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Wash your hands, wear your mask, and secure your device

By Manny Sahu

While businesses are busy trying to protect their workplace and employees from COVID-19, hackers are busy trying to find innovative ways to infect your devices with malicious software.

Security experts say COVID-19 has created a new wave of phishing and malware attacks with bad actors using this pandemic to lure unsuspecting victims. In fact, according to the security firm ZScaler, hacking threats have increased 15% a month this year and in March they even jumped to 20%.

As businesses start to open with limited capacity, lots of us will continue to work remotely while others will return to the workplace. This puts additional burden on the IT departments as now devices must be secured for both onsite employees and for those who continue working from home.

TECHNOLOGY INCREASES HACKING OPPORTUNITIES

With the advent of smart devices (doorbells, security cameras, speakers etc.), hackers have found very innovative ways to attack customer networks. Who would have thought a smart light bulb can be used to infiltrate the home or enterprise network?

Most of us have learned not to click on links in an unknown email, but would you click on an email from your printer that you use to scan documents frequently?  Or click on a link when your smart speaker sends you a personalized email based on your music preferences? Through experience, we’ve learned these innocent actions often lead to ransomware.

Unfortunately, all these smart devices were built with convenience in mind — NOT necessarily security. Unless developed by a reputable company, lots of these devices use out-of-date software, unsecure communication protocol, and leave network ports open which create entry-points for hackers.

So, what can small to medium sized businesses (SMB) do to guard against such potential threats?

SIX STEPS TO MINIMIZE SECURITY THREATS

Policy-based monitoring: Monitor security settings on all devices and endpoints connected to your network including mobile devices, printers, and multi-function devices. Establishing a baseline configuration policy across all devices, monitoring those policies and creating automatic remediation is always preferred.

Change default passwords for all devices: Most devices come with a default admin password that MUST be changed. SB-327 required all device manufacturers to ensure that the default passwords are changed during installation. But, IT managers must enforce this policy across all their devices.

Disable unused network protocols and ports: Most devices have several protocols and services enabled by default. Default passwords along with open network protocols makes intrusion easy for hackers. See example.

Patch your device software frequently: Make sure your vendor uses a secure embedded platform for your devices that is updated frequently with security patches. Recently, prominent embedded platforms have been victims of remote code execution affecting several types of devices including printer manufacturersStudies show up to 60% of security breaches were avoidable, due to patches that were released, but not applied.

Avoid connecting printers directly to the internet: No one should be able to access your printing ports publicly without authentication. By requiring your users to log into your VPN when they need to print, and segmenting your printers from the rest of the network, significantly mitigates any direct attack against the printers.

Encrypt your data: Last, but not least, always encrypt your data regardless if it is stored on the hard drives or in-transit over the network. All data communication should be over at least TLS 1.2 or higher to avoid any “middle-man” attacks or eavesdropping. Simple configuration oversight may compromise large amounts of your customer data even in the most reputable cloud storage locations.

These are some of the very simple steps that SMBs can take to protect their business data. We at Toshiba handle privacy and security of customer data with utmost importance. Our engineers ensure that our devices are secure by design. Moreover, our security consultants are available to help our customers secure their devices and networks.

For more information, please download our “Security Best Practices Whitepaper” here.

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