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Cybersecurity Productivity

5 Ways to Balance User Productivity with Solid Authentication Protocols

One constant struggle in offices is the balance between productivity and security. If you give users too much freedom in your network, risk increases. But add too many security gates, and productivity can dwindle.

It’s a fine balance between the two, but one you can achieve. Organizations need to recognize the importance of both. And not sacrifice one for another.

A recent report from Microsoft notes a dangerous lack of authentication security. Just 22% of Azure Active Directory users had multi-factor authentication (MFA) enabled. This means that over three-quarters were at a much higher risk of an account breach.

Why do organizations fail to adopt important security protocols, like MFA? We know that it’s as much as 99.9% effective at stopping fraudulent sign-ins. Yet so many companies aren’t adopting it.

User inconvenience is the biggest reason. MFA is not expensive. In fact, it’s free to enable in nearly all cloud applications. But if users say that it’s hurting productivity and is a pain to use, companies may not bother with it.

But sacrificing security can hurt productivity worse. Downtime due to a data breach is expensive and can put smaller companies out of business. The main cause of data breaches is credential compromise. So, if you’re not protecting your authentication process, the risk of becoming a breach victim is high.

35% of data breaches initiate from breached login credentials.

There are ways to have both secure and productive users. It simply takes adopting some solutions that can help. These are tools that improve authentication security. But do it in a way that keeps user convenience in mind.

Solutions to Improve Security Without Sacrificing Convenience

Use Contextual Authentication Rules

Not every user needs to go through the same authentication process. If someone is working in your building, they have a certain trust factor. If someone is attempting to log in from outside the country, they do not have that same trust.

Contextual authentication is used with MFA to target users that need to reach a higher bar. You may choose to limit or block system access to someone attempting to log in from a certain region. Or you may need to add an additional challenge question for users logging in after work hours.

Companies don’t need to inconvenience people working from normal locations during typical hours. But they can still verify those logging in under non-typical circumstances. Some of the contextual factors you can use include:

  • Time of day
  • Location
  • The device used
  • Time of the last login
  • Type of resources accessed

Install a Single Sign-on (SSO) Solution

A report on U.S. employees found they use a lot of apps. Workers switch between an average of 13 apps 30 times per day. That’s a lot of inconveniences if they need to use an MFA action for each of those logins.

Single sign-on applications solve this problem. They merge the authentication process for several apps into just one login. Employees log in once and can go through MFA a single time.

Using multi-factor authentication isn’t nearly as inconvenient. Users gain access to everything at the same time. SSO solutions help organizations improve their security without all the pushback from users.

Recognize Devices

Another way to better secure network access is to recognize devices. This is typically done using an endpoint device manager. This automates some of the security behind user authentication. Thus, it doesn’t inconvenience the person.

First, register employee devices in the endpoint device manager. Once completed, you can then set up security rules. Such as blocking unknown devices automatically.

You can also put in place device scanning for malware and automated updates. Both these things increase security without sacrificing productivity.

Use Role-based Authentication

Your shipping clerk may not have access to sensitive customer information. But your accounting team does. One can have a lower barrier to authentication.

Using role-based authentication saves time when setting up new employee accounts. Authentication and access happen based on the person’s role. Admins can program permissions and contextual authentication factors once. Then, the process automates as soon as an employee has their role set.

Consider Adding Biometrics

One of the most convenient forms of authentication is biometrics. This would be a fingerprint, retina, or facial scan. The user doesn’t need to type in anything. It also takes just a few seconds.

Biometric hardware can be costly, depending on the size of your organization. But you can introduce it over time. Perhaps using biometrics with your most sensitive roles first, then expanding.

Additionally, many apps are now incorporating things like facial scanning. Users can authenticate using a typical smartphone, making it much more affordable.

Need Help Improving Authentication Security?

Don’t give up important security because you’re afraid of user pushback. Contact us to schedule a security consultation.


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Cybersecurity

What Cybersecurity Attack Trends Should You Watch Out for in 2023?

The new year has just begun and it’s a time of renewal as we plan for the possibilities to come in 2023. It’s also a time when you need to plan for resiliency in the face of ever-present cyberattacks.

Sixty-eight percent of surveyed business leaders feel that cybersecurity risks are getting worse. They have a good reason. Attacks continue to get more sophisticated. They are also often perpetrated by large criminal organizations. These criminal groups treat these attacks like a business.

In 2021, the average number of global cyberattacks increased by 15.1%.

To protect your business in the coming year, it’s important to watch the attack trends. What new methods are hackers using? What types of attacks are increasing in volume? Knowing these things is important. It helps you better update your IT security to mitigate the risk of a data breach or malware infection.

We’ve pulled out the security crystal ball for the upcoming year. And we’ve researched what cybersecurity experts are expecting. Here are the attack trends that you need to watch out for.

Attacks on 5G Devices

The world has been buzzing about 5G for a few years. It is finally beginning to fulfill the promise of lightning-fast internet. As providers build out the infrastructure, you can expect this to be a high-attack area.

