We’ve all done it, at least once. Some of us maybe more than a couple of times, and I know there’s few that are repeat offenders. You know what I’m talking about – the bane of the security admin’s existence – default passwords.
Those are the usernames and passwords that come with every device. Even in this day and age, most systems don’t REQUIRE you to change the credentials that get you system admin rights. The bad guys know that and use it to their advantage.
When most of our business and personal systems are protected with just a name and a basic password (and maybe a trusted network range?), that’s pretty easy pickings for someone with a brute force tool or a sniffer to find out your secrets. And once the bad guys have your credentials, then what? Well after that is when the real dangers begin.
When’s the last time you changed your voicemail PIN from 0000? Perhaps your home router is still admin/password even though the FBI issued a warning for everyone to change it? And how many ERP users keep system admin “manager” around with the default password of… you guessed it. And those accounts open the door wide to anyone wanting to get in; good and bad.
If you have systems exposed to the bad guys (and we all do!) then this post is for you. STOP IT! Even if you told me “Well, none of those systems are internet exposed”, I’d ask “where are the bad actors in your network?”. If you said “outside the firewall”, I’d respond with something like “I dare you to create a share/folder called “payroll” and see how long some curious netizen (aka employee) fell into that folder looking for something juicy.
Imagine splaying your entire infrastructure wide open to someone who just happened to know that Netgear uses admin/password for all their routers? Or that your company name is NOT a good password?
So what’s a concerned system admin gonna do? It’s easy in theory and hard in practice. Here are some digital security tips that will create a stronger password security strategy:
1. Change the default username and change the default password.
2. Start using stronger passwords, not P@ssw0rd. We recommend pass phrases, or a sentence that you can remember but the bag guys will have a hard time guessing.
3. Enable account lockout so that if “x” bad passwords are guessed in a row, the account is locked FOREVER (not reset after 10 minutes, thank you Microsoft). Helpdesk notification of such a lockout will put you in the know.
4. Remove admin credentials from being used on untrusted networks. Yes, your users are untrusted! Create a management VLAN, or a specific set of IP’s that can RDP, or shutdown the access from outside devices altogether.
5. Enable multi-factor authentication. This can easily be enabled in Office 365 and Active Directory, and if your devices leverage that directory then they automatically get that 2FA protection as well.
6. Hack yourself! Run a network scanner, or hire an outsourced IT firm to investigate for you, find the unsecured devices and fix them before the bad guys do.
7. Let us help you! We can run an ethical scan IT Assessment Detective scan of your systems, attempt to break into your systems, and give you a full reporting of your IT weaknesses. As “they say” knowledge is power.
So, don’t let your next phone call to the EstesGroup be “help me, I got hacked!” And let us help you run your business better with a strong password security strategy – before the bad guys teach you a lesson.
As you might have heard, or possibly experienced, ransomware is a particularly nasty form of malware that holds your files hostage. In fact, DC webcams were hacked by ransomware before the inauguration! In the past, the ransom was usually just under $2,000 and, if you paid it, you probably got your files back. Those days are passing quickly.
Lately, they’ve figured out that if you paid once, you’ll probably pay again, so paying actually sets you up to get hit again! “Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice…” In fact, we recommend against paying the ransom at all!. If infected, you can contact the FBI and while they won’t get your files back, they will open a case. I suggest you get protected BEFORE you get hit.
To add injury to insult, when you do come up with the Bitcoin to pay (no, they don’t take American Express), there’s a possibility that you WON’T get your files back! The unlock key simply doesn’t work, and the bad guys no longer are interested in you at all. They got what they wanted,they might even ask for MORE money! Newer variants of ransomware will also start randomly deleting files until you pay up! Ouch!
Paying $600-$1,800 might not seem like a lot, but I am preparing for the day when the hackers don’t just demand money to return your files, they’ll start demanding MORE money to stop deleting your files, or worse yet, sell your files to your competitors! Can you afford a $20,000 ransom or risk your confidential data appearing in your competitors inbox?
Do you have a rock-solid backup policy? Have you been hit with ransomware and don’t want to fall prey again? Contact us today and let’s talk. EstesCloud has the vaccine for ransomware!
Click here to schedule a meeting to let us help you make your technology a no-brainer!
Essentially, HIPAA enshrines the means by which American workers and their dependents can keep their health insurance coverage should they change or lose their jobs.
HIPAA also sets industry-wide standards for electronic billing of health care services, and mandates the confidential handling of an individual’s medical information.
So what does this have to do with mobile devices?
Mobile devices have affected every industry sector. With each passing day, more and more professionals conduct their business using tablets, laptops, or Smart phones. This includes the medical industry where doctors, nurses, and physician’s assistants routinely send confidential data over satellite data plans and wifi.
In most cases, the medical industry’s use of mobile devices translates into better patient care. But it also opens personal medical data to the threat of cyber theft.
To maintain HIPAA compliance, health care professionals and IT managers should implement the following best practices when handling health care data on mobile devices:
Obtain Written Permission Before Operating via Mobile
Make sure to document the fact that your patients have signed off on communicating with your office via email or any other electronic means. Documented consent is critical to HIPAA compliance. It’s also one of the simplest and best ways to avoid embarrassing misunderstandings and potential legal suits down the line.
Stick to Proper Professional Jargon
The ease and speed of mobile devices often results in users relying on abbreviations, emoticons, and other forms of Internet vernacular. Put simply: DON’T DO THIS. Remember that communications, notes, and files that appear unprofessional can subject health care practitioners to confusion at best and malpractice suits at worst. Treat every character you type on behalf of your job as the valuable work product it is. Your company and the patients you treat depend on accurate communications scripted in proper industry vocabulary.
Everything Goes Into the File
Remember that every email you send or receive, every file you upload or download, every conversation you have by phone is part of your patient’s official medical record. Text messages, phone calls, and conversational asides might not seem important in the moment, but they all form a piece of the overall puzzle a patient’s profile presents. Be sure to record every instance of communication diligently to prevent confusion and delays in treatment, as well as to maintain HIPAA compliance.
Encrypt Your Transmissions
No one leaves for work each day while the door to his house stands open wide. That’s just common sense. By the same token, no one using a mobile device in the 21st century should send any transmission without securing that message via data encryption. User passwords activate but one tier of proper data security. DON’T STOP THERE! Add as many layers as you can in the form of personal questions, icons, PINs, and other challenge-response tests. Remember that there’s no such thing as too much security.
Our ComplianceCare service from EstesCloud can help you solve all of your HIPAA IT issues.
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