Identity Thieves, Hackers and Crooks, Oh My!

Identity Thieves, Hackers and Crooks, Oh My!
Identity Thieves, Hackers
and Crooks, Oh My!
4 IT Security Features Every Business Needs
Table of Contents
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Overview of the Online Security Landscape
4 IT Security Features Every Small Business Needs
1. Next Generation Firewall
Traditional Firewall
Intrusion Prevention System
Web Filtering
Gateway Anti-Virus
Application Control
2. Advance Threat Protection
3. Secure Wireless Connection
4. Data Leakage Prevention
Staying Safe in a World of Identity Thieves, Hackers
and Crooks
Overview of the Online Security Landscape
Small businesses are getting hit left and right by identity thieves
gunning for customer credit card numbers, hackers attempting
to sabotage networks and gain access to sensitive data, and
employees looking to make a quick buck.
According to the National Cyber Security Alliance, 1 in 5 small
businesses falls victim to cybercrime each year, and of those,
some 60% go out of business within 6 months as a result of the
accompanying financial damages.
1 in 5
small businesses falls
victim to cybercrime
each year, and of those,
some 60% go out of
business within 6 months
Antithetically, most small business owners are unaware of these
threats, as 77% say their company is safe from cyber-attacks, yet
83% have no formal cyber security plan to speak of.
Of course, not every small business is equally likely to fall prey to
cybercrime. Hackers usually don’t discriminate by company type,
valuation, or any other characteristic of the business itself, rather
they look for those businesses that are vulnerable because of lax
digital security.
4 IT Security Features Every Small Business Needs
With the number of security attacks and threats out there today, even small businesses
need enterprise-grade IT security features in place. But most small businesses can’t
afford the costs associated with incorporating an enterprise-level anything, let alone an
IT solution.
Visa Inc. reports small businesses represent
more than 90% of the payment data breaches
reported to the company.
Most small business
owners are unaware
of these threats, as 77%
say their company is
safe from cyber-attacks
That’s why it’s important for small business owners to find a
cloud-based solution that doesn’t involve expensive hardware,
installation, setup or engineer-related labor costs. Cloudbased security solutions can be had for as little as $69 per
month and work to protect small business owners from the
financial and legal disasters that can result from security
Additionally, unlike most traditional methods of protection,
a cloud-based IT security solution does not operate on your
network and take up precious bandwidth, allowing small
businesses to remain competitive and function seamlessly in
an age where everyone and everything is interconnected and
In this e-book we’ll cover the top 4 security features every
small business needs to stay safe:
Four Security
Features Every Small
Business Needs
Next Generation
Firewall (NGFW)
Advanced Threat
Protection (ATP)
Secure Wireless
Data Leakage
Prevention (DLP)
1. Next Generation Firewall (NGFW) – Installing a NGFW
will control what applications are allowed on your
network and protects against malicious activities, threats
and attacks. It’s the first line of defense against intruders
and hackers.
2. Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) – Implement a largescale enterprise IT security apparatus at a small business
cost with Advanced Threat Protection that gives your
network the most up-to-date protection against all new
and developing threats.
3. Secure Wireless Connection – If you’re running on
an open, unsecured Wi-Fi network, you’re asking for
trouble, plain and simple. Even the most unsophisticated
hackers are wise on how to crack into your network. From
there, your company’s tax records, financial documents,
customer lists and transaction details are fair game.
4. Data Leakage Prevention (DLP) – Protect credit card
numbers, transaction details, and other forms of sensitive
data by implementing Data Leakage Prevention (DLP)
policies and encrypting all devices and removable media
with access to confidential information.
Protecting your business and clients from cyber-crime and
online threats is no longer a secondary priority for smaller
businesses today. While in the past, only large companies were
in the sights of hackers and online criminals, increases in their
network security and cyber defenses have redirected these
threats towards smaller, easier targets.
83% of small businesses
have no formal
cybersecurity plan
to speak of.
Obscurity is no longer a viable strategy for online protection
and IT security, and with the prevalence of these cyber-attacks,
coupled with the devastating financial consequences that
accompany them, every business owner needs to take a serious
look at how protected their business is against threats in the
digital age.
Next Generation Firewall
The world is changing, and in the perpetual arms race between hackers and internet
security protocols/systems, traditional network security strategies have become
obsolete. New sophisticated attacks and methods of mal-code delivery are able to
easily bypass traditional firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and host-based
antivirus programs.
Firewalls were designed to serve as the boundary between the open internet and an
organization’s private network, and typically act as a gatekeeper by controlling specific
protocols and ports, as well as restricting traffic to and from certain IP addresses.