Hackers are looking to take advantage of the 5G hardware used for routers, mobile devices, and PCs. Anytime you have a new technology like this, it’s bound to have some code vulnerabilities. This is exactly what hackers are looking to exploit.

You can prepare by being aware of the firmware security in the devices you buy. This is especially true for those enabled for 5G. Some manufacturers will build better firmware security into their designs than others. Make sure to ask about this when purchasing new devices.

One-time Password (OTP) Bypass

This alarming new trend is designed to get past one of the best forms of account security. Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is well-known as very effective at preventing fraudulent sign-in attempts. It can stop account takeovers even in cases where the criminal has the user’s password.

There are a few different ways that hackers try to bypass MFA. These include:

  • Reusing a token: Gaining access to a recent user OTP and trying to reuse it
  • Sharing unused tokens: The hacker uses their own account to get an OTP. Then attempts to use that OTP on a different account.
  • Leaked token: Using an OTP token leaked through a web application.
  • Password reset function: A hacker uses phishing to fool the user into resetting a password. They then trick them into handing over their OTP via text or email.

Attacks Surrounding World Events

During the pandemic, the cyberattack volume increased by approximately 600%. Large criminal hacking groups have realized that world events and disasters are lucrative.

They launch phishing campaigns for world events. Attacks come for everything from the latest hurricane or typhoon to the war in Ukraine. Unsuspecting people often fall for these scams. This is because they are often distracted by the crisis.

People need to be especially mindful of scams surrounding events like these. They will often use social engineering tactics, such as sad photos, to play on the emotions.

Smishing & Mobile Device Attacks

Mobile devices go with us just about everywhere these days. This direct connection to a potential victim is not lost on cybercriminals. Look for more mobile device-based attacks, including SMS-based phishing (“smishing”).

Many people aren’t expecting to receive fake messages to their personal numbers. But cell numbers are no longer as private as they once were. Hackers can buy lists of them online. They then craft convincing fake texts that look like shipping notices or receipts. One wrong click is all it takes for an account or data breach.

Mobile malware is also on the rise. During the first few months of 2022, malware targeted to mobile devices rose by 500%. It’s important to ensure that you have good mobile anti-malware. As well as other protections on your devices, such as a DNS filter.

Elevated Phishing Using AI & Machine Learning

These days, phishing emails are not so easy to spot. It used to be that they nearly always had spelling errors or grainy images. While some still do, most don’t.

Criminal groups elevate today’s phishing using AI and machine learning. Not only will it look identical to a real brand’s emails, but it will also come personalized. Hackers use these tactics to capture more victims. They also allow hackers to send out more targeted phishing messages in less time than in years past.

Schedule a Cybersecurity Check-Up Today

Is your business prepared for the cyber threats coming in 2022? Don’t wait to find out the hard way! Contact TN Techs today to schedule a cybersecurity check-up to stay one step ahead of the digital criminals.


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Cybersecurity

What Are the Advantages of Implementing Conditional Access?

It seems that nearly as long as passwords have been around, they’ve been a major source of security concern. Eighty-one percent of security incidents happen due to stolen or weak passwords. Additionally, employees continue to neglect the basics of good cyber hygiene.

For example, 61% of workers use the same password for multiple platforms. And 43% have shared their passwords with others. These factors are why compromised credentials are the main cause of data breaches.

Access and identity management have become a priority for many organizations. This is largely due to the rise of the cloud. As well as the practice of people needing to only enter a username and password to access systems.

Once a cybercriminal gets a hold of an employee’s login, they can access the account and any data that it contains. This is especially problematic when it’s an account like Microsoft 365 or Google Workspace. These accounts can access things like cloud storage and user email.

Below, we’ll explain what conditional access is. As well as how it works with multi-factor authentication (MFA). We’ll also review the advantages of moving to a conditional access process.

What Is Conditional Access?

Conditional access is also known as contextual access. It is a method of controlling user access. You can think of it as several “if/then” statements, meaning “if” this thing is present, “then” do this.

For example, conditional access allows you to set a rule that would state the following. “If a user is logging in from outside the country, require a one-time-passcode.”

Conditional access allows you to add many conditions to the process of user access to a system. It is typically used with MFA. This is to improve access security without unnecessarily inconveniencing users.

Some of the most common contextual factors used include:

  • IP address
  • Geographic location
  • Time of day
  • The device used
  • Role or group the user belongs to

Conditional access can be set up in Azure Active Directory. It can also be set up in another identity and access management tool. It’s helpful to get the assistance of your IT partner. We can help with setup and the conditions that would make the most sense for your business.

The Benefits of Implementing Conditional Access for Identity Management

Improves Security

Using conditional access improves security. It allows you more flexibility in challenging user legitimacy. It doesn’t just grant access to anyone with a username and password. Instead, the user needs to meet certain requirements.

Contextual access could block any login attempts from countries where no employees are. It could also present an extra verification question when employees use an unrecognized device.

Automates the Access Management Process

Once the if/then statements are set up, the system takes over. It automates the monitoring for contextual factors and takes the appropriate actions. This reduces the burden on administrative IT teams. It also ensures that no one is falling between the cracks.

