5 Common Misconceptions About Cyber Security

As cybercrime continues to rise, so does the growing list of misconceptions. The pandemic drove internet usage up by 50% compared to last year, and experts say until businesses prioritize Cyber Security, the number of cyberattacks will keep climbing.

Thrive’s CISO, Chip Gibbons, reviews the most common misconceptions about Cyber Security and debunks the myths.

Cyber Security – Misconception #1
When your system is compromised, you will notice the breach immediately.

Gibbons: A majority of the compromises are from issues that have been lingering for a while. A company could have a server on the internet that they didn’t either realize or know about or it hasn’t been patched in a long time. Those are the areas where you want to strengthen your Cyber Security. Its crucial businesses know where all their assets are, that they’re patched and they’re secure.

Cyber Security – Misconception #2
The bigger the company, the better the security.

Gibbons: Not necessarily. The size of the business doesn’t mean they’re better or worse at security. I’ve gone into enterprise businesses where I am frankly frightened and I’ve gone into small businesses where I am thinking, wow, they’re really good. It depends on at what level that company has prioritized security. It’s difficult because businesses don’t want to spend money right now but, in this instance, but they have to.

Cyber Security – Misconception #3
Cyber Security is not worth a huge investment.

Gibbons: A lot of businesses aren’t keeping up with their Cyber Security because perhaps years ago when they got an initial quote, they couldn’t afford it. But that’s not the case anymore. It is affordable and companies just need to do some research. A breach at a large company can cost millions of dollars and suddenly the two thousand dollars a month it would have cost to just update and monitor their Cyber Security does not seem so outrageous.

Cyber Security – Misconception 4
Viruses are the biggest cyber threat.

Gibbons:  Right now, in Cyber Security, we’re seeing a huge increase in account compromised types of attacks. Phishing, where cybercriminals attempt to collect confidential data through emails and websites, has always been somewhat of a big area for cybercriminals and it’s growing rapidly. Phishing was the number one cause of data breaches in 2019, and in 2020 phishing attacks have become even more sophisticated and highly targeted.

Cyber Security – Misconception 5
Company information can’t be as easily compromised with employees working from home.

Gibbons: It was a big change to move employees from the office to a remote setting and when it happened, it happened very quickly. But just because you send your employees home doesn’t mean they are secure. Cybercriminals are banking on a lack of security for remote workers so employers need to make sure employees have antivirus and all the standard security precautions they would in the office. During the COVID-19, a great deal of our time at Thrive has been spent working with clients to make sure that their end-users are safe, and they are connecting securely into their network.

Whether your company is in the office or remote, Thrive provides IT security solutions that deliver proven comprehensive protection for your business.

Click here to learn more about how our comprehensive cyber security plan can protect your vital data, SaaS applications, end-users, and critical infrastructure.
The Urgency and Imperative for Financial Institutions to Mitigate Cyber Attacks

While banks and financial firms have long been a core target for malicious online threats, Enterprise Talk notes that the global pandemic has created much more complexity within the Cyber Security threat landscape.

It is estimated, with the increase in fake domains, phishing scams, DDoS attacks, Cyber crime damages will cost the world $6 trillion annually by 2021, with the majority directed towards financial institutions and banks.

The pandemic has only added fuel to the fire. In response, the Financial Conduct Authority called for institutions to pay closer attention to information security and to increase monitoring guard endpoints, information, and critical processes such as network connections.

Many banks and financial organizations have invested millions into their Cyber Security efforts. However, they have failed to incorporate security platforms and instead relied on manual processes, which has translated into an increase in attacks. In addition, the added pressure to maintain compliance while trying to protect sensitive data from breaches continues to mount.

This increased cyber threat level to financial institutions has a new sense of urgency that can be difficult to navigate. How those financial businesses respond will determine their future, which is why it is important to turn to proven experts to mitigate their risks and help them become not only compliant, but give them the peace of mind that they are secure.

Thrive works with some of the largest hedge fund and financial services companies, as well as many of the top regional banks in the Northeast, providing them industry-leading Cyber Security services tailor-made for the FinTech industry.

Backed by an unmatched portfolio of Cyber Security services and an expert team with decades of financial services industry experience, Thrive provides businesses a comprehensive Cyber Security plan that covers vital data, SaaS applications, end-users, and critical infrastructure.

Interested in learning more? CONTACT US TODAY!
Security Driven SD-WAN: A Key Factor in Network Modernization

With many of us working from home during COVID-19, one unexpected benefit remote workers may be experiencing is better performance and faster response times to the business applications that are used daily to perform our jobs, such as email in Office 365 or GSuite, Salesforce, Dropbox and many other cloud-based applications. This improved performance may be a result of not traversing across a corporate network to get access to the internet to reach these cloud-based applications. You may have a more direct path to these applications from home than you have from your office, especially if you work at a remote branch office that is tied to a corporate network.

