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How to Overcome Hardware Supply Chain Delays

Not everyone understands the journey a product takes to get from the manufacturer to the customer. With suppliers spread across the world, travel can be disrupted by a variety of factors. 

Supply chain delays have slowed business down and increased the price of goods. With limited supply and high demand, inflation rises. Companies are unable to receive the items needed to onboard new employees or replace necessary hardware, delaying productivity. 

A recent study by GetApp stated, “78% of businesses have experienced moderate to significant supply chain delays for IT hardware in the past 12 months.” The same study found that 71% experience shipping delays of up to 6 months. These supply chain delays lead to high costs and lower inventory. 

Unfortunately, there are two types of relationships impacted by this. Companies have to decide between keeping strong relationships with suppliers or their customers. If they change suppliers to work around supply chain issues, they risk losing that business partnership. On the other hand, businesses risk losing customers and profit if they aren’t able to fulfill orders. 

Supply chain issues have been occurring for years, but COVID-19 exasperated the issue. Russia’s war on Ukraine has caused a lot of disruptions as well. With no clear end in sight, businesses need to formulate new, long-term strategies to overcome supply chain delays. 

China’s “Zero-COVID” Policy 

COVID-19 launched major distribution issues due to differences in work regulations. A significant amount of American businesses get their supplies from China. In fact, China accounts for 12% of global trade.

Since the virus originated in China, their COVID-19 regulations were and still are incredibly strict.  China has a zero-COVID policy. These limitations have created a major impact on supply chain distribution. 

Major cities in China are putting their citizens on lockdown and into quarantine facilities to mitigate the outbreak. The government is still shutting down manufacturing facilities and keeping shipments from leaving ports. 

With the continuation of COVID outbreaks in China and their incredibly strict COVID policy, there is little hope for recovering supply chain issues in 2022. 

U.S. companies may need to look locally for distribution and reduce their trade dependency on China. 

Russia’s War on Ukraine 

In February 2022, Russia invaded Ukrainian soil. This tragedy has triggered economic impacts internationally. Trade routes connecting Europe and China have been disrupted by the invasion. 

Many use Russia to transport supplies back and forth from Asia to Europe. The danger of traveling through Russia or flying above it has forced suppliers to use alternative routes that are longer and more expensive. The invasion has also led to an increase in gas prices, causing transportation costs to go up. In fact, Russia supplies 40% of Europe’s gas. Russia is also the second-largest exporter of oil in the world.  Both Russia and Ukraine export a large number of raw materials. 

Additionally, Ukraine supplies 50% of the world’s neon gas. This is used to make semiconductors or chips. Chips are used in iPhones, computers, cameras, and cars. There has been an ongoing international chip shortage for the past few years. The war in Ukraine has the potential to extend the shortage even longer. Chips are a major part of automotive manufacturing and other hardware. Fewer chips mean higher demand and higher prices. 

Government sanctions on trade between Russia and other countries will also impact supply chain distribution. There is a lot of uncertainty when it comes to war. It is hard to tell how long it will last and what the outcome will be. Since we are unsure what the future holds, businesses need to start planning to work their way around supply chain delays and increased costs. 

Shopping locally is now a necessity for those relying on Eastern Europe, Russia, and China for goods. Businesses need to look within their own borders to supply materials. 

Supply Chain Risk Management  

There is a model called the PPRR risk management model. This is a global supply chain risk management approach. 

PPRR stands for: 

Prevention: Be proactive by taking steps to mitigate the chance of future supply chain disruptions. 

Preparedness: Create a plan of action and recovery in case of an incident. 

Response: Carry out the recovery plan to contain and reduce the impact of an incident. 

Recovery: Get back to “normal” business operations as quickly as possible. 

Following the PPRR model is a great framework for managing risk. 

Another way to mitigate the impacts of supply chain disruptions is by having multiple suppliers. Take inventory of your suppliers and the potential environmental impacts that can occur. Have backup suppliers that can meet the same needs just in case. When environmental risks arise, stockpile inventory if possible. Creating a buffer for high-demand products is a good strategy to decrease the impact of supply chain blockages. 

An obvious choice for supply chain management is to find suppliers within your own borders. Although it can be more expensive, the benefits outway the costs when you consider the increase in transportation costs, loss of customers, etc. 

Implementing multiple strategies will help cushion the blow of supply chain disruptions and prepare for risks. 

Conclusion 

One final strategy to take when overcoming supply chain issues is to organize and consolidate data. It is easier to keep track of suppliers, freight times, etc. if your data is centralized. Take advantage of predictive analytics and modern technology to stay organized and proactive. 

Optimize your supply chain risk management by partnering with v-TECH io. We are able to overcome potential supply chain issues that other companies might face. With a diverse group of vendors and suppliers, we can get access to what you need. We can help upgrade your software and hardware to keep you ahead of the curve. Supply chain issues are inevitable. All you have to do is click HERE and we will help you prepare for the future.

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How COVID-19 Increased Enterprise Device Usage and Its Effects on IT Professionals

*What has your experience been?  Post your thoughts below.

COVID impacted more than just our health. Businesses and schools have adjusted to hybrid models while consumers spend more time shopping virtually. It’s as if the entire world has shifted. The common phrase, “these are unprecedented times” rings true. 

This shift has landed us deeper into the world of technology. As organizations change the way they interact with consumers and employees, businesses have increased their device usage drastically. People have decided to adopt new business practices that emerged out of necessity during the lockdown. 

The need for hybrid models has increased stress and pressure on IT staff to keep up. Unfortunately, many businesses have increased their device count without increasing their IT staff. 

This side of the labor shortage has left IT staff feeling a strain on their mental and emotional health. Beyond managing more devices, IT staff have increased the complexity of technology after COVID-19. Complex systems take time to learn, implement, and manage. 

Our information technology teams are essential aspects of businesses of all sizes. Their mental health and well-being should be a priority. Sadly, many times this is overlooked in order to meet a deadline or get ahead of the technological curve. 

IT staff are imperative to running any organization. This is why it’s important to be strategic about how we approach easing their stress without decreasing efficiency. There has to be a way to successfully manage the increased device load without exasperating the already stressful job. IT personnel are too essential to lose in a time when the entire world has moved online. 