Automated processes are more accurate and reliable than manual processes. Automation removes the human error component. This helps ensure that each condition is being verified for every single login.

Allows Restriction of Certain Activities

Conditional access isn’t only for keeping unauthorized users out of your accounts. You can use it in other ways. One of these is to restrict the activities that legitimate users can do.

For example, you could restrict access to data or settings based on a user’s role in the system. You can also use conditions in combination. Such as, lowering permissions to view-only. You could trigger this if a user holds a certain role and is logging in from an unknown device.

Improves the User Login Experience

Studies show that as many as 67% of businesses don’t use multi-factor authentication. This is despite the fact that it’s one of the most effective methods to stop credential breaches.

One of the biggest reasons it is not used is because of the inconvenience factor for employees. They may complain that it interferes with productivity. Or say that it makes it harder for them to use their business applications.

Using conditional access with MFA can improve the user experience. For example, you can require MFA only if users are off the premises. You can put in place extra challenge questions on a role or context-based basis. This keeps all users from being inconvenienced.

Enforces the Rule of Least Privilege

Using the rule of least privilege is a security best practice. It means only granting the lowest level of access in a system as necessary for a user to do their work. Once you have roles set up in your identity management system, you can base access on those roles.

Conditional access simplifies the process of restricting access to data or functions. You can base this on job needs. It streamlines identity management. This is because it contains all functions in the same system for access and MFA rules. Everything stays together, making management simpler.

Get Help Implementing Conditional Access Today!

Once conditional access is set up, the automated system takes over. It improves your security and reduces the risk of an account breach. Contact TN Techs today for a free consultation to enhance your cybersecurity.


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Cybersecurity IT Management

Tips for Overcoming Barriers to a Smooth BYOD Program

Bring your own device (BYOD) is a concept that took hold after the invention of the smartphone. When phones got smarter, software developers began creating apps for those phones. Over time, mobile device use has overtaken desktop use at work.

According to Microsoft, mobile devices make up about 60% of the endpoints in a company network. They also handle about 80% of the workload. But they’re often neglected when it comes to strong cybersecurity measures.

This is especially true with employee-owned mobile devices. BYOD differs from corporate-owned mobile use programs. Instead of using company tools, employees are using their personal devices for work. Many businesses find this the most economical way to keep their teams productive.

Purchasing phones and wireless plans for staff is often out of reach financially. It can also be a pain for employees to carry around two different devices, personal and work.

It’s estimated that 83% of companies have some type of BYOD policy.

You can run BYOD securely if you have some best practices in place. Too often, business owners don’t even know all the devices that are connecting to business data. Or which ones may have data stored on them.

Here are some tips to overcome the security and challenges of BYOD. These should help you enjoy a win-win situation for employees and the business.

Define Your BYOD Policy

If there are no defined rules for BYOD, then you can’t expect the process to be secure. Employees may leave business data unprotected. Or they may connect to public Wi-Fi and then enter their business email password, exposing it.

If you allow employees to access business data from personal devices, you need a policy. This policy protects the company from unnecessary risk. It can also lay out specifics that reduce potential problems. For example, detailing the compensation for employees that use personal devices for work.

Keep Your Policy “Evergreen”

As soon as a policy gets outdated, it becomes less relevant to employees. Someone may look at your BYOD policy and note that one directive is old. Because of that, they may think they should ignore the entire policy.

Make sure that you keep your BYOD policy “evergreen.” This means updating it regularly if any changes impact those policies.

Use VoIP Apps for Business Calls

Before the pandemic, 65% of employees gave their personal phone numbers to customers. This often happens due to the need to connect with a client when away from an office phone. Clients also may save a personal number for a staff member. For example, when the employee calls the customer from their own device.

Customers having employees’ personal numbers is a problem for everyone. Employees may leave the company, and no longer answer those calls. The customer may not realize why.

You can avoid the issue by using a business VoIP phone system. These services have mobile apps that employees can use. VoIP mobile apps allow employees to make and receive calls through a business number.

Create Restrictions on Saved Company Data

Remote work has exasperated the security issue with BYOD. While BYOD may have meant mobile devices in the past, it now means computers too. Remote employees often will use their own PCs when working outside the office.

No matter what the type of device, you should maintain control of business data. It’s a good idea to restrict the types of data that staff can store on personal devices. You should also ensure that it’s backed up from those devices.

Require Device Updates

When employee devices are not updated or patched, they invite a data breach. Any endpoint connected to your network can enable a breach. This includes those owned by employees.

It can be tricky to ensure that a device owned by an employee is kept updated. Therefore, many businesses turn to endpoint management solutions. An endpoint device manager can push through automated updates. It also allows you to protect business data without intruding on employee privacy.

The monitoring and management capabilities of these tools improve security. This includes the ability to safelist devices. Safelisting can block devices not added to the endpoint manager.

