectives.


Benefits of Regular Assessments

There are many benefits to including regular risk assessments into your business plan.

  1. Identifying your risk profile: Detecting threats and sorting risks bases on their potential for harm helps you to focus your efforts on urgent pain points.
  2. Asset discovery and protection: With an up-to-date inventory from your risk assessment, you can determine ways to protect your critical assets and vital data.
  3. Reduce security spending: Regular risk assessments help you reduce security spending because you know where you need to put money to ramp up security.
  4. Actionable analytics: Availability of information that gives enough insight into the future helps you take adequate actions that can improve your business’ security.
  5. Keeps you compliant: When you handle your business assets and data securely through regular assessments, your business can avoid regulatory violations.


Though it sounds a bit complex, with the right partner by your side, you can run regular risk assessments for your business and prevent a risk from escalating into a full-blown data breach. Contact us now!

engineering IT services

The Dangers of Insider Threats

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Many business owners – and the IT professionals they rely on – focus on protecting their companies from external threats – the lone hacker out for a large ransom, the industry competitor pilfering secrets, or organized cyber-criminals with sophisticate phishing schemes, etc. But what about internal threats? Organizations sometimes fail to consider the true risks that insiders pose to their cybersecurity. Yet, internal risks are every bit as dangerous and damaging as the external ones, even if there is not malicious intent.

The 2019 IBM Cost of Data Breach survey revealed that 24 percent of all data breaches in the past five years were the result of negligent employees or contractors.
Another report, Insider Data Breach Survey, found that 60 percent of executives felt employees who made mistakes while rushing to complete tasks were the primary cause of internal breaches. Another 44 percent pointed to a lack of general awareness as the second most common reason, and 36 percent cited inadequate
training for their organization’s security tools as a close third. To drive home the full harm of insider threats, we’ve compiled five actual case studies of internal actors who’ve wreaked financial and reputational damage when they got careless, or abused their knowledge and positions for personal gain.

Case 1: The Careless Employee
Sometimes employers don’t do enough to educate their workers about cybersecurity best practices, and sometimes employees fail to heed recommended security protocols:

A report by a company’s chief security officer discovered that one of the organization’s techs was using duplicate credentials across multiple accounts and failed to set up two-factor authentication on at least two of his accounts. Though the company recommended these two security best practices – do not use the same log-in for more than one account and apply two-factor authentication for additional protection – the employee neglected to do so. This weak security enabled hackers to easily infiltrate the company’s network where they disabled and deleted all data backups – local and cloud. After sabotaging the organization’s backups, the hackers then installed ransomware and demanded payment. Without a usable backup, the company was forced to pay the ransom to recover its data.

What You Can Do
Set up automatic scans to check each clients security settings on each machine to ensure that your IT security policies are being enforced. Generate an automatic alert when two-factor authentication is not turned on where it should be.

Case 2: The Sneaky Former Employee
The knowledge that trusted employees gain about your business doesn’t get turned in with their resignation. Employees can become threats after they move on:

An engineer quit his job to start his own business that would be in direct competition with the company he left. According to court documents, the engineer hacked his former company’s server using a former co-worker’s stolen credentials. Once inside the network, he was able to retrieve AutoCAD files, design schematics, project proposals, and budgetary documents – all information that could provide a competitive advantage over his former employer. The value attributed to proprietary information he stole was between $250,000 and $550,000. For his efforts, the engineer was sentenced to 18 months in prison and two years of supervised release.

What You Can Do
Establish “exit procedures” for employee turn-over that includes the immediate removal of ex-employees from Active Directory. Scan the network daily for suspicious log-in attempts by ex-employees and others, and generate an alert for each incident.

