Social Media Phishing Soars

Posted by Lori Salley Ring

Jun 6, 2017 8:30:00 AM

Employee training is key to any business's defense against cyberattacks. According to PhishMe, an estimated 91% of cyberattacks start with a phishing email -- an attempt to secure personal or sensitive information by posing as a legitimate actor. It makes sense then that many businesses focus cybersecurity training on recognition of email phishing scams. However, recent studies show that cybercriminals are increasingly turning to social media to bait their prey. In 2016, social media phishing increased by an estimated 500%, and victims are more likely to fall for these scams. Cybersecurity training needs to adapt to this fast-growing form of attack.

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Topics: cybersecurity, cyberthreats, social media

A Survival Plan for a Cybersecurity Event -- NIST Recommendations

Posted by Lori Salley Ring

Jan 10, 2017 8:30:00 AM

Last week, TECHPol reported on the ominous trends for increased cyberthreats in 2017. We encouraged businesses to review their cybersecurity strategies and bolster their defenses. Still, no matter how strong those protections and given the craftiness of cybercriminals, it's probably wise to assume your business will be the victim of a breach. And, in that case, it's imperative to plan your recovery as well. That's also the advice of the Federal government's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).  The agency recently published a guide for how to plan an effective recovery plan in response to a cybersecurity event.  Here's a summary of the agency's advice.

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Topics: small business, cybersecurity, cyberthreats

Beware:  4 Scary Tech Stories

Posted by Lori Salley Ring

Oct 25, 2016 8:30:00 AM

It's almost Halloween, and you may be getting in the mood with creepy decor, haunted houses and horror films. Some people actually enjoy the "thrill" of being frightened.  However, we are betting that these scary tech stories aren't the kind of fun you're seeking. Our message to you is, "BEWARE!"

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Topics: technology, cybersecurity, cyberthreats

Corporate Responsibility Requires More Attention to Cybersecurity

Posted by Lori Salley Ring

May 3, 2016 10:30:00 AM

The consequences of a cyberattack on a business of any size can be rather dire.  The question for businesses is not really whether they will be attacked, but rather how and when. Considering that the incidents of known cyberattacks increased 38% from 2014 to 2015, that the cost of an attack to an average American firm is $15.4 million per year, and that the average direct cost of a security breach for a small business is $38,000, it seems it would be a priority of company leadership to manage this risk. However, recent surveys indicate a troubling lack of attention to cybersecurity among business leaders. Two-thirds of CIOs, CISOs and IT directors say senior leaders in their organizations don't view cybersecurity as a strategic priority.  Further, 40% of corporate executives feel they have no responsibility for cybersecurity breaches, 43% of board directors say they don't get enough information about cybersecurity and IT risk, and 80% of small businesses don't have a cyberattack response plan.  This lack of attention to cyberthreats could be dismissed as bad management or non-strategic if the consequences were localized to the business, but the fallout of a cybersecurity incident has the potential to wreak havoc well beyond the company's walls.   

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Topics: small business, cybersecurity, cyberthreats

Ransomware on the Rise -- 5 Tips to Protect Your Data

Posted by Lori Salley Ring

Apr 26, 2016 8:30:00 AM

Hospitals have been the high-profile target of several recent attacks by cybercriminals who take a computer's or network's files hostage and demand a payment to restore access. The weapon used is a type of malware (malicious software) that is aptly called ransomware. Hospitals are good targets from the criminals' perspective because not only are lives potentially on the line if a hospital network is compromised, making the situation more urgent, but also hospitals tend to spend less time maintaining their networks so they are easy prey. Ransomware attacks are not limited to large, public, or human services institutions. Individuals and small businesses are also likely victims, and attacks are on the rise.  A report by Trend Micro shows more ransomware infections in February 2016 than in the first six months of 2015.  Ransomware cost its victims some $24.1 million last year.  In the face of this growing threat, the best strategy is a good defense.

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Topics: Malware, cybercrime, technology, cybersecurity, cyberthreats

Real Stories of Cyberscams:  Don't Let it Happen to You

Posted by Lori Salley Ring

Mar 1, 2016 9:44:33 AM

TECHPol regularly posts information about how to avoid becoming a victim of cybercrime.  We hope you take it to heart and implement some of our suggestions on how to protect your personal information and that of your company.  In a couple of our posts, we've talked about how humans are often the source of vulnerability in cyberdefenses. (See blog posts: Employees: The Weak Link in Your Company's Cybersecurity and What's the Biggest Cybersecurity Threat: Employees). You may think it can't happen to you, but cybercriminals are sneaky and are increasingly skilled at baiting their victims -- victims who are unwittingly helping scammers by giving out personal information on email or social media that is then used against them.  Criminals are coming up with all sorts of new scams.  The IRS reports that tax scams involving phishing and malware are up 400% this tax season. Here are three examples of real-life cyberscams that recently have come across our desks at Focus Data Solutions.  

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Topics: cybercrime, cybersecurity, cyberthreats

Employees:  The Weak Link in Your Company's Cybersecurity

Posted by Lori Salley Ring

Feb 2, 2016 8:30:00 AM

We've said it before, but it's worth repeating, and time and again the evidence confirms it:  employees are a significant threat to your organization's cybersecurity. (See blog post:  What's the Biggest Cybersecurity Threat?  Employees.) It's not that they want to sabotage their employer necessarily, but the reality is that they are often the culprits of security breaches.  Consider the evidence and learn how to bolster your defenses.

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Topics: cybercrime, cybersecurity, cyberthreats

Better Cybersecurity:  Working Together and Sharing Information

Posted by Lori Salley Ring

Jan 12, 2016 8:30:00 AM

cyberthreat.malware.jpgIt seems logical that a good way to prevent cyberattacks is to share information about the tactics of cybercriminals.  If potential victims band together to fight cybercrime, there should be a better chance of thwarting it.  That's the idea behind a new law that encourages businesses to share information about cyberthreats with the federal government.

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Topics: cybercrime, cybersecurity, cyberthreats

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FocusData: TECHPol is a blog on technology and business policy issues affecting small and mid-sized companies.  TECHPol’s primary author, Lori Salley Ring, spent 20-plus years working on Capitol Hill, including as the top staffer on the House Committee on Small Business.  FDS is an IT consulting firm providing managed services, office tech relocation, network security, and IT support for businesses in the Washington, DC and Northern Virginia area.

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About the Author

Lori Salley Ring

Lori Salley Ring

Lori serves as Policy Advisor and Communications Specialist for Focus Data Solutions.  Lori spent more than 20 years working for the U.S. Congress, including as Chief of Staff to a member of the House leadership and as the Staff Director for the Committee on Small Business.  Lori also ran a Washington-based non-profit organization between stints working for the Federal government. 

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