Include BYOD in Your Offboarding Process

If an employee leaves your company, you need to clean their digital trail. Is the employee still receiving work email on their phone? Do they have access to company data through persistent logins? Are any saved company passwords on their device?

These are all questions to ask when offboarding a former staff member. You should also make sure to copy and remove any company files on their personal device. Additionally, ensure that you deauthorize their device(s) from your network.

Let Us Help You Explore Endpoint Security Solutions

We can help you explore solutions to secure a BYOD program. We’ll look at how your company uses personal devices at your business and recommend the best tools. Contact TN Techs for a free consultation.


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Cybersecurity IT Management

What to Include in a Year-end Technology Infrastructure Review

When the year is coming to a close, it’s the perfect time to plan for the future. Most businesses begin the year with the hope of growing and improving operations. Much of how a business operates depends on technology. So, it makes sense to look to your IT for areas of optimization.

A year-end technology review provides an opportunity to look at several areas of your IT. The goal is to take time to focus on improvements you can make to boost your bottom line. As well as what tactics to take to reduce the risk of a costly cyberattack.

A recent study by Deloitte looked at digitally advanced small businesses. Small businesses that make smart use of technology are well ahead of their peers. Here are some of the ways they excel:

  • Earn 2x more revenue per employee
  • Experience year-over-year revenue growth nearly 4x as high
  • Had an average employee growth rate over 6x as high

The bottom line is that companies that use technology well, do better. They are also more secure. According to IBM, businesses that have an incident response plan reduce the costs of a data breach by 61%. Using security AI and automation can lower costs by 70%.

This year-end, take some time to do a technology review with your IT team or managed IT provider. This will set you up for success and security in the coming year.

Considerations When Reviewing Your Technology at Year-End

The goal of a year-end technology review is to look at all areas of your IT infrastructure. Security, efficiency, and bottom-line considerations will be the key drivers for future initiatives.

Technology Policies

When technology policies get outdated, people stop following them. Review all your policies to see if any of them need updating to reflect new conditions. For example, if you now have some staff working from home, make sure your device use policy reflects this.

When you update policies, let your employees know. This gives them a refresher on important information. They may have forgotten certain things since onboarding.

Disaster Recovery Planning

When is the last time your company did an incident response drill? Is there a list of steps for employees to follow in the case of a natural disaster or cyberattack?

Take time to look at disaster recovery planning for the new year. You should also put dates in place for preparedness drills and training in the coming months.

IT Issues & Pain Points

You don’t want to go through a big IT upgrade without considering employee pain points. Otherwise, you might miss some golden opportunities to improve staff productivity and well-being.

Survey your employees on how they use technology. Ask questions about their favorite and least favorite apps. Ask what struggles they face. Let them tell you how they feel technology could improve to make their jobs better. This, in turn, benefits your business. It can also help you target the most impactful improvements.

Privileged Access & Orphaned Accounts

Do an audit of your privileged accounts as part of your year-end review. Over time, permissions can be misappropriated. This leaves your network at a higher risk of a major attack.

You should ensure that only those that need them have admin-level permissions. The fewer privileged accounts you have in your business tools, the lower your risk. Compromised privileged accounts password open the door to major damage.

While going through your accounts, also look for orphaned accounts. You need to close these because they’re no longer used. Leaving them active poses a security risk.

IT Upgrade & Transformation Plans for the New Year

If you make IT upgrades and decisions “on the fly” it can come back to bite you. It’s best to plan out a strategy ahead of time, so you can upgrade in an organized way.

Have a vulnerability assessment performed. This gives you a list of potential problems your company should address. Eliminating vulnerabilities improves your cybersecurity. Planning ahead allows you to budget for your upgrades and avoid unplanned expenses.

Cloud Use & Shadow IT

Review your use of cloud applications. Are certain apps hardly used? Do you have redundancies in your cloud environment? A review can help you cut waste and save money.

Also, look for uses of shadow IT by employees. These are cloud applications that are being used for work but did not go through approval. Management may not even be aware of them. Remove this security risk by either closing the accounts or officially approving them.

Customer-Facing Technology

Don’t forget to look at the customer experience of your technology infrastructure. Go through your website and contact process as a customer would.

If you get frustrated by things like site navigation, then your customers and leads may be too. Include optimizations to your customer-facing technology in your new year plans.

Schedule a Technology & Security Assessment Today!

We can help you with a thorough review of your technology environment to give you a roadmap for tomorrow. Contact TN Techs today for a free consultation.


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Cybersecurity

Simple Guide to Follow for Better Endpoint Protection

Endpoints make up much of a company’s network and IT infrastructure. This is a collection of computers, mobile devices, servers, and smart gadgets. As well as other IoT devices that all connect to the company network.

The number of endpoints a company has will vary by business size. Companies with less than 50 employees have about 22 endpoints. Small businesses with 50-100 employees have roughly 114. Enterprise organizations with 1,000+ employees average 1,920 endpoints.

Each of those devices is a chance for a hacker to penetrate a company’s defenses. They could plant malware or gain access to sensitive company data. An endpoint security strategy addresses endpoint risk and puts focused tactics in place.