Post-Pandemic Digitization 

The pandemic created a need for virtual business practices. With people unable to meet in person, schools, healthcare facilities, and companies turned to virtual meetings. Any switch to a virtual model has given IT staff more work. Not only are there new systems at play, but new devices to manage. 

Although much of the world has gone “back to normal,” many prefer meeting virtually. Companies save money and time by switching to virtual conferencing and working remotely. 

In fact, the market for video conferencing is projected to grow globally from $6.87 billion this year to  $14.58 billion by 2029. Virtual meeting technology is advancing and platforms are increasing their services. Artificial intelligence, IoT, and cloud tech are being integrated, moving the market forward. 

This projected market increase implies an increase in hardware to keep up. The rising demand for meeting virtually will only grow. Technology will advance to provide better virtual experiences, requiring enterprises to invest in more tech. Information technology professionals are the ones responsible for managing these devices. 

Video conferencing is also used by teachers and professors for hybrid learning. Therapists and doctors are using telehealth video platforms to meet with patients. The increased video communication across industries implies a continued increase of technology to support these systems. 

Working remotely has also become increasingly popular post-pandemic. According to Pew Research Center, the majority of workers who are able to work from home, prefer to. In order to protect cybersecurity, it is essential to provide employees with company-approved technology appropriate for working remotely. 

Mikako Kitagawa, research director at Gartner said, “The pandemic significantly changed business and consumer PC user behavior, as people had to adapt to new ways of working and living. Post-pandemic, some of the newly established ways of using PCs will remain regular practice, such as remote or hybrid workstyles, taking online courses and communicating with friends and family online.”

The technology needed to work remotely includes cloud computing, business applications, mobile tools, unified communications, project management tools, and of course, video conferencing. Not to mention the computer equipment necessary to support these systems. 

IT staff are often required to oversee the hardware and software used in an enterprise. The digitization of business will continue to increase. The popularity of hybrid learning, telehealth, and working remotely continues to rise with the promise of decreased expenses and convenience. 

IT employees are being asked to manage these changes, adapt to new technology, and fix current issues, all while maintaining data security. The task load is large and growing. 

The Effects on IT 

During quarantine, IT staff had to scramble to transfer business to remote platforms. The future of business was put on the backs of IT. If they didn’t figure it out and figure it out quickly, businesses would experience a financial loss. 

As the pandemic continued, mental health awareness soared in the corporate world. This forced corporate America to look inward and evaluate the correlation between work culture and mental health issues. Unforatenly, IT professionals are understudied regarding mental health. 

However, the information technology profession has a reputation for being a high-stress job with late nights and heavy workloads. A study done in 2015 by the National Center for Biotechnology Information found that 54% of the 1,000 IT professionals studied had depression, anxiety, and insomnia. 

There are several health problems associated with IT professionals due to their sedentary job, staring at a computer screen, and high-stress situations. People who work in this profession are prone to back and vision problems, carpal tunnel, weight gain, and mental health issues. 

Increased device management and software integration add to the health problems already experienced in the industry. The labor shortage has put extra pressure on staff to do more work with less, resulting in burnout, increased anxiety, and depression. 

A big part of this issue lies with the size of the IT support team. Increasing hardware and software with the changing times does not mean companies are increasing IT support. The labor shortage doesn’t make this easier. IT-to-user ratios are coming out of balance. 

IT support teams are required to take on more work with less help.  The average turnover rate in the IT support field is 40%. That’s quite high and can be detrimental to any company. 

The increased number of devices has caused IT personnel to experience an incredible amount of stress. Stressed employees are unable to give their best. Stress leads to anxiety and depression and other health problems. These stressors need to be mitigated to retain our valuable IT staff. 

What’s the solution?

With the labor shortage and the Great Resignation at hand, it’s important now more than ever to take care of our IT professionals. This means bending the curve and creating strategic partnerships to ease the workload. 

First, start by becoming aware of your enterprise’s IT staffing needs. Figure out your IT-to-user ratio and whether it is appropriate for the size of your operation. Check-in with your IT manager on their workload, device numbers, and software management. 

If you discover your staff is overwhelmed, and you can’t increase IT staff, call v-TECH io

At  v-TECH io, we offer DellEMC Solutions. Dell EMC Solutions will equip your infrastructure across industries. 

Make it easy for your company to adopt a hybrid working model or go fully remote with our workload solutions. You can secure your network and save time with end-point security. We even offer desktops, laptops, and displays for optimal performance. Optimize device numbers by having efficient hardware that can handle the workload. 

We will optimize your infrastructure to create streamlined and secure systems curated for your needs. It’s time to take the pressure off your IT support team and let us handle the workload. Our on-call team will walk with you every step of the way. 

Setting up a consultation is quick and easy. All you have to do is click HERE and you are one step closer to a stress-free integration! 

Creating a strategic partnership with v-TECH io will help ease the strain on your IT staff while keeping efficiency high. 

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New FTC Requirements and What It Means for Car Dealerships

The Federal Trade Commission has made an amendment to the Safeguard Rule as part of the Standards for Safeguarding Customer Information. The Rule was created to clearly update what defines a financial institution and to state requirements for securing customer information. 

Customer information includes records holding private and personal information. Such information containing financial details can be obtained illegally through hacking. Safeguarding customer information is crucial for the safety of the customer and the entity. Maintaining customer trust is a priority for any business holding private customer data. 

The Rule requires financial institutions to implement specific security systems to maintain the confidentiality of customer information. These security requirements must be met by the end of 2022. 

With the deadline hurtling towards us, let’s break down the Rule and how to comply with these new standards. 

The Safeguard Rule 

Here is a summary of the Rule: 

“The Safeguards Rule requires financial institutions under FTC jurisdiction to have measures in place to keep customer information secure. In addition to developing their own safeguards, companies covered by the Rule are responsible for taking steps to ensure that their affiliates and service providers safeguard customer information in their care.”

The rule initially came into place in 2003. However, public comments regarding modern technology inspired an update. The evolution of technology leads to advances in cyber threats. Implementing an information security program will decrease the opportunities for a cyber attack on customer information. 

An information security program must be implemented and maintained to adhere to the Rule. An information security program encompasses the different safeguards used to access and work with customer information. Section 314.4 discusses the different elements your information security program should contain. 

