Protect Your Employees and Your Business Against Vishing

Vishing

Protect Your Employees and Your Business Against Vishing

Key Points

  • The increase in remote and hybrid workforces has created new opportunities for bad actors.
  • Vishing is a type of fraud where criminals attempt to obtain sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, and credit card details by masquerading as a reputable entity.
  • Bad actors typically do this by making voice calls or leaving voicemails that appear to be from a legitimate organization.
  • Vishing can have serious consequences for businesses, including compromised company data, financial losses, ransomware infections, and reputational damage.

Cybercriminals are always searching for new ways to prey on businesses and their employees, and the increase in remote and hybrid workforces has created new opportunities for bad actors to exploit. Businesses of all sizes are at risk, and employees are often the weak link in the security chain. One type of attack that is becoming more common is “vishing,” where attackers use social engineering techniques to trick victims into revealing sensitive information. As a business leader, it’s essential to be aware of this threat and take steps to protect your employees.

Vishing

What Is Vishing and How Does It Work?

Vishing is a type of fraud where criminals attempt to obtain sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, and credit card details by masquerading as a reputable entity. They typically do this by making voice calls or leaving voicemails that appear to be from a legitimate organization, such as a bank or government agency.

Vishing can be very difficult to detect, as the caller may have spoofed their caller ID to make it appear as if they are calling from a legitimate number. This can fool even the most tech-savvy employees.

Once the bad actor has made contact, they will try to obtain personal information from the victim by using high-pressure tactics or threats. For example, they may claim that the victim’s bank account has been compromised and demand that they provide their login credentials to “verify” their identity. Or, they may pose as a government official, say that the victim’s taxes are overdue, and threaten legal action if they do not provide their Social Security number.

In some cases, vishing attacks can be very sophisticated. Criminals may do their research in advance and have detailed information about their targets, such as their name, job title, and company. This can make the victim feel like they are speaking to a legitimate person, and more likely to comply with their demands.

Is Vishing the Same as Phishing?

Vishing is similar to phishing, but there are some key differences. Both vishing and phishing are attempts to gain information by tricking the victim. However, with vishing, the attacker will use the phone instead of email to try to gain access to information.

Vishing can be harder to detect than phishing because the attacker is using a method that feels more personal. They may spoof the caller ID to make it look like they are calling from a legitimate company, or they may use social engineering techniques to try to get the victim to give them the information they want.

The Dangers of Vishing for Businesses

Vishing attacks can have serious consequences for businesses. If an employee falls for a vishing scam, the attacker may gain access to the company’s network and sensitive data. They may also use the employee’s credentials to commit fraud or steal money from the company. In some cases, vishing attacks can lead to ransomware infections, where the attacker encrypts the company’s data and demands a ransom to decrypt it.

Here are some of the most common dangers of vishing attacks:

  • Compromised company data: If an employee’s credentials are compromised in a vishing attack, the attacker may gain access to the company’s network and sensitive data. This can include customer information, financial data, and trade secrets.
  • Financial losses: Vishing attacks can lead to financial losses for businesses. For example, if an attacker obtains an employee’s login credentials, they may be able to transfer money out of the company’s bank account.
  • Ransomware infections: In some cases, vishing attacks can lead to ransomware infections, where the attacker encrypts the company’s data and demands a ransom to decrypt it. This can cause significant disruption to the business and may result in the loss of important data.
  • Reputational damage: Vishing attacks can also damage a company’s reputation. For example, if an attacker obtains customer data, the company may be required to disclose the breach to the affected individuals. This can damage the company’s reputation and result in financial losses.

How to Protect Your Business From Vishing Attacks

Vishing can be difficult to defend against, as attackers are constantly finding new ways to exploit employees. There are several steps that businesses can take to protect themselves from vishing attacks, including:

  • Educating employees about the risks of vishing and reminding them never to give out sensitive information over the phone unless they are sure they know who they are talking to.
  • Implementing a call verification system for high-risk calls, such as those from banks or other financial institutions.
  • Making sure all employees know how to report suspicious calls or voicemails.
  • Keeping anti-virus software up to date and ensuring all employees have access to it.

Tips for Detecting a Vishing Attack

Vishing attacks can devastate businesses of all sizes – but by being aware of the methods scammers use, you can help protect your employees (and your business) from becoming victims.

Some tips for detecting a vishing attack include:

  • Being wary of unsolicited calls from unknown individuals
  • Refusing to give out personal or financial information over the phone
  • Being suspicious of requests for money or gift cards
  • Refusing to click on links or open attachments from unknown senders.

As with any type of cyberattack, the best defense against vishing is awareness and education. By teaching your employees how to spot a vishing attempt, you can help protect your business from this devastating type of attack.

Responding to a Vishing Attack

The way you respond to any attack can mean the difference between a minor setback and a major disaster. If you believe your business has been the victim of a vishing attack, it’s important to take action immediately. Some steps you can take to respond to a vishing attack include:

  • Notifying your employees: If you suspect that your employees have been targeted by a vishing attack, it’s important to let them know as soon as possible. This will help them be on the lookout for suspicious calls and take steps to protect their information.
  • Contacting your bank or financial institution: If you suspect that your login credentials have been compromised, it’s important to contact your bank or financial institution immediately. They may be able to take steps to protect your account and prevent any unauthorized transactions from taking place.
  • Monitoring your accounts: It’s also a good idea to monitor your company’s bank accounts and credit card statements for any suspicious activity. If you see any unusual charges, it’s important to report them to your bank or credit card company immediately.
  • Reporting the incident: If you believe you’ve been the victim of a vishing attack, it’s important to report the incident to the appropriate authorities.

Wrap Up

Vishing is a serious threat to businesses of all sizes – but by taking steps to educate your employees and protect your business, you can help reduce the risk of becoming a victim. If you believe your business has been the target of a vishing attack, it’s important to take action immediately to minimize the damage. Be sure to implement strict security measures to protect your business from future attacks.

Four Steps You Must Take Today to Safeguard Your Business Against Phishing Attacks

Safeguard Your Business

Four Steps You Must Take Today to Safeguard Your Business Against Phishing Attacks

Key Points in This Article:

  • Businesses of sizes and industries must contend with phishing attacks which, if successful, can be devastating.
  • Having a plan in place is crucial to mitigate the risk of phishing.
  • Training employees, managing passwords, updating software, and securing mobile devices are steps you must take to safeguard your business.

No matter the size or industry, businesses face phishing attacks that have escalated in scope and sophistication. Successful phishing attacks can open a backdoor to a business’ corporate network, exposing proprietary, employee, and client information to cybercriminals. Moreover, phishing can give cybercriminals the access needed to deploy ransomware on a network.

Once in place, the software can encrypt files, allowing the cybercriminal to extort a ransom in exchange for restored access. Such ransomware attacks have cost companies anywhere from hundreds of thousands to millions in ransoms, repairs, and reputational damage. And depending on the circumstances, businesses have also faced regulatory action for negligence when breaches have occurred.