64% of organizations have experienced one or more compromising endpoint attacks.

In this guide, we’ll provide you with straightforward solutions. Solutions focused on protection of endpoint devices.

Address Password Vulnerabilities

Passwords are one of the biggest vulnerabilities when it comes to endpoints. The news reports large data breaches all the time related to leaked passwords. For example, there is the RockYou2021 breach. It exposed the largest number of passwords ever – 3.2 billion.

Poor password security and breaches make credential theft one of the biggest dangers to cybersecurity.

Address password vulnerabilities in your endpoints by:

  • Training employees on proper password creation and handling
  • Look for passwordless solutions, like biometrics
  • Install multi-factor authentication (MFA) on all accounts

Stop Malware Infection Before OS Boot

USB drives (also known as flash drives) are a popular giveaway item at trade shows. But an innocent-looking USB can actually cause a breach. One trick that hackers use to gain access to a computer is to boot it from a USB device containing malicious code.

There are certain precautions you can take to prevent this from happening. One of these is ensuring you’re using firmware protection that covers two areas. These include Trusted Platform Module (TPM) and Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) Security.

TPM is resistant to physical tampering and tampering via malware. It looks at whether the boot process is occurring properly. It also monitors for the presence of anomalous behavior. Additionally, seek devices and security solutions that allow you to disable USB boots.

Update All Endpoint Security Solutions

You should regularly update your endpoint security solutions. It’s best to automate software updates if possible so they aren’t left to chance.

Firmware updates are often forgotten about. One reason is that they don’t usually pop up the same types of warnings as software updates. But they are just as important for ensuring your devices remain secure and protected.

It’s best to have an IT professional managing all your endpoint updates. They’ll make sure updates happen in a timely fashion. They will also ensure that devices and software update smoothly.

Use Modern Device & User Authentication

How are you authenticating users to access your network, business apps, and data? If you are using only a username and password, then your company is at high risk of a breach.

Use two modern methods for authentication:

  • Contextual authentication
  • Zero Trust approach

Contextual authentication takes MFA a step further. It looks at context-based cues for authentication and security policies. These include several things. Such as, what time of day someone is logging in, their geographic location, and the device they are using.

Zero Trust is an approach that continuously monitors your network. It ensures every entity in a network belongs there. Safelisting of devices is an example of this approach. You approve all devices for access to your network and block all others by default.

Apply Security Policies Throughout the Device Lifecycle

From the time a device is first purchased to the time it retires, you need to have security protocols in place. Tools like Microsoft AutoPilot and SEMM allow companies to automate. They deploy healthy security practices across each lifecycle phase. This ensures a company doesn’t miss any critical steps

Examples of device lifecycle security include when a device is first issued to a user. This is when you should remove unnecessary privileges. When a device moves from one user to another, it needs to be properly cleaned of old data. And reconfigured for the new user. When you retire a device, it should be properly scrubbed. This means deleting all information and disconnecting it from any accounts.

Prepare for Device Loss or Theft

Unfortunately, mobile devices and laptops get lost or stolen. When that happens, you should have a sequence of events that can take place immediately. This prevents company risk of data and exposed business accounts.

Prepare in advance for potential device loss through backup solutions. Also, you should use endpoint security that allows remote lock and wipe for devices.

Reduce Your Endpoint Risk Today!

Get help putting robust endpoint security in place, step by step. We can help! Contact us today for a free consultation.


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Cybersecurity

Insider Threats Are Getting More Dangerous! Here’s How to Stop Them

One of the most difficult types of attacks to detect are those performed by insiders. An “insider” would be anyone that has legitimate access to your company network and data. This would be via a login or other authorized connection.

Because insiders have authorized system access, they bypass certain security defenses. Such as those designed to keep intruders out. Since a logged-in user isn’t seen as an intruder, those security protections aren’t triggered.

There are three troubling statistics from a recent report by Ponemon Institute They illustrate the importance of addressing this threat. Insider attacks are getting worse, taking longer to detect and becoming more extensive.

The report found that over the last two years:

  • Insider attacks have increased by 44%
  • It takes organizations 85 days to contain an insider threat, compared to 77 days in 2020.
  • The average cost of addressing insider threats has risen by 34%

It’s important for companies to understand what makes up an insider threat. That’s the first step towards mitigation.

4 Types of Insider Threats

One reason that insider threats can be hard to detect is that there is not just one kind. Employees, vendors, and hackers can all perpetrate insider security breaches. To further complicate detection, some may be malicious and others accidental.

Here are the four main types of insider threats faced by company networks.

Malicious/Disgruntled Employee

A sales employee that is leaving the company may decide to take all their contacts with them. This is a malicious theft of company data.

Another example of this type of insider attack is a disgruntled employee. They may be upset with their manager who just fired them and decide to do the business harm. They could plant ransomware or make a deal with a hacker to give over their login credentials for cash.

Careless/Negligent Employee

Some insider threats are due to lazy or untrained employees. They don’t mean to cause a data breach. But may accidentally share classified data on a non secure platform. Or they may use a friend’s computer to access their business apps. Being completely unaware of the security consequences.

