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Dark Web Protection: Assessment, Awareness & Actualization

Dark Web Protection: Assessment, Awareness & Actualization

Deep Web

Business owners, especially those who have been through the challenges involved in a data breach, often hope the dark web goes completely dark — as in nonexistent. Wouldn’t it be nice if trending IT services, like advanced web scans and security audits, go out with the times? For now, the illegal realm of the dark web makes history every day, so companies must work nonstop to predict cyber threats and stay a step ahead of the hackers.

 

Dark Exposure

 

The dark web is an encrypted network of criminal intent. The deep web, conversely, provides a safe haven for your private information. By law, you need to keep most of your business data hidden from public view. You don’t want your financial information or your employees’ social security numbers exposed, and neither does the government. Whether you’re a manufacturing company in the heart of Denver, Colorado, or a distribution business with hubs across the country, you need hidden security — call it “dark web” protection — for massive amounts of corporate data. This means you’ll need to keep your real-time data and your backups in the deep web and out of the dark web.

 

The deep web is essential to privacy, compliance, safety and security. Like the illegal areas of the web, it’s built from non-indexed pages. Your company’s network is not revealed to random viewers because it’s kept hidden in the deep web — unless you suffer a data breach that exposes your information to malcontents.

 

 

To Breach Their Own

 

People feel vulnerable online and are somewhat aware that cyber danger is lurking. However, data breaches often originate in too much trust or in lack of communication surrounding network trust issues. Your users trust an email and get phished, or they trust “12345” as a solid password. Could the problem be that your users trust the company to protect them? Does your team assume that strong security solutions are already in place? Here are some of the common reasons, stemming from the trust factor, that your business could suffer cyber attacks:

  • spam email
  • weak passwords
  • unprotected mobile devices
  • delayed software updates

Mix these with user oblivion (or trust) and flimsy (or outdated) policies, and your company is at high risk for a cyber attack.

 

 

“A” for Security

 

Let’s now look at 3 “Easy A” ways you can create safe deep web data:

  • Assessment: A security audit is an excellent way to surface your network’s weak points. You can immediately see vulnerabilities and close openings that could bring in hacker traffic.
  • Awareness: Users often trust the system. Cybersecurity awareness training, such as a fire drill phishing attack, can educate users about current cyber risks and prepare them for real-time attacks.
  • Actualization: Enriching and enforcing security policies, updating hardware and software, advancing network protection measures — there are hundreds of ways to make advanced security a reality for your company.

 

When was the last time you had a security audit? Have you ever clicked on a suspicious link because of mental fatigue or, the opposite, heightened curiosity? When did you last test your backups? Install updates? Scan the dark web for your private data? Did you ever turn off multi-factor authentication because it was annoying? If you assess your system and close obvious gaps, train the users accessing your corporate network, and actualize things like security in the cloud and advanced endpoint security, you can leave the hacker chapter out of your company’s history books.

 

 

 

Are you ready to protect your business from the hackers?

Our team can help you with assessment, awareness and actualization.

 

Getting QWERTY with Password Management

Getting QWERTY with Password Management

Before the Time Runs Out!

Day(s)

:

Hour(s)

:

Minute(s)

:

Second(s)

Riddle Me This, Dear Reader,

What Do These Little Threads Share?

qwerty

password

12345

iloveyou

111111

54321

I’ll tell you in a minute. A secret. A code. A…  12345. Uh… password.

 

I’m lucky to work with a team of password management rockstars because I’m about as QWERTY as it gets when it comes to password history. One of my network admins once scolded me for choosing “password” to access a vulnerable system, and I’ve depended on multi-factor authentication and other cybersecurity tricks ever since. If you’re shaking your head at me over my password management talents, then let’s take a quick look at the most common passwords of 2018: 123456, password, 123456789, 12345, 111111, 1234567, sunshine, qwerty, iloveyou.

 

 

Security

iloveyou2

 

Password proliferation has become the norm. With every new app, website and device that we commandeer, there’s new access information created. Moreover, many of these systems require a periodic reset. Keeping track of all of these passcodes can be likened to taking a mnemonic census of an anthill.

 

Archimedes once said that if only he had a solid rock on which to stand, he would move the earth.

 

If you assume that your passwords are a firm footing, prepare to have your assumptions rocked. It is believed that up to 80% of common hacking activities are due to compromised credentials, mostly in the form of stolen usernames and passwords. Worse still, IT Managers report 73% of all passwords used are duplicated in multiple applications.

 

When people use the same password for multiple systems, having one password exposed may compromise the whole network of applications. Luckily, password management doesn’t mean you have to buy a walk-in safe to store your password diaries. To keep it simple, here are a few tips to memorize as a starting point for improved password management:

  • Never use the same password twice
  • Never write down your passwords
  • Never share your passwords with anyone else
  • Never use real words or known information about yourself in your passwords
  • Avoid commonly used passwords

 

The last bullet is especially salient—50% of all attacks involve the top 25 most used passwords, proving there are risks involved in “getting qwerty” with your password management procedures.