Suppose you’re a business owner or executive who’s become increasingly aware of and concerned about the threat of phishing attacks (and cybersecurity in general). In that case, you can take some simple steps to mitigate your risk. While you will undoubtedly be targeted in this day and age, here’s what you need to do to safeguard your business.

Safeguard Your Business

Train Employees About Cybersecurity Continuously

Phishing is an attempt to manipulate individuals into revealing confidential or sensitive information. Within a business setting, cybercriminals send employees official-looking emails and texts designed to appear as if they’ve come from the business or one of its leaders. These messages will ask employees to reply with access credentials and, in some cases, their personal financial information.

If you look closely, there are often telltale signs that these messages are fraudulent, and many employees who recognize them will quickly report them to your IT department. But many employees remain unaware of the threat’s magnitude and how to detect phishing messages. When you train your employees to recognize suspicious emails (and other cybersecurity threats), you’ll substantially reduce the risk that one of your employees unintentionally provides cybercriminals access to your network.

However, cybercriminals remain hard at work devising new methods to attack businesses for illicit gain. You must schedule cybersecurity awareness training regularly to keep your employees up-to-date about new threats, reinforce the need for employee vigilance, and ensure new employees are up to speed.

Employ a Robust Password Policy

Sometimes, cybercriminals can compromise a network by guessing a password. Now, they don’t sit down, try to figure out probable passwords, and try them individually. They typically perform what’s known as a brute force attack, using sophisticated applications that automatically try multiple probable passwords. These applications often start with either commonly used credentials or credentials that are in use that a cybercriminal has obtained from a phishing attempt or prior breach.

You can minimize the likelihood of a brute force attack succeeding by requiring employees to create and use unique and complex passwords. Ideally, your password should not be one that can be easily guessed and should contain a list of numbers as well as uppercase, lowercase, and special characters. Passwords containing names, birthdays, and other information that can be guessed or publicly available present a security risk.

Further, you should require that employees change their passwords frequently. Indeed, all employees should be required to change their passwords in a breach. But when you require all passwords to be changed at periodic intervals, you’ll make it harder for cybercriminals to gain access.

Keep Software Up-to-Date

By keeping your security software applications up-to-date, you can be assured you have the latest cybersecurity protections in place. Of course, it’s also essential to ensure you have the right cybersecurity applications in place. You’ll need your IT staff to help you identify the right software applications to keep your network safe. But depending on their cybersecurity experience, you may need to retain the services of a Managed Security Service Provider (MSSP). Because they work in the field 24/7, MSSPs have a breadth of experience and access to security planning and assessment tools that most in-house IT departments don’t. And because they work with businesses in your industry and region, they have practical insights into the threats your business may face.

Your security applications are not all you need to keep current. You also must keep your enterprise software current as well. When software companies retire specific applications, they no longer provide security updates. Cybercriminals may be able to exploit vulnerabilities in these programs to compromise your network. So you must upgrade or replace each software application on your network when the developer retires it.

Implement Strong Safeguards on Mobile Devices

With more companies operating in a remote-only or hybrid fashion, businesses have more devices accessing their network than ever. When the pandemic began, many businesses, in their haste to rapidly go remote, allowed employees to use their own devices and were somewhat laissez-faire in their approach to network security. And with new security vulnerabilities proliferating, many businesses paid a heavy price as their networks were breached.

Some businesses have yet to learn the lessons of those early pandemic days. It’s more critical than ever to ensure that offsite employees are accessing your network safely and securely and that when they do, they are doing so with devices with robust security measures. Moreover, your IT personnel must have the training, resources, and directive to monitor activity that may indicate cybercriminals are attempting to penetrate your network.

Employees often relax their guard when working from home or offsite and may inadvertently expose your network to threats if they access it using a personal device. If you employ a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policy, make sure you’ve got a clear and comprehensive BYOD security policy in place that should cover how employees connect to your network, security measures to be placed on their devices, what device data will be monitored, and how that information will be used. A phishing attack aimed at obtaining an employee’s personal financial information could also net a cybercriminal access credentials to your network, so pairing your BYOD policy with regular training is crucial.

Even if you provide devices for employees to work remotely or have everyone working onsite, you still need a clear cybersecurity policy (including password protocols) outlining how employees use your devices. You must also provide regular training on the cybersecurity threats they may face. And you need up-to-date security and other software applications on those devices. By taking these steps, you can minimize the risk your business falls victim to a phishing attack. And if you do, these steps will also help mitigate the damage such an attack could cause.

Three Ways Managed Services Providers Can Help Your Business Grow

Business Growth

Three Ways Managed Services Providers Can Help Your Business Grow

Key Points in This Article

  • Working with an MSP can provide businesses with the necessary resources to grow.
  • MSPs can help businesses save time by absorbing time-consuming yet fundamental tasks.
  • They can also help companies save money by leveraging their insights and experience to increase productivity and offer specialized services where there are gaps in-house.

Business executives often think of Managed Service Providers (MSPs) in the context of their IT departments. They think that when they followed their CIO or IT director’s advice to hire one, they approved an IT solution to IT problems. But MSPs aren’t just technical resources to be leveraged when the network goes down. Reputable MSPs can offer businesses of all sizes across industries the keys they need to unlock their full growth potential. MSPs can leverage their IT expertise to help businesses save time and money, increase productivity, and earn revenue.

How can MSPs help businesses accelerate their growth? Here are three ways that working with a reputable provider can help you grow your business.

Business Growth

Improving Your Business’ Productivity

Working with an MSP, you can determine the best IT infrastructure to support your unique business. And not only can you design an operating environment that helps you maximize employee productivity while minimizing downtime and reducing the risk of system failures. Your MSP can usually manage your infrastructure, saving you time and ensuring your operations run smoothly.

Moreover, many MSPs offer round-the-clock coverage, while most IT departments cannot. MSPs can resolve an overnight network issue before the first employees arrive in the morning, whereas those employees in businesses without one will face some downtime in the morning. And the longer your systems are down, the more revenue and customers you may lose.

MSPs also work with multiple clients across industries. Accordingly, their staff has developed a wealth of knowledge about technical and business problems requiring IT solutions. Drawing on their experience, MSPs can recommend, help you plan, and deploy practical solutions that help you optimize your business’ productivity.

Further, many MSPs can take helpdesk management and other time-consuming fundamental tasks off your hands. In fact, they usually can do so more effectively and efficiently than you can. You will no longer consume valuable in-house staff time with a daily flood of mundane requests from your organization. Letting your MSP partner take over helpdesk management and other similar tasks allows your staff to work on higher-level activities, like strategic planning, revenue-driving IT activities, cybersecurity, and more.