3rd Party with Access to Your Systems

Outsiders with access to your network are also a very real concern. Contractors, freelancers, and vendors can all constitute an insider breach risk.

You need to ensure that these third parties are fully reviewed. Do this before you give them system access. You should also allow your IT partner to review them for any data security concerns.

Hacker That Compromises a Password

Compromised login credentials are one of the most dangerous types of insider threats. This has now become the #1 driver of data breaches around the world.

When a cybercriminal can access an employee’s login, that criminal becomes an “insider.” Your computer system reads them as the legitimate user.

Ways to Mitigate Insider Threats

Insider threats can be difficult to detect after the fact. But if you put mitigation measures in place you can stop them in their tracks. Being proactive keeps you from suffering a costly incident. One that you may not know about for months.

Here are some of the best tactics for reducing insider threat risk.

Thorough Background Checks

When hiring new employees make sure you do a thorough background check. Malicious insiders will typically have red flags in their work history. You want to do the same with any vendors or contractors that will have access to your systems.

Endpoint Device Solutions

Mobile devices now make up about 60% of the endpoints in a company. But many businesses aren’t using a solution to manage device access to resources.

Put an endpoint management solution in place to monitor device access. You can also use this to safelist devices and block unauthorized devices by default.

Multi-factor Authentication & Password Security

One of the best ways to fight credential theft is through multi-factor authentication. Hackers have a hard time getting past the 2nd factor. They rarely have access to a person’s mobile device or FIDO security key.

Couple this with password security. This includes things like:

  • Requiring strong passwords in your cloud apps
  • Using a business password manager
  • Requiring unique passwords for all logins

Employee Data Security Training

Training can help you mitigate the risk of a breach through carelessness. Train employees on proper data handling and security policies governing sensitive information.

Network Monitoring

Once someone has user access to your system, how can you catch them doing something wrong? You do this through intelligent network monitoring.

Use AI-enabled threat monitoring. This allows you to detect strange behaviors as soon as they happen. For example, someone downloading a large number of files. Or someone logging in from outside the country.

Need Help Putting a Stop to Insider Attacks?

A layered security solution can help you mitigate all four types of insider threats. We can help you with a robust yet affordable solution. Contact TN Techs today for a free consultation.


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Cybersecurity IT Management

Checklist for Better Digital Offboarding of Employees

Digital footprints cover today’s modern workplace. Employees begin making these the moment they’re hired. They get a company email address and application logins. They may even update their LinkedIn page to connect to your company.

When an employee leaves a company, there is a process that needs to happen. This is the process of “decoupling” the employee from the company’s technology assets. This digital offboarding is vital to cybersecurity.

You don’t want a former employee to maliciously email all your customers from their work email. Sensitive files left on a former staffer’s computer could leak months later.

20% of surveyed businesses have experienced a data breach connected to a former employee.

Digital offboarding entails revoking privileges to company data, and much more. This is a critical process to go through for each former staff member to reduce risk.

Below, we’ve provided a handy checklist to help you cover all your bases.

Your Digital Offboarding Checklist

Knowledge Transfer

Vast corporate knowledge can disappear when a person leaves an organization. It’s important to capture this during a digital offboarding process.

This could be something as simple as what social media app someone used for company posts. Or it may be productivity leveraging. Such as the best way to enter the sales data into the CRM.

Make sure to do a knowledge download with an employee during the exit interview. Better yet, have all staff regularly document procedures and workflows. This makes the knowledge available if the employee is ever not there to perform those tasks.

Address Social Media Connections to the Company

Address any social media connections to the former employee. Is their personal Facebook user account an admin for your company’s Facebook page? Do they post on your corporate LinkedIn page?

Identify All Apps & Logins the Person Has Been Using for Work

Hopefully, your HR or IT department will have a list of all the apps and website logins that an employee has. But you can’t assume this. Employees often use unauthorized cloud apps to do their work. This is usually done without realizing the security consequences.

Make sure you know of any apps that the employee may have used for business activities. You will need to address these. Either change the login if you plan to continue using them. Or you may want to close them altogether after exporting company data.

Change Email Password

Changing the employee’s email password should be one of the first things you do. This keeps a former employee from getting company information. It also keeps them from emailing as a representative of the company.

Accounts are typically not closed immediately because emails need to be stored. But you should change the password to ensure the employee no longer has access.

Change Employee Passwords for Cloud Business Apps

Change all other app passwords. Remember that people often access business apps on personal devices. So, just because they can’t access their work computer any longer, doesn’t mean they can’t access their old accounts.

Changing the passwords locks them out no matter what device they are using. You can simplify the process with a single sign-on solution.

Recover Any Company Devices

Make sure to recover any company-owned devices from the employee’s home. Remote employees are often issued equipment to use.

You should do this as soon as possible to avoid loss of the equipment. Once people no longer work for a company, they may sell, give away, or trash devices.

