Category: cybersecurity

6 Things You Should Do to Handle Data Privacy Updates 

Once data began going digital, authorities realized a need to protect it. Thus, the creation of data privacy rules and regulations to address cyber threats. Many organizations have one or more data privacy policies they need to meet.

Those in the U.S. healthcare industry and their service partners need to comply with HIPAA. Anyone collecting payment card data must worry about PCI-DSS. GDPR is a wide-reaching data protection regulation. It impacts anyone selling to EU citizens.

Industry and international data privacy regulations are just the tip of the iceberg. Many state and local jurisdictions also have their own data privacy laws. Organizations must be aware of these compliance requirements. But they also need to know about updates to these rules.

By the end of 2024, about 75% of the population will have its data protected by one or more privacy regulations.

Authorities enact new data privacy regulations all the time. For example, in 2023, four states will have new rules. Colorado, Utah, Connecticut, and Virginia will begin enforcing new data privacy statutes.
Businesses must stay on top of their data privacy compliance requirements. Otherwise, they can suffer. Many standards carry stiff penalties for a data breach. And if security was lacking, fines can be even higher.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) uses a sliding scale. Violators can be fined between $100 to $50,000 per breached record. The more negligent the company is, the higher the fine.
Does all that sound scary?

Don’t worry, we have some tips below for you. These can help you keep up with data privacy updates coming your way.

Steps for Staying On Top of Data Privacy Compliance

1. Identify the Regulations You Need to Follow

Does your organization have a list of the different data privacy rules it falls under?

There could be regulations for:

  • Industry
  • Where you sell (e.g., if you sell to the EU)
  • Statewide
  •  City or county
  •  Federal (e.g., for government contractors)

Identify all the various data privacy regulations that you may be subject to. This helps ensure you’re not caught off guard by one you didn’t know about.

2. Stay Aware of Data Privacy Regulation Updates

Don’t get blindsided by a data privacy rule change. You can stay on top of any changes by signing up for updates on the appropriate website. Look for the official website for the compliance authority.
For example, if you are in the healthcare field you can sign up for HIPAA updates at You should do this for each of the regulations your business falls under.

You should have updates sent to more than one person. Typically, your Security Officer or equal, and another responsible party. This ensures they don’t get missed if someone is on vacation.

3. Do an Annual Review of Your Data Security Standards

Companies are always evolving their technology. This doesn’t always mean a big enterprise transition. Sometimes you may add a new server or a new computer to the mix.

Any changes to your IT environment can mean falling out of compliance. A new employee mobile device added, but not properly protected is a problem. One new cloud tool an employee decides to use can also cause a compliance issue.

It’s important to do at least an annual review of your data security. Match that with your data privacy compliance requirements to make sure you’re still good.

4. Audit Your Security Policies and Procedures

Something else you should audit at least annually is your policies and procedures. These written documents that tell employees what’s expected from them. They also give direction when it comes to data privacy and how to handle a breach.

Audit your security policies annually. Additionally, audit them whenever there is a data privacy regulation update. You want to ensure that you’re encompassing any new changes to your requirements.

5. Update Your Technical, Physical & Administrative Safeguards As Needed

When you receive a notification that a data privacy update is coming, plan ahead. It’s best to comply before the rule kicks in, if possible.

Look at three areas of your IT security:
• Technical safeguards – Systems, devices, software, etc.
• Administrative safeguards – Policies, manuals, training, etc.
• Physical safeguards – Doors, keypads, building security, etc.

6. Keep Employees Trained on Compliance and Data Privacy Policies

Employees should be aware of any changes to data privacy policies that impact them. When you receive news about an upcoming update, add this to your ongoing training.

Good cybersecurity practice is to conduct ongoing cybersecurity training for staff. This keeps their anti-breach skills sharp and reminds them of what’s expected.

Include updates they need to know about so they can be properly prepared.

Remember to always log your training activities. It’s a good idea to log the date, the employees educated, and the topic. This way, you have this documentation if you do suffer a breach at some point.

Get Help Ensuring Your Systems Meet Compliance Needs

Data privacy compliance can be complex. But you don’t have to figure it all out yourself. Our team is well-versed in compliance needs. Give us a call today to schedule a chat.

Article used with permission from The Technology Press.

6 Things You Should Do to Handle Data Privacy Updates

What Is App Fatigue & Why Is It a Security Issue? 

The number of apps and web tools that employees use on a regular basis continues to increase. Most departments have about 40-60 different digital tools that they use. 71% of employees feel they use so many apps that it makes work more complex.