Some of these elements include: 

  • Assigning a qualified person the responsibility of managing and implementing your information security program.
  • Creating the information security program based on the potential risks and insecurities found during a risk assessment. 
  • “Evaluate and adjust your information security program” based on the results from the required testing
  • Create and maintain a written incident response plan. This plan should help your entity respond quickly and recover from a security breach.
  • The aforementioned qualified person should submit a written report, regularly, to your board of directors or equivalent governing body.

In summary, the information security program should secure the confidentiality of customer information. It should also protect against threats and unauthorized access that would compromise the integrity of the data.

What Does This Mean For Auto Dealerships? 

Car dealerships are now covered under this amendment. These safeguards are required to be implemented by December 2022. With the due date on the horizon, auto dealerships need to implement these new requirements ASAP. 

Previously, the Rule was not as strict. However, the new Rule has been amended to respond to modern threats and provide clearer guidelines for compliance.

Maintaining customer trust is crucial to continuing business. That trust is compromised if customer information isn’t secure when an incident occurs. The precise standards written out by the FTC will ensure the security of customer information, instilling more trust with clientele. 

According to the FTC, an important aspect of this is a Multi-factor authentication system or MFA. An MFA requires verification of users during login. It asks for multiple identity verifications, using secure authentication tools. Anyone with access to customer data will need more than a username and password to log in. They will also need a token, biometric, or application to verify their identity. This is a requirement under the Safeguard Rule. 

Duo – Making MFA Implementation Easy 

At vTECH io, we offer a solution called Duo which allows easy implementation of an MFA system. Compliance deadlines are on the horizon, but Duo can help quickly meet them. 

Their cloud-based technology creates seamless integration into your infrastructure. They can scale to any size business to meet your security needs. Their MFA will be deployed within a only matter of weeks. 

Implementing an MFA can seem overwhelming. Thankfully, Duo creates a user-friendly interface without compromising security. This allows employees to authenticate with only one tap. Their MFA can also pair with your SSO, making the login experience consistent. 

Securing customer information is the priority for these safeguards. With that in mind, Duo’s MFA looks at the health and security posture of a device when someone tries to access protected data. It will only allow access if the security requirements are met. This works on personal and business devices. 

In addition to implementing multi-factor authentication, DUA can help meet other compliance measures. They can help review access controls and maintain logs. 

Your Next Steps 

Compliance doesn’t have to be stressful and getting started is incredibly easy. vTECH io can help you implement the Rule safeguards using our Duo solution. 

We know how important your customers are to your business. We want to help you secure their personal information and to make the compliance deadline. 

Your next step is to click here to set up a call with one of our experienced tech advisors.  We will help you get set up with Duo and begin implementation. 

Don’t wait until the last minute to begin complying with the Safeguard Rule. Let’s partner together to create better security for your customer’s information.

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The CIS 18 Critical Security Control: Version 8 Breakdown

The Center for Internet Security has created a comprehensive list of recommendations for any entity looking to increase its cyber defense.

The controls are broken down based on task, rather than who manages the devices. You can download the comprehensive list here where you will find more details, safeguards, and definitions. To save you time, we have summarized each control below. 

CIS Control 1: Inventory and Control of Enterprise Assets 

The first control states that an enterprise should actively manage ALL assets connected to the infrastructure. There should be a thorough understanding of these assets and how they should be monitored. You can’t protect what you don’t know you have. 

Some recommended safeguards are: 

  • Maintain Asset Inventory 
  • Use Asset Discovery Tools
  • Address Unauthorized Assets

CIS Control 2: Inventory and Control of Software Assets 

A complete software inventory is essential to protecting against cyberattacks. Often attackers will find vulnerabilities in unpatched or outdated software. To prevent this, it’s important to update and patch any vulnerable software. All unauthorized and unmanaged software should be prevented. 

Some recommended safeguards are: 

  • Establish and Maintain Software Inventory 
  • Ensure Authorized Software is Currently Supported 
  • Utilize Automated Software Inventory Tools

CIS Control 3: Data Protection 

Sensitive data is kept in different places including the cloud and portable end-user devices. This data may also be shared between partners or online services across the globe. Managing data appropriately is essential to safeguard against ransomware and other cyberattacks. 

Some recommended safeguards are: 

  • Establish and Maintaining Data Management and Inventory Processes
  • Encrypt data on Removable Media and Sensitive Data in Transit
  • Deploy a Data Loss Prevention Solution. 

CIS Control 4: Secure Configuration of Enterprise Assets and Software 

When assets and software come straight from the manufacturer, they often come with presets for ease of deployment. These default configurations are not ideal for security. Enterprises should establish and maintain secure configurations of assets and software. 

Some recommended safeguards are: 

  • Configure Automatic Session Locking on Enterprise Assets 
  • Implement and Manage a Firewall on Servers and End-User Devices 
  • Separate Enterprise Workspaces on Mobile End-User Devices

CIS Control 5: Account Management

This control recommends using processes and tools to manage authorization to credentials for all accounts linked to enterprise assets and software. 

It is easier for an attacker to gain unauthorized access by using valid user credentials. These credentials may include weak passwords, accounts of people who left the enterprise, dormant or lingering test accounts, etc.

 Administrative accounts are hot-ticket items for attackers because they allow them to add other accounts and make changes to assets. 

Some recommended safeguards are: 

  • Establish and Maintain an Inventory of Accounts 
  • Disable Dormant Accounts 
  • Restrict Administrator Privileges 

CIS Control 6: Access Control Management 

Similar to CIS Control 5, Control 6 focuses on managing what access the above accounts have. This means the data someone has access to should only be what’s appropriate for their role. Processes and tools should be used to create, assign, manage and revoke access credentials. 

Some recommended safeguards are: 

  • Establish Access Granting and Revoking Process
  • Require MFA for: 
    • Externally-Exposed Applications 
    • Remote Network Access
    • Administrative Access
  • Define and Maintain Role-Based Access Control

CIS Control 7: Continuous Vulnerability Management 

Managing vulnerabilities is a constant task. Enterprises should prioritize the vulnerabilities based on potential impact. Then, implement a management system. A plan should be developed to continuously assess and track vulnerabilities. All enterprise assets and public and private industry sources need to be monitored.

