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Bitlocker hard drive encryption is the encryption software that Microsoft builds into every version of Windows 10 Professional. It physically encrypts the data on your computer’s hard drive so that even if your device is lost or stolen no one else can retrieve information off of it.

This is important to your business because most states, including Tennessee, have mandatory disclosure laws for data loss. In short, data you store on your customers is or may have been stolen or hacked, you have to let them know. And that’s not an email or phone call any business owner wants to make.

Encryption is so important in today’s environment that it has become a standard for all of our managed service customers. We turn it on by default for any computers that support it. For computers that do not support it, we recommend upgrading to one that does.

If you want to have a free discussion about cybersecurity and how to better protect your business call or email us today, 865-240-2716 or info@jmaddington.com

Ars Technica and the BBC are reporting that the travel insurance and currency exchange company Travelex has been breached. Hackers have allegedly been inside the company’s network for 6 months and stolen customer information including:

  • Credit card info
  • Date of birth
  • Insurance numbers

These incidents are shockingly common yet only the big companies make the news. Data from Datto says that most small businesses either have suffered a similar attack or have been targeted by one.

How are you safe-guarding your clients’ data?

I came across a website recently that decried contracts for IT services claiming that they were all written in the interests of the IT provider and out to get small business owners.

Here are three reasons you want to look for companies that not only have, but require, well-written contracts. #2 and #3 are items you should look for in any business contract you sign.

1. They Have Insurance

I can’t stress how important this is to you. Your IT company’s insurance protects you as a client as well, especially if you ever have to bring a claim against them. Any decent insurance in the IT industry requires that the underwritten maintain contracts. No contracts are a sign that they don’t carry proper insurance which leaves you as a business owner holding the bag if things go south.

2. You Lock in Rates

The costs for IT technicians and the costs for companies to carry insurance is only going one direction, up. Contracts allow you to lock in rates at today’s prices instead of tomorrow’s. Without a contract, your IT provider is free to change prices whenever they want.

3. The Contract Protects You

A well-written contract has language in it to protect your business with clauses like:

  1. Mutual non-disclosure agreements
  2. Non-compete agreements
  3. Agreements not to hire each other’s employees
  4. Specific processes for working out issues, if they arise, including court jurisdiction. (i.e., specifying a local court, instead of one in Texas or Deleware even if that is where the business is legally incorporated)

Given that your IT provider has access to nearly 100% of your data is responsible for keeping you secure I can’t imagine a reason you wouldn’t want to sign a well-written contract that protects your interests.

Call us today and we’ll walk you through the ways we protect our customers, but digitally and legally. 865-240-2716

HELP! Someone has hacked Jim’s email and just tried to place a $15,000 order at Verizon.

-Actual Customer, December 10th, 2019

As the owner of an IT Company that specializes in security and managed IT services I hate getting emails like this. Primarily, because they are 99.99% avoidable.

Managed IT service providers have known if for a long time: all of their customers need to be on multifactor (MFA, sometimes called two-factor) authentication. To this customer’s credit, they were already in the process of implementing MFA, but Jim hadn’t been set up yet.

Research from both Google and Microsoft shows that MFA stops over 99% of password based hacks. Our standard operating procedure is to recommend it to all of our customers. Beginning in 2020, we will require our manged customers to opt-out of it if they don’t want it, it is so important.

MFA is simply adding another layer of security to your account. In its simplest and most effective form you get a push notification on your phone requesting that you approve a login. Other forms may email or text you a code that you have to put into a website.

How do I do it?

Improve your business’ communication, time management, and how your staff shares and stores files AND access your files from anywhere… Here are our top 5 reasons we choose to store in the cloud:

Benefit #1 –Better version control…

Benefit #2 – Facilitated collaboration…

Benefit #3 – Improved timeliness…

Benefit #4 – More reliable backups…

Benefit #5 – Increased document security and control…

Speaking of security… if your company operates on a Content Management System, are your files safe? Documents are one of our primary assets and protecting these should be at the top of your list.  Regulated content can be extremely sensitive and having adequate security and control is imperative and can be extremely challenging, if trying to do it on your own. How can we help give you peace of mind?

One of the world’s biggest security vendors had hidden backdoors in their products that would allow virtually anyone to take over the firewall.