Helping You Minimize Costs

An MSP can save your company the need to hire additional specialists in in-demand areas like cybersecurity. MSP staff can complement the work of your own in-house staff, filling in critical gaps where you have talent deficits. Further, MSPs typically bill using either a recurring monthly fee or a per-use fee model that allows you to adjust the services you need as necessary. If demand begins to surge, you can rapidly scale up the support and services you need. And if you no longer need a specific service, you can quickly remove it from your service contract.

When working with an MSP, businesses often find substantial cost savings in two additional areas. MSPs can often help businesses obtain the hardware and software they need at lower-than-market rates. That’s because MSPs maintain large supplier networks and are often able to secure preferred pricing. And because they can, they can help you obtain and deploy applications and solutions that you’ve long avoided but can substantially impact your business.

Second, many businesses often find that their MSP partners have identified seemingly simple tweaks to existing IT infrastructure that significantly reduce costs and save time. MSPs not only bring their experience working with other clients to bear but also bring an outsider’s perspective. Fresh eyes on a seemingly intractable problem or bottleneck often yield a solution.

Mitigating Risks and Threats

In today’s world, it’s no longer a matter of whether a cybercriminal will target a business but of when. And cyberattacks can be devastating, with the physical, financial, and reputational costs often high enough to put a company out of business. While preventing an attempt is impossible, you can radically reduce the risk of it being successful by designing and implementing the right cybersecurity plan.

But most in-house generalists don’t have the expertise, time, or resources to handle the most sophisticated threat actors. However, MSPs and Managed Security Service Providers (companies primarily offering managed cybersecurity services) can handle these threats. MSPs and MSSPs not only employ some of the best cybersecurity talents around. But because they work exclusively in the field, they can keep up-to-date with the threat landscape in a manner that in-house professionals cannot.

Moreover, MSPs and MSSPs usually have access to sophisticated security tools most businesses have not invested in. This combination of cybersecurity expertise, resources, and dedicated time is what you need to safeguard your business to the greatest extent possible. But cybercriminals are simply one threat.

All it takes is one accident, weather event, or system malfunction to result in potentially catastrophic data loss. And in the event an incident occurs, you must be able to ensure you restore your operations quickly. But many businesses don’t have a backup and disaster recovery plan. Others fail to check to ensure their data is backed up regularly. Still, others lack business continuity plans that can help them recover rapidly. And of those that do, many are inadequate and untested.

MSPs can help businesses put the plans they need in a crisis. Doing so can also free up staff to work on other projects. Moreover, when you let an MSP manage your infrastructure, you can insulate your business from the inherent risks of managing your own own-prem data center. An MSP can help you quickly return to total operational efficiency, which you need when disaster strikes.

These scenarios may not seem to have much to do with growth. But engaging in this kind of defensive work takes staff time and resources, which, when you work with an MSP, can be freed up to focus on revenue and productivity. Additionally, a crisis can quickly torpedo your growth if not properly managed. So it’s crucial to ensure you have the right plans in place to manage one.

Working with an MSP can help you increase business productivity by saving you time in multiple ways. When your in-house IT staff has more time, they can help you with product development, sales platform optimization, and other revenue-driving activities. They can also help other departments become more productive when they have the time to think through and deploy new technology solutions to longstanding problems. MSPs can also help you save money by reducing the need for large-scale hiring and optimizing existing resources. And they can help you safeguard your business, which faces more threats than ever.

Ontario’s Employee Monitoring Policy: What You Need To Know

Ontario's Employee Monitoring Policy

Ontario’s Employee Monitoring Policy: What You Need To Know

Key Points

  • As of October 11, 2022, all employers in Ontario with 25 or more employees must have an electronic monitoring policy.
  • Electronic monitoring can include surveillance devices, GPS tracking, and keylogging software.
  • The electronic monitoring policy must state whether or not employees are being monitored.
  • Employers who fail to post a policy or do not provide employees with their electronic monitoring rights are subject to fines.

As of October 11, 2022, all employers in Ontario with 25 or more employees must have an electronic monitoring policy.

Electronic monitoring is nothing new, but a new law was recently passed in Ontario. As of October 11, 2022, all employers in Ontario with 25 or more employees must notify their employees in writing if they will be subject to electronic monitoring.

According to the provincial government, employers must notify employees of how they will be electronically monitored and where – including the devices, they may use to collect information. This law does not just apply to employees who work from home – it applies to anyone in Ontario who is subject to electronic monitoring, no matter where they are located.

Here’s what you need to know about electronic monitoring in the workplace and how you can prepare for it.

Ontario's Employee Monitoring Policy

What Is Electronic Monitoring?

Electronic monitoring is the use of technology to track employees’ working hours. This can include recording the time they start and end work and any breaks they take throughout the day.

Many employers are now using electronic monitoring to ensure that their employees adhere to employee attendance and overtime policies.

Transparency is critical when it comes to electronic monitoring. While the law does not prohibit employers from monitoring their employees’ activity online, it does require that they be upfront about their use of electronic monitoring tools.

What Must the Electronic Monitoring Policy Include?

The electronic monitoring policy must consist of the following:

  • A statement that employees may be subject to electronic monitoring
  • A description of the types of electronic monitoring that may be used
  • Details about how electronic monitoring data will be used
  • The date the policy was created
  • The date any modifications to the policy were made

How Should Electronic Monitoring Policies Be Communicated?

  • The written policy that outlines these details should be provided to all employees within 30 days of October 11, 2022.
  • New employees should receive this policy within 30 days of starting their job.
  • After modifications are made, employees should receive the updated copy within 30 days.
  • Employees should receive the policy in paper or digital format, allowing them to print it out.

The policy can be a standalone document, or it can be included in an employee handbook. Regardless of how the policy is communicated, employees need to understand the policy and their rights regarding electronic monitoring in the workplace.

When Should the Electronic Monitoring Policy Be Instituted?

As mentioned, the electronic monitoring policy must be provided to employees within 30 days of October 11, 2022. Therefore, employers must provide employees with a written copy of the policy by November 10, 2022.

Starting in 2023, any employer with 25 or more employees at the beginning of each year must have an electronic monitoring policy by March 1 of that same year.

Which Employees Should Be Counted When Measuring the 25-Employee Threshold?

When employers are determining whether they need to communicate an electronic monitoring policy to employees, they must consider all employees working at a single location or facility, including the following:

  • Employees who are working from home
  • Probationary employees
  • Employees on leave or extended absences
  • Some trainees
  • Contract workers
  • Employees who are currently laid off and could return to the workplace

Employees partnering with temporary help agencies are employees of the agency. Therefore, temporary help agencies must legally communicate an electronic monitoring policy to their employees. This means employers who hire workers from temporary help agencies do not need to include these workers in the 25-employee threshold calculation.

How Do You Count Employees if There Are Multiple Locations?