Some recommended safeguards are: 

  • Establish and Maintain a Vulnerability Management and Remediation Process
  • Perform Automated Operating System Patch Management 
  • Remediate Detected Vulnerabilities 

CIS Control 8: Audit Log Management 

This control is quoted directly from the CIS: “Collect, alert, review, and retain audit logs of events that could help detect, understand, or recover from an attack.”

Some recommended safeguards are: 

  • Establish and Maintain an Audit Log Management Process
  • Collect Audit Logs, DNS Query Audit Logs, URL Request Audit Logs, and Command-Line Audit Logs
  • Conduct Audit Log Reviews

CIS Control 9: Email and Web Browser Protections 

A common way attackers find their way into an enterprise is through direct contact with a person. They use tactics such as phishing and Business Email Compromise to engage with email users within the enterprise. 

Some recommended safeguards are: 

  • Ensure the Use of Only Fully Supported Browsers and Email Clients
  • Restrict Unnecessary or Unauthorized Browser and Email Client Extensions
  • Deploy and Maintain Email Server Anti-Malware Protections

CIS Control 10: Malware Defenses 

Malicious software or malware can become a threat by entering through vulnerabilities within the enterprise. There are several possible entry points for malware including email attachments, webpages, cloud services, etc. Malware defenses should be implemented and managed regularly. 

Some recommended safeguards are: 

  • Deploy and Maintain Anti-Malware Software 
  • Configure Automatic Anti-Malware Signature Updates 
  • Centrally Manage Anti-Malware Software 

CIS Control 11: Data Recovery 

After an incident, it’s crucial to be able to recover data quickly and effectively. With ransomware on the rise, it is important that enterprises have a data recovery plan. This should restore the assets to the pre-incident state. 

Some recommended safeguards are: 

  • Establish and Maintain a Data Recovery Process
  • Perform Automated Backups 
  • Protect and Test Data Recovery 

CIS Control 12: Network Infrastructure Management 

Network Infrastructure Management means taking inventory, tracking, and correcting network devices to prevent an attack. 

Some recommended safeguards are: 

  • Ensure Network Infrastructure is Up-to-Date 
  • Securely Manage Network Infrastructure 
  • Centralize Network Authentication, Authorization, and Auditing (AAA)

CIS Control 13: Network Monitoring and Defense 

Cyber attackers are constantly evolving. As technology advances, so do they. This is why a continuous monitoring of your network is crucial to your cybersecurity. It is recommended that you operate processes and use tools to monitor your network to defend against security threats. 

Some recommended safeguards are: 

  • Centralize Security Event Alerting 
  • Deploy a Host-Base and Network Intrusion Detection Solution
  • Perform Traffic Filtering Between Network Segments

CIS Control 14: Security Awareness and Skills Training 

Employee training is a must for ensuring cybersecurity for your enterprise. Security programs by themselves will not keep an enterprise safe. Employees must be trained and made aware of potential threats. The CIS suggests that annual training is not enough. There should be frequent and updated training on different topics related to cybersecurity. 

Some recommended safeguards are: 

  • Train Workforce Members on: 
    • Causes of Unintentional Data Exposure
    • Recognizing and Reporting Security Incidents 
    • Identify and Report if Their Enterprise Assets are Missing Security Updates 
    • Dangers of Connecting to and Transmitting Enterprise Data Over Insecure Networks
  • Conduct Role-Specific Security Awareness and Skills Training

CIS Control 15: Service Provider Management 

If you rely on third-party infrastructure, develop a process to make sure those service providers are protecting your platforms and data properly. 

Some recommended safeguards are: 

  • Establish and Maintain an Inventory of Service Providers and a Service Provider Management Policy
  • Classify, Assess, and Monitor Service Providers 
  • Securely Decommission Service Providers

CIS Control 16: Application Software Security 

Applications are user-friendly tools to manage data for business functions. If the application has an insecure design, coding mistake, or weak authentication, it can become vulnerable to an attack. These software applications must be managed during their life cycle. Weaknesses should be detected and fixed before it hurts the enterprise. 

Some recommended safeguards are: 

  • Establish and Maintain a Secure Application Development Process
  • Perform Root Cause Analysis and Security Vulnerabilities
  • Separate Production from Non-Production Systems 

CIS Control 17: Incident Response Management 

Policies and procedures with defined roles and training should be established in case of an incident. A clear response plan helps guide your team through an incident. 

Some recommended safeguards are: 

  • Designated Personnel to Manage Incident Handling 
  • Assign Key Roles and Responsibilities
  • Conduct Post-Incident Reviews 

CIS Control 18: Penetration Testing 

A penetration test will help identify potential weaknesses by simulating an attack. These tests show vulnerabilities and determine if the right safeguards have been implemented. 

Some recommended safeguards are: 

  • Establish and Maintain a Penetration Testing Program 
  • Perform Periodic External Penetration Tests 
  • Remediate Penetration Test Findings

Concluding Thoughts

These CIS 18 Critical Security Controls are highly recommended for implementation at your enterprise. They are incredibly important measures to ensure safety against a cyber attack. 

Their importance doesn’t negate the fact that they are extensive and time-consuming to implement. 

Thankfully, vTECH io has a highly experienced staff to assist you. We have established relationships with the best cybersecurity solution providers. Our amazing team will help build comprehensive and layered protection for your organization.

If you want a safer, more secure network, partner with vTECH io today. Click HERE to set up a call now! 

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FL House Bill 7055 And What It Means For Your Cybersecurity

Florida’s governor, Ron Desantis, has increased government spending on tech and cybersecurity education and resources. With this focus on cybersecurity, the Florida Senate recently passed Bill 7055 speaking to new cybersecurity procedures. These amendments to Florida’s Cybersecurity Act came into effect on July 1, 2022. The bill’s biggest focus is on ransomware and how government agencies are to respond to a ransomware incident.

According to the bill, “ ‘Ransomware incident’ means a malicious cybersecurity incident in which a person or entity introduces software that gains unauthorized access to or encrypts, modifies, or otherwise, renders unavailable a state agency’s, county’s, or municipality’s data and thereafter the person or entity demands a ransom to prevent the publication of the data, restore access to the data, or otherwise remediate the impact of the software.”