Case 3: The Compromised Third-Party Vendor
An “insider” doesn’t have to be located directly within your walls to become a threat to your network. Trusted third-party vendors may have enough access to your network and data to be unknowing conduits for external hackers and do damage to your network:

A hacker infiltrated a billing collections agency and gained access to patient information that belonged one of the agency’s clients: a healthcare laboratory. Almost 12 million patient records were compromised, including credit card numbers and other personal identifying information. A security firm that tracks compromised data found 200,000 patient payment details from the billing company for sale on the dark web. Fortunately, the lab had insurance in place to cover some of the potential cost and liability as a result of the breach.

What You Can Do
Set up internal IT security policies that limits storage of credit card and other personal identifying information, and includes additional security levels for access. Regularly scan the network for any suspicious log-in attempts and generate alerts to investigate.

Case 4: The Deceptive Spouse
Spouses share as much information as business partners, maybe even more. When those relationships turn sour, the secrets shared in private can be used for personal gain:

When a business owner’s spouse began an affair with the owner of a competing business, the spouse sought to use insider knowledge to benefit the competitor. The spouse attempted to log into the company computer with the intent of downloading the client database. Fortunately, the network had an insider threat detection program that identified this uncharacteristic behavior and sent out an alert regarding the anomalous login. An internal investigation occurred, revealing the attempted hack as well as the affair. Divorce followed shortly afterward.

What You Can Do
Scan the network regularly for anomalous log-ins and generate alerts to examine any suspicious activity. An insider threat protection system that uses machine learning to establish baseline end-user behavior trends can help determine when investigations are necessary.

Case 5: Unsupported Legacy Software and Devices
Sometimes insider threats are caused by failure to act, rather than an employee doing something bad. Out-of-date devices and software typically do not receive critical security updates and patches, rendering them open doors for hackers:

A massive cyberattack penetrated a software vendor’s IT management systems through a legacy IP scanner tool and compromised an unknown number of end-user client servers. Some clients had administrative superuser accounts created within their Windows active directory, so unidentified intruders had full access to their systems and data long before detection. The vendor admitted, “We still have no way to know what sort of malicious software or gateways may have been left behind nor what data has been stolen, which absolutely could lead to additional problems and liability concerns for us in the future.” More than two months after the attack, the full extent of the damage was still unknown.

What You Can Do
Scan all networks daily, looking for software that is missing the latest security patches, and generate alerts for machines that need updating.


The Internal Protection You Need
As a reputable MSP, Digital323 understands cybersecurity and its significance to today’s small businesses. Looking for internal cybersecurity threats is more challenging than managing threats from the outside.We offer formidable insider threat detection and issue alerting that can accommodate any budget and networks of any size. We have specialized security software that runs a daily non-intrusive check of each computer on your network, and alerts us when it detects these kinds of insider threats, and more.
Contact us today to get protected.

How a Security Operations Center Protects You

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The sooner you respond to a breach or penetration of your network, the smaller the adverse impact.  Fewer systems may be compromised, and less data may be accessed or disclosed. For that reason, Digital323 now offers 24/7 monitoring and remediation as part of our expanded cybersecurity solutions.


Digital323 partners with ArmorPoint to provide Security Operations Center services

We are pleased to announce our strategic partnership with ArmorPoint, combining their world-class SIEM solution with Digital323’s industry-leading managed services.

The cyber landscape is becoming more complex in nature. Your business needs security services and solutions you can rely on and trust. The Digital323-ArmorPoint partnership brings together deep skills in cybersecurity, technology, and solutions to support businesses’ most complex security needs.

“We wanted a state-of-the-art partner who delivers cyber security protection, monitoring, and remediation. And we wanted an economy of scale that was affordable for our clients. We found that partner in ArmorPoint,” says Digital323’s CEO, John Hsin.

Your business will benefit from 24/7 eyes-on monitoring so that we can detect and respond to threats faster.  You will also benefit from the most advanced tools available to protect you.  These tools look for patterns of concerning behavior within your technology.  In comparison, traditional IT monitoring tools use static rules that likely miss zero-day threats.