This unprecedented event has proven that the internet is clearly capable of providing enterprise level networking. Surely, each of us has experienced the occasional fuzzy video or audio drop, but by and large, the internet has held up well with the big spikes in network traffic since stay at home orders were put in place.

As organizations will look to cut costs with reduced budgets, Software Defined Wide Area Networking (SD-WAN) provides an opportunity to lower network costs while improving application and network performance for the branch offices to cloud-based applications you’re accessing from home today. SD-WAN enables you to augment or replace your traditional legacy WAN services with lower cost broadband internet services for direct access to cloud-based applications and ensures that performance is not sacrificed in doing so.

Security must still be a key consideration when implementing a SD-WAN solution as enabling direct internet access at branch offices opens the network to more entry points for potential threats. Combining network security and SD-WAN onto a single platform provides the ability to gain improved remote branch application performance while ensuring your critical assets and data are protected from outside threats. A combined Secure SD-WAN platform also reduces equipment costs and management complexity. Organizations with legacy MPLS network infrastructure should take a hard look at the performance and cost benefits a secure SD-WAN solution can provide as more and more applications move to the cloud and out of the corporate data center.

To learn more about Managed Secure SD-WAN, CONTACT US TODAY!

Enabling Remote Workforce and Business Operations to be Scalable During COVID-19 and Beyond.

As businesses and organizations around the world were forced to move their employees to work remotely, many were not truly prepared for what is required to make that transition while maintaining seamless operations.

As a result, businesses found themselves scrambling to get corporate laptops into the hands of key personnel, while others encountered supply chain issues that reduced stock at both large suppliers and local electronic chains. Each company, no matter what their size was faced with managing internal software and access requirements. But, how do you translate this at scale? How do you ensure that your employees can work anywhere, anytime, and on any platform available? The answer is simple, and it lies in a technology that has been around since the early 90’s and continues to evolve today. While there are many variations it is all fundamentally offshoots of remote desktop. Citrix, VDI, RDS, DaaS, are some of the current names with each product designed for different use cases and business needs.

Years ago, remote access was traditionally a very easy solve. Working from home was not a popular use case as it is today due to available consumer bandwidth options. Most commonly, users were granted access to corporate resources such as files and email via VPN (virtual private networking). More security-focused organizations provided employees with a corporate machine to access the VPN. However, this solution always had a fundamental flaw, those endpoints albeit secured with your corporate AV, were still living outside the perimeter of the network, and would then connect with full access to the network.

As the security landscape evolved to combat emerging threats from all angles, which specifically included remote workers; Solutions were born that allowed remote access to the corporate network without network level access. This meant that users could access all corporate resources but never actually be physically connected to the network. Additional controls put in place by an organization could further lock down and secure that access. While the organizations that still relied only on VPN access to the office, at the start of the quarantine were struggling to get laptops, configure VPN access points and buy additional licensing. Those that had already put in place a robust solution like Citrix, RDS, VDI or DaaS simply ensured that their end users knew how to access it. What makes this so much easier you ask? Well, it is because technologies like Citrix and RDS use the concept of shared application access. Take for example your accounting department who needs to run Great Plains while working remotely. Instead of loading Great Plains on each of those end users’ laptops, you would install it on the Citrix or RDS server and once any member of that accounting team logs in they would be able to access Great Plains as if they were sitting in their seats at the office. This also means that when it is time to upgrade the software, as the admin you simply perform the update once on the server, instead of multiple times for each remote employee. In the last 5-10 years this technology has evolved even more with the mainstream introduction of VDI (virtual desktop infrastructure). This concept took the idea of a windows machine and made it available as a virtual machine. This allowed admins the flexibility to deploy and scale machines on demand based on end user need. It allowed for controlled updates to the machines and operating system. Users can either use a pool of dedicated virtual desktops. If situations required it, they had the option of giving users their own dedicated desktops. Now imagine your users who already work in their VDI’s in the office are now asked to go into full remote work mode. Those same users simply go home and log into their VDI and it is like they were sitting at the office. In all these solutions there is a front-end server or appliance that handles load balancing of your connections as well as user authentication. Behind that is either your server farm that hosts the applications or a pool of desktops, making the solution highly resilient and redundant.