Many of the apps that we use every day have various alerts. We get a “ping” when someone mentions our name on a Teams channel. We get a notification popup that an update is available. We get an alert of errors or security issues.

App fatigue is a very real thing and it’s becoming a cybersecurity problem. The more people get overwhelmed by notifications, the more likely they are to ignore them.
Just think about the various digital alerts that you get.

They come in:
• Software apps on your computer
• Web-based SaaS tools
• Websites where you’ve allowed alerts
• Mobile apps and tools
• Email banners
• Text messages
• Team communication tools

Some employees are getting the same notification on two different devices. This just adds to the problem. This leads to many issues that impact productivity and cybersecurity.

Besides alert bombardment, every time the boss introduces a new app, that means a new password. Employees are already juggling about 191 passwords. They use at least 154 of them sometime during the month.


How Does App Fatigue Put Companies at Risk?

Employees Begin Ignoring Updates

When digital alerts interrupt your work, you can feel like you’re always behind. This leads to ignoring small tasks seen as not time-sensitive. Tasks like clicking to install an app update.
Employees overwhelmed with too many app alerts, tend to ignore them. When updates come up, they may quickly click them away. They feel they can’t spare the time right now and aren’t sure how long it will take.
Ignoring app updates on a device is dangerous. Many of those updates include important security patches for found vulnerabilities. When they’re not installed, the device and its network are at a higher risk. It becomes easier to suffer a successful cyberattack.

Employees Reuse Passwords (and They’re Often Weak)

Another security casualty of app fatigue is password security. The more SaaS accounts someone must create, the more likely they are to reuse passwords. It’s estimated that passwords are typically reused 64% of the time.
Credential breach is a key driver of cloud data breaches. Hackers can easily crack weak passwords. The same password used several times leaves many accounts at risk.


Employees May Turn Off Alerts

Some alerts are okay to turn off. For example, do you really need to know every time someone responds to a group thread? Or just when they @name you? But, turning off important security alerts is not good.
There comes a breaking point when one more push notification can push someone over the edge. They may turn off all the alerts they can across all apps. The problem with this is that in the mix of alerts are important ones. Such as an anti-malware app warning about a newly found virus.

What’s the Answer to App Fatigue?

It’s not realistic to just go backward in time before all these apps were around. But you can put a strategy in place that puts people in charge of their tech, and not the other way around.


Streamline Your Business Applications

From both a productivity and security standpoint, fewer apps are better. The fewer apps you have, the less risk. Also, the fewer passwords to remember and notifications to address.
Look at the tools that you use to see where redundancies may be. Many companies are using two or more apps that can do the same function.
Consider using an umbrella platform like Microsoft 365 or Google Workspace. These platforms include several work tools, but users only need a single login to access them.

Have Your IT Team Set up Notifications

It’s difficult for users to know what types of notifications are the most important. Set up their app notifications for them. This ensures they aren’t bombarded yet are still getting the important ones.

Automate Application Updates

A cybersecurity best practice is to automate device and software updates. This takes the process out of employees’ hands. It enhances productivity by removing unnecessary updates from their view.
Automating device updates through a managed services solution improves security. It also mitigates the chance there will be a vulnerable app putting your network at risk.

Open a Two-Way Communication About Alerts

Employees may never turn off an alert because they’re afraid they might get in trouble. Managers may not even realize constant app alert interruptions are hurting productivity.
Communicate with employees and let them know they can communicate with you. Discuss how to use alerts effectively. As well as the best ways to manage alerts for a better and more productive workday.


Need Help Taming Your Cloud App Environment?

Today, it’s easy for cloud tools to get out of hand. Get some help consolidating and optimizing your cloud app environment. Give us a call today.


Article used with permission from The Technology Press.


6 Steps to Effective Vulnerability Management for Your Technology   

Technology vulnerabilities are an unfortunate side effect of innovation. When software companies push new updates, there are often weaknesses in the code. Hackers exploit these. Software makers then address the vulnerabilities with a security patch. The cycle continues with each new software or hardware update.
It’s estimated that about 93% of corporate networks are susceptible to hacker penetration. Assessing and managing these network weaknesses isn’t always a priority for organizations. Many suffer breaches because of poor vulnerability management.

