Three Security Tips That Business Managers Should Know

Author
Terry Slattery
Principal Architect

A significant security breach can be very expensive. At best, it disrupts budgets and profits. At worst, smaller companies can be forced into bankruptcy. How can you avoid this outcome? 

How Much Could Ransomware Cost? 

The most recent trend in security hacking is to encrypt an organization’s data and leave a demand for payment by BitCoin. The ransom is typically on the order of one BitCoin per server, or $11,468 each in late August 2020. Paying the ransomware gets a key to unlock the encrypted files, but it doesn’t make the IT systems safe against future attacks. Many organizations that make the payments are hacked again within a few months. 

Two well-known cases of ransomware remediation have been documented in municipal governments. In these cases, they did not pay the ransom. Instead, they worked to recover their systems. The expense is the sum of remediation plus lost revenue. 

Baltimore City: $18.2M 

Atlanta: $17M (includes references to other municipalities) 

Three Steps for Basic Protection 

Three steps are recommended by the NSA to help protect against multiple types of malware. 

Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) 

Two or more secrets are needed to gain access to IT systems and files. Typically, this includes something you know (a password) and something you have (a security passkey token that generates a one-time-key). 

Role-based Access 

Only allow IT users access to systems that they need to perform their job. Don’t provide read/write access if a user only needs read access to a database. And certainly don’t provide access to systems for which an IT user has no need. A corollary to this is that access rights need to be reviewed periodically and updated.  

White-list Applications 

Provide access between applications and servers for communications that are required for the applications to function. Block all other access. 

Next Steps 

A more thorough discussion with links to other articles is available in this article: IT Security Refresh: Practical Tips for a Good Foundation. You can use it as a good starting point for a discussion with your IT team. 

The three steps in this article are not difficult to implement from a technology perspective. You may need to implement a culture change though if your IT users have become accustomed to wide-open network access. NetCraftsmen can help with this process if your IT team is fully committed to other projects. 

 

Nick Kelly

Cybersecurity Engineer, Cisco

Nick has over 20 years of experience in Security Operations and Security Sales. He is an avid student of cybersecurity and regularly engages with the Infosec community at events like BSides, RVASec, Derbycon and more. The son of an FBI forensics director, Nick holds a B.S. in Criminal Justice and is one of Cisco’s Fire Jumper Elite members. When he’s not working, he writes cyberpunk and punches aliens on his Playstation.

 

Virgilio “BONG” dela Cruz Jr.

CCDP, CCNA V, CCNP, Cisco IPS Express Security for AM/EE
Field Solutions Architect, Tech Data

Virgilio “Bong” has sixteen years of professional experience in IT industry from academe, technical and customer support, pre-sales, post sales, project management, training and enablement. He has worked in Cisco Technical Assistance Center (TAC) as a member of the WAN and LAN Switching team. Bong now works for Tech Data as the Field Solutions Architect with a focus on Cisco Security and holds a few Cisco certifications including Fire Jumper Elite.

 

John Cavanaugh

CCIE #1066, CCDE #20070002, CCAr
Chief Technology Officer, Practice Lead Security Services, NetCraftsmen

John is our CTO and the practice lead for a talented team of consultants focused on designing and delivering scalable and secure infrastructure solutions to customers across multiple industry verticals and technologies. Previously he has held several positions including Executive Director/Chief Architect for Global Network Services at JPMorgan Chase. In that capacity, he led a team managing network architecture and services.  Prior to his role at JPMorgan Chase, John was a Distinguished Engineer at Cisco working across a number of verticals including Higher Education, Finance, Retail, Government, and Health Care.

He is an expert in working with groups to identify business needs, and align technology strategies to enable business strategies, building in agility and scalability to allow for future changes. John is experienced in the architecture and design of highly available, secure, network infrastructure and data centers, and has worked on projects worldwide. He has worked in both the business and regulatory environments for the design and deployment of complex IT infrastructures.