2020 was a defining year for the future of technology in business. Lockdowns and various other restrictions challenged the adaptability of pre-existing business infrastructure, which brought to light the overdependence on prediction.
Risk management focuses on the need to access the hazards that may hamper any touchpoint of the value chain – from distinct departments to end-user. To put it simply, it can help to identify anything that could possibly go wrong in your business in future.
With the advent of information technology, businesses have immensely transformed their infrastructure and processes leading to improved productivity. When talking specifically in regard to e-commerce platforms, information technology is rightly considered the backbone of e-commerce.
As your business grows, you might feel the need for some outside expertise, resources, technology, and tools to avoid becoming redundant. If you are at a crossroads and all these doubts sound familiar– then it’s time for you to look for a strategic partner that can deliver consistent progress and fulfill your business needs.
As the world becomes more digitally connected and accessible, the need for online security is increasing multi-fold. From ordering your groceries and food, booking your travel, banking, and even consulting health care providers, everything is done online either through a website or a mobile app.
As the restrictions for containing the spread of COVID-19 disease begin to lift, businesses in most parts of the world are also starting to reopen. The pandemic has seen companies lay off many employees and a decline in productivity. Besides, the situation has massively affected the relationships between IT service providers and customers in ways, such as managed and outsourcing service agreements and stricter requirements on personnel locations. Therefore, a significant number will be seeking to switch IT service providers to meet the increasing needs as most businesses base their models on technology.
Identify a suitable provider before making the switch.
Rushing to leave the current IT service provider without identifying a suitable replacement can affect business operations significantly. Companies should avoid this by first reviewing IT providers, depending on technological and security business requirements. A thorough review of research and feedback from other businesses can help identify the most suitable service provider. A list containing the non-negotiable IT requirements can facilitate faster and more efficient identification of an appropriate provider. The list should include a comparison of the services offered in the present arrangement and the industry-specific services the business requires. Only then can an enterprise determine a service provider offering the required IT needs.
Retain control of the IT infrastructure
Outsourced IT service providers usually full administrative access to all IT assets and corporate networks. Before making a switch to a new provider, a company’s in-house IT staff should ensure to retain administrative credentials used to access the system infrastructure. At the same time, they must ensure to revoke all access privileges to maintain the integrity and confidentiality of data and IT infrastructure. Make sure to log the password and login information to enable the new service providers to efficiently discharge their responsibilities.
Perform an extensive security check
Once an organization outsources services to the new IT providers, it must collaborate and perform a detailed security audit of the IT systems and networks. The inspection is essential since it reveals existing backdoor access points. Furthermore, a security audit will enable the IT provider to become familiar with the IT infrastructure layout, patch identified security weaknesses, and address all pressing security challenges. A security check ensures the company and IT provider begin a reliable IT service agreement. It also reassures that there won’t be security concerns once the business terminates the arrangement with the outgoing service provider.
Provide timely information to all stakeholders
Company IT resources affect all business operations, and in extension, the performance of individuals relying on them to discharge their roles. Therefore, to optimize the switching process, ensure all team members and stakeholders remain updated on all impending changes. The company leadership should meet with employees and provide reasons informing the need to switch. They must also explain the new protocols and the expected changes regarding IT support and delivery. Informing the teams ensures everyone is on board with the coming changes, facilitating an optimized and smooth switchover. Also, ensure to provide sufficient notice to the current IT provider once the company is ready to make the switch.
Technological solutions are crucial for businesses to thrive in today’s highly competitive environment. Companies use sensitive and personal customer information to realize data-driven business models.
At the same time, hackers continue targeting enterprises to breach critical systems, steal data, and due to monetary gains. Currently, attacks on financial organizations have increased by 238% since the outbreak of coronavirus. Also, 80% of companies have reported a rise in cyber-attacks. Ransomware attacks had risen by 600% as of March 2020. Reputable companies, such as Marriott hotel chains and Nintendo, have been victims of cyber-attacks in 2020. Attacks on the former affected more than 5 million customers, while at least 300,000 Nintendo user accounts were hacked. Understanding emergency actions following a hacking incidence can reduce or prevent adverse impacts.
Initiate incident response measures
The first course of action is to respond to the hacking incidence once it is detected. Companies should use the incident response procedures to contain the attack and prevent further damage. An incidence response plan allows the evaluation of breached systems, stolen or corrupted data, and the identification of the root causes. Some of the measures to consider include disconnecting from the internet and corporate network, isolating the affected platform/service, and revoking access to all resources until the incidence is contained.