These situations pose a major threat to sensitive data. They also put the agencies between a rock and a hard place. They either pay the ransom or take on the cost of exposing data and restoring the systems themselves. Hopefully, this new bill will mitigate the damages a ransomware incident can cause. With the increased spending on cybersecurity, it is hopeful that Florida’s government, at every level, will be more prepared for a cyber attack.

Bill Breakdown

Here is the breakdown of Bill 7055:

  • Ransomware Incident Reporting: Ransomware being added to The Cybersecurity Act seeks to protect government agencies from paying the ransom. When a ransomware incident occurs, it is now required that a report is sent to Florida’s Cybersecurity Operations Center, the Cybercrime Office of the Department of Law Enforcement, and the local sheriff’s office. Reports must be sent within 12 hours of the incident. Government agencies are prohibited from paying the ransom demanded.
  • Severity Levels: Cybersecurity threats have been assigned new levels of severity. The levels are 1-5. If the severity is above a 3, the incident needs to be reported within 48 hours of discovery for a cybersecurity threat, and within 12 hours for a ransomware threat.
  •  Local Governments: This bill includes state, county, and local government agencies, departments, and municipalities. This means they are responsible for the new reporting requirements and standards.
  • Penalties: Felony charges of the first degree will be charged to anyone who commits an act of ransomware. Anyone who commits this crime will be fined twice the amount of the ransom demanded.
  • Cybersecurity Training: Training is now mandated for all state agency technology professionals and employees who have access to sensitive information. The training must include identifying cybersecurity severity levels. Training must be held within 30 days of onboarding a new employee and every year following. 
  • After-action Reports: An after-action report must be submitted after a cybersecurity incident or ransomware incident. These procedures will be developed and published by December 1, 2022.

The Ransomware Report

The ransomware report itself is quite extensive. It not only has to be submitted within 12 hours, but it also must include the following:

  • A summary of the incident
  • The most recent date that data was backed
  • The location of the backup
  • If the backup was affected
  • If the backup was created with cloud computing
  • The type of data compromised
  • The financial impact of the incident
  • The details of the ransom being asked

What This Means

The increased budget and focus on cybersecurity are good for increasing safety measures and ensuring best practices for cybersecurity in government agencies.

Bill 7055 speaks directly to government agencies, giving them new responsibilities around the issue. New responsibilities mean more work for the agencies. However, this work is imperative to the safety of our state.

Government agencies now have the task of implementing new training, protecting their networks, developing an incident response plan, and responding to incidents properly. This is a lot to add to the mix.

Since this bill includes each level of government, local government now bares the burden of implementing further training. Creating a curriculum, and training new staff in addition to annual training adds a lot of extra work hours.

Cybersecurity insurance is expensive and not enough. According to Florida Today, in the past, insurance companies have paid the ransom for an attack on a government agency, however, we aren’t sure if this will be permitted under this new bill.

This can feel overwhelming, but that’s where we come in.

We Can Help

We understand the added workload this new bill brings to local governments and municipalities. The benefits of better cybersecurity come with a great deal of extra work.

There are resources for support through the Florida Digital Service. However, private cybersecurity experts, like vTECH io, are available for extensive support as well.

We are here to help agencies adhere to these new amendments. We want to make it easier to create a safer cyberspace. One service we offer is our Blue Team Assessment. It is a pen test that determines any network vulnerabilities. The assessment provides a comprehensive report that shows procedural changes or solutions to solidify your network security. The competitive pricing makes it an excellent and affordable option for your agency.

Additionally, we can reduce the workload of agencies by helping train employees. We also offer help in developing incident response plans, aid in responding to incidents, and network protection.

Our highly experienced team is ready to assist and on-call anytime there is an emergency.  We have a strong local presence in Florida, so we are easily accessible. Ransomware incidents are not convenient, but working with us is.

To partner with us today, click here now.

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Cybersecurity Protection: An Insurance Policy Isn’t Enough

Cybersecurity remains a massive issue for every business. The numbers are horrifying: There were over 2,084 ransomware attacks on businesses in the first half of 2022 – a 64% increase. These attacks, and others like them, will cost companies billions of dollars. 

Far too many businesses make the mistake of assuming that having a cybersecurity insurance policy is enough. To be clear, it is essential. However, it’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to ensuring that your business is adequately protected from hackers and bad actors who want to steal your data. A variety of other protections are critical to protecting your business. More to the point, if you have cybersecurity insurance but don’t have other protections in place, your cybersecurity policy may not pay out if a breach occurs.

What specific protections do you need? There are many examples, including endpoint protection, MFAs, staff cybersecurity training, and vulnerability assessments and testing.

Endpoint Protection

Endpoint protection means applying appropriate security measures around any devices that allow individuals access to your computer network and thus your sensitive data. This can mean many different things, and it is worth noting that the massive rise in Work from Home arrangements has complicated things even further. The use of personal mobile devices and computers means that your network security must be more robust than ever.

Endpoint protection can involve many different specific items, including:

  • Cybersecurity training for staff ensures they can understand and recognize a cyber threat.
  • An appropriate password policy that tracks devices requires two-step authentication for access and needs passwords to be strong and changed regularly.
  • Appropriate threat-detection software can tell when an unauthorized user has gained access to the network.
  • Appropriate anti-virus and anti-malware software that can reduce the threat posed by viruses. This software may also involve properly using firewalls that can prevent information from leaving or entering your network.

MFAs

MFA is short for multi-factor authentication. When deployed appropriately, MFAs can better secure a system and ensure that only authorized users can gain access to it.

If a password falls into the wrong hands, it can be devastating for your network, as this may mean that an unauthorized user gains access to your critical data and client information.

MFAs deploy the use of two-factor authentication. With an MFA, a user will log into a system, then have a code texted to them. That code must be entered to gain access to the system. While not foolproof, they can dramatically enhance your network’s protection from bad actors. 

Everyday use of MFAs requires them before logging into sensitive information, like a database or email account. However, they can be deployed in multiple ways, potentially using a third or fourth layer of MFA to gain access to extra-sensitive information. MFAs can reduce the risk of stolen passwords, customized per the different levels of access that an individual requires, and can be used so that any access is traced. Traceable access may be necessary if your network is ever broken into.