A traditional firewall policy focuses on five factors, commonly referred to as the “5-tuple,”
to assess whether or not to allow certain types of traffic through to the web server:
Source of the IP address
Destination of the IP address
Source of the port
Destination ports of 80 and 443
Destination of the specific protocol
Unfortunately, as more and more people are using the internet and firewalls encounter
more and more traffic, the line between malicious and genuine traffic has become
blurred. Since almost all internet traffic traverses through http (port 80), firewalls are
forced to keep it open, allowing hackers to use it as their private highway to deliver
mal-code and access your private network.
Next Generation Firewalls (NGFW) are the next step in effective internet and
network security. In essence, NGFWs go beyond the common protections provided
by traditional firewalls by widening the scope of the 5-tuple to include intended
application, user identity, and source reputation of all incoming traffic.
However, not all NGFWs are the same – or rather, not all firewalls named NGFWs
actually offer next generation protection. In order to get the protection you need,
your NGFW should include:
▶▶ All the standard features of traditional firewall
Includes packet filtering, network address translation, and VPN capabilities.
▶▶ An integrated network intrusion prevention system (IPS) with deep packet scanning
While Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS) have been one of the most common security
solutions on the market for some time, such systems continue to evolve and respond to
the ever-changing threats of the modern cyber-world.
One such evolution brought on by the NGFW is the change from a basic Intrusion
Detection System to a Signature-based Intrusion Prevention System, which
incorporates all the pre-emptive detection abilities of a traditional IDS with the ability to
then tag and prevent potential threats from entering a network or organization.
Similar to an IDS, a Signature-based IPS monitors and scans traffic flowing into the network
for malware and suspicious activity. Where it differentiates, however, is in its ability to
respond to known, and suspicious, malicious signatures.
Additionally, with the adoption of cloud computing, the effectiveness of Signature-based
IPSs has skyrocketed, as they grant signature-based IPSs access to an online database of
thousands of new and unique signatures, as well as real-time updates and data on new,
developing threats and reputation-based detection technology.
Traditional Firewall
•Source of the IP address
•Destination of the IP address
•Source of the port
•Destination ports of 80 and 443
•Destination of the specific protocol
Next Generation Firewall
Includes all the standard
features of traditional firewall
in addition to:
•An Integrated network intrusion
prevention system (IPS) with deep
packet scanning
•Web filtering to prevent access to
‘high-risk’ websites
•Gateway anti-virus to scan
incoming data for malicious content
•Application Control Abilities
▶▶ Web filtering to prevent access to ‘high-risk’ websites
Unknowingly going to ‘bad’ websites, or downloading
‘infected’ content, is one of the most common ways
a computer or network gets infected. With web filtering,
a NGFW goes beyond traditional firewall protection by
‘following’ the user out onto the web, and preventing
them from accessing questionable sources and thereby
accidentally putting your network at risk.
With cloud-based web filtering, provided by Fortinet,
users can select category-based filtering depending on
the needs and concerns of their specific business model
and industry. Additionally, as some threats only occur
occasionally, cloud-based web filtering also allows for
temporary blocks, or in some cases bypasses, on certain
web content, giving more control and customization to
the user.
▶▶ Gateway anti-virus to scan incoming data for
malicious content
Gateway Anti-Virus allows applications across your devices
to check files and other types of incoming data for
potential threats to the system through a full proxy mode
scan, which catches zipped files, polymorphic viruses,
and other more advanced threats that the average antivirus is unable to protect against.
▶▶ Application control abilities
Application control, also known as application
awareness, is capable of identifying applications and
applying controls at the application layer (such as
allowing regular Skype calls but blocking users from
being able to transfer files over the service.) This service is
an addition brought on by the NGFW, which monitors and
blocks the input, output, and system services calls when
they do not meet the configured policy of the NGFW.
Gateway Anti-Virus catches zipped files,
polymorphic viruses, and other more
advanced threats that the average anti-virus
is unable to protect against.
These additional features are necessary to provide effective protection in the modern
internet age, and relying on a simple, traditional firewall is paramount to relying on an
unlocked door to protect your brick-and-mortar business.
However, while employing a NGFW is a major step toward securing your
internet connection from malicious attacks, it is only the first step.
A NGFW will provide sufficient protection from internet-based attacks, but it is incapable
from stopping people within range of your wireless signal from accessing your network
and wreaking havoc from within – and with the latest technology, your Wi-Fi signal may
be reached from all the way down the block.
Advanced Threat Protection (ATP)
On today’s internet, threats to a company’s network security can come from anywhere,
with threat levels ranging from ‘novice hacker’ to ‘hardened cyber-criminal.’ Luckily,
the former is rather easy to deal with, but while more advanced firewalls and strategies
to secure your wireless signal may protect your business from ‘run-of-the-mill’ cyberthreats, small businesses are increasingly becoming victims of more targeted, and
hard hitting, cyber-attacks that are not so easily dissuaded.
