If you are not employed in the tech industry, you have likely assumed the term “IoT” to be just another hot buzz word. While the Internet of Things (IoT) is an innovative concept in the field, you do not have to be a tech aficionado to understand, or use, the technology involved. In fact, chances are that you’re already using the IoT in your everyday life. Recent statistics show that there were 3.9 billion IoT-connected devices in use during 2016 alone.

What Is the Internet of Things?

Simply put, the Internet of Things is a system of connected physical devices that collect and share data with one another. While this may sound intimidating, it is much less complex than it may seem. Most devices equipped with a “smart” title qualify as IoT devices if they are capable of communicating with other devices. They may be in the form of a thermostat, light bulb, refrigerator, security system, watch or even a car.

The Difference Between Computers and IoT Devices

These devices are not programmed and operated like traditional computers, tablets or smartphones. This is because they do not require regular human interaction to perform tasks. Through the utilization of embedded sensors and technologies like Bluetooth, GPS, WiFi or Artificial Intelligence, these devices operate intuitively. They gather and exchange information using their own specialized device-to-device communication modules, thus creating the Internet of Things.

Examples of IoT Device Functionality

One good example of IOT device functionality is that of a smart thermostat, which uses a number of tools to learn a user’s preferences. If a homeowner typically lowers the temperature in their home before bedtime, the thermostat will predict this on its own, and no further action will be required on behalf of the homeowner. In the event that the temperature becomes too low or too high, the thermostat is capable of communicating this concern with the homeowner via a mobile app or email notification.

Another prime example is smart lighting. Several different smart bulbs can be connected to a singular home automation hub. These lighting systems often contain motion sensors or other automated systems, which trigger the hub to communicate with smart bulbs in relevant areas of the home. The hub can communicate with bulbs in the living room, for instance, and direct them to turn on upon a homeowner’s arrival. Similarly, when no motion is detected, the devices will communicate through the IoT to ensure that unnecessary lighting is powered down.

The Current Role and Future of the IoT

Currently associated with the convenience and energy-saving capabilities of home automation, the technology is a relatively new notion. Though it is purported to have been “born” between 2008 and 2009, the focus on expanding and improving it has only been mainstream in the industry for a few short years. Shockingly, it is already transforming the way that users live their daily lives, and experts predict that this is only the beginning.

Certainly there is much more to the IoT than meets the eye of everyday consumers. Experts in the IoT space work diligently on intricate setups, user-friendly platforms and advanced hardware to make the IoT possible and functional. With no shortage of applications for the technology, it is estimated that there will be a staggering 21 billion IoT-connected devices by the year 2020. Fortunately, with a general understanding of the interconnected workings of the IoT, even those with limited technological knowledge can understand the excitement and hype surrounding the future of the Internet of Things.

Late last week, CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield said that it was the victim of a data breach which potentially exposed the personal information of 6,800 of its members including names, member identification numbers and dates of birth. In eight cases, social security numbers could have been exposed.

CareFirst believes the breach was the result of an email “phishing” scheme. Phishing attacks use deceptive emails and websites to convince people to disclose personal information. Phishing has become one of the most pervasive problems facing data security staffs today. Generally speaking, a basic phishing attack is relatively easy to conduct and inexpensive for the attacker.

Our Checklist:

When you are going through your email and before you click that link, consider these rules of thumb before opening or clicking any links.

  1. Does the email ask for personal or sensitive information, such as your date of birth, Social Security number, an account number or login credentials? Most legitimate businesses do not request such data in an email.
  2. Does the email asks you to click on a link to access a web site? If so, that site might be fake.
  3. Does the email have a generic salutation rather than your name? Your bank or service provider know who you are and normally will address you by name.
  4. Does the email have an attachment? If you are not expecting an attachment, don’t click on it. Confirm its validity first with the sender.
  5. When you move your mouse over the email, is the entire email a hyperlink? If so, it likely is a phishing attack.
  6. If the email makes an offer too good to be true, such as a large sum of money, a prepaid gift card or an expensive piece of electronics for free, it’s likely a phishing attack.
  7. Be careful of emails that make an emotional plea while asking for money. While many charities use such tactics, it also is a popular approach used by phishers.
  8. If the email claims you have an immediate problem, such as a virus or that you are running out of email storage space, and you must take immediate action, be careful. This is a common phishing tactic.
  9. If the email makes a direct threat and requires that you take immediate action by clicking a link for the IRS, a police agency or the like, it’s probably fake.
  10. An email might appear to be from a friend asking for money. Never send money without calling the friend first to confirm the request.

Find out just where you are with your tech. Technology should never be considered a “set it and forget it” part of your business. It takes constant tweaking, monitoring and maintenance to make your system reliable. You should strongly consider having a formal IT Security Assessment performed on your system no matter how large or small your business is as these formal scans can give you an excellent chance to find out just where you have vulnerabilities.

We can assist you with any of the above protection measures mentioned above. It is far less costly to be proactive than it is to be reactive. NOW is the time to find out, not later or even worse… after!

