Sunday, 15 June 2014

CYBER SECURITY: What Alerts to Look For to Save Your Bacon?

With the knowledge that security breaches in previously 'safe' systems have occurred or have been compromised on a very wide scale (crims are rubbing their hands with glee), knowing what to look for in security breaches when it happens to your business is vital to control or even prevent -

  • financial and system loss and / or major destruction, 
  • theft and loss of sensitive data and IP - get it offline where possible?
  • commercial espionage (not surprising when you consider the massive amount of research in technology, health and more - potential multi-billion-dollar industries)
  • whole-scale destruction of your business, cloud and associated networks, etc.
  • loss of financial livelihood, business and personal reputations. 
  • theft of personal ID's & banking and possibly that of family members,
  • hijacking of business & smart-home networks for launching cyber attacks. 
  • ransom demands by the locking-up of your computer systems 

Note: The sum of a country's business' losses will equate to a NATION'S LOSS in many ways and will impact many areas of life, not least job-creation, manufacturing, having a competitive edge, ability to innovate and conduct R&D, living standards, etc. esp. for generations X, Y & Z.

The above slideshow reveals alerts that should not be ignored.  On slides 4 and 5, 'standard deviation' and the bell curve, refer to terminology and concepts typically used in Statistics. In layman's terms suffice it to say that 'standard deviation' refers to out of the norm (viz. the anomaly). In other words look for activity outside of the norm - ie. the normal pattern / pattern of normality for your industry, your particular business, the season or cycle (if you have established cyclical patterns), etc.

For example, excessive hits or log-ins, larger-than-normal file uploads or downloads from one IP address or one account, or attempts to connect to non-authorised, external sites or storage from one account or address are obvious alerts.  On the other hand it could be small, almost undetectable, illegitimate Trojan attempts to penetrate your cyber nerve center or your mastermind HQ which if sabotaged will paralyse your business? Your alert system needs to be able to pick up any potential hazards and distinguish these from general noise or false alarms.

It is also useful to keep normal records / graphs / charts so you have a 'baseline-norm' to compare with when unusual activity occurs. Routinely produced records and analytics can also provide valuable insights that you can use to improve overall business because they will capture emerging trends amongst other things.

Hands-Off My Sizzling Bacon!

Note: Even with strong security your system is not fool-proof so good alert systems are essential. Also good IT / security personnel who are well-trained, VIGILANT and have INTEGRITY is essential as they are your front-line infantry in your defence system strategy. No point building a mega-business if you don't ensure it has a cyber-moat to stop or at least slow down the invaders (until such time when you can counter-attack - with full force naturally).

Which brings us to another security point: having a back-up site/s, bak-up servers - so that you can reduce Internet downtime and subsequent traffic and revenue losses. (With some businesses like online TAB even a week's downtime can wipe you out financially as your hard-won customers desert your site in droves!) Bigger businesses usually but not necessarily have better or more resources to deploy for security purposes so this is probably more pertinent to small businesses, the self-employed, the work-from-home mums & dads, or those 'garage', start-up enterprises where you do everything.

TIP: Set aside a small percentage, say 10% or more from your profits to be reinvested into your security system - upgrades, maintenance, upscale, etc. - and reveiw your security system annually, using professionals (even pay someone to hack your site - to find the fracture in your 'great wall') especially if you have very valuable Intellectual Property. You also need to change your passwords and revoke access rights from departing employees especially if they are disgruntled. However these days don't underestimate external cyber attacks - even 'low-key' attacks without apparent visible effects may compromise your firewalls - with subsequent, secretive, return visits to steal your IP & other vital data without you being aware.

If budget is tight, cut spending elsewhere but NOT from your security system allocation. You can't afford not to crank up your security system if you know that potentially you could have been compromised or could be the Next One on The Hit List!!  It's not a question of 'if', but 'when'. Hopefully when it happens you can deal with it without missing a beat or losing your bacon.

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