Understand motivations behind the incidence
A variety of factors can motivate hackers to target a business. These could be financial gains, accessing crucial information like intellectual property, revenge, or insider threats. While figuring out the reasons can be challenging during a stressful hacking scenario, they inform suitable measures for stopping and preventing the attack. Besides, it enables the affected organization to embark on the recovery journey.
Reset all credentials
Resetting credentials, such as usernames, passwords, and recovery accounts, should be a priority following a hacking incidence. Passwords provide the first line of defense, and a hacktivist incidence means cyber adversaries could have compromised them. Reset passwords of all services, even if only a single platform has been compromised. It is vital to create new, secure passwords since reusing old passwords exposes a company to recurring attacks. Ensure that all devices and account users sign out upon resetting to ensure the new passwords become effective immediately.
Establishing the real intentions of a cyber-attack can be a daunting task. Therefore, it is pertinent to spread the word to all parties once a hacking incident has been detected. These include law enforcement and legal authorities, supply chain partners, customers, friends, among others. Attackers can use a breached network or account to spread malice to other organizations or individuals. Alerting them permits them to detect and report suspicious events that indicate attempted hacking attempts.
Beef up cyber defenses
Many victims often want to move on quickly after containing a hacking incidence and fail to implement measures for enhancing security. After identifying the root causes of the data breach, it is essential to deploy robust controls to avoid a recurrence in the future. Also, victims should strengthen the security of non-affected services using industry-standard practices to enhance information security.
Hackers are leveraging advanced technologies, such as AI, to innovate sophisticated malware variants. Due to the increased integration of digital processes in all industries, cybercrime has risen ten-fold.
Cybersecurity Ventures estimates that cybercrime costs will reach $6 trillion every year by 2021. In a research study drawing thousands of security incidents, researchers found that the primary malware delivery mode is through email, which accounts for 94%. Also, the common vulnerabilities and exploits (CVE) database contains at least 11,000 identified vulnerabilities, with the number rising rapidly. Of these, 34% remain unpatched.
However, a study showing that 60% of data breaches involve unpatched vulnerabilities indicates that most attacks occur despite patch availability. Moreover, Dell conducted a survey that revealed that a silicon- or hardware-level security breach resulted in the data compromise of 63% of the participating companies. With the IoT surface expanding rapidly, companies should brace for increased attacks, since 2019 saw IoT attacks triple.
What is Penetration testing?
Companies turn to penetration testing to protect themselves from attacks. Penetration testing is a simulated attack on a network or computer system to identify exploitable vulnerabilities. The process enables the mitigation of security flaws to protect systems, networks, and data from attacks. WhiteHat Security involved 118 companies in penetration testing research and drew the following conclusions:
|Companies that do penetration testing annually||Companies that don’t do penetration testing|
|Monitoring||Reactive monitoring||Proactive monitoring|
|Average security vulnerabilities||10||22|
|Average time for detecting vulnerabilities||292 days||431 days|
|Average time for mitigating vulnerabilities||168 days||149 days|
There are numerous tools used to perform a penetration testing exercise. They include:
1. Kali Linux OS: Pentesters use Kali as the base pen-testing OS for offensive use. The OS contains most of the tools used for specialized pen testing and, therefore, the default testing OS.
2. Nmap: It is a network mapping tool for detecting open network ports and the activities on the ports. It is indispensable for the recon phase and used to scan networks for large and small organizations.
3. Metasploit: It is one of the most used pen testing tools for establishing exploitable vulnerabilities and the impacts of an attack.
4. Burp: It is a top-rated web vulnerability scanner used by pen-testers and found in numerous testing toolkits.
5. Others: The pen-testing kit features several other tools like Nessus, Fiddler, Wireshark, Aircrack-ng, John the Ripper, Hydra, and OWASP ZAP.
Types of Vulnerabilities Detected Through Penetration Testing
A wide range of companies operates networks and systems with multiple attack vectors that security teams discover through penetration testing. In some cases, ethical hackers succeed in obtaining full control of an organization’s IT infrastructure and critical resources such as SWIFT transfers, ATM control, and ICS equipment. Some of the security issues discovered in penetration testing include use of insecure information transfer protocols, dictionary passwords, vulnerable applications and software versions, storage of confidential data in clear text or exposed to the public, lack of proper user access control, remote code execution, lack of adequate user authentication, and SQL injection. Web application code vulnerabilities are a common problem that causes 75 percent of penetration vectors.
However, penetration testers face ethical challenges when performing tests. They include accessing sensitive personal information, which might violate regulations, such as GDPR and HIPAA. Morality issues also arise when pen testers use malware acquired from external sources to attack a client’s systems and networks.