Solving the challenges of remote work environments are proving beneficial in other business operations. If added to your BCP/DR plan they ensure business continuity by allowing your operations to continue regardless of what happens in the office. Many of the VPN-only organizations currently allow their end users to VPN into the office and then use Microsoft RDP to access their office computers. In a perfect world this works, but it does not account for loss of power or catastrophic events that affect the office. It also does not account for simple things like computers that are simply powered off and cannot be accessed.

If you are an organization that is serious about proving the best level of remote access while securing the enterprise, Thrive is here to help. CONTACT US TODAY!

SEC Sweep Exam Priorities – Business Continuity

Watch the Full Webinar Presentation!

 

Marc Capobianco, EVP of FinTech at Thrive, John Stiles, Founder & CEO of C/Bridge Strategic Advisors and Michael Dale, CFO at Eastward Capital Partners discuss how financial firms need to review and update their business continuity plans to comply with regulators expectations.

Discussion Topics:  

  • Does the firm have policies, procedures, guidance or other information tailored to address the continuity of business operations during a pandemic?
  • Has your firm activated its BCP in response to COVID-19?
  • Does your firm’s BCP address the resiliency practices of third-party vendors, service providers and partners?
  • How has your firm addressed cyber security policies and procedures regarding employee remote access?
  • Does your firm have any specific limitations in its ability to operate critical systems and operations during the pandemic?

Fill out the form to get instant access to our on-demand webinar.

Trusted Advisors – Beyond Service Understanding and into Deal Positioning

As 2019 ended and 2020 began, the nationwide Channel continued its tremendous growth. Partners are more established than ever in their roles as trusted advisors and are increasingly adept at uncovering cyber security, Cloud, and a variety of other Managed IT opportunities.  A greater overall focus on partner education has been a key contributor to this success with Master Agencies at the forefront — coming up with increasingly engaging and effective ways to prepare partners to win deals. However, as a supplier, it is important to note that the education cannot end there.

While partners receive enhanced educational benefits from an industry and general service perspective, one thing I have noticed is the push for suppliers to not only educate partners on their assorted services and products, but to go a step beyond. Yes, understanding the product suite is vital, but the true value is in understanding HOW to sell these services to your existing account base once you learn them. This is not a one size fits all approach and must be addressed uniquely. Thrive is making a push to provide more education to our partners beyond what we offer and how we differentiate in the marketplace. We aim to dive deeper into how to take this knowledge and position it through the right line of conversation with the goal being to find direct opportunity alignment.

A big piece of this additional education is helping our partners identify key market trends and build business cases around them, specifically as they relate to Thrive and our strengths. For example, organizations with a new IT Director or C-Level executive have proven to be the perfect candidates for a Network Health Assessment; a commissionable engagement run by our consulting team that helps businesses drive value by understanding where they need to invest from an IT perspective. In a broader example, we have seen more and more first time SIEM adopters. With our partners asking the right questions, a need was identified for smaller SIEM/SOC deals with under 100 devices that had previously not been a focus of ours. Partners now know to leverage Thrive on these opportunities as we have a strong SIEM offering.

While this is already about a paragraph too long, I think it’s important to emphasize the main takeaway here. Partners are becoming more educated and bringing better opportunities to the table. There needs to be a push to go beyond the ABCs of our services as suppliers and continue to build the deal positioning aspect.  This requires a tailored approach that focuses directly on what we do best and helping partners leverage that.

We don’t expect to be picked for every given opportunity, but want to make sure that when we are, everyone wins.

For more information on Thrive’s Channel Program, CONTACT US TODAY!

Phish Out of Water — Remote Workers Email Security

The last few weeks have been a big change for everyone.  Many people are working from home, and some of those people have children at home with them.  Right now, my kids are wandering the house looking for breakfast and prepping for Zoom meetings with their teachers.  While I have seen many acts of kindness and compassion during this time, I have also seen attackers take advantage of distracted workers who are trying to balance home and work life.

We have seen an increase in phishing emails that are shockingly good.  They are playing on the fears of people working from home.  For example, a receptionist who gets an email from the CEO asking to buy gift cards for everyone as a morale booster, might think this sounds great.  In the past they would walk down to the CEO’s office and probably ask a question or two.  But in today’s climate, without the easy access to the CEO, they might just buy the gift cards and send the information back via email, never realizing this was a phishing scam.

In this time of change, communication via Teams, Slack, etc. is essential to keep the ability to “pop” into someone’s office to ask a question.  It is also imperative to implement or continue security awareness training — provide people the tools to be able to spot malicious emails and routinely phish your employees.  If someone fails, that is a good thing.  You can help that person before a hacker gets them to click on a link.  Make it mandatory that they make time to take the trainings. Phishing and training together can really improve your security.