Recover Data on Employee Personal Devices

Many companies use a bring your own device (BYOD) policy. It saves them money, but this can make offboarding more difficult.

You need to ensure you’ve captured all company data on those devices. If you don’t already have a backup policy in place for this, now is a good time to create one.

Transfer Data Ownership & Close Employee Accounts

Don’t keep old employee cloud accounts open indefinitely. Choose a user account to transfer their data to and then close the account. Leaving unused employee accounts open is an invitation to a hacker. With no one monitoring the account, breaches can happen. A criminal could gain access and steal data for months unnoticed.

Revoke Access by Employee’s Devices to Your Apps and Network

Using an endpoint device management system, you can easily revoke device access. Remove the former employee’s device from any approved device list in your system.

Change Any Building Digital Passcodes

Don’t forget about physical access to your building. If you have any digital gate or door passcodes, be sure to change these so the person can no longer gain access.

Need Help Reducing Offboarding Security Risk?

When you proactively address digital offboarding, the process is easier and less risky. Contact us today for a free consultation to enhance your cybersecurity.


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This Article has been Republished with Permission from The Technology Press.

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Cybersecurity

9 Urgent Security Tips for Online Holiday Shopping

The holiday shopping season is taking off. This means that scammers have also revved up their engines. They’re primed and ready to take advantage of all those online transactions.

Don’t forget to stay safe online during the buying frenzy that occurs this time of year. An ounce of cybersecurity prevention is definitely worth a pound of cure. It can also save you from a financial or privacy nightmare.

Here are some of the most critical safety tips to improve your online holiday shopping.

Check for Device Updates Before You Shop

Computers, tablets, and smartphones that have old software are vulnerable. While you may not want to wait through a 10-minute iPhone update, it’s going to keep you more secure.

Hackers often use vulnerabilities found in device operating systems. Updates install patches for known vulnerabilities, reducing your risk. Make sure to install all updates before you use your device for online holiday shopping.

Don’t Go to Websites from Email Links

Yes, it’s annoying to have to type in “amazon.com” rather than just clicking a link in an email. But phishing scams are at an all-time high this time of year. If you click on an email link to a malicious site, it can start an auto download of malware.

It’s best to avoid clicking links, instead visit the website directly. If you want to make things easier, save sites as shopping bookmarks in your browser. This is safer than clicking a text or email link.

Use a Wallet App Where Possible

It’s always a risk when you give your debit or credit card to a website. The risk is even higher if you’re doing holiday shopping on a site you haven’t purchased from before.

Where possible, buy using a wallet app or PayPal. This eliminates the need to give your payment card details directly to the merchant. Instead, you share them with the wallet app service (Apple Pay, Google Pay, PayPal, etc.). But the retailer doesn’t get them.

Remove Any Saved Payment Cards After Checking Out

There are many websites (including Amazon) that automatically save your payment card details. This is bad. Yes, it may make the next buy more convenient, but it puts you at risk. A hacker with access to your device or account could make purchases.

There is also the risk of a data breach of the retailer. These are common and can leak sensitive customer payment information. The fewer databases you allow to store your payment details, the better for your security.

Immediately after you check out, remove your payment card from the site. You will usually need to go to your account settings to do this.

Make Sure the Site Uses HTTPS (Emphasis on “S”)

HTTPS has largely become the standard for websites now. This is instead of “HTTP” without the “S” on the end. HTTPS means that a website encrypts the data transmitted through the site. Such as your name, address, and payment information.

You should NEVER shop on a website that doesn’t use HTTPS in the address bar. An extra indicator is a small lock icon in front of the website address.

Double Check the Site URL

We all make typos from time to time. Especially when typing on a small smartphone screen. One typo can land you on a copycat site (such as Amazonn(dot)com).

Hackers buy domains that are close to the real ones for popular retailers. Then, they put up copycat sites designed to fool users that make a mistake when typing the URL.

Take those extra few seconds to double-check that you’ve landed on the correct website. Do this before you start shopping.

Never Shop Online When on Public Wi-Fi

When you connect your device to public Wi-Fi, you might as well expect a stranger to be stalking you. Hackers LOVE the holiday shopping season and will hang out in popular public Wi-Fi spots.

They spy on the activities of other devices connected to that same free hotspot. This can give them access to everything you type in. Such as passwords and credit card information.

Never shop online when you’re connected to a public Wi-Fi network. Instead, switch off Wi-Fi and move to your mobile carrier’s connection.

Be On High Alert for Brand Impersonation Emails & Texts

Phishing scammers were very active during the holiday shopping season of 2021. There was a 397% increase in typo-squatting domains connected to phishing attacks.

While you need to be careful all the time about phishing, it’s even worse during the holiday season. Attackers know that people are expecting retailer holiday sales emails. They also get a flurry of order confirmations and shipping notices this time of year.

Hackers use these emails as templates. They impersonate brands like Target, UPS, Amazon, and others. Their emails look nearly identical to the real thing. They trick you to get you to click and/or log in to a malicious website.

Be on high alert for brand impersonation emails. This is another reason why it’s always better to go to a site directly, rather than by using an email link.

