The phrase “island hopping” conjures up positive images. You might think of cruising beautiful sandy beaches on a tour of tropical islands. Too bad cybercriminals have given the term a new, less pleasant spin.
Island hopping is an increasingly popular method of attacking businesses. In this approach, the cybercriminal targets a business indirectly. The bad actors first go after the target’s smaller strategic partners. So, vendors or affiliates, who might not have the same level of cybersecurity, become stepping stones to hop.
Attackers might hack into smaller businesses handling the target’s HR, payroll, accounting, healthcare, or marketing. Then, they take advantage of the pre-existing relationship to access the final destination.
Humans are trusting. Cybercriminals exploit that. With island hopping, attackers leverage the trust established between strategic partners.
It’s quite simple: attackers gain access to Company A and send a counterfeit business communication to Company B. Company B, knowing the sender, is less likely to question a download link or opening an attachment.
After all, it’s not coming from a stranger; it’s a message from perfectly pleasant Jenny at Company A. You may have in the past already shared logins to various sites/portals, or passwords to unlock zip files.
The Rise of Island Hopping
This is not a brand-new form of attack. In fact, it’s named after a military strategy which the United States used in World War II to establish a stronghold in the Pacific Islands.
Perhaps the best-known island-hopping cyberattack was seen in the United States in 2013. Retail giant Target was the aptly named target of a point-of-sale system breach. Hackers stole payment information from 40 million customers. The first “island” in the planned attack was Fazio Mechanical Services. The heating and refrigeration firm suffered a malware attack shortly before Target’s breach. Fazio’s hackers stole email credentials needed to access the retailer’s networks.
As enterprises continue to strengthen their cybersecurity, it’s predicted that island hopping will gain momentum. According to Accenture’s Technology Vision 2019 report, less than a third of businesses globally know how strategic partners secure their networks. A majority (56%) rely on trust that business partners would uphold security standards.
Preventing Island Hopping
You may be one of the islands to hop or the attackers’ final destination. It depends on your business size and industry. Either way, your business is vulnerable to malware attack, infected systems, or a data breach. Plus, if you’re the stepping stone, you're likely to lose the target company’s business, too.
How do you prevent island hopping? First, secure your own networks and systems:
· Follow best practices to detect and identify vulnerabilities and reduce risk.
· Educate your employees about the dangers of business communication scams.
· Raise awareness of phishing schemes and social engineering.
· Require two-factor user authentication.
· Change all default, generic, or predictable passwords.
· Keep security up to date (patching and system upgrades are mandatory).
· Control who can access your networks and servers.
· Protect all endpoints (including employee devices in a Bring Your Own Device workplace).
When it comes to cyber island hopping, your business doesn’t want to be a layover or the final destination. Keep your cybersecurity borders tight to avoid unwanted visitors.
Want to make your business inhospitable to island hoppers? Work with a managed service provider. They can help assess cybersecurity, provide a plan to reduce risk, and upgrade technology. Let us support your efforts to fend off unwanted tourists.
Like a persistent cough or muscle strain that won’t go away, many IT issues prove ongoing. Every time they come back you think about getting an expert’s opinion. Then, the cough fades, you can walk freely again, or your computers are back up and running. You keep on going. Until the next time. If you’re sick of ongoing issues with your IT, look to a Managed Service Provider (MSP) for help.
There are many IT ailments that can negatively impact your ability to do work. Let’s consider some of the particularly common ones, and why an MSP is the right prescription.
#1 Network and Internet issues.
Business is done online these days. Not being able to connect to the network and slow connections are frustrating. Without the Internet, how can you do your job? You can’t even check and send emails! Let alone access team documents or enter data into cloud-based accounting software. A lagging network also slows down application and data loading time. It may only be a few moments of thumb twiddling. But add that up over several times a day and multiple by employees. You’re looking at a decrease in productivity that adds up.