In many ways, smart devices have made life more convenient and enjoyable. Today, you can ask the smart devices in your home to follow a temperature schedule, play music in any room, stream television shows and adjust lighting. You don’t even have to get off your couch to make your environment perfect for you.

Unfortunately, some home technologies put your privacy at risk. If you want to add smart devices to your home, make sure you know effective ways to prevent security and privacy risks.

The Government Can Hack Your Smart TV

In 2014, the CIA worked with British intelligence agency MI5 to develop TV malware called Weeping Angel that could infiltrate Samsung smart TVs. Unlike most television apps, Weeping Angel worked in the background to quietly collect information without the owner’s knowledge.

Weeping Angel poses a threat to homeowners because it has the ability to record audio and capture WiFi keys. Having access to your WiFi keys would make it easy for the government to access passwords, usernames and other sensitive data stored on a home network.

British and American intelligence agencies likely built Weeping Angel so they could spy on suspected terrorists. Considering that the agencies kept their projects secret, though, it’s impossible to know their ultimate objectives.

Assuming that you’re not involved in illegal activity, it’s unlikely that the CIA would try to use Weeping Angel against you. Still, it wouldn’t be the first time that the government abused its power to surveil citizens.

You can avoid Weeping Angel by updating Samsung smart TVs to the latest firmware. Keep in mind, though, that other malware may target the update and other smart televisions.

Old Insteon Products Make Hacking Easy

Insteon has been producing and installing home automation technology since 2005. Unfortunately for early adopters of the technology, Insteon products made before 2013 have vulnerabilities that practically anyone can take advantage of. It doesn’t even require basic hacking skills.

When journalist Kashmir Hill began researching Insteon’s products, she discovered that she could access many home networks without usernames and passwords. Insteon had even made it possible for Hill and others like her to find vulnerable systems through search engines.

After some tests, Hill discovered that she could control lights, garage doors, cameras and other devices. She even found some networks that contained sensitive information, including the names of children, the household’s nearest major city and IP addresses.

Avoiding the threat posed by Insteon products only requires buying newer versions. In fact, the company held a recall for the affected devices in 2013.

Computers Can Record Everything You Do or Say

Numerous viruses have the ability to turn your home computer or laptop into a surveillance device that records everything the device hears and sees. Hackers have used viruses to blackmail people caught doing things that they wouldn’t want released to the public.

Luckily, these security risks are easy to counter. If you have a computer with a built-in camera, put tape over the lens to prevent viruses from recording the things that happen in your home. If you have a separate camera, make sure you detach it from your computer when you don’t plan to use it.

You can take similar steps with microphones. Ideally, you should purchase computers that don’t come with built-in microphones. That way, you only need to unplug your external mic to prevent hackers from recording you. If your computer has an internal microphone, you can muffle the sound by placing tape over it. You can also disable the computer’s audio input hardware. Keep in mind, though, that you may not be able to use the internal microphone after you disable it.

Internet technology continues to change the way that people live. As long as you take the right precautions, you can enjoy the benefits of smart devices without losing your privacy.

Creating a competitive advantage should be one of the main concerns you have as a business owner. Utilizing the power of technology is a great way to bring your small business into the 21st century. The longer you insist on using outdated tools and marketing methods for your company, the harder you will find it to grow your customer base. Read on to find out more about the ways technology can benefit your business.

1. A great website helps you create more business

One of the main things you need to bring your business into the 21st century is a website. When done the right way, a website is a visual representation of what your business can offer. Making sure the website you have built is mobile-friendly is important.

Making your business website easy to find is also something you need to focus on. Creating web content and blogs that are filled with relevant keywords is one of the best ways to increase website traffic. With the help of marketing professionals, creating and implementing an effective SEO strategy will be much easier.

2. Social media is powerful

Are you looking for a way to build stronger relationships with existing and prospective customers? If so, utilizing the power of social media is a great idea. A study conducted by the team at Pew Internet Research found that nearly 68 percent of adults in the United States use social media daily. Posting high-value content on your company’s social media pages is a great way to create sales leads.

3. Simplify invoicing

A recent article published by Viewpost states that nearly 18 percent of small businesses in the United States don’t use any type of accounting software. Simplifying the invoicing process and reducing errors is much easier when using software like QuickBooks.

This software allows you to quickly create and track customer invoices. Not only will this program provide you with notifications when customers pay an invoice, it will also send automated reminders to your clients regarding overdue invoices.

4. Increase efficiency with project management software

Does your company have a number of projects going on simultaneously? Keeping up with the progress of each one of these projects is essential to the success of your company. Using project management systems such as Basecamp is a great way to keep the various projects you have on track. These types of programs allow each member of your team to access items such as schedules and client documents with ease.

5. Streamline customer payments

The system you have in place to pay your employees and vendors should be easy to use. If the existing payment system you have in place is cumbersome or outdated, now is the time to make a change. Programs such as QuickBooks make digitizing payments and paperwork simple.