Staff Cybersecurity Training

Cybersecurity training is critical for any staff, regardless of their position within your organization. For example, if even one person in your company accidentally responds to a phishing email and gives out their username and password, it can compromise your entire network. As such, your entire staff must have the appropriate cybersecurity training. 

Such training can review multiple topics, including:

  • How to recognize a phishing or social engineering attempt and how to respond to it.
  • An update on data threats within a specific industry and how to be made aware of them.
  • Appropriate protocols for securing customer data within a database.
  • Use of real-world examples that examine specific scenarios that may happen within a company’s industry. 
  • Appropriate ways to identify scams that are perpetrated digitally, over the phone, or via postal service.
  • A review of appropriate tools that can be used to detect and prevent cybersecurity attacks.

Vulnerability Assessments and Testing

The only way a business can determine if its network is safe is by having a vulnerability assessment done. Such an assessment can review the weaknesses within a company’s website or network and make specific recommendations for how these weaknesses can be resolved.

A specific type of vulnerability test is also known as a penetration test. In a penetration test, a hired ethical hacker will simulate a real-world attack and attempt to break into your network. They will do so using all up-to-date computer methods currently deployed by cybercriminals. The results can then be used to appropriately patch your network, make it more secure, and ensure that a real-world hacker can never again access your security. Such testing can take many forms and be combined with staff cybersecurity training. For example, a phishing email can be sent out that simulates a real-world one. Employees who fall for the scam can be sent for further cybersecurity training. 

There’s no question that properly protecting your business from cyber threats requires a comprehensive array of solutions that may be beyond your business’s expertise. However, you can find skilled professionals who can completely manage your cybersecurity needs. At

vTECHio, we offer all these services and much more. We can review your cybersecurity insurance policy requirements and ensure that you are covered. We can also provide comprehensive cybersecurity vulnerability assessments, MFAs, and other services.

Are you interested in hearing more? Schedule a call today, and learn more about how we can help your business stay secure.

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Securing Remote Workers in The Enterprise While Maintaining Productive Access

In order to maintain productivity, many organizations are allowing employees to work remotely. However, this creates a new challenge for IT administrators in terms of security. How can you ensure that remote workers are secure while maintaining access to company resources? In this blog post, we will explore some tips for securing remote workers in the enterprise.

Challenges of Making Remote Work Possible

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced organizations around the globe to re-evaluate their workplace policies and practices. For many, this has meant a shift to remote work. While working remotely can have many benefits, it also comes with a unique set of challenges.

Virtual machines are essentially computer systems that run within another computer system, and they’re often used by businesses to allow employees to access company resources remotely. However, they can also be a major cause of lag and application issues when employees are working from home.

One of the biggest problems with virtual machines is that they can be quite resource-intensive, which can lead to lag and performance issues on employee laptops or home computers. Additionally, virtual machines can be less stable than physical machines, which can also lead to issues with applications crashing or not working properly.

There are a few things that businesses can do to try and mitigate these issues, such as optimizing their virtual machine settings or investing in more powerful laptops for employees. However, at the end of the day, it’s important to remember that virtual machines come with their own set of challenges and are not always the best option for every business.

Managing and Securing Access

As companies increasingly embrace remote work, they must also take steps to manage and secure employees’ accounts and devices. Otherwise, they risk leaving themselves open to attack.

Fortunately, there are a number of ways companies can go about managing and securing remote worker accounts. One common approach is to use a centralized management platform like Microsoft Active Directory. This allows businesses to control employee access to corporate resources and data. Additionally, businesses can use security tools like two-factor authentication (2FA) to further protect remote worker accounts.

Another approach is to leverage mobile device management (MDM) solutions. These allow businesses to remotely monitor and manage employee mobile devices. This can help businesses ensure that only authorized devices have access to corporate data and networks.

Ultimately, the best way to manage and secure remote worker accounts will vary from business to business. However, by using a combination of centralized management platforms and security tools, businesses can keep their remote workers safe and secure.

Protecting Remote Workers and Their Data 

It is important to consider the cybersecurity implications of this new way of doing business. Remote workers are more vulnerable to cyber attacks than their office-based counterparts for a variety of reasons.

  • Firstly, they often do not have access to the same level of security infrastructure as those in an office environment.
  • Secondly, they may be using personal devices for work purposes, which can introduce new risks.
  • Finally, they may be working in locations with weaker internet security, such as public Wi-Fi hotspots.

Here are some ways to protect remote workers and their data from such attacks:

  1. Educate employees about cybersecurity risks and best practices.
  2. Implement strong authentication measures, such as two-factor authentication.
  3. Encrypt all sensitive data, both in transit and at rest.
  4. Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to secure all communication between employees and the company network.
  5. Regularly back up all data to an offsite location.
  6. Implement security awareness training for all employees on a regular basis.
  7. Keep all software up to date with the latest security patches.
  8. Use a firewall to block access to known malicious websites and online services.
  9. Monitor the network for unusual activity and investigate any suspicious behavior immediately.
  10. Plan for disaster recovery in case of a successful cyber attack.

Future of Remote Working

The future of remote working is looking very promising, especially with advances in technology. However, there are still some concerns about the security of enterprise data and systems when employees are working remotely.

The biggest security risk is the potential for data breaches, which can occur when devices or networks are compromised. Enterprises can mitigate this risk by implementing strong security protocols and ensuring that all employees have the appropriate training on how to keep data safe.

Other risks include phishing attacks and malware infections, which can be mitigated with good security awareness training and effective anti-malware solutions.

Overall, the future of remote working is very promising, but enterprises need to be aware of the potential security risks and take steps to mitigate them.

vCyberGuard by vTECHio can work with your organization to develop a remote security plan that includes secured internet and network access, antivirus software, secure storage solutions, MFA applications, anti-phishing tools, employee training, and more! Reach out today and find out how vCyberGuard by vTECHio can ensure your remote workers are secure and productive.