An MSP has the know-how to survey the IT environment for what's causing these frustrations. When there’s a problem, they’re at the ready to resolve it and help improve reliability.
#2 Repeated malware infections.
This can mean a couple of things. First, you don’t have effective system and application protections in place. These attacks shouldn’t be able to make it through the door in the first place. With the right firewalls, anti-spam, and protections, you should be able to keep your system on lock down. You don’t have to do this yourself. Your internal IT team has a lot to manage and monitor. Gain expert backup with an MSP reviewing your security protocols to keep the bad guys at bay.
Secondly, educate employees about the dangers of social engineering. Don’t let them keep falling for the pretexts and downloading malicious files. Also, ensure passwords are strong enough to avoid adding another point of entry.
#3 Printing problems.
Many businesses are printing less today, but we’re not done with hard copies entirely. So, when a printer starts whirring, spinning endlessly, or can’t connect, efficiency halts. Know that printers sold at big box stores are consumer grade quality. Avoid printer frustrations with solid business-class printers (which your MSP can identify).
#4 Application overload.
Maybe some of your employees prefer Dropbox. Others rely on their free Gmail accounts. This hodgepodge of options can cause chaos. Staff have difficulty remembering the passwords to all of the accounts they need. So, they simplify, and that makes their accounts more hackable.
Upgrading to business-grade versions of important applications is easier with an MSP. They'll help identify the software that best addresses your business needs.
#5 Aging technology.
You’ve had your current computers for ages. They are slower than you’d like, but you don’t have the time to look for something else. Plus, you can’t imagine having to learn something new. You’re too busy. But aging tech is more likely to fail, which could prove catastrophic if you don’t have the right systems backup.
MSPs know IT. Based on your individual business needs, they can suggest a plan of attack to update the IT and keep it secure. They can also provide backup strategies to prepare for the worst and recover quickly.
Basically, a managed service provider has your back when it comes to IT. Work with experts who focus on technology day in and day out. You’ll typically save money and gain time to spend innovating in your field.
Gain a competitive advantage with the support of an MSP. Give us a call at 555-5555 today!
Maybe you started your business in a basement or home office. It was just you at the beginning. Then, your service or product gained traction. The number of staff grew, and you moved into an office. It’s amazing how far you’ve come. Better still, your business continues to grow. It may be time to consider some of these tech tips to help your thriving business.
#1 Upgrade to Business-Grade Cloud Services
Perhaps you’ve been relying on free software from Gmail, Outlook, or Dropbox. Who can argue with free email, calendars, collaboration and file storage right? Well, it may be time to upgrade to the business versions of the software your team relies upon.
Move from Gmail to Google Apps, or Outlook to Office 365, or Dropbox to Dropbox Business. For a small monthly fee, you gain business-grade features.
The basic Google Apps offers business email, video and voice conferencing, secure team messaging, shared calendars, 30GB cloud storage and document, spreadsheet and presentation creation. Plus, you gain greater security and administration controls. Right now, a disgruntled employee could refuse to give up control of a business account.
You’d be out of luck. With Google Apps, your business would control all accounts and could simply reset the password.
Or Dropbox Business provides added storage space and user activity and sharing auditing. Unlimited file recovery and version history make recovery easier. A remote wipe feature protects files on a stolen device).
#2 Revise your backup strategy
A consumer grade backup setup was enough when you were only dealing with one computer. Now that you have many computers, it’s worth enhancing your backup strategy.
With 3-2-1 backup, your business has a minimum of three backups. Two would be onsite (but separate from one another) and the other offsite. We recommend the cloud. Having your backups in a unified location helps efficient recovery if disaster strikes. With cloud backup, your data is encrypted for storage in the cloud. You can set parameters for how often data is backed up and confirm that it is backing up correctly. Then, if something does go wrong, you can access essential data from anywhere, anytime via the cloud.