61% of security vulnerabilities in corporate networks are over 5 years old.
Many types of attacks take advantage of unpatched vulnerabilities in software code. This includes ransomware attacks, account takeover, and other common cyberattacks.
Whenever you see the term “exploit” when reading about a data breach, that’s an exploit of a vulnerability. Hackers write malicious code to take advantage of these “loopholes.” That code can allow them to elevate privileges. Or to run system commands or perform other dangerous network intrusions.
Putting together an effective vulnerability management process can reduce your risk. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Just follow the steps we’ve outlined below to get started.

6 Steps to Effective Vulnerability Management

Vulnerability Management Process

Step 1. Identify Your Assets

First, you need to identify all the devices and software that you will need to assess. You’ll want to include all devices that connect to your network, including:
• Computers
• Smartphones
• Tablets
• IoT devices
• Servers
• Cloud services
Vulnerabilities can appear in many places. Such as the code for an operating system, a cloud platform, software, or firmware. So, you’ll want a full inventory of all systems and endpoints in your network.
This is an important first step, so you will know what you need to include in the scope of your assessment.

Step 2: Perform a Vulnerability Assessment

Next will be performing a vulnerability assessment. This is usually done by an IT professional using assessment software. This could also include penetration testing.
During the assessment, the professional scans your systems for any known vulnerabilities. The assessment tool matches found software versions against vulnerability databases.
For example, a database may note that a version of Microsoft Exchange has a vulnerability. If it detects that you have a server running that same version, it will note it as a found weakness in your security.

Step 3: Prioritize Vulnerabilities by Threat Level

The assessment results provide a roadmap for mitigating network vulnerabilities. There will usually be several, and not all are as severe as others. You will next need to rank which ones to address first.
At the top of the list should be those experts consider severe. Many vulnerability assessment tools will use the Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS). This categorizes vulnerabilities with a rating score from low to critical severity.
You’ll also want to rank vulnerabilities by your own business needs. If a software is only used occasionally on one device, you may consider it a lower priority to address. While a vulnerability in software used on all employee devices, you may rank as a high priority.

Step 4: Remediate Vulnerabilities

Remediate vulnerabilities according to the prioritized list. Remediation often means applying an issued update or security patch. But it may also mean upgrading hardware that may be too old for you to update.
Another form of remediation may be ringfencing. This is when you “wall off” an application or device from others in the network. A company may do this if a scan turns up a vulnerability for which a patch does not yet exist.
Increasing advanced threat protection settings in your network can also help. Once you’ve remediated the weaknesses, you should confirm the fixes.

Step 5: Document Activities

It’s important to document the vulnerability assessment and management process. This is vital both for cybersecurity needs and compliance.
You’ll want to document when you performed the last vulnerability assessment. Then document all the steps taken to remediate each vulnerability. Keeping these logs will be vital in the case of a future breach. They also can inform the next vulnerability assessment.

Step 6. Schedule Your Next Vulnerability Assessment Scan

Once you go through a round of vulnerability assessment and mitigation, you’re not done. Vulnerability management is an ongoing process.
In 2022, there were over 22,500 new vulnerabilities documented. Developers continue to update their software continuously. Each of those updates can introduce new vulnerabilities into your network.
It’s a best practice to have a schedule for regular vulnerability assessments. The cycle of assessment, prioritization, mitigation, and documentation should be ongoing. This fortifies your network against cyberattacks. It removes one of the main enablers of hackers.

Get Started with a Vulnerability Assessment

Take the first step towards effective vulnerability management. We can help you fortify your network against attacks. Give us a call today to schedule a vulnerability assessment to get started.

Article used with permission from The Technology Press.

The Top 5 IT Challenges Facing Manufacturers and How to Overcome Them

Manufacturing is at the heart of any thriving economy, and the current economic environment pushes manufacturers to create a more digital and data-driven workforce. Manufacturing is a vital industry, and it’s no surprise that IT challenges continue to keep manufacturers vigilant. Manufacturing companies face a unique set of IT challenges.

From data migrations and cybersecurity breaches to workforce automation and machine learning, manufacturers’ challenges are vast and varied. However, competing as a manufacturer in an increasingly global market may be challenging. Adopting new technology is one strategy to gain an advantage and maintain market share. But what other strategies are there for these manufacturing IT challenges?

Challenge #1: Increasing Cybersecurity

With the increased usage of technical improvements, manufacturing business owners must be aware that cyberattackers mainly target their businesses. In 2021, the manufacturing industry experienced over 23% of total cyberattacks worldwide. The manufacturing sector experienced the highest share of cyberattacks — more than the finance and insurance sectors.