People are the weakest link in the security chain. Thrive’s Anti-Phishing and Security Awareness Training ensures your employees understand the mechanisms of spam, phishing, spear phishing, malware, ransomware and social engineering.

For more information, CONTACT US today!

Thrive Partner Testimonial – Blue Front Technology Group

This video features Thrive’s Channel Partner — Dan Passacantilli, Founder of Blue Front Technology Group. Blue Front Technology Group has been a channel partner of Thrive’s for 15 years.

Agents and Technology Consultants partner with Thrive to leverage our technical expertise coupled with our NextGen managed services. Thrive is considered a trusted advisor that partners rely on to offer their clients NextGen Technology Services.

For more information on how to partner with Thrive, CONTACT US today.

Still not using 2FA/MFA? No time like the present to make the change!

Has your remote work policy changed in the last month or two?  Are more of your employees working from home or at locations that are “untrusted”?  The answer is almost certainly a resounding YES!  Now more than ever you need to ensure that Two Factor Authentication (2FA) or Multi-Factor Authentication is being used throughout your organization in as many places as possible.  Many people are becoming more comfortable with this concept as they are having to perform these same steps to access their personal accounts (banking, Gmail, etc.).

Whether it is accessing your corporate VPN or cloud-based applications such as Office 365, Salesforce, NetSuite, Workday or many others you need to make sure users are required to supply two forms of authentication to access company resources and data.  Something they know (username and password) and something they have (a text message with a unique code or an app on their phone that must be clicked to accept the request to connect) are no longer optional in the workplace.

Microsoft has a Multi-Factor Authentication product called Azure Multi-Factor Authentication that can be configured to deliver Two-Factor Authentication four different ways.  The Azure Multi-Factor Authentication service can send you a text message with a code that you must provide, call you on a preset phone number and provide you with the number, provide a rotating code on the Microsoft Authenticator smart phone application, or push a pop up message to your smart phone for your approval.  Azure Multi Factor Authentication is available as a standalone product and is also included in Azure Active Directory Premium, Enterprise Mobility Suite, and Microsoft 365.

Fortinet also has Two-Factor Authentication capabilities built directly into the FortiGate firewalls.  A physical token or a smart phone application can be used to get a rotating code that can be used as the One Time Password when connected to a FortiGate SSL VPN.

In addition to 2FA, geography-based access to your corporate resources should be something that you consider implementing.  Allowing someone to connect from any location in the world may not be necessary, when your users should only be coming from certain geographies.  If you only operate business in the United States, why not block any connection attempt from international locations?  Sure, you may have users that travel internationally from time to time and exceptions can be made as they arise. Reducing your attack surface in as many ways possible is the best course of action to protect your business now and into the future.

If you are interested in learning more about how Two-Factor Authentication or geography based restrictions could better protect your business, CONTACT THRIVE TODAY!

The Single Cause Behind Most Vulnerabilities and How to Solve It

Having been involved in hundreds of vulnerability assessments I can confidently say that most issues have a single underlying source.  The discovered vulnerability could be an increased risk of ransomware exposure, buffer overflows, elevation of privileges, denial of service, weak encryption, etc.  Regardless of the diversity of the vulnerabilities, there is commonly a single deficiency within the organization that led to the risk.  It is a crucial component of any solid cyber security framework, yet it remains one of the least appreciated and maintained areas of Information Technology.  By now, you may have guessed, that I’m referring to patch management.

Inevitably, a vulnerability assessment will overturn workstations, servers, switches, firewalls, routers, wireless access points, hypervisors and countless other devices which all need to be patched. Consequently, the IT department is consumed with months of maintenance windows to get everything updated.  After many late nights, every piece of infrastructure is finally fully patched.  The IT department can finally get a good night’s sleep!  Unfortunately, it won’t last long because while all of those patches were getting installed more vulnerabilities were discovered which will require more patching.  This is the never-ending struggle of patch management.

It’s true that most IT departments have a pretty good handle on patching workstations and servers by leveraging automated patching solutions.  However, that addresses only a small piece of the typical IT infrastructure.  What’s a sleep deprived IT department to do to keep up with the tidal wave of patches? It’s simple, embrace Thrive’s NextGen services.

  • Offload all server and hypervisor patching responsibility by transferring workloads to one of Thrive’s many cloud solutions.
  • Deploy ThriveCloud managed firewalls, switches and wireless access points to allow for automated patch and firmware deployments during scheduled maintenance windows.
  • Leverage Thrive’s 3rd party patching solution to update often overlooked and highly vulnerable software like Java, Acrobat and Zoom.

For more information on Thrive’s NextGen managed services, CONTACT US TODAY!