#3 Consider Cloud-based Accounting Services
Traditional small business accounting software requires a large database on the desktop computer. As more people need access to the database, the problems start. With multiple people accessing the accounting software:
#4 Outsource your IT
Your expanding technology allows you and your staff to do more than ever before. Great. But it also takes extra resources to monitor, manage, and secure it all. By outsourcing IT, your business gains IT expertise. Meanwhile, your in-house IT team can focus its efforts on driving growth.
Outsourcing IT also provides long-term cost savings by reducing downtime, cutting infrastructure costs, and improving security to avoid costly cyber-attacks.
Keep your business growth in check with an eye out for value-adding initiatives.
Wicked Mojo IT helps growing businesses find technology that works for them.
If we can be of any assistance to your business call us at 603-965-3420.
Unlike quick-fix IT relationships, a managed service provider isn't there just to solve short-term problems and leave. Your managed service provider is your IT's mountain Sherpa, there to guide your business through the ever-changing technology landscape.
Like a mountain guide, your managed service provider gives you a detailed route that will help your business climb to new heights. The secret to a great business is avoiding the pitfalls, dead-ends, and traps inherent in bad IT.
Removing IT Worries
Technology in business presents both new solutions and new problems too. We are more efficient and more productive today than we've ever been before. On the other hand, we are also more vulnerable and more exposed to malware and hackers than in previous years too.
Major hacks of large firms are in the news almost daily, they affect millions of customers worldwide, and even large firms seem to struggle with the fallout incurred after a major breach. Our number one priority is ensuring that the customers, suppliers, and business partners of our businesses can rest at ease.
We remove your IT worries, secure your data, and keep your systems safe so you can focus solely on your business. Our methods let you return to the passion which makes your business great while sleeping soundly at night knowing your systems are in good hands.
Slow computers and bad networks can be some of the most frustrating daily nuisances around. As a workplace obstacle it annoys employees, saps morale, and spoils even the best working environment.
The cause of these network niggles can be as varied as the networks themselves. In some cases, the router is overloaded, a switch may be poorly configured, or a device is misbehaving and spoiling the network. Poor IT reduces your effectiveness and efficiency in a number of ways. There is a tangible loss that comes from under-performing systems, often more than can be measured in slow downloads and long uploads.
Simple diagnostics and a little troubleshooting can get to the heart of the problem fast. For little cost and a short amount of time, longstanding IT issues holding up your business can be eliminated for good.
Every business and its IT needs are unique and challenging in different ways. We look closely at what your business requires and tailor our services to eliminate inefficiencies, stamp out problems, and ramp up your potential.
Whether you are paying too much for your internet plan, wasting data on unnecessary services, or not getting the most from expensive packages, we can give you the knowledge and control to get back on track.
Many of our businesses benefit from analysis which shows the rewards cloud services can bring in day-to-day work. For a huge number of companies, this has led to significant cost savings almost overnight. Eliminating power-hungry servers, reducing equipment maintenance, and lowering your data needs can add up to big improvements.
Maintaining a Watchful Eye
By learning your systems, monitoring hardware activity, and looking after your IT on an ongoing basis, we are able to establish regular parameters for what to expect and what problems look out for in your specific systems.
With a close eye, we can aim to prevent problems from occurring even before they happen. Rising temperatures, increases in noise, and frequently occurring errors combined with powerful diagnostic tools provide us with the data we need to determine when hardware is creeping towards the end of its service life.
Using regular maintenance, we can bring down service costs with smaller routine upgrades. These changes replace big budget blow-outs that occur when catastrophic failure happens across the system.
Maintaining your reputation for never losing data, always being available, and keeping a professional attitude is more than a happy side effect.
A managed service provider can boost your IT to new heights in more ways than you can imagine. Give us a call at 603-965-3420 today to talk about the IT problems we can solve for you.
Professional Businesses Deserve Professional Setup
Watching a business grow is as satisfying as it is rewarding. Whether opening a new office, starting a new department, or bringing in a new employee; it's a positive step in the right direction. Upward growth often requires new office tech and IT changes to bring new staff fully online.