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Training Employees on Cybersecurity Awareness

These days, one of the most effective training challenges any business faces is ensuring they protect the integrity of their computer systems and the sensitive data contained in those systems. The data is stark:

  • The cost of cybercrime is massive: It costs $2.9 million every minute, and the average cyberattack costs businesses $3.86 million.
  • The leading cost of cybercrime? Human error. Employees making mistakes are believed to be responsible for up to 95% of all cybercrimes.
  • The rate at which cybercrime is accelerating: An estimated 2,244 cybercrime occurs every day. One cybercrime occurs every 38 seconds.

Thankfully, organizations can protect their systems by training employees. Doing so can reduce the odds of making a massive business mistake that results in a cybercrime or data breach.

Employees Are Among the Most Common Causes of Cybersecurity Breaches

As noted above, human error is responsible for most data breaches and cybercrime. This often happens when an employee makes a mistake that gives an unauthorized user access to a computer system, enabling them to steal sensitive data.

There are many techniques hackers will use to access your security network. They include:

  • Phishing, in which a hacker will send an email that appears to be from a legitimate source. This email will almost always have some urgency. For example, it may say your network has been compromised and encourage you to click on a link to fix it. Users may then click on the link and give away their username and password, allowing a hacker to steal network credentials and gain access to the system.
  • Viruses or Trojans, in which individuals will install a malicious piece of code on a network, giving them access to the network.
  • Bait and Switch, in which a user clicks on what appears to be a legitimate advertising link, only to have that link direct users to a website that allows their personal information to be stolen. 

Proper Training and Data Are Needed

Fortunately, with the proper training, a business can learn how to stop cybercrime and ensure that their employees are trained to recognize cyber threats and prevent bad actors from accessing a computer system.

First: All businesses should develop a cybersecurity handbook. This handbook should outline potential threats and past instances where a business’ systems have been accessed. It should also explain security systems, how to use them, and the policies for accessing them. It should also contain information security standards, what websites cannot be accessed, and the guidelines about accessing the computer network when not in the office. It should also show how often passwords and other vital access credentials should be trained. Finally, it should have a “what if” section: What should someone do if they believe the network should be breached, and who — including customers — should be notified? 

Furthermore, your business should train employees to recognize how to use computer systems in the safest way possible, how to stop a cyber threat from accessing systems, and what to do if there is some cybersecurity issue or data breach. This training can take many forms. It should include:

  • How to recognize a phishing attack and what to do if you get one.
  • An overview of security systems and measures used by the company and how to operate those systems (if necessary).
  • What to do if a system has been breached.
  • How to recognize other security threats. 
  • What websites are most likely to contain malicious links, and what websites should be avoided.
  • Company policies for accessing networks from home or public spaces where public Wi-Fi may be more vulnerable to security threats. 

Finally, it is worth noting that this training should be regularly updated. The world of cybersecurity is constantly evolving, with new viruses, penetration methods, and phishing techniques developed regularly. A business and its employees must stay current on these potential threats. This will require frequent training to ensure that all activity is up to date.

How to Develop This Training

There are two potential ways to develop this training. First, you can attempt to do so on your own. You can use internet resources to try and ensure that you and your employees know the latest threats, the potential techniques to stop these threats, and how you can best train your employees in these methods. However, this can be a real challenge if you aren’t an expert in computer systems or security. After all, your area of expertise is whatever your business is, not cybersecurity.

 

This explains why businesses generally prefer to work with outside, expert consultants who fully understand best practices in the world of cybersecurity, how to train employees, and what the most effective training will look like. Outside experts are paid to ensure they are up to date on the latest cybersecurity threats and understand how to train employees and small businesses in these threats.

 

If you are interested in getting the latest training and software to protect your business and educate your employees on cybersecurity, reach out to vTECH io. At vTECH io, we know how to protect your organization, train your employees, and ensure that you use the latest tools and techniques to protect your business.

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6 Best Practices in Patching and Patch Management for Security

Patching and patch management is one of the most important and undervalued aspects of cybersecurity. In fact, 57% of cyberattack victims have stated that the application of a patch would have prevented the attack they were subject to. Worse still, the same study found that 34% of them knew about the vulnerability before the attack happened!

Here we will discuss six best practices for patching and patch management to help improve your organization’s security posture. Implementing these best practices will help you keep your software up to date and improve your organization’s security posture.

1. Take Inventory of Systems

Taking inventory of systems is one of the most important aspects of patching and patch management. By keeping track of all the systems in your network, you can ensure that every system is properly patched and up-to-date. This will help you avoid any potential security vulnerabilities that could be exploited by attackers.

In order to take inventory of systems, you need to have a system in place that can track all of the assets in your network. This system should be able to identify each asset, its location, and its purpose. Once you have this information, you can then start to create a patching schedule for each system.

One of the best ways to take inventory of systems is by using a network discovery tool. These tools can help you quickly and easily identify all of the assets in your network. They can also provide you with detailed information about each asset, including its operating system, software, and hardware. Once you have this information, you can then start to create a patching schedule for each system.

2. Determine Risk and Vulnerability

By understanding the risks and vulnerabilities present in your system, you can more effectively determine which patches are needed and how to deploy them.

There are a number of factors to consider when assessing risk and vulnerability.

  • Identify what assets are most important to your organization and which ones are most at risk. This will help you prioritize which patches should be applied first.
  • Understand the potential impact of each vulnerability. How severe could the consequences be if this particular vulnerability was exploited? Would it allow an attacker to gain access to sensitive data or systems? Could it result in a Denial of Service attack?
  • Consider the likelihood of each vulnerability being exploited. Is this a known vulnerability with publicly available exploit code? Is it a 0-day vulnerability? How easy would it be for an attacker to exploit this particular flaw?
  • Weigh the cost of patching against the risk and impact of not patching. In some cases, it may be more cost-effective to implement other security controls rather than deploy a patch.

3. Automate Patch Management

Automating patch management is undoubtedly one of the best practices in patching and patch management for security. By automating the process of identifying, downloading, and installing patches, administrators can ensure that all systems are up to date with the latest security fixes. This not only reduces the amount of time spent on patch management but also helps to improve security by ensuring that systems are less likely to be vulnerable to attack.

There are a number of different ways to automate patch management including using third-party tools,  scripts, or even integrating it into existing workflows such as Configuration Management or Systems Management. However, whichever approach is taken, there are a few key considerations that should be kept in mind in order to make sure that the process is as effective as possible.