 

 

Need a more sophisticated password management plan?

Shield

Let’s talk password management solutions and multi-factor authentication, two great ways to prevent getting hacked.

 

Password Manager: A password manager solution, such as SolarWinds’s PassPortal, allows you to store all of your passwords in one place. This makes managing and remembering all of them much easier. Make sure your password manager solution is itself password protected, preferably with multi-factor authentication.

 

Multi-factor authentication: Multi-factor authentication is the use of additional forms of authentication in conjunction with a traditional password. This most often takes the form of a shared key, sent to a separate device, or calculated through a common authentication application. This makes it difficult for a compromised password to compromise the application. Enable multi-factor authentication wherever possible, but make sure your secondary authentication source is equally secured with a strong password—failure to do so is like having a biplane write your shared key in the sky.

 

qwertyiloveyou2!

 

Random password generators can also help create passwords, but the results are often long random jumbles of characters and quite difficult to remember. Unless you can recite the longest word in the world from memory, you might want to use these password management tools in conjunction with a password management solution.

 

If you’re a business owner trusting dozens or hundreds or thousands of employees with sensitive information, then a managed IT solution that includes password management will definitely be the safest way to interact with the millions of letters, numbers and characters that are involved in the multitude of passwords that access the data of your systems.

 

 

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Epicor BAQ: Returning Too Much of a Good Thing

Epicor BAQ: Returning Too Much of a Good Thing

Epicor BAQ

The Epicor BAQ (Business Activity Query) toolset allows you to leverage the mounds of data that your system generates. But the problem with mounds of data is its volume—when we say mounds, we mean… mounds. As such, Epicor has built in a feature to its BAQ designer to limit the number of rows returned.

 

This feature prevents a “runaway query” from tanking a company’s performance. This functionality was especially helpful when I first delved into queries, as it prevented me from needlessly tanking my environment. Looking back at some of my early queries, they certainly were tank-worthy.

 

But for experienced Epicor users working with large datasets, this limitation can be… well, limiting. When a query generates a dataset that is more than 10,000 rows, the following warning message displays:

 

Severity: Warning, Table: , Field: , RowID: , Text: Test results are forcibly limited to 10000 rows to prevent the application server memory overload:

 

Activity Query Epicor BAQ

 

This can be immensely frustrating to Epicor super-users, for there are cases when the entire dataset needs to be returned, to gauge the efficacy of a given BAQ. In the past, the workaround to this limitation was to embed the BAQ in a dashboard, as the 10K row limitation disappeared when the BAQ was part of a dashboard.

 

But such an additional step seemed like an unnecessary contrivance—scaling the fire escape when all you needed was a step ladder.

 

Fortunately, Epicor modified the BAQ designer to allow the person creating the BAQ to modify the Execution setting that limited the number of returned rows. The steps to make this possible are below.

 

From the Actions menu, select “Execution Settings”:

 

Activity Query BAQ Execution

 

Click the new icon to create the new execution setting.

 

This creates a new execution setting that needs to be defined. Then you can perform the following additional steps:

  • For the “Setting Name” select “RemoveTestRowLimit”
  • Set the Setting Value to “True”
  • Check “Persist In Query”
  • Click OK:
BAQ Query Test Execution

 

Thereafter, the BAQ will return all the available rows:

 

Epicor Activity Query Designer

 

The execution setting needs to be defined for each query for which you wish to return more than the default number of rows. Make sure to save the query after the execution setting has been defined.

 

Ready for a quintessential query?

 

Successfully navigating the Epicor application is rarely a matter of taking one great leap forward. More often than not, it is a series of small, incremental steps. With Epicor BAQ, your goal is to take your data and turn it into information—without getting lost in the volume.

 

 

To learn more about Epicor management and administration, please watch our video on cloud ERP by clicking here.

 

 

 

Are you lost in the volume of IT and ERP news available online? Sign up for one of our monthly newsletters, and we’ll bring you the highlights.

 

 

Part Master Best Practices? Ask Brad

Part Master Best Practices? Ask Brad

Part Master Questions

 

Q: What are some of the first things that someone should consider when setting up parts in Epicor?

 

A: We could have a long, harrowing conversation about part naming conventions, but arguments over part naming philosophies have ruined more friendships than heated discussions over the latest Star Wars movies—so I’m going to leave that one alone. In terms of Epicor part master setup, probably the first and most important consideration is the Non-Stock checkbox. The Non-Stock Flag is one of those “big-little” checkboxes that drive a ton of downstream behavior. This one flag will affect how a part will be handled on a sales order, a purchase order, and a job, whether as the top-level assembly or as a component material, and basically determines whether the related transaction will be processed through the system’s inventory module or processed directly in a “to-order” manner. This flag is fundamental for companies looking to operate in mixed-mode manufacturing. Most companies, even companies working in highly-engineered environments, rarely intend to manufacture all components “to-order.” Often there are economies of scale to consider, and components can be used on a broad array of higher-level assemblies. As such, some parts will be handled in a “to-order” manner, while others will follow a traditional inventory-based approach. For that reason, we have to place special consideration on the setting of the Non-Stock flag.

