Windows 7 / Server 2008 End of Life – Know the Risks and Your Options

According to the 2019 Data Breach Investigations Report from Verizon, one in three breaches caused globally is due to unpatched software vulnerabilities. Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008/ 2008 R2 operating systems are no longer receiving free security updates or support from Microsoft. What does this mean? What are the risks of running end of life software?

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Here are just a few of the many risks to be concerned about:

  • Security Vulnerabilities – No more security fixes mean your OS is a minefield of security hazards. A firewall and anti-virus are not sufficient protection against unpatched vulnerabilities.
  • Software Incompatibility – Software vendors stop guaranteeing compatibility with legacy OS.
  • Compliance issues – Regulated industries such as banks and healthcare deal with sensitive data protected by law; a security lapse could result in big fines, company shutdowns, or jail time.
  • High Operating Costs – Fixing bugs and maintaining End of Life software can out way cost of upgrading.
  • Poor Performance & Reliability – End of Life and out-of-warranty devices are prone to break down and could drive up the cost of downtime.

In summary, End of Life software poses a huge risk to an organization. It can end up costing your business a considerable amount of money and lost productivity. Take action now to start upgrading before it’s too late!

October is Cybersecurity Month

Stay Aware to Protect Your Company’s Data

Happy October! It’s time for warm drinks, pumpkin patches, cold weather comfort food and Halloween candy. But October also means it’s National Cybersecurity Awareness Month! CREG Systems is here with another informative post to help you learn more about how to protect your data. Read on to find out how to successfully manage cybersecurity at your organization.

Click here to read our last post about mitigating the risk of a ransomware attack.

Why is there a National Cybersecurity Awareness Month?

The Department of Homeland Security describes National Cybersecurity Month here as “a collaborative effort between government and industry to raise awareness about the importance of cybersecurity and to ensure that all Americans have the resources they need to be safer and more secure online.”

Reports show that around 70% of the malware cyber attacks last year hit small to medium businesses, due to fewer resources they are able to invest in security compared to large organizations. Those numbers may look intimidating. However, you have CREG Systems as Northern New York’s trusted and experienced resource for your small to medium organization’s cybersecurity needs.

What are today’s biggest cyber threats?

We can see in many professional reports that nearly every organization is at risk of facing a cyber threat at any point in time. But what specific dangers should you watch out for?

We at CREG Systems seek to educate the public about how to maintain their network health. We do so by providing educational materials, like this article. We also assess your network and provide recommendations and services that will strengthen your security. Contact us today to protect your data. Meanwhile, here are some common threats that CREG Systems recommends you watch out for:

1. Data Breach and Cloud Abuse

If you are backing up your data online, other virtual apps may gain access to your information and cryptographic keys. Storing your important information on Cloud, while convenient, makes you vulnerable to malicious attacks and data theft. Be very picky when choosing a Cloud provider! Also, make sure that you have multiple-factor authentication in place to protect yourself and your business.

2. Single Factor Authentication

It is time to move one from the outdated single-password security systems. It possesses a huge security risk by giving anyone an easy access to data. The best way to avoid a cyber criminal getting through to your information is to implement multi-level security and at least two factor authentication.

3. Hacking

Hacking is a long-time familiar concept to many. However, it has not become any less of a threat. Each day the Internet gets more and more diversified with apps, cloud storage, devices and users. In turn, that creates many more weak points in network systems. Some ways to minimize the risk of hacking is to keep your credentials secure, create different and complex passwords for each system and put in place restrictions regarding sharing your credentials.

4. Malware Attack

We urge all our customers to learn about malware and how to mitigate the risk of being its next victim. Malware attacks can be caused by various things – from a lack of an internet security software, to bundled free software programs, unfit hardware, file sharing, etc. CREG Systems recommends that you keep your security systems up to date to avoid the risk of malware attacks such as ransomware. Read our ransomware guide here.

5. Insider Threats

Even though many organization already have multi-layer security systems and data protection in place, there is still another risk to consider: people. Users, and especially ex-employees, can become a major threat to your cybersecurity. Always remove your ex-employee’s access and data as soon as they leave the organization. It’s also important to restrict access when necessary, teach employees about the importance of security and have regular testing to ensure your data is secure.

6. Internet of Things

In 2019, most devices connect through the Internet of Things (IoT). It’s a recent term that came with the arrival of AI’s, such as Amazon Echo, Apple Siri and Google Home. IoT is a system of interrelated devices, machines, objects, and even people that have the ability to exchange data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction. All of the robust internet activity has created lots of weak points and causes for security concerns. That’s why we want you to watch out for all of the threats above to make sure that your network doesn’t become the weak link in the IoT!

Own IT. Secure IT. Protect IT.

We learn from the National Cybersecurity Initiative toolkit that his year, the National Cybersecurity Month focuses on emphasizing personal accountability and the importance of taking proactive steps to enhance cybersecurity at home and at work. The motto this year is Own IT. Secure IT. Protect IT.  That is to say that we are called to all participate in protecting our data, whether you are an IT professional or just an average user.

Cybersecurity is a shared responsibility. That means that we all play a part in keeping our networks safe. We believe that organizations and their leaders, as well as users and also the security solutions providers, like CREG Systems, all work together to manage your cybersecurity.

Get in touch today to receive a security assessment of your business!

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Ransomware And How to Avoid It

5 Tips to Help Mitigate the Risk of a Ransomware Attack

Avoid a ransomware attack by educating yourself and protecting your business. Knowledge is power, so be in the know and check out these 5 helpful tips from CREG Systems!

What is ransomware? This Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency report defines it as “a type of malicious software, or malware, designed to deny access to a computer system or data until a ransom is paid.” In addition, CISA warns us that ransomware usually spreads through phishing emails or by accidentally visiting an infected website.

Don’t become the next victim of a ransomware attack! Here are our quick tips to help protect your data:

1. Get the right protection software.

Mitigate the risk of being attacked by ransomware by protecting your data with the most up-to-date security software. For example, make sure you are secured through NEXTGEN firewalls, use sandboxing for extra protection, and insure you’ve got protection at gate and edge router level. Ask us about our network security services to learn more.

2. Check your hardware.

Malfunctioning, unpatched or outdated hardware can greatly increase your risk of a ransomware attack. Most importantly, get your hardware regularly assessed and updated. In addition, check for any vulnerabilities that may allow malware to seep through into your network. To do that, we at CREG Systems provide assessments to help you keep your hardware in top shape.

3. Multi-level protection is key.

From desktop level to firewall level, each device in your organization should have segmented and multi-layered protection. That will insure that ransomware can be stopped before it gets to your data. Email us, and we will help you minimize the risk by combining software and hardware protection tools, elements of AI and machine learning

4. Practice good cyber habits.

Backup, backup, backup. Never keep your backups online, keep your systems updated, whitelist good apps to keep the bad ones out, limit access privileges, and use two-factor authentication. In short, prevention is better than cure!

5. Know who to contact in worst case scenario.

In case of a ransomware attack, never pay the ransom and always ask for help! Firstly, Contact CISA and notify your local FBI field office. Secondly, give us a call. CREG Systems is a trusted experienced advisor. We are here for you, should you need assistance in recovery from a cyber attack. Contact us to learn more!

CREG Systems seeks to educate its customers about the telecom industry and the services we offer. We do so by giving you tools and information to help you learn more to empower and protect your business. Located in Watertown, NY, we serve our Northern New York customers in many areas of IT and telecommunications, including cyber security. Click the “Contact Us” button above to get in touch!