To put it simply, professional hackers are discovering the unmined potential of relatively
unprotected small business networks, and the average cyber-threat these businesses
face is becoming more sophisticated, and more difficult to prevent, requiring business
owners to implement enterprise levels of protection to face Fortune 500 levels of attack.
Unfortunately, the type and level of protection that large-scale enterprises use often
come with a large-scale price tag, making them unaffordable, for small businesses
to implement. In effect, many vendors have begun suggesting ‘sandboxing’ as an
alternative strategy for small businesses to mitigate some of the increased risk inherent
to being online today.
However, while strategies like these certainly have their benefits, they are only one part
of an overall professional enterprise-like protection apparatus that small businesses
really need in order to meet the modern demands for network security.
Fortunately, due to the adoption of cloud-computing, small businesses no longer need
to sacrifice quality protection for affordability. With Advanced Threat Protection (ATP),
small businesses now have access to Fortune 500-levels of IT protection that
focuses on the five most fundamental areas of advanced protection at a fraction of
the cost that big companies pay.
In addition to the basic protection provided by services like ‘sandboxing,’ the five areas
that make up the framework for large-scale enterprise IT protection are:
1. Access Control: By limiting access to the network through certain, predetermined
authorized ports available to authorized users only, this feature of an ATP system
reduces the overall risk of a network breach or data leak by minimizing the
vulnerability of the network to only a few access points.
2. Threat Prevention: Similar to an IPS, threat prevention monitors and inspects
all incoming code, packets of data, visited websites, and program/command
applications for suspicious and known methods of intrusion.
3. Threat Detection: In addition to threat prevention, this feature of an ATP system
continues to monitor the network for indicators of intrusion or compromise that
may have gotten past the first few layers of protection.
4. Incident Response: Identify and contain. This new feature included in an ATP
system identifies and contains problems if the detection and prevention systems
mentioned above find a threat in your system.
Framework for Large-Scale
Enterprise IT Protection
5. Continuous Monitoring: Continuous monitoring
is the baseline for ATP, assessing and improving
your current security measures against the newest
known threats and methods of attack.
In today’s online world, threats to network security are
evolving constantly, and without access to live updates
or a large database of known and developing threats,
traditional firewalls, anti-virus, and even sandboxing are not
able to prevent infections they have not encountered and
documented before.
As new cyber-threats become increasingly automated
and intelligent, more flexible and in-depth measures of
protection are warranted. Without a cloud-based ATP
system in place, your business networks will be playing a
game of perpetual catchup, where the stakes are higher
than they have ever been before.
Secure Wireless Connection
Many businesses nowadays use wireless (Wi-Fi) networks to enable their laptops
and other business-specific hardware to connect to the internet and do on-thespot transactions and business processes. Unlike a traditional wired network, which
requires a “rat-nest” of wires to connect all one’s devices to the internet, Wi-Fi networks
are much more convenient and practical as they allow for easy internet access and
scalability of necessary bandwidth for small business owners.
However, these benefits are not without their shortcomings and unlike traditional
wired networks, which are extremely difficult for someone to hack into and require
a physical presence to do so, an unsecured Wi-Fi network exposes the business or
network owner to unnecessary risk from outside intrusion.
Wi-Fi networks generally include a modem that is attached to the cable or telephone
network and connected to a wireless router, which provides broadband internet service
via a Wi-Fi signal.
The big problem with these wireless signals is that, if unsecured, they often give
indiscriminate internet access to any device in range, which allows unauthorized
users to access your network without your knowledge.
This unauthorized access presents three major, yet unnecessary, risks:
1. It can increase your monthly Internet bill especially when you have to pay per
byte of data transfer.
2. It can decrease your Internet access speed since you are now sharing the
same internet connection with other users.
3. It can create a security hazard as others may hack your computers and access
your personal files or download malware or illegal files through your own
wireless network.
For small business owners, many of whom may already be running on tight margins,
these three risks can lead to catastrophic losses, data breaches, and ultimately,
business failure if left unchecked. Fortunately, these risks can largely be mitigated,
and in some cases even avoided, by taking proper precautions towards securing your
1. Enable encryption on your access point.
WPA or WPA2 protocols are needed to replace the older WEP protocol that most
wireless networks typically rely on (unless they are state-of-the-art.)
2. Change your network’s SSID name and password to something unique.
This makes it harder for malicious users to find your Wi-Fi network and attempt to
gain access by impersonating you. Everyone uses ‘Admin’ or ‘Linksys’ and hackers
know that. Also, most default factory setting passwords are publically known and
if you’re still using the same password, it’s only a matter of time before someone
gains access to your system.
3. Check to make sure your router’s firmware is up-to-date.
You can find the existing firmware version of your router from the router’s
dashboard at
4. Disable remote login.
This is often the first strategy of a brute force attack by a router worm/virus
attempting to gain access to your network.
