NSS Info-Security Newletter May 2016





In major news for our Houston office staff, we moved our offices shortly after the first of the year to 118 Vintage Park Blvd., Suite W117, Houston TX 77070. Our new office is right across the freeway from our old one, in a hip, new shopping center and office complex complete with an Alamo Drafthouse (handy for ending the day in style!). It was fortunate we moved when we did, as our old office parking lot was inundated during the recent floods in Houston and was closed for a whole week. Please note the new address for your accounting department and other correspondence.

What is PCI DSS?
You may have heard this term and you may even know it has something to do with credit cards. But do you know that it is the mandatory security standard that all credit card merchants and issuers must comply with? And are you aware of the dramatic shift in legal liability for cyber-fraud that happened last October because of changes to the PCI DSS standard? PCI DSS stands for Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard. It represents the efforts of all major credit card issuers to institute and enforce a uniform level of security amongst the merchant who accept their cards and the Banks that issue them. This standard was voluntary up until a few years ago but became mandatory after PCI DSS version 2.0 was released. And after Oct 15th of last year, all major credit card companies modified their contracts to make the merchant liable for any credit card fraud that occurs as a result of a lack of security on the merchant’s part if they have not complied with the PCI standard. This represents a huge shift in liability for credit card merchants that many may not fully be aware of. NSS now offers PCI compliance services to help companies improve their data security and comply with the PCI standard. We are also offering free seminars on PCI DSS as part of our IT Security Seminar Series. Click here to find out if there is a seminar in your area.

Ransomware: The New Cyber-threat for Businesses

They go by names like Crypto-Locker or Crypto-Wall and others but they are all part of a new malicious software breed that seeks to encrypt your servers and valuable data and then ransom it back to you for a payment. These viruses usually get loaded by clicking on an attachment or visiting a sketchy website. Once your machine is infected, it immediately encrypts all the data on the hard drive. It also searches for share drives it can encrypt as well. It then displays a message asking for a specific ransom to decrypt the data, which can either be paid by wire transfer or bitcoins, the untraceable digital currency. Many businesses have no choice but to pay, given the damage that would be done to their business by the loss of that data. In some cases, it has caused a direct threat to public health when hospital systems have been infected and disabled. Law enforcement both local and national offer little recourse since the perpetrators and bank accounts usually sit overseas in countries without extradition treaties with the US. However, if you take the right steps before hand, you can stop ransomware before it infects your network or at least limit the damage if it does. Here are three steps that will not only inoculate your company from ransomware but also make it more secure from all manner of cyber-threats:

1. Make sure you regularly back up your data and test the backups. You should backup your data at least daily or more often if loss of a partial day’s operations would be traumatic to your business. But just backing up your data isn’t enough. Make sure you test the backups on a regular basis to make sure that the backup is being done properly. Otherwise, they may not work properly when you need them the most.
2. Enforce Least Privilege. This data security concept means that each employee only has access to what they need to do their job. Having generic logins where everyone knows the password, or having share drives that are open to everyone allows ransomware to spread to multiple systems and do the most damage. Have a separate login for every user and only give them rights to the systems, drives and parts of the network that are required for their job duties. This will also prevent other viruses from spreading and keep entry-level employees from going where they shouldn’t.
3. Train your employees on IT Security Awareness and test them. Ransomware infections happen because an employee clicks on something they shouldn’t have. Training them on the dangers will make it much less likely they will click on that bad attachment or link. Also you should test them via an exercise known as a Social Engineering test. This involves sending fake email viruses that look similar to the type of emails that carry the real viruses. This “live fire” test is the best way to educate your employees of the very real dangers of ransomware, viruses and other malware. Through training and testing, you can avoid ever having to deal with a ransomware infection.
NSS offers both IT Awareness Training and Social Engineering Testing to help secure your company from Ransomware and other cyber-threats. See below for a list of scheduled classes or call us for a quote for on-site training customized for your environment.

Posted in News