If an employer has multiple locations, the total number of employees should be determined by adding all the employees working at a single location or facility.

For example, if an employer has three offices, each with 10 employees, the total number of employees for this particular employer would be 30. As long as this employer meets the 25-employee threshold, they must communicate the electronic monitoring policy to employees.

Overall, employers in Ontario must understand and follow the requirements around electronic monitoring in the workplace. By communicating an electronic monitoring policy to employees and ensuring they understand their rights, employers can help ensure a positive and productive work environment.​

What Happens if an Employer Fails to Comply With the Requirements?

If an employer fails to communicate the electronic monitoring policy, they may be subject to fines and other legal penalties. The fine for the first contravention is $250, multiplied by the total number of employees affected by your failure to comply.

To avoid these fines and other legal issues, it is essential for employers to stay up-to-date on all workplace guidelines and requirements. With clear communication, transparency, and accountability, employers can create a positive work environment for employees and help their businesses run smoothly.​

Wrapping Up

The digital age has changed the way we do things, both at work and at home. For example, more workplaces are turning to electronic tracking of their employees’ activities. Electronic monitoring of employees can benefit both the employer and employee, but only if both parties are aware of their rights and obligations.

Electronic monitoring can serve several purposes, including ensuring that employees complete their work on time, tracking productivity levels, and improving safety in the workplace. However, there are also some important legal considerations to be aware of when it comes to electronic monitoring. While employees will be limited on complaints, employers may want to seek legal counsel if they are unsure whether the electronic monitoring policy could create any entitlements outside of the Ontario Employment Standards Act.

As the days and weeks go by, electronic monitoring will continue to play an important role in the workplace, so it is essential for employers and employees alike to stay informed and comply with all workplace guidelines and requirements.​

What Your Business Needs to Know About Protecting Customer Data

Protect Data

What Your Business Needs to Know About Protecting Customer Data

Key Points:

  • The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) sets standards for safeguarding customer information.
  • The Safeguards Rule took effect in 2003 but was amended in 2021 after public comment to ensure the rule keeps pace with the current technology.
  • The revised rule offers in-depth guidance for businesses — reflecting the core data security principles that all organizations under FTC’s jurisdiction must implement.
  • The FTC Safeguards Rule applies to a specific class of financial institutions, such as mortgage companies, creditors, mortgage brokers, and debt collectors.
  • The safeguard rules don’t apply to banks, federal credit unions, and loans and savings institutions.

Financial institutions under the jurisdiction of the FTC Safeguards Rule must implement new security controls to protect customer’s financial information. The rule took effect in 2003 but was amended in 2021 after public comment to ensure the rule keeps pace with current technology.

After revision, FTC imposed a deadline of December 9, 2022, with a penalty of $45,000 for violating the rule. The regulations may be news for non-banking financial institutions that are first-time subject to the FTC Safeguards Rule.

Protect Data

FTC Safeguards Rule At Its Core

The FTC Safeguards Rule outlines data security guidelines for financial institutions under its jurisdiction to protect customers’ information and ensure organizations keep pace with current technology.

The rule is part of the more significant 1999 Financial Modernization Act, which first required financial institutions to document how they handle sensitive customer information. After almost two decades, it’s safe to say the technology and data security rules have become ancient.

Following public comment, the FTC updated the Safeguard Rule in 2021 to offer better guidance for organizations. The affected financial organizations have to go over the updates of the FTC Safeguards Rule to ensure they remain compliant with the outlined expectation before the December 9, 2022, deadline.

Who Must Comply with The FTC Safeguards Rule

According to FTC, the rule applies to all financial institutions under FTC’s jurisdiction. The official FTC site defines a financial institution as any organization that engages in activities that are financial in nature or are incidental to such financial activities.

Some financial institutions that FTC gives as examples include:

  • Mortgage companies
  • Mortgage brokers
  • Creditors
  • Debt collectors
  • Retailers that issue store credit cards
  • Property appraisers
  • Career counselors who work with clients in the finance industry
  • Automobile dealership
  • Businesses that print and sell checks to customers
  • Organizations that regularly wire money to and from consumers
  • Check cashing businesses
  • Accountants and income tax return preparers
  • Investment advisory company and credit counseling service
  • Colleges and universities accepting Title IV funds

The FTC safeguards rule doesn’t apply to banks, federal credit unions, and savings and loan institutions.

What The FTC Safeguards Rule Require Organization to Do

FTC Safeguards requires organizations under its jurisdiction to comply with several requirements. The regulator outlines three elements for every information security program of financial institutions. Your security program must:

  • Ensure the security and confidentiality of customer data
  • Protect customer data against threats and hazards
  • Prevent unauthorized access

The FTC Safeguards Rule outlines nine requirements for compliant security infrastructure. For an organization to be compliant, it must:

  1. Assign a qualified individual to implement and supervise your organization’s information security program.
  2. Execute a risk assessment to identify any vulnerability that can compromise the security and confidentiality of customer data.
  3. Design and implement security controls to mitigate the risk identified through your risk assessment. The controls include access control, encrypting customer data in transit or at rest, implementing multifactor authentication, and secure data disposal.
  4. Regularly monitor and test the efficacy of your security controls.
  5. Train your staff to eliminate human weaknesses in your security programs.
  6. Monitor your service providers to ensure they’re up to the task and meet your company’s security standards.
  7. Keep your information security program current because the threat landscape is constantly evolving.
  8. Create a written incident response plan.
  9. Your qualified individual to report to your Board of Directors

What’s New With the FTC Safeguards Rule

The new amendments have many new requirements, including:

  • Policies
  • Reports
  • Documentation
  • Technical and training requirements

The technical requirements call for cybersecurity solutions that are FTC-compliant. Your organization needs to implement a security program with the following:

  • Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA):  The new FTC Safeguards Rule requires your organization to implement multifactor authentication for any individual accessing any information in your system. Your security system should provide users with more than one piece of evidence to verify their identity. MFA makes it harder for unauthorized people to access customers’ sensitive data.
  • Penetration Testing and Vulnerability Assessments: FTC requires your security practices to include continuous monitoring, periodic penetration testing, and vulnerability assessments. The test checks for vulnerabilities in your system before hackers can exploit them. More importantly, the assessments test your cyber-defense capability and responsiveness.
  • Monitor and Log User Activity & Access: Another requirement you must meet is implementing policies, controls, and procedures to monitor and log the activity of authorized users. Your organization should be able to detect unauthorized access to prevent the wrong use or tampering of customers’ data.
  • Encryption: The Amended Rule requires your information security system to encrypt all customer data at rest and in transit. While data encryption is operationally difficult and costly, FTC has noted several low-cost and free encryption solutions for data in transit.

What is Monitoring & Activity Logging for FTC Safeguards Rule?

FTC says that you must implement a security solution that monitors when authorized users are accessing customer information on your system and detects any unauthorized or suspicious access to customer data.