One unique feature of ArmorPoint that protects you is a remediation team ready to respond round-the-clock.  Most competitors tend to automate any remediation services.  Instead, ArmorPoint staffs their Operations Center with trained cybersecurity specialists.

The Digital323-ArmorPoint partnership is a powerful combination. ArmorPoint’s innovator in cybersecurity services coupled with their dedicated monitoring and remediation team compliments Digital323’s mission to provide our clients with Stable, Functional and Secure networks.

“ArmorPoint believes that this partnership will allow us to drive far more business impact for our clients and focus on what we’re most concerned with: keeping your business secure from malicious outsiders,” says David Trapp, Founder and CEO of ArmorPoint.

Armorpoint’s approach to delivering outstanding and cost-effective security service makes them an ideal Digital323 partner,” explains Joel Peabody, Service Delivery Manager. “With few SIEM solutions focused on serving small and medium sized businesses, Digital323 is proud to join forces with ArmorPoint as we seek to jointly provide an excellent IT experience for our clients.”


managed IT services

The Paradigm of IT Security Management

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Once upon a time, not so long ago, it was enough to simply have a Windows “Pipes” screensaver and a basic password to prevent unwanted access to your computer. Well things have certainly changed, and at break-neck pace over the years. Today we have to deal with new threats at every turn. So how do we approach this new landscape of malware, hackers, and identity/data theft? Here are some recommendations on setting the proper paradigm for your IT Security needs.


Start With Policy

IT Security Policies are the written rules and principles which guide how an organization is to secure and manage their technology. They provide maturity, structure, and accountability to make sure you’re doing all you can to protect your customers and your company.


Understand Your Industry

Although most organizations use the same basic technologies (workstations, networks, servers and key applications), their industries are all different and have specific security requirements. For example, those in the healthcare industry will need to follow HIPAA guidelines, and those in the government sector may need to adhere to NIST security standards. It’s important to know what specific security requirements your industry may have and incorporate them into your Policies.


Create an IT Security Management Plan

An IT Security Management Plan helps you to implement and measure the success of your security efforts. This puts in to motion the intentionality of executing your Policies in a controlled and measurable way. It includes implementation timelines, regular security status updates, and on-going improvement reviews of your security policies to keep up with the increasing threats.


It’s more important than ever to not only have the right IT Security Elements in place, but a way of ensuring that IT Security Management is part of your corporate culture. The technological landscape of our business world will continue to develop more and more dangers. What you did yesterday, may not be enough to protect you for tomorrow.

Please contact Digital323 and we would be happy to assist with the development of your IT Security Management Plans.

IT services

COVID-19: Remote Workforce Considerations

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As the Coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to threaten and impact not only the lives of our loved-ones and those in our communities, but the way in which we live our lives and conduct our businesses, we’ve been forced to adjust to new priorities and workflows. These are challenging times to say the least. Most organizations have ramped up their remote workforce to keep their employees safe and adhere to Social Distancing requirements while trying to keep their companies viable. We want to share some considerations to make your remote workforce as productive as possible while maintaining your corporate security.

Avoid BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) if at all possible

We want your employees to be productive, but we also want your corporate data and workflows to be secure. When allowing your employees to use their personal devices from home to work remotely, you never know what kind of Malware or other Computer Viruses may be lurking on their systems. The last thing you need is to introduce data loss or breach to an already difficult situation.

Adhere to corporate IT Policies

If you have no choice but to let your employees work from home on their own devices, make sure that they are adhering to your corporate IT Policies around acceptable use, monitoring, anti-virus/anti-malware software and firewall use.

Phishing and Identity Theft

Even during these challenging times, bad guys are still bad guys. The World Health Organization has issued a warning to be on the look out for emails or social media postings regarding COVID-19 which are really attempts to steal your data and identity. Be sure to educate your staff to be on the look out for these phishing attempts and use only trusted websites and news sources for more information about COVID-19.

