IT Security 101

Is Your IT Security Actually Secured? 

In this day in age, IT security normally comes to mind when you’re listening to the news about the latest massive security breach, or even when you hear rumors about your favorite celebrities’ personal clouds being infiltrated. Without a doubt, online security threats are real, even in Houston and throughout Texas. Unfortunately, the ones you see on the news or the few you hear about through friends are just the tip of the iceberg. 

Very few IT Security breaches are reported on the news. However, statistically speaking, the number of security breaches has escalated at an astronomical rate in the last few years. According to TechRepublic, 2019 has seen over 3,800 breaches, a 50% or greater increase over the last four years.

What this means is that not only can your companies data be compromised, but your identity, credit card information, social security number, passwords, email addresses, and more can be taken in the blink of an eye, costing you a fortune and valuable time to repair. 

That is why Progressive IT Services of Houston works diligently through our management systems to protect your company from data breaches and cybercriminals. 

You can learn more about our IT Security Services here, but for now, let’s take a closer look at security breaches and how you can protect your business from getting one.

Now the Big Question is, is Your Company Actually Secured?  

When working with clients, we’re always amazed when a few of them tell us that they have never had a security breach. They automatically assume since they’ve never had one, that their security system is doing its job. The problem with that theory is that the rapidly evolving threat of hackers and fishers are constantly changing and innovating new strategies for infiltration, and nobody is safe without proper protection. As the number of threats is escalating, what was being done yesterday, last year or 4 years ago when they first set up their security, is not the solution for today’s threats. 

What Can You Do to Make Sure Your Company isn’t Breached? 

Unfortunately, most do not understand the gravity of breaches until it personally affects them. We cannot stress enough how important it is for one to understand the multitude of threats and the best prevention methods to use. At Progressive IT Services, we can help guarantee you get the protection your company needs. For now, these are the major protocols you can enact today to ensure your company’s IT system is up to par.

System Updates 

Are you staying up to date with your IT securities best practices? With computer security there are pre set of rules to follow that will safeguard your company’s computers and that is updates. Updating with the latest computer updates, software, antivirus programs, passwords, and monitoring systems are key to making sure your computers are secure. Let’s take a look at the various updates you should be doing to secure your company. 

Computer Updates 

Updating your computer’s operating system to the latest Microsoft Windows and Macintosh is crucial to your computer’s security. You want to make sure your computer/s is using the latest computer system update. Starting this month, January 2020, Windows 7 will no longer be supported, which means if you have not updated to the latest Microsoft program, you will no longer be provided with security updates. This is a free service and it’s the first line of defense when it comes to your computer’s security. Same goes if you are an Apple user, installing the latest Catalina update will make sure your computer is protected. This is the most basic security defense but alas, an important one. You may also configure your computer to run these updates automatically and we advise you to do so. 

Software Updates 

Like any other business, your company uses a variety of software programs like Microsoft Office, Excel, Outlook, Adobe products, QuickBooks and more. It is vital for these programs to be up to date with the latest software. Each program will come with its own line of defense that will find any deficiency or security weakness and patch it up on its own. In fact, many of the more harmful malware attacks we see take advantage of software vulnerabilities in common applications, like operating systems. 

Antivirus Software

If you are using Microsoft, you may notice that it comes with its own antivirus program, however, we highly recommend using a third-party antivirus that specializes in IT security to fully protect your computer. This extra line of defense will make sure your computer doesn’t experience a malicious cyberattack that could cost you a heavy fortune and time wasted. Luckily, at Progressive IT Services, we can safeguard your business’ network against intruders and malicious software by configuring iron-clad firewalls and keeping all antivirus software up-to-date. 

Changing Passwords 

The next item on the list is updating passwords to your various programs and software regularly and changing the complexity of them. Many users make the mistake of creating hackable passwords which cybercriminals can crack seamlessly. Surprisingly, the most commonly used is “password” and we highly advise against using that for obvious reasons. Using symbols and numbers to make your password more complex is a great approach and should be used often. By changing your password frequently, you’re creating better security for your business and it makes it more difficult for malicious software to breach your data. Changing your password applies to your Windows or Mac log in to your computer, banking software, accounting software, payroll, emails, your employee’s personal information, and any other software or program you use daily to help run your business. Many software and programs now offer two-factor authentication; which means users are granted access only after successfully presenting two or more pieces of evidence to an authentication system to login in. In other words, it’s a required second step to fully log in to your account by sending a code to your email or even a text to your phone. Online banking, Dropbox, Amazon, Slack, PayPal, and even social media platforms have now implemented this requirement making it safer for users to keep their information intact and significantly improving security level. If you use a service that offers this requirement, you’ve hit the jackpot! 