One way to implement the requirement is to adopt a solution that collects, centralizes, and automatically analyzes your log data for users’ activities. The solution should detect unauthorized access, alert you in real-time, provide the next steps to respond, and allow easy access to historical log reports of user activity for investigations and audits.

The FTC Safeguards Mean Well For Your Business

Financial institutions under FTC should get into compliance the quickest way possible. While the new FTC Safeguards Rule demands a lot from your organization to be compliant, it’s for a good reason. The spike in security threats is concerning, and for every stakeholder in your organization, you need to do your part in managing risks.

All You Need to Know About Azure AD

Azure AD

All You Need to Know About Azure AD

Key Points

  • What is Azure AD?
  • What are the outstanding features of Azure AD?
  • Who uses Azure AD?
  • How does one set up a backup Azure AD connect server?
  • What are Azure AD licenses?

Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) is a cloud-based identity and access management service that provides a single, centralized access point for managing user identities and permits access to Azure resources. Azure AD also offers a rich set of features that can be used to secure and manage access to on-site and cloud-based resources.

This Azure AD facilitates access to your team’s Microsoft 365, the Azure portal, and thousands of additional SaaS applications. In addition, Azure AD can grant entry to protected internal resources, such as your company’s intranet or its own cloud-hosted apps and services.

Azure AD

The Outstanding Features of Azure AD

Azure Active Directory provides a robust set of features that can be used to secure access to resources, including:

  • Multi-factor authentication: Azure Active Directory supports multi-factor authentication, which adds an additional layer of security by requiring users to provide more than one form of identification when logging in.
  • Conditional access: Conditional access allows administrators to set conditions that must be met before a user can access a resource.
  • Identity protection: Identity protection is a feature of Azure Active Directory that uses machine learning to detect suspicious activity and protect user identities.
  • Azure information protection: This service helps organizations protect their data from unauthorized access.

Azure AD is a valuable tool for organizations of all sizes that want to secure access to their resources. It provides a central point of control for managing access to resources, and its rich set of features helps organizations manage access to both on-premises and cloud-based resources.

Who Uses Azure AD?

Azure AD is used by organizations that want to securely store and manage their user identities in the cloud. This includes organizations that want to use Azure AD to manage on-premises resources, such as Active Directory Domain Services (AD DS) or Azure AD Domain Services. Azure AD can be used by the following categories of individuals:

IT Admins

Microsoft Azure Active Directory allows you to control user access to your apps and the data they need. With Azure Active Directory, an additional form of identification may be necessary before gaining access to any sensitive information resources.

The user provisioning process between your on-premises Windows Server Active Directory and cloud apps like Microsoft 365 can be automated with the help of Azure AD. Furthermore, Azure AD offers powerful automated features to help protect user identities and credentials and meet government requirements.

App Developers

Developers can make their apps work with the user’s existing credentials by integrating Azure Active Directory as a standards-based SSO solution. Azure Active Directory also offers application programming interfaces (APIs) that may be used to build apps with a user experience tailored to an organization’s specific needs.

Microsoft 365, Office 365, Azure, or Dynamics CRM Online subscribers

A paid subscription is all one needs to use Azure AD. Everyone who registers for Microsoft 365, Office 365, Azure, or Dynamics CRM Online is also an Azure AD customer. You can begin managing who has access to your synchronized cloud apps.

How to Set up a Backup Azure AD Connect Server

If you have an on-premises Active Directory environment and want to use Azure AD as your identity provider, you must set up and configure Azure AD Connect.

When you install Azure AD Connect, you specify an Azure AD tenant. This is the Azure AD directory that Azure AD Connect synchronizes with. By default, Azure AD Connect installs a single Azure AD Connect server in the Azure AD tenant you specify. This server is called the primary Azure AD Connect server.

You can configure the standby Azure AD Connect server by using the Azure AD Connect wizard or by editing the Azure AD Connect configuration file.

Here are the steps to follow:

  • To configure a standby Azure AD Connect server, you will need to install Azure AD Connect on the standby server and then configure it to sync with Azure AD.
  • Once Azure AD Connect is installed, you need to configure it to sync with Azure AD. To do this, open the Azure AD Connect tool and click the “Configure” button.
  • On the “Configure Synchronization” page, select the “Customize synchronization options” option and click the “Next” button.
  • On the “Connect to Azure AD” page, enter the credentials for a global administrator account in Azure AD and click the “Next” button.
  • On the “Optional Features” page, select the “Azure AD Connect Health” option and click the “Install” button.
  • On the “Ready to Configure” page, click the “Configure” button.
  • On the “Configure synchronization options” page, select the “Synchronize All Domains” option and click the “Next” button.
  • On the “Outgoing synchronization” page, select the “Start the synchronization process
  • On the “Completion” page, click the “Exit” button.
  • The Azure AD Connect server is now configured as a standby server.

What Are Azure AD Licenses?

It is possible to upgrade your Azure Active Directory deployment by purchasing a Premium P1 or Premium P2 license. The premium licenses for Microsoft’s Azure Active Directory supplement your current open directory service. The licenses you’ve acquired will provide your mobile users with secure access, improved monitoring, and more thorough reporting on security.

Azure Active Directory Free

This license allows for single sign-on for services like Azure, Microsoft 365, and many SaaS alternatives; user and group management, directory synchronization between the cloud and on-premises; standard reporting; password resets for cloud users.

Azure Active Directory Premium P1

One of P1’s best features is its ability to provide hybrid users with access to both on-premises and cloud resources, expanding the use of the service beyond its free tier. By utilizing cloud write-back features and advanced administration tools like dynamic groups and self-service group management, in addition to Microsoft Identity Manager, your on-premises users can reset their own passwords.

Azure Active Directory Premium P2

In addition to the features found in the Free and P1 tiers, the P2 tier adds Privileged Identity Management, which allows you to find, restrict, and monitor administrators and their access to resources, and provide just-in-time access when it’s needed, as well as Azure Active Directory Identity Protection, which enables risk-based Conditional Access to your apps and critical company data.

“Pay as You Go” Feature Licenses

Azure Active Directory Business-to-Customer, among other optional features, can be licensed separately (B2C). Using business-to-consumer methods can help you offer identity and access control solutions for apps that end up being used by consumers.

In conclusion, Azure AD is a comprehensive identity and access management solution that provides single sign-on (SSO), role-based access control, and directory integration with on-premises Active Directory and other identity management systems. Azure AD provides a robust foundation for identity management in the cloud and helps organizations securely connect to Azure services and other cloud-based resources.

How Safe is Microsoft Teams?

Microsoft Teams

How Safe is Microsoft Teams? Understanding the New Vulnerability Vectra Uncovered

Key Points in This Article

  • Cybersecurity researchers at Vectra recently unearthed a new vulnerability in Microsoft Teams that may allow cyber criminals the means to cause considerable harm.
  • The vulnerability requires cybercriminals to already have a certain level of access to your network or device.
  • Rather than asking what you should do about Teams in light of this vulnerability, you should take every possible precaution and measure to keep your access credentials secure.