4. Critical-Updates-First Approach

A critical-updates-first approach ensures that the most important patches are applied first before any other patches are considered. 

There are a few different types of patches that should be considered critical. These include security patches, stability patches, and performance patches.

  • Security patches are the most important type of patch, as they address vulnerabilities that could be exploited by attackers.
  • Stability patches fix issues that could cause system crashes or instability.
  • Performance patches improve the overall performance of the system.

There are a few different ways to implement a critical-updates-first approach. One option is to manually select the most critical patches and apply them first. Another option is to use a patch management tool that supports this approach. Patch management tools can automate the process of selecting and applying patches, making it easier to implement a critical-updates-first approach.

5. Evaluate Patches in a Test Environment

By testing patches in an isolated environment, organizations can ensure that the patches will not cause any negative impact on production systems before they are deployed. Additionally, testing patches in a test environment allows organizations to assess the effectiveness of the patch and confirm that it addresses the specific vulnerabilities that it is intended to fix.

Organizations should have a robust testing process in place that includes both automated and manual testing methods. Automated testing can help to quickly identify potential issues with a patch, while manual testing can provide a more in-depth analysis of how the patch will impact system functionality. Patch testing should be conducted on a regular basis to ensure that patches are being properly evaluated and that they will not cause any unexpected problems when deployed in production.

6. Establish A Disaster Recovery Process

Establishing a disaster recovery process can ensure that critical systems and data are recovered in the event of a major outage or disaster.

There are many factors to consider when establishing a disaster recovery process, but some of the most important include identifying critical systems and data, designing a backup and recovery plan, testing the plan regularly, and having a dedicated team in place to manage the process.

While no organization is immune to outages or disasters, those that have a well-defined disaster recovery process in place will be better prepared to minimize the impact of these events.

Protect Yourself with The Experts at vTECH io

While there is no one-size-fits-all approach to patch management, following these best practices can help you develop a process that works for your organization.

The cyber security experts at vCyberGuard from vTECH io can help you build and implement a patch management plan tailored specifically to your organization’s needs. Contact us today to get started!

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White House Issues Warning on Russian Cyber Attacks

Companies are urged to strengthen their cyber defenses

In a statement on March 21st, 2022, the White House warned American companies to prepare for potential Russian cyberattacks and to boost their cyber defenses.

The statement specifically noted the possibility of these attacks in the wake of sanctions placed on Russia by the United States government and allies. These sanctions come after Russia’s widely condemned invasion of Ukraine and are believed to be having a major impact on the Russian economy. However, Russia has attacked American businesses and governments in the past, and additional attacks can now be expected. As a result, the United States government formally urges all American businesses — large or small — to prepare their own cyber defense and layered security strategy.

Past White House Actions

The statement highlighted the White House’s actions to protect Americans and American businesses from cyberattacks, including:

  • Executive orders that are designed to modernize and improve the cybersecurity of all aspects of the federal government.
  • Combined public-private cyber security plans that are meant to improve the cybersecurity of a variety of critical infrastructure components, including electric, energy, and water pipelines.
  • Mandates that all government agencies use new cybersecurity measures.
  • Increased cooperation among allies — and particularly the G7 nations — that is meant to better coordinate efforts to stop cyberattacks on an international level. 
  • Increased coordination and resource provision with the private sector, specifically by working on expanding and enhancing the CISA Shields Up campaign. This effort — promoted by the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency — is meant to give private businesses guidance about the types of cybersecurity measures they can take and resources where they can find these measures.

Recommended Business Actions

The Whitehouse statement also noted that even the most robust government defenses cannot stop all attacks. As such, all American businesses are asked to “execute the following steps with urgency.”

  • Require that all company devices and networks use multi-factor authentication (MFA) to gain access. Multi-factor authentication usually requires the use of two devices to gain access to a company network or company data, thus making hacking a company’s network much more difficult.
  • Ensure that all security measures and patches are as up-to-date as possible and consistently update all devices frequently.
  • Work with professionals to ensure that security measures are as robust and complete as possible. This may involve investing more time and money into cybersecurity efforts, but this is likely an expense well worth making, particularly in today’s perilous cybersecurity world
  • Work to ensure cyber resiliency of their computer networks. This means having all data consistently backed up and potentially using off-site backups to protect data best.
  • Conduct all appropriate cybersecurity risk assessments and cybersecurity training.
  • Plan for a cyber attack. This means training staff and developing the appropriate strategies and procedures for what to do if a network is attacked, breached, or taken down. This may include notification policies in the event that foreign actors access sensitive customer data. 

Long-Term Measures Needed

Finally, the statement noted the need for long-term cooperation from the private sector to boost America’s cybersecurity systems for the foreseeable future. These long-term investments include:

  • Ensuring that cybersecurity is considered throughout an entire product development cycle, not just as something that is added in but something that is part of a product’s entire development. This saves time, money, and work, all while reducing risk.
  • Using software that has as limited access as possible. This can limit the possibility that a bad actor can access critical systems while also ensuring that information cannot be leaked — accidentally or intentionally — by someone else who has access to your data or network.
  • Using the most modern security tools available and create procedures that ensure your business will constantly be on the lookout for new security upgrades. These procedures can make it so that you routinely look to upgrade your security.
  • Ensuring that all developers who use open-source software and coding list where they got their code from, thus making it easy to patch code later down the line. Create procedures with your software developers that will ensure they stay in touch with your business or organization and can protect their software or code if it is later found to be compromised. 

Resources Are Available

Unfortunately, as has been noted by numerous articles on the subject, the vast majority of businesses say that they are unprepared for a cyberattack. This is understandable: Preparing a cyber defense is beyond the capabilities of most small businesses, which often don’t understand how to implement SEC guidance on cyber security threats, add multi-factor authentication, or engage in appropriate cybersecurity risk assessments. All of this helps to drive home the need for businesses to find appropriate guidance from outside experts who understand cyber security and can help provide small businesses with the resources they need. 

If your business is interested in doing more to improve its cybersecurity strategy, including conducting a cybersecurity risk assessment or examining cyber insurance, vTech IO has a slew of free resources to help guide you through implementing recommended cybersecurity best practices. Check out our free resources, and contact us today if you have more questions and are looking for more information.