Your firewall is the security appliance that is supposed to separate your internal, secure, network from the outside world. This bug/backdoor essentially lets anybody into your network that would like to be there.

This hits East Tennessee hard for 3 major reasons

  • One of the biggest IT firms in the area standardized on this vendor’s firewalls years ago, smaller IT shops followed
  • The security required by firms that do business with DOE and ORNL mean a lot of these firewalls are in place in and around Oak Ridge and Knoxville
  • One of the areas biggest retailers also standardized on these, with 100s believed to be in production

What you need to do — today!

If you’ve seen the images below in your office, server room or computer call your IT firm — TODAY — and ask them if they’ve updated it to a version that no longer contains these bugs. Most IT firms are notorious for patching firewalls slowly, so things don’t break. But being behind on these patches means you are already broken.

This is a really big deal

It allows anyone, anywhere to reset any user’s password on the firewall.

One of the world’s biggest video game companies has had two incredibly major bugs this month and it can kill your organization’s security if you don’t have the right policies in place.

Most organizations we bring on initially have a fuzzy line around what’s “work” equipment and what’s “personal,” and what can be used for what, the result is an insecure environment. On business machines, there is typically a security standard that is in place, a set of policies and procedures set by management and rules (set by IT) to keep the bad guys out and your confidential information inside. Personal machines typically have virtually none of this. security

If your organization allows business information on personal machines or personal use of business machines you’ve opened up the door to attackers. To use the video game example, this company doesn’t seem to count an entire category of bugs important enough to fix. If they sold to businesses, they would never get away with it. If you let your employees install this video game software on your computers, however, you just did. If you allow your employees to access your company information from their personal machines, you also just did.

It’s an easy fix: put in place a written policy that only allows access to confidential information from secured, company-owned machines.

BIG WARNING: Execs usually want to be exempted from these rules. They also typically have the MOST access to the most CONFIDENTIAL information. Then THEY become your biggest risk, and TARGET.

Policies are abstract and don’t often change. They are defined by specific procedures that change as your business changes (“our external IT partner will provide you with a work laptop from which you can access company information”) and enforced by technical rules (i.e., your MSP provider blocks access to company information from machines without your security policy in place).

Even if you can’t get all of your rules and procedures in place today, define and communicate your policies. The security of your organization depends on it, and your security is no less than your future.

Need help? Call us today: 865-240-2716.

ArsTechnica: Louisiana declares state of emergency in response to ransomware attack

One of the newest ways to get past email defenses is getting the least amount of attention: the changing link. Here’s how it works:

The Bad Guy emails one of your employees an email “from” your CEO/President whatever with a link that looks something like https://www.dropbox.com/ImportantShare but it goes to http://bit.ly/325JnYX (feel free to click those links!). This link intentionally is a redirect: it will take users from one URL to another, it has common legitimate uses.

At first, http://bit.ly/325JnYX goes to a harmless site, maybe Google, and gets past your email defense filters as a result. However, a few minutes later the Bad Guy changes it to go to a site that they control that phishes, distributes malware, whatever technique that they want to use to get into your organization. When you user clicks the link, it now goes to the bad site.

What do you? These new Bad Guy techniques require new tools to defend your organization and your data, tools that are always up-to-date with real-time information and that don’t check things only once — like your current email defenses — but do so continually.

Fortunately, there are new defense tools available for SMBs. If you are interested in understanding the options feel free to set up an appointment with us, info@jmaddington.com or 865-240-2716

Earlier this week ZDNet profiled an incredible exit strategy of one of the largest Ransomware operators of the last 12 months, GandCrab.

Setting aside irony, the professionalism of the operation should catch the attention of any business owner. The operators have a Software as a Service (SaaS) business model, complete with online forum support for paying customers. They send out private emails to current customers about plans in change of service, including advising their customers to get their victims to cash in before it is too late. They are shutting down their service after claiming to have made and successfully laundered $150m.

Also, the operators plan to delete the decryption keys, so without a backup victims will be toast.

So what are the takeaways?

  • Ransomware has graduated to the level of truly organized crime: these are teenagers in their parents’ basements
  • The industry is so profitable AND competitive so as to have a “B2B” sphere, complete with customer support
  • It was true a few years ago that ransomware operations were largely opportunistic: today the money involved means you are an active target