5. Disable wireless administrating.
Change the setting that allows administrating the router through a wireless
connection to ‘off’ (meaning that you need to connect with a LAN cable for
administration.) This disables any wireless hacking into the router.
In short, WPA2 encryption, using a (truly) complex passphrase, and up-to-date
firmware should provide sufficient security for your wireless network against most
common attacks. Not only will it be harder to find, but it will take more time and energy
for an unauthorized user to gain access to your network.
However, while this may stop your average mal-doer, there is no guarantee that
it will stop a dedicated hacker with the right tools and patience. Often, this type of
attacker will not waste time on the common network, but if your network is hiding
something of value, like credit card information or sensitive data, they may
be drawn to it like blood in the water. If this is the case, more security may be
Data Leakage Protection
Small businesses today are exposed to two primary sources of data breaches; from the
internet, as information travels from one user to another, and from malware that gets
into their system from emails or masqueraded as some other downloadable software.
In fact, research from the Ponemon Institute, which tracks data surrounding digital
privacy and security, shows that as larger enterprises increase their IT security and
infrastructure, less-secure small businesses become more exposed to cybercriminals
looking for a quick buck.
And as more and more methods of attack become automated, allowing more novice
hackers to present a threat, small businesses are increasingly experiencing the majority
of cyber breaches.
However, according to a recent poll by the U.S.
Small Business Administration, 86% of small
businesses say they are satisfied with the
amount of security they provide to protect
customer or employee data.
Visa Inc. reports small
businesses represent more
than 90% of the payment
data breaches reported
to the company.
So, how can small businesses protect themselves from data breaches and cyberattacks without breaking the bank?
While security technologies such as asymmetric-key encryption offer state-of-the-art
protection for data in transit, most security breaches and threats come from within
the system, allowing unauthorized users access to private keys and other decryption
codes, thus rendering any sort of encryption useless.
Many of the malware threats circulating the Internet are designed to collect user names
and passwords from victims’ computers, and once the malware takes root, it often
waits for the user to visit a banking or financial site and then automatically captures
log-in information and sends it back to the cybercriminal, who can then use those
credentials to wipe out an account.
Oftentimes this malware is ‘invited’ into the system by a user opening or downloading
a bad link from an email or website - making it a user error, or PEBCAK (problem
exists between chair and keyboard) situation - which, subsequently, makes it difficult
for most prevention methods from catching or stopping the threat. In fact, 98% of
business data breaches happen this way.
The solution to this is to implement a Data Leakage Prevention (DLP) system, which
classifies a company’s data based on its sensitivity and then prevents data breaches
by monitoring, detecting, and blocking the sensitive data in endpoint actions, network
traffic, and data storage.
With proper DLP policies in place, your business’s sensitive data — such as
account numbers, passwords, and client credit card information — are protected
from accidental exposure and the financial risk that accompanies such breaches.
Staying Safe in a World of Identity Thieves, Hackers
and Crooks
With the increasing frequency of data breaches and cyber-attacks suffered by small
businesses today, you can’t afford to leave your business or clients unprotected
against these threats.
However, corporate-level protection — the kind of protection you need, since many
hacking methods were developed for large companies and then repurposed for
smaller, easier targets — is often unaffordable.
Likewise, common market solutions to small business IT security often produce a large
drain on available bandwidth and leave the network slow and limping along. In an age
of fast-paced consumerism and large-scale interconnectivity, security problems like
this leave your systems handicapped against competitors, disabling you from taking
advantage of the opportunities that being online provides.
My Digital Shield
IT Security for
small businesses
While it may seem like a lose-lose situation for small business owners, implementing
the security features described in this e-book goes a long way towards mitigating the
most common types of threats and forms of attack found online. Additionally, recent
technological developments like cloud computing makes adding these types
of security features to your outfit more practical and relatively painless if you go
the route of a plug-and-play solution designed specifically for non-tech savvy
All it requires is a small, router-like device that plugs in to your internet connection and
sits between any data collection device at your store (like a point-of-sale computer,
desktop PC, or credit card terminal.)
Data entered into the credit card terminal or computer is funneled up to the
secure Fortinet cloud (trusted by top enterprise organizations) where it is
measured, analyzed for threats, and then made available again to defined and
secure end points.
Basically, a solution like this keeps data safe within a closed system and prevents
unauthorized infiltrations into secure networks, keeping sensitive digital files safe from
hackers who attempt to gain access to information as it travels across the internet.
While no system is completely secure, and getting anywhere close to near perfect
protection would be prohibitively expensive, the availability and relative low cost
of cloud-based IT security solutions currently on the market promises to make the
business world of tomorrow a much safer place for small businesses – at least for those
taking the right precautions today.
Learn more about cloud-based IT
security for small businesses
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