It’s a foregone conclusion these days that no matter what software application significant players like Microsoft roll out or security updates they provide, a new vulnerability will invariably be discovered. After all, a veritable army of hackers, cybercriminals, and even nation-state actors work continuously to identify these vulnerabilities for their own purposes. And these threat actors often think in creative ways that corporations are designed to, allowing them to find weaknesses that even experienced cybersecurity professionals overlook.

Microsoft Teams

Understanding Software Application Vulnerabilities

When a software vulnerability is found in an application at a company like Microsoft, Apple, or Google, it quickly makes headlines in not just industry publications but also mainstream media. However, those working in cybersecurity know that such vulnerabilities are pretty common and that not all vulnerabilities pose the same level of risk. Nevertheless, those outside the field often quickly question whether widely used software is safe or whether it should be quickly discarded in favor of a new, unidentified, yet presumed safer measure.

Microsoft Teams recently made some headlines when cybersecurity researchers at Vectra unearthed a new vulnerability in the application. And because of the headlines, it’s likely some business leaders may have found themselves asking their CIOs and IT directors whether Teams was still safe to use.

When such headlines occur, influential IT professionals likely have taken the time to understand the nature of this vulnerability and assess the risks it may pose before making recommendations or taking action. Doing so can help save them from acting precipitously by spending time and money moving to a competing software without determining if a simple patch or other safety measures might eliminate the risk.

So what is the nature of the vulnerability? How much of a risk does it pose? And is Microsoft Teams still safe for businesses like yours to use?

The Microsoft Teams’ Vulnerability Vectra Uncovered

Vectra researchers realized that the Teams holds user authentication tokens in plain text on their desktop devices. When you install and use the Microsoft Teams client on Windows, Mac, or Linux, those credentials can be found on your device even when Teams is closed. A hacker or cybercriminal who has access to your system could use these credentials to access Teams, Outlook, and SharePoint, among other applications, modify files, steal data, and compromise your security.

Moreover, these credentials allow a hacker to take any action you might through the Team interface, bypassing the need for multi-factor authentication. For example, a cybercriminal who accesses the account of a C-suite leader through this Teams’ vulnerability could hijack their Outlook account and steal proprietary information from the business leader’s email account or SharePoint document library.

Cybercriminals could also use their newfound access credentials to send phishing emails to employees throughout the organization. These phishing efforts, coming from the email account of a company leader, could be designed to encourage employees to take actions that further compromise network security, such as downloading malware or ransomware. These are just two possibilities. An enterprising cybercriminal could easily cripple a business or organization in many other ways.

Vectra initially discovered this vulnerability after one of its customers noted that Teams users cannot remove deactivated accounts through the Teams UT when their user account is disabled. Vectra began investigating and learned that Teams’ storage of user credentials was not secure. The company shared its discovery of the vulnerability with Microsoft in August 2022. Perhaps surprising to some, Microsoft did not immediately set about patching this exploit. They confirmed that it could pose a threat and indicated they would address it in a future Teams update.

What Relative Risk Does This Vulnerability Pose?

This response may seem to downplay the possible risk and strike some as cavalier. But while this vulnerability allows cybercriminals with only read access to your system to gain your Teams credentials, the truth is if a cybercriminal gains access to an employee’s account, there are many other ways they can leverage that access at the expense of the business or organization. And it remains incumbent on employees in every department (not just IT) to ensure that authentication credentials don’t fall into the wrong hands.

Businesses and organizations must provide their employees with regular, practical, and current cybersecurity awareness training to ensure that all employees do their part to protect their employers. Employees must understand how to identify and report suspicious activity they encounter, take steps to secure their devices, and avoid downloading applications that could house malware and viruses. They must understand and follow their employer’s cyber security policies without fail to keep their account credentials out of the hands of third parties.

CIOs and IT professionals must develop, maintain, and refine strong cybersecurity policies that cover the entirety of the organization. And they must ensure that all areas comply and that no shortcuts are taken. That means eliminating legacy practices like granting certain users local admin privileges to cut down on help desk requests. It also means continuously testing existing measures to pinpoint vulnerabilities before third parties. A single exploit left unidentified and unaddressed can prove catastrophic. One recent study holds that the average cyberattack costs a company $200,000, which can be enough to put a small business out of business.

So, while Microsoft’s response may seem to downplay the risk, businesses and organizations most at risk from this vulnerability are those with poor fundamental cybersecurity measures in place already. And while business and IT leaders should be aware of this vulnerability, it does not make Microsoft Teams more unsafe to use. Those who are concerned about it should take every available measure to protect their network and device access credentials from falling into the wrong hands before giving any thought to switching platforms. Because no matter which platform you select, if a cybercriminal obtains usernames and passwords, everything is vulnerable.

Cyber Risk Insurance 101

Cyber Risk Insurance 101

Cyber Risk Insurance 101: What is it and Who Needs It?

Every business needs to protect itself against cyberattacks. That’s why companies must have cyber risk insurance. Cyber risk insurance can help you pay for the costs associated with a data breach or ransomware attack, but there are other things that you should consider as well. Understanding cyber risk insurance, why it’s necessary, and how it works will help determine if your business needs this coverage.

Cyber Risk Insurance 101

What is Cyber Risk Insurance?

First, let’s define what cyber insurance is. Cyber risk insurance is a protection plan provided by an insurer to help protect your organization from monetary loss resulting from a cyber breach or attack. It works like traditional property and casualty insurance: you pay the premiums, and in the event of a loss (or series of losses) due to cyber-related incidents, your insurer reimburses you for any financial costs associated with that loss.

If a breach occurs and leads to stolen customer data or other damages, your company can file a claim with its insurer—and get paid out accordingly if approved.

Who Needs Cyber Risk Insurance?

The answer to this is simple: all businesses. Cyber risk insurance can be a lifesaver for those who may not have the means or desire to purchase cyber protection. There are several instances where organizations of all sizes should consider cyber insurance coverage, from startups to government agencies and nonprofits.

In addition to the apparent need for small businesses, however, it’s worth noting that large firms also benefit from cyber risk insurance. Large corporations with thousands—or even hundreds of thousands—of employees can experience significant downtime if their computer systems suffer an attack on their networks. A large company may also have access to sensitive information about its customers or suppliers that could be used against other companies with whom they do business.