 

 

Q: Phantom BOMs are a topic of disagreement—do you have any recommendations on the use of Phantoms?

 

A: In general, a phantom is a part that carries a method of manufacture, but is not itself manufactured discretely. Rather, the part “explodes” when it belongs in a work order—the top level part disappears and is replaced by its components. Phantoms really are system-specific, for the rules for handling phantoms differ by ERP system. Within Epicor, a few general rules could be suggested when deciding if a part will be flagged Phantom BOM. Firstly, if a part is stocked, it should not and cannot be flagged Phantom BOM, as it is assumed that a phantom part not be stocked. Also, if a part is made independently from its parent, in a different place and at a different time, it should not be flagged Phantom BOM—it should be either a material or a subassembly, so its manufacture can be managed independently from its parent. When component parts are made at the same time and place as their parents, I’ve seen customers use phantoms to manage the components, to simplify production, while retaining the basic product structure defined by engineering.

 

 

Q: More specific to Epicor, the Pull-as-Assembly flag is a source of confusion and disagreement—do you have any recommendations on the use of the Pull-as-Assembly flag?

 

A: A Method-of-Manufacturing defined for a Part Revision can differ significantly when you pull the revision into a Job and get details. These differences are largely due to the Pull-as-Assembly flag. This flag essentially defines whether a component part will be manufactured independently from its parent part, or as part of the same Job as its parent, as a subassembly. One can suggest a few principles when choosing to flag a part as Pull-as-Assembly. If the part is stocked, do not flag the part Pull-as-Assembly, as you will be supplying the material from your on-hand inventory. If the component part in question is Non-Stock, and the intent is to supply the materials through a separate Job, uncheck the Pull-As-Assembly flag. But if you wish to supply the Non-Stock part with a subassembly, allow the Pull-as-Assembly flag to remain checked.

 

 

Q: Can you explain how the settings on the part master flow through to a bill of materials and ultimately to a work order?

 

A: It’s easier to explain this with a visual…

 

Part Master Flow
IT Services in a 1 + 1: 4 Signs You Need Managed IT

IT Services in a 1 + 1: 4 Signs You Need Managed IT

The word “outsourced” makes some business owners curious and others nervous when it comes to IT services. “MSP” is another term floating around, and you might also come across “IT-in-a-Box” when you go looking for help with your systems. Managed IT (our favorite code phrase) can mean a lot of things. If you’re a manufacturing or distribution company, then IT services might mean, among other things, industry-specific Cloud or Hosting platforms.

IT Services

When Nobody Sees the IT Stop Signs

 

When it comes to your ERP and IT systems, you need effective stop signs that work both internally and externally. Your cybersecurity infrastructure can keep your team safe and productive while also keeping the bad guys out. Cybercrime is a 1 + 1 relationship. If you didn’t have a team to be hacked, then you wouldn’t ever need to worry about adding a hacker to your network. 

  • Stop Sign 1: Your company’s IT services need to ensure that your employees are traveling through safe pathways and that they know when to stop before falling into the webs of ransomware or other destructive malware.
  • Stop Sign 2: Your team’s mobile devices, laptops and desktops all make friends on a daily basis. This is essential for business growth. Because of this, IT services ideally provide a clear STOP sign for potential trespassers—a bold indication that cyber tricksters will not be tolerated, even on the fringes, and will not be unknowingly welcomed in by your team.  

A Wanted Man or a Wanted Spam?

 

But how do you know if your system has a “Most Wanted” sign that’s attracting criminals rather than telling them you already know they’re the lawbreakers? When it comes to business, you’re continually building relationships, and hopefully these become lifelong friendships. You trust your most valuable data to your IT talent. When it comes to managed IT services, business owners and other decision-makers might squint at the cyber lineup and not know whom or when to choose.  Here are 4 signs your staff would benefit from a partnership with a managed IT and cybersecurity firm:

  • High-value IT projects, best done internally, are distracting your key players or forcing them to work long hours.
  • IT operations are unpredictable or unreliable, causing project or system failures, yet you don’t want to grow or change your employee pool.
  • IT costs are variable or steep, and you’d like a more predictable budget.
  • Security and compliance issues are overwhelming your team.

 

Every second of the day you rely on experts to protect you. The meteorologists warn you of bad weather. The firefighters alert you when it’s a fire risk to roast a s’more. The doctors warn you of heart attack predisposition. In regard to IT, the challenges you face include ransomware that could destroy the business you’ve worked so hard to build. This holds true whether you’re a DoD manufacturer, a medical clinic, an accounting firm, a lollipop distributor, a small-town bank… the list goes on. Because the hackers are always available to friend you, you’re always risking adding them to your inner circle, making your 1 + 1 relationship one of IT enemies, rather than friends. A 1 (your team) + 1 (EstesGroup Managed IT services team) relationship will keep your IT math simple, your budget profitable, and your company safe.