Enable Banking Alerts & Check Your Account

Check your bank account regularly. Look for any suspicious charges that could signal a breach. One way to automate a monitoring process is to set up banking alerts through your online banking app.

For example, many banks allow you to set up alerts for events such as:

  • When a purchase occurs over a specified dollar amount
  • When a purchase occurs from outside the country

How Secure Is Your Mobile Device?

Mobile malware is often deployed in holiday shopping scams. How secure is your device from malicious apps and malware? Contact TN Techs today for a security checkup.


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This Article has been Republished with Permission from The Technology Press.

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Cybersecurity Microsoft

What Is Microsoft Defender for Individuals & What Does It Do?

When you hear about Microsoft adding security apps to M365, it’s often the business versions. But the pandemic has changed the way that we see the workplace. It’s now a hybrid world. One made up of several connected “mini-offices” located in employee homes.

The outsourcing market has also contributed to the change in company networks. Freelancers are often contracted to work the same hours as employees. This means less overhead and taxes to pay. Approximately 68% of large consumer products companies outsource a part of their workforce.

What we’re getting at is that the need for home devices and network security has never been greater. Company data is now at the mercy of employee devices, situated in homes across the globe.

55% of employees use their own devices and software to work from home.

Microsoft has been at the forefront of this huge shift in the work environment. Its latest release is another example of how it has positioned its products to address new needs.

The latest security offering by Microsoft is not for business plans. It’s for Personal and Family users of Microsoft 365. The company announced Microsoft Defender for Individuals on June 16, 2022. This is a brand-new digital home security tool.

The Basics of Microsoft Defender for Individuals

Microsoft Defender is a new app that Microsoft 365 subscribers can download. Anyone with a Personal or Family plan can access it for no extra cost.

According to Microsoft, there was a main driver for offering Microsoft Defender. It was to protect the digital life of small businesses and families. Small companies will often use consumer Microsoft 365 plans. This is because they are less expensive than the business plans.

This app brings many digital protections together into one dashboard. These include the following.

Online Security Visibility

Most families have several devices connected to their network. This includes computers, tablets, and smartphones. It can be hard to know which are vulnerable before a hacked device infects the others.

Microsoft Defender gives you visibility into the security status of your devices. It does this in a single place. So, you could see if that new phone of Sally’s has antivirus enabled. You can also easily add or remove devices.

Device Safeguards

The app includes extra protections from online threats. These are in the form of help from antivirus and anti-phishing protection.

You can use it to continually scan devices for threats, both new and existing. You also gain control of scanning customization. For example, you can note certain apps as safe and tell Microsoft Defender what to scan.

Real-Time Alerts & Recommendations

Hackers use automation and AI to unleash their attacks and help them spread. This means that it’s often a race against the clock to stop a breach from getting worse.

To react fast, you need to know something is wrong. Microsoft Defender helps you by giving you real-time alerts. These also come with recommended actions. So, you not only know something is wrong, but you also know what to do about it.

What Else Should You Know?

Here are a few other important things you should know about using Microsoft Defender for Individuals.

Where Can You Download It?

You can download Microsoft Defender for Individuals from Microsoft here. You need to have a Microsoft 365 subscription to either the Personal or Family plan.

What Devices Can Use It?

You can use Defender to secure and monitor the following devices:

  • Windows: Windows 10 version 19041.0 and higher
  • Mac: Intel Macs from Catalina 10.15 and higher, and Apple silicon-based devices from 11.2.3 and up
  • iPhone: iOS 13.0 or later
  • Android: Android OS 6.0 or later

How Many Devices Can You Add?

Microsoft Defender allows you to watch the security of many of your home or work devices. The M365 plan you have will dictate how many.

  • If you have Microsoft 365 Personal plan, you can receive protection on up to 5 devices at the same time.
  • If you have Microsoft 365 Family plan, you can receive protection on up to 30 devices at the same time. (5 devices per person, 6 people total)

What Are the Key Differences Between the Personal & Family Plans?

Both plans can access the many different Office and other Microsoft applications. The main difference is how many people and devices can use the Microsoft 365 services.

  • Microsoft 365 Personal: $69.99 US/year, 1 person, 5 devices
  • Microsoft 365 Family: $99.99 US/year, 6 people, 5 devices per person

So, if you want to sign up even 2 people, you’re saving quite a bit with the Family plan. Even more, if you have six people total using the service.

What’s the Difference Between Microsoft Security on Windows & Microsoft Defender?

Most Windows users are already familiar with the Microsoft Security app. It comes pre-installed on Windows. Microsoft Defender differs from this app in several ways.

Microsoft Defender:

  • Is not pre-installed on Windows. You must download it.
  • It’s a cross-device application used on many different devices
  • It includes features for online security
  • It includes alerts and security tips

Learn More About Defender & Microsoft 365 Today

Are you looking to get more from your Microsoft 365 subscription? We can help! Contact us today to schedule a free, no pressure consultation with our M365 experts.


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This Article has been Republished with Permission from The Technology Press.