The QuickBooks program allows customers to pay their invoices by credit card or bank transfer. QuickBooks accepts payments 24/7 and provides you with the ability to transfer money to your bank free of charge. This software will automatically match the payments you receive with the corresponding invoices, which saves you a lot of time.

6. Keep customers informed with email newsletters

Providing your customers with routine updates on what your company is doing can help you keep them loyal. One of the best ways to provide this information is via a monthly email newsletter. These types of newsletters will also allow you to market new products and services to an audience that is already interested.

The team at Kenneally Technology Services specializes in helping business owners implement and maintain new technology. Whether you need an information technology security assessment or hosted cloud solutions, Kenneally Technology Services can help you out. Give them a call today to find out more about the services they offer.

The information security threat landscape is constantly evolving, but it’s not getting any less complicated. In 2017, Ponemon Institute research revealed that 1 in 4 businesses in the U.S. suffered a security breach. Threats aren’t equally distributed by business size, 50 percent of small businesses were targeted by hackers and health care organizations were also heavily-targeted by 15 percent of last year’s incidents.

Recent headlines have revealed plenty of scary threats, including ransomware epidemics and the emergence of wiper viruses. While it’s possible 2018 has new super threats in store, it’s likely you’ll face a well-established threat. From social engineering to weak passwords, you may be surprised by today’s most common information security threats.

1. Crimeware-as-a-Service

Some of today’s smartest hackers are selling ready-made crimeware to wanna-be hackers on the dark web by subscription, including malware-as-a-service and ransomware-as-a-service. Last year, 51 percent of security breaches involved malware, which can now be purchased through illegal channels for just several hundred dollars each month. Criminals are getting bolder–one pre-packaged threat called “Philadelphia” was recently advertised openly on YouTube.

2. IoT Vulnerabilities

Experts predict one of the worst trends in 2018 will be security vulnerabilities caused by connected internet of things (IoT) devices. InfoSecurity Magazine’s Tara Seals attributes this to the fact too many “devices are manufactured without security regulations or industry standards.”

If your business isn’t powered by high-tech sensor or beacons, you’re not necessarily in the clear. IoT devices include office technology. Like IP phones, printers, and routers–all of which could represent possible modes of entry into your company’s network. In one survey, 63 percent of companies admitted to a printer-related security breach.

3. New Compliance Requirements

If your company collects data on European Union Citizens, you’ll need to prepare to comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) by May or face fines of €20 million–that’s approximately $24.3 million. Many companies will need to adjust processes and systems to meet requirements from the GDPR, PCI, HIPAA, or other legislation.

While compliance isn’t a threat, it plays an important role in discussions of information security. Just 28.6 percent of companies are still compliant a year after assessment, and failing to meet standards can indicate security risks. Compliance can also demand significant IT resources. If your company is struggling to balance compliance and cybercrime risks, you may need security help.

4. Password Theft

A staggering 81 percent of 2017 security incidents involved weak or stolen passwords, which was often combined with tactics like phishing, hacking or malware. One emerging trend is “password aftershock“–when hackers are able to successfully gain entry to a company’s network using username and password combinations stolen from other breaches due to people’s tendency to recycle the same passwords over and over again.

5. Email Risks

Phishing still works–66 percent of installed malware last year was delivered by an email. Hackers are getting savvier and increasingly employing techniques like social engineering to “spoof” malicious emails into appearing like they were sent by a colleague or personal friend.

Email is a critical business communications tool, but it’s also one of the easiest ways for hackers to get inside your network. Information security awareness training and testing are likely a necessity.

Conclusion: Are You Prepared for These Security Threats?

While 2018 could bring next-generation security risks, businesses are wise to take a look back at the most common threat trends that affected half of small businesses in 2017. Planning for the most common risks–like unsecured printers, weak passwords and phishing–could significantly mitigate your chances of suffering a data breach in 2018.

Avoid the costly impact of a security breach remediation with a complimentary assessment of your organization’s IT security. Click here to learn more.


Sources

  • https://securityintelligence.com/know-the-odds-the-cost-of-a-data-breach-in-2017/
  • https://www.cnbc.com/2017/04/05/congress-addresses-cyberwar-on-small-business-14-million-hacked.html
  • http://www.verizonenterprise.com/verizon-insights-lab/dbir/2017/
  • https://www.darkreading.com/threat-intelligence/the-rising-tide-of-crimeware-as-a-service/d/d-id/1329102?
  • https://nakedsecurity.sophos.com/2017/07/25/ransomware-as-a-service-how-the-bad-guys-marketed-philadelphia/
  • http://quocirca.com/content/print-security-cost-complacency-121
  • https://www.gdpr.associates/what-is-gdpr/understanding-gdpr-fines/
  • http://www.verizonenterprise.com/resources/report/rp_pci-report-2015_en_xg.pdf
  • https://www.bna.com/people-dont-seem-b73014447747/
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