Office Internet Circuit Performance

It’s not uncommon for your office internet circuit to have different upload and download speeds. With your remote workforce, you may notice a slowness in your network as it puts more stress on the upload requirements of your circuit. You may want to consider staggering your workforce to alleviate the pressure on your network. In addition, upgrading your circuit or implementing an SD-WAN (Software Driven Wide Area Network) solution may also increase your internet performance and add some redundancy and fail-over capabilities to help your team.

At Digital323 we understand the challenges that we all face and have in fact implemented our own Business Continuity plans and remote workforce policies. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if we can be of any assistance during these trying times.

Be safe and wash your hands! No, seriously, wash your hands.

IT services

IT Policies

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In today’s world of ever-changing and expanding technology, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for businesses to manage and secure the data and systems which make their organizations run. Often times decisions regarding technology become a “knee-jerk” or ad-hoc event about solving system crises or reacting to a security breach in the environment. Creating a set of IT Policies brings a more mature and proactive approach to the way organizations manage many of the day-to-day functions and security of their computing infrastructure. So, how do you create a set of IT Policies for your organization? A good way to start is by asking the right kind of questions.

  • Is my industry or company regulated by any external entities or rules? (i.e., HIPAA, Sarbanes-Oxley, PCI, NIST, etc.)
  • Does my company maintain different categories (or types) of data that may have different protection requirements?
  • Do I need to control who within and without of the company has access to the different types of data?
  • Do I need to keep track of what is changing within my IT environment and who may be making those changes?
  • Do I know what my data retention requirements are? (How many versions of the data should I be keeping, and for how long?)
  • Should I be making it a regular habit of testing my ability to restore my data and systems?
  • Do I know what the risks are to my business, specifically the technology side?
  • Do I know how my staff should be interacting with the computing environment, and have I trained them on those expectations?
  • Are we putting in to practice those elements which will secure and protect my customers, employees, data, and systems as a whole? (i.e., anti-virus, anti-malware, firewalls, etc.)

Your IT Policies should help to answer these questions, and your IT staff and partners can then configure your environment to enforce those answers.

If you would like assistance in developing a set of IT Policies for your organization, please don’t hesitate to call Digital323. We’d be happy to help!

strategic IT solutions

How to Choose an IT Partner

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With the ever-changing world of technology in these times, it’s critical for small businesses to find a trusted IT partner that can weed through the alphabet soup and help to make sound business decisions. Here are three critical factors in finding an IT partner that will make sense for you.

1. Know Yourself
The first step is to define your expectations. Are you looking for someone to assist with IT budget planning and operational considerations, or simply someone to press “next” when you don’t have the time? Many IT companies have a vast skill set and can assist with planning at a CIO/CTO level, through to an out-sourced help desk. Understanding what your company needs will go a long way in determining which IT firm will best fit the bill. Here are some questions that may help:
• Do I have a set of corporate IT policies that help govern the care, feeding and security of my business’s technology needs?
• Have I identified an internal super-user, who is the “go-to” person when things go awry?
• Does the company do any annual IT budgeting and planning?
• Do I simply feel lost when it comes to my technology?

2. Know Your Industry
Secondly, find an IT group that not only understands technology, but how technology applies to your specific industry. New software, and ways of interfacing with this software, is being developed at break-neck pace for all industries. You want a partner that knows the IT trends and future plans for your industry. For example, if you’re in healthcare you want to find a group that not only knows the varying technologies and EHR software that you are using, but understands the impact of the HITECH Act and Meaningful Use, and how it will impact your medical practice.

In addition, having an IT partner that understands any regulatory requirements your industry may be under will help with compliance and security concerns.

3. Know Your Partner
Third, you want a partner that you can trust. An outsourced IT group can potentially hold the keys to your entire organization. Be sure you find a partner that is proven with very good references and a track record for integrity and being trustworthy. You want to know that you can hold them accountable for caring for your technology, and that they will be responsive to your needs.

There are many additional factors to consider: cost, location, contract terms, etc.; but these first three are a great place to start.