Is nothing sacred? When the Petya ransomware attack hit Tasmania’s Cadbury chocolate factory on June 27, 2017, it became clear that any business could be targeted by hackers—nothing is off-limits, even chocolate. Seeing the cyber attack unfold was like watching Floyd Mayweather mercilessly pound an innocent box of delicious, creme-filled eggs into mush before our very eyes.
Thanks to an inadequate IT security toolbox, the confectionery giant had to shut down its production lines. Staff working in the office discovered the following message from hackers on their monitors: “If you see this text, then your files are no longer accessible, because they have been encrypted. Perhaps you are busy looking for a way to recover your files but don’t waste your time.”
Petya also slithered its way into servers at a major Russian oil company, ambushed operations at Ukrainian banks, and closed computers of multinational shipping and advertising firms. Cadbury was only the latest in a long line of examples of what happens to organisations that don’t keep their IT security toolbox stocked with the most up-to-date security tools. Here are some of the best tools and practices you should consider adding to your own toolkit:
Stop phishy emails
In 2016, compromised business emails cost businesses worldwide almost AUD$7 billion. That’s a staggering number. Granted, there are plenty of tools available to thwart the potential damage caused by various types of malicious emails, but the smart operators go all-in with in a comprehensive, multi-layered email security system that’s better able to mount a holistic defence.
There are a number of products that fit the bill. We’ll leave it to you to decide which one best suits your organisation’s needs, but here are a few features you’ll want your email security system to provide:
- Stateless key management for on-demand key generation and regeneration—this relieves companies of the burden associated with key storage and database management issues.
- Flexible deployment options that are compatible with cloud, on-premise, or hybrid deployments and cloud email services.
- The capacity for staff to send, read, reply, and forward encrypted emails on whatever device they’re using (i.e., laptops, desktops, tablets, mobile phones, etc.).
An email system that also offers end-to-end encryption will further protect your company’s sensitive data. With all these features working together, you won’t have to worry (as much) when it comes to shielding your business from the never-ending attempts at business email compromise.
Prevent your office printer from becoming a double agent
Not so long ago, printers did little but spray ink on paper and spit it out. As they’ve become more sophisticated and integrated into wider IT networks, they’ve become a link cybercriminals can—and frequently do—exploit. As this short video illustrates, many companies have lax attitudes to printer security, leaving their networks vulnerable to attack:
Today’s printers, like PCs, are reservoirs of private employee information, credit card details, confidential patient health records, and other classified nuggets hackers can target. But if you’re equipped with advanced, secure technology, like HP printers, you can better protect your print environment. It’s a no-brainer for today’s IT security toolbox, as HP printers can provide coverage for the five key areas of printer security, including features like:
- A secure boot process, which assures the integrity of the BIOS
- Run-time intrusion detection, allowing the device to continuously monitor for malware attacks
- Firmware code integrity, which ensures only the appropriate firmware executes
- Continuous assurance of security policy settings, so printers can stay compliant with your security policy
- Real-time threat detection and analytics, which detects and analyses critical security events tied to the printer
Allow staff to bring a device—without security headaches
Sure, lots of cool companies have already hopped on the BYOD bandwagon, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a major headache for the IT department. BYOD devices can be infected with malware, get lost, access unsecured Wi-Fi, fail to be updated with the most recent anti-virus software, or allow their owners to still log in after their employment has come to an end.
A good BYOD solution should target the complex security challenges that have emerged as personal devices have become ubiquitous. Make sure your solution addresses the issues canvassed above with features that include device posture assessment and control, extensive usage and performance reporting, powerful WLAN connectivity, and close-up analysis of user behaviour.
Prevention is better than a cure
Hiscox Insurance research claims that cybercrime cost the global economy almost AUD$600 billion in 2016 and involved the theft of more than two billion personal records. Both government departments and private businesses run a real risk of having their day-to-day operations grind to halt without a solid IT security toolbox, which could potentially cost them millions of dollars to repair.
There’s no getting around the fact that installing and regularly updating a redoubtable security system chews up man-hours and money. But before giving into the temptation to just hope for the best, think about how many man-hours and how much of the annual IT budget you and your colleagues will have to spend if you turn up to work one day and see the following message plastered across your screens: “Your files are no longer accessible, because they have been encrypted. Perhaps you are busy looking for a way to recover your files but don’t waste your time.”
Think smart—and always try to stay one step ahead of cybercriminals at all times.