At a minimum, a new computer will be needed for employees to get started quickly and hit the ground running. New staff or an entire department may require a server, printer, or additional networking hardware to cope with extra demand.
A tech smart business should give careful consideration to how it sources and sets up its hardware and software. It can be tempting to pick a simple solution off the shelf from the nearest retailer.
Modern manufacturers often make it easy to get set up with a new device straight out the box. Using default settings and a simple setup means a laptop or tablet can be just plugged in and it's ready to go, right?
Unfortunately, setting up technology to create safe, secure, and reliable business services requires a little more detail.
Setting Up Tech For Business
The hardware you have is at least as important as the hardware you buy. It's important to ensure new tech on the network is compatible with your existing business systems. Adding the wrong solutions to accommodate new employees can slow down the system for everyone.
Many firms talk themselves into buying the most expensive, or heavily marketed system on the market. Buyers often feel confident that the high price tag and slick design means it's guaranteed to work with anything you put to it. We wish that were always the case.
Without an eye for fine detail and good IT knowledge, combining certain solutions can cause a significant network slowdown or even fail to work together at all.
Consistency Is Key
It can seem easy, and tempting, to buy technology based on offers and deals around at the time you need it. Some companies do this to save money short term, building their systems using a mixture of hardware from various vendors and manufacturers. When thinking long term, this approach might not get you the great deal that you think.
Mixing suppliers alone can make it difficult to track where components came from in the coming months and years. Warranties, service agreements, and support can become hard to track down when parts fail and hardware dies. Money spent securing your business against failure is completely wasted if you can't find the right paperwork at the right time.
Sourcing replacement parts and supported peripherals can be made more difficult when components are mixed too.
Planning ahead and purchasing identical hardware can make swapping components fast and straightforward. When systems are consistent, both parts and knowledge can be shared throughout the entire business. A smart decision today can eliminate costs, time, and headaches further down the road.
Unexpected issues appearing at the last minute can have large consequences on workload and deadlines. Sharing everything from chargers to memory can help to reduce and mitigate IT risks. Consistent hardware, swappable components, and even considering a supply of spares can take care of many potential headaches.
In business, first impressions are critically important. Whether setting up a new office or getting an employee ready to start, a professional attitude goes a long way. Good IT that's ready to work sets a professional tone to carry your business forward.
IT that supports and enhances operations is infinitely better than IT that gets in the way. Using consistent and well-known solutions in the right way avoids wasting time, maintains performance, and reduces costs where it matters.
Our goal is to ensure your hardware meets your business needs. A professional setup ensures your IT is consistently improved while you watch your business flourish and grow.
Give us a call at 603-965-3420 for a professional setup to make sure nothing stands in the way of growing your business.
Finding the balance between Facebook privacy and Facebook fun can be challenging. It’s a double-edged sword that allows us to connect with friends no matter where they live, but it also publicly shares information that just a few years ago, we’d never dream of putting online. You can search for people based on where they went to school, town they live in, clubs they belong to, who they’re related to…but when is it too much?
Our tech is something we use every day, but did you know it’s also the most disgusting? Your screen may look clean, but studies show that a mobile phone can be 18x dirtier than a public restroom – ew! It gets worse (sorry)…that keyboard you tap at while eating your morning toast? It’s probably the biggest bacterial threat in your house, with about 20 000 times more germs than a toilet seat, more if you share it with children.
In recent news, the ransomware WannaCry swept the world, knocking out computers in an instant. It hit businesses, government and police departments and of course the NHS hospitals in the UK. It was a mess! Affected users had all their files encrypted and couldn’t get them back unless they paid a ransom of around $300. This attack was particularly bad because it took advantage of a Windows vulnerability to spread itself from network to network. What wasn’t clear in the media though, was that home users were also exposed to the attack - but only those with a vulnerable Windows installation.