Many considerations go into cybersecurity and protecting your business from financial loss due to a cyberattack. Here are some of the key ones:

  • The cost of a data breach. According to the Ponemon Institute, the average cost of a data breach is well over $4 million.
  • The cost of an attack on your business. A cyberattack can lead to physical damage or theft from your company’s stockroom or warehouse, intellectual property theft, and loss of customer data and trust.
  • The cost of ransomware attacks – Ransomware attacks are malicious software designed to block access to infected computers until users pay ransom demands (often via Bitcoin), which amounts to digital extortionists trying to extort money by holding computer files hostage until they pay up! How much do these hackers demand? Exorbitant sums that could total in the six-to-seven-figure range.

Why Should I Buy It?

While you may think that your business is immune from cyberattacks, the truth is that no company is completely safe. While there are no guarantees that a cyberattack won’t happen to your business, the right insurance protects you and your team from the damage caused by one.

Cyber insurance is one of the best ways for businesses of all sizes to protect themselves against cybercrime and other unexpected losses from data breaches. The cost of recovering can be astronomical—and if you don’t have the proper coverage in place, they could put your entire business at risk. It may seem an expense at first glance, but it can be well worth protecting against financial threats.

Put another way: if you think purchasing cyber risk insurance is expensive, imagine how expensive it will be when you’re under a cyber attack and don’t have any protection.

Types of Cyber Insurance Policies

Numerous types of cyber risk insurance policies are available to businesses. You’ll have to evaluate your own specific needs to understand which one fits your organization best:

  • Business interruption insurance: This policy protects against the loss of income resulting from a cyberattack, such as a denial-of-service attack that results in a website being down for an extended period.
  • Cyber extortion insurance: This policy covers the cost of responding to ransomware attacks and ensures that your business is compensated if you pay an attacker’s ransom demand.
  • Data breach insurance: If you suffer from a data breach or lose customer information due to hacking, this type of cyber insurance can help cover costs associated with notifying customers and handling any legal action taken against you by consumers whose private information was compromised as part of an attack on your servers or network infrastructure.

Keep in mind that in many cases, you can mix and match the type of policies you buy. It is better to err on the side of caution, opting for more protection versus less. That way, you’ll have more holistic security against possible cyber attacks.

Should You Buy Cyber Insurance?

If you’re not sure whether or not cyber insurance is right for your business, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you have a budget for a potential breach? You may not be able to afford $2 million worth of coverage upfront, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth investigating. Many carriers offer packages based on risk tolerance, which means they’ll provide coverage even if there are gaps in your policy.
  • Are you comfortable with the risks associated with cyber-attacks? While some companies might be squeamish about admitting their vulnerabilities, others would rather know what they’re up against so they can start taking steps to mitigate those risks.
  • Do you already have an established plan for responding to and recovering from an attack? If so, buying cyber insurance might make sense because it gives peace of mind knowing that your company will be protected financially should something go awry (and trust me—it will).

Cyber insurance is a crucial part of cyber risk management and should be essential to your overall business plan. If you’re unsure if cyber risk insurance is right for your business, contact us, and we can answer any questions you may have. And remember: The cost of a security breach or data breach can be devastating. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Why Small Businesses Must Implement Ongoing Risk Management

Risk Management

Why Small Businesses Must Implement Ongoing Risk Management

Key Points

  • Risk management is identifying, assessing, and managing risks to help protect against potential losses or liabilities.
  • Risks can come from financial, operational, legal, or reputational risks.
  • By identifying and assessing risks early on, you can take steps to mitigate or avoid them altogether.

The traditional security perimeter is no longer enough to keep organizations safe. Cybercriminals are increasingly sophisticated and can easily bypass perimeter defenses. Preventing sophisticated attacks requires a new approach that starts with risk management and extends security throughout the entire network. Risk management is vital for small businesses. Implementing ongoing risk management as a standard practice can help protect your small business against potential losses and liabilities.

Risk Management

What Is Risk Management?

Risk management is a proactive approach to security that starts with identifying assets and vulnerabilities and then implementing measures to protect against potential threats. By taking a proactive approach, organizations can reduce the likelihood and impact of security breaches.

Risk management starts with a risk assessment, identifying and evaluating potential security risks. Once identified, organizations can develop and implement strategies to mitigate or reduce those risks.

Risk management strategies can include developing security policies and procedures, implementing security controls, and increasing employee awareness. Organizations must continually monitor and adjust their risk management strategies as new risks emerge, and existing risks change.

Effective risk management requires a commitment from everyone in the organization, from the CEO to the front-line employees. When everyone understands their role in security and works together to reduce risks, organizations can better protect themselves from potential threats.

What Are the Components of Risk Management?

There are four main components of risk management:

  • Asset identification: Organizations must first identify their assets, which can include things like data, systems, and people.
  • Vulnerability assessment: Once assets have been identified, organizations must assess their vulnerabilities. Vulnerabilities are weaknesses that can be exploited by threats.
  • Threat assessment: Organizations must then identify the potential threats to exploit their vulnerabilities.
  • Risk mitigation: Once risks have been identified, organizations can implement strategies to mitigate or reduce those risks. Risk mitigation strategies can include developing security policies and procedures, implementing security controls, and increasing employee awareness.

These components work together to form a comprehensive risk management strategy. Organizations can better protect themselves from potential threats by taking a proactive and holistic approach to security.

What Are the Benefits of Risk Management?

There are many benefits of risk management, including:

  • Reduced likelihood of security breaches: Organizations can reduce the likelihood of a security breach by identifying assets and vulnerabilities and implementing security measures.
  • Reduced impact of security breaches: If a security breach does occur, risk management can help reduce the impact. Organizations can limit the damage and quickly recover from a breach by having policies and procedures in place.
  • Improved security posture: A proactive approach to security can help organizations improve their overall security posture. Organizations can become more resilient to potential threats by identifying and addressing risks.
  • Improved compliance: Risk management can help organizations meet compliance requirements related to data security and privacy.

Implementing Ongoing Risk Management in Your Business

As a small business leader, you always seek ways to protect and grow your company. One way to do this is by implementing an ongoing risk management strategy.

Here are a few tips to help you get started:

  • Identify potential risks. The first step in risk management is identifying potential risks that could affect your small business. This can be done through various methods, such as brainstorming sessions, conducting surveys or interviews with employees, or reviewing previous incidents. Once you’ve identified potential risks, you can begin assessing them.
  • Assess the likelihood and impact of each risk. The next step is to assess the likelihood and impact of each risk. This will help you determine which risks are more serious and must be addressed first. To assess the likelihood of a risk, consider how probable it is that the event will occur. To assess the impact of a risk, consider the potential financial or reputational damage that could be caused by the event if it were to occur.
  • Develop mitigation strategies. Once you’ve identified and assessed the risks, you can develop mitigation strategies. Mitigation strategies are designed to reduce the likelihood or impact of a risk occurring. For example, if you’re concerned about the possibility of a data breach, you might implement safeguards such as encryption or two-factor authentication for your digital systems.
  • Implement control measures. Control measures are designed to prevent or detect errors or fraud. For example, control measures for financial risks might include implementing Independent Reviews or separating roles within your accounting department so that one person cannot record and approve transactions.
  • Monitor and review regularly. Risk management is not a static process; it should be revisited regularly so that new risks can be identified and existing mitigation strategies can be updated as needed. Depending on the size and complexity of your small business, this might be done quarterly, semi-annually, or annually.