Monitoring System

The last item on our update list but the one that holds all of these together is using a monitoring system and keeping it up to date. A monitoring system is responsible for controlling the technology used by your company (communications, networks, hardware, operating systems or applications and many other programs your company uses) to analyze their operation and performance to detect any possible errors, alert you, fixes the issue and then prevents it from happening again. A professional monitoring system can monitor; devices, infrastructures, applications, services, and even business processes. A good monitoring system is the glue that holds your IT security together by analyzing your computers and alerting you of any errors or breaches and even fixing them for you. By having this, productivity is increased in the workplace and peace of mind. Think of it as your Plan B when it comes to keeping your companies data safe. If you can monitor each computer and know that they’re getting the updates the way they should be, then that’s great. However, in a larger environment, it’s highly recommended you get a monitoring program that collects and analyzes all your companies computers for any malicious malware, viruses, and even a breach. For instance, if for some reason your Microsoft Windows antivirus update fails, which happened due to a failure in the system, such as a threat in the program, your monitoring system will alert you of the issue and resolve it. Ultimately, if you do not keep your monitoring system up to date, malware can infiltrate and disable any virus software you have running. Just because you may have installed your monitoring software 6 months ago, if you aren’t monitoring to make sure that the updates are continuing then you could end up with computers not being protected and ultimately risk getting a virus, your data being taken, or getting hacked. It can be simple as having one computer that was not updated correctly, to make a massive mess. If your company gets hit with malware or ransomware, it usually finds that one rotten computer that you later realize you didn’t make the necessary updates on, and will infiltrate it with a virus and use it to hack your companies data. No matter what updates you do above, it all means nothing if you don’t have the right monitoring system to keep it safe. At Progressive IT Services, we offer various methods of monitoring systems for companies such as accounting, architecture firms, construction companies, engineers, medical facilities, just to name a few.

Securing Your Network 

Now that we have an understanding of security measures to take for your computer, let’s move on to your network via your router firewall or gateway which provides your internet access. In order to have your network properly secured, there are various security features that need to be turned on when installing your router. Many users do not take the time to hire a professional or learn about the safety features when installing their router and in return, they become easy targets for viruses and cyber-attacks. One of the most typical mistakes we see are users not changing the password to the router. This is one feature you will want to change immediately so that it is not using the default password anyone can get access to. Second is changing your Wi-Fi access point. You can create a guest network on the Wi-Fi access point so that guest users visiting your office are only able to access the guest network and not use your company’s. This simple but important feature will keep your corporate servers safe and blocked from any outside threats. Thirdly, any devices you connect to your networks, such as a printer or webcam, can potentially be a threat if not configured correctly. Breaches have been known to be made through video cameras and other devices, that is why it’s crucial to properly configure their security features when connecting them to your Wi-Fi. Small businesses in the Houston area should be especially wary of cybercriminals through network attacks, as they often target smaller operations on the assumption that there will be less effective IT security measures in place. Many automatically assume cybercriminals attack bigger corporations but it is in fact smaller companies who are more at risk for breaches. 

Training And Educating Your Staff on Cyber Security 

Training your staff is right up there with one of the top few things to do first when making sure your company is secured, known as Security Awareness Training. This generally consists of repetitive training and ongoing, sometimes random, testing in areas of exploitation. The most prevalent threats are spam, phishing, spear phishing, malware, ransomware, and social engineering. Your employees are your first line of defense against cyber attacks. By providing every employee with a fundamental understanding that there are imminent and ongoing cyber threats, you are keeping your companies data safe and secured.  In many circumstances, cybercriminals will take the time to specifically target employees to infiltrate your data. For example, a malicious email seen as a normal UPS delivery confirmation is sent to your employee. They assume it’s to confirm a delivery status but what they don’t know (or know how to figure out) is that they now have caused malicious software to be downloaded onto their network and computer. This type of attack can easily be prevented with the right training for your staff. Because of the rapidly changing environment and cybercriminals changing their methods continuously, security awareness training also cannot involve a one time approach. Rather, in order to ensure the network security of your organization, cybersecurity training must be repetitive, updated and constantly tested. At Progressive IT Services, we provide Security Awareness Training for your employees and we work with you to help your organization learn and prevent cyberattacks to your company. 

Securing A Backup System 

The last item of defense is having backup software but in today’s digital world where data is the new currency, protecting your backups is equally important.

Ask these questions to check how secure your backups are today:

  • Is your backup isolated from your production data?
  • Are there any mechanisms to ensure destructive operations are authenticated?
  • Do you have a mechanism to get alerted if a critical operation was performed during this period?

If you answered “No” to any of the above, you need to contact us and get professional help in securing your company.

Combating ransomware attacks requires more than just creating the backup. Taking a backup is only the first step in your protection, it becomes important to safeguard those backups so they are protected as well.

 IT Security is crucial when it comes to running your business that is why Progressive IT Services of Houston works diligently on management systems, network systems, email systems, and various cybersecurity systems that do a much better job of protecting you from any data breaches or virus.

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2100 West Loop South
Suite 800
Houston, TX 77027

Phone: 713-589-8555
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