By following these tips, you can help ensure that your small business is prepared for any potential risks that may come it’s way. Implementing ongoing risk management as a standard practice will help protect your business against losses—and allow you to sleep better at night knowing that you’re prepared for anything.

Applying Zero-Trust Principles to Your Risk Management Strategy

Zero-trust is a security principle that states that organizations should not automatically trust anything inside or outside their networks. Instead, all users, devices, and resources should be verified and authenticated before being granted access. Zero trust prevents cybercriminals from penetrating your organization by validating every user, device, and connection trying to access data or systems.

Adopting and implementing a zero-trust security strategy is not just about investing in the right technology. It’s about changing the way your organization thinks about security. Zero trust requires a shift in mindset from perimeter-based security to identity-based security. Organizations that have yet to make this shift are at a greater risk of data breaches and expensive cyber attacks.

According to IBM’s Cost of a Data Breach 2022 report, 41% of organizations revealed they have deployed a zero-trust security architecture, while the other 59% have not. The report also revealed the organizations that have deployed a zero-trust security architecture saved over 1 million dollars in data breach costs.

Zero trust is no longer a new or emerging technology – it’s a must-have for any organization looking to protect its data and systems. As the need for better security grows, so does the adoption of zero trust.

Wrapping Up

Risk management is an important part of running a successful small business. By identifying potential risks and implementing mitigation strategies, you can help protect your business against losses. Review your risk management strategy regularly to ensure that it stays up-to-date, and don’t hesitate to seek professional help if you need it.

Why You Should Backup Microsoft 365

Backup Microsoft 365

Why You Should Backup Microsoft 365

Key Points:

  • Microsoft 365 is one of the most popular business solutions for collaboration in the cloud.
  • Businesses of all sizes and types are experiencing an increased risk of cyber attacks.
  • Microsoft 365 has several built-in security features, but data backup is vital and should be a habit.

As businesses embrace a hybrid and remote workforce, more and more organizations are choosing Microsoft 365. Formerly known as Office 365, Microsoft 365 is a great software suite that offers many benefits for businesses and has become the leading solution for collaboration in the cloud.

Organizations choose Microsoft 365 for various reasons, such as cost, available tools, or because the subscription-based software enables users to add Microsoft’s core applications to their subscription plan. In addition, Microsoft 365 continues to offer advancements and enhancements that firmly establish its position as the leading software solution for many businesses.

One of the primary reasons many organizations choose Microsoft 365 is because it is one of the most secure productivity tools available. In addition, Microsoft 365 is hosted in the cloud, on a remote server, and developed by one of the biggest names in tech.

Storing data in the cloud is convenient because it makes data universally accessible to everyone in your organization, regardless of their physical location. Your team can use Microsoft 365 to access data anytime connected to the internet. But storing data in the cloud also increases the risk of data loss, which has become a severe issue in recent years.

No matter how good a product or service is, there are always drawbacks, and Microsoft 365 is no exception. For example, Microsoft 365 has a host of built-in security measures but doesn’t include a native option to create Microsoft 365 backup and store data on the cloud.

Backup Microsoft 365

Microsoft 365 Risks

All software, even Microsoft 365, comes with certain risks. Typically, it’s your responsibility if an issue causes you to lose valuable business data. While software developers, such as Microsoft, strive to eliminate any potential problems before they occur, you must ensure your data is protected with an accessible backup.

According to Microsoft’s Services Agreement, the company and its distributors make no warranty concerning the use of their services. The agreement goes on to say that the use of the service is at your own risk and that because of the nature of computer and telecommunications systems, there is no guarantee that services will be uninterrupted, timely, and secure or that errors and content loss won’t occur.

In addition, the Services Agreement states:

“We strive to keep the Services up and running; however, all online services suffer occasional disruptions and outages, and Microsoft is not liable for any disruption or loss you may suffer as a result. In the event of an outage, you may not be able to retrieve Your Content or Data that you’ve stored. We recommend that you regularly backup Your Content and Data that you store on the Services or store using Third-Party Apps and Services.”

What Are the Risks?

Microsoft 365 is known for being a highly secure app. This reputation for security is because the app has several built-in security features that help keep your data as secure as possible. For instance, apps like OneDrive and SharePoint have a data retention period. Typically set by default to 90 days, the data retention period ensures that if you accidentally delete a file or data, it can still be accessed for a period of time afterward.

But what if you don’t discover the error within the retention period? How would you recover your critical data without an accessible backup? Losing accidentally deleted data is one of the potential risks of Microsoft 365. Other risks may also include the following:

Cyberattacks

Cyberattacks are a growing threat that all organizations face, regardless of size or industry. While Microsoft is one of the biggest names in the tech industry, that doesn’t mean they are immune to cyberattacks.

Known for being proactive when it pertains to cyber security, Microsoft’s Security Response Center is the company’s front line of defense. Staffed by leading cyber security experts, the Security Response Center works to defend consumers and internet users at large from cyber threats.

Microsoft’s security response team has responded to several recent threats, including some tied to malicious actors either sponsored or protected by foreign governments. In 2020, the U.S. government imposed sanctions against Russia because of the country’s connection to the SolarWinds hack.

The U.S. has recently found that China has also been involved in cyber warfare attacks. Microsoft and the U.S. believe China is either behind or supporting the cybercriminals responsible for attacking vulnerable Microsoft Exchange servers. Security experts and government officials believe that attacks from malicious nation-states will continue to grow and that no organization is immune from these attacks.

In all of these cases, Microsoft’s security response team has responded quickly to stop the attack and remediate the compromised accounts. But unfortunately, even Microsoft’s cyber security experts fear that the risk will continue to grow as attacks become more sophisticated.

Internal Breaches

Whether intentional or accidental, internal data breaches occur. Often a data breach results from a simple mistake. The mistake may result from a lack of training or simply a lack of attention at the wrong moment. For instance, an employee may inadvertently click on a malicious link because they thought it was legitimate.

In other cases, a disgruntled former employee could make intentional changes to your data and systems if their access permissions have not been removed. In either case, whether deliberate or accidental, without having an accessible backup, your organization could experience severe problems from this activity.

Always Back Up Your Data

Microsoft 365 has many security features to protect your system and data. While these features are an excellent first line of defense against attacks and loss, you are solely responsible for your data. With the threat of cyber attacks growing exponentially, it pays to have an up-to-date backup of your business data. For example, suppose you have an issue recovering your data due to intentional or accidental actions. In that case, having your Microsoft 365 data in an accessible backup can ensure that your organization can recover quickly and get back to business.