Furthermore, the Engineering Employers’ Federation (EEF) states that more than 45% of manufacturing businesses have experienced cybersecurity problems. The first step toward developing a cybersecurity solution is learning about commonly used cyberattacks in the manufacturing industry:

  • Phishing attacks: This attack occurs via malicious email attachments or targets visiting fake websites, corrupting browser settings and using business data for financial gain. A virus discovers vulnerabilities in systems and sends information to attackers.
  • Ransomware: This software encrypts files on a network and renders them inoperable until hackers’ demands are satisfied. These attackers may threaten to sell or disclose essential data if a ransom is not paid. Ransomware also renders the company’s network inoperable. Downtime places such a hardship on manufacturing organizations, making this strategy highly successful.
  • Supply chain attacks: This attack damages one link in a company’s supply chain that can have massive repercussions. Hackers can access big corporations through weak points in their partners’ and suppliers’ systems. These attacks are double-edged swords. If a major firm is forced to shut down operations, any company it supplies is equally impacted within days of the first attack.
  • IP theft: Manufacturing companies own intellectual property (IP) that distinguishes their products or services. As attackers discover new techniques to infiltrate a network undetected, the risks of possible IP theft increase. Hackers can silently harvest the required information and exit the system undiscovered. This might result in stolen or changed data.

The following techniques can help companies become more aware of potential hazards, identify possibly harmful conduct and avoid manufacturing IT cybersecurity problems:

  • Educate all personnel about the dangers of cybercrime and how to identify possible threats.
  • Implement password policies that require strong passwords and two-factor authentication where possible.
  • Apply all updates and patches for relevant software as soon as they become available.
  • Updated methods to manage backups of company data.
  • Inform staff about the risks of accessing attachments from unknown sources.

Challenge #2: Integration of New Technologies

Smart manufacturing uses internet-connected technology to track the manufacturing process. This enables machines to interact with one another through the internet and collaborate to reduce mistakes and enhance plant workflow. Smart manufacturing also aids in the identification of better prospects for automated operations and the use of data analytics to improve and optimize the overall production process.

Some current technologies and solutions in the smart manufacturing environment include automation and robots, predictive analytics and artificial intelligence (AI). Manufacturers must be innovative in incorporating new technology to flourish in increasingly competitive markets. This is quite a challenge due to the rate at which technology continuously advances.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is another challenge on its own. Manufacturing hardware is increasingly being linked to the internet. However, these technologies are particularly prone to hackers. Networks must be configured to be functional, reliable and secure to keep IoT devices safe.

Here are a few strategies a company can implement to overcome these manufacturing IT problems:

  • Research and testing: Strive to do thorough research and testing on new technologies that can improve manufacturing processes. Each company is different and requires specific AI software or robotics that suits its needs. Performing proper tests and evaluating the collaboration between these new technologies and existing operations are crucial to its successful implementation.
  • Work with partners: To overcome the various challenges, working with experienced partners in the industry is best. They may provide valuable insights into successfully integrating new technologies, especially in the manufacturing industry.
  • Provide employee training: Businesses must include their employees and make change management simple for them if they want to enhance the manufacturing process through new technologies. One approach is to provide a consolidated location for information that offers continuous employee training through videos, manuals and other training materials together with standard operating procedures (SOPs).

Challenge #3: Managing Data and Analytics

Manufacturers may find it challenging to analyze their data to develop insights. Today’s technology platforms constantly generate data on supply networks, manufacturing lines and employee performances. Massive volumes of data are available to manufacturers.

Forecasting product demand and inventory management are two major areas where data analysis may be beneficial. External factors influence product demand, such as currency exchange rates, current market trends and supply chain pricing. To maximize manufacturing, data from various sources must be readily available, accurately collected and stored and well managed.

Companies can start overcoming these IT challenges in manufacturing by following these strategies:

  • Implement a DMS: Implementing a robust data management system (DMS) will help the manufacturer’s overall data accessibility and management. Manufacturers can define their infrastructure strategy, choose their data collection method and keep everything organized and optimized.
  • Data analysis training: Training personnel on data analysis is a valuable skill that can benefit the firm. Data analytics is a science and an art. It’s a complex field where some businesses need to hire specialists. Providing data analysis training to employees may help them better understand the intricacies of data.
  • Partnering with experts: Partnering with data experts helps manufacturers analyze, design, facilitate and complete duties associated with developing their data and information architecture. Experts provide reusable standards, rules, design patterns and settings to evolve data and information infrastructure across whole companies.

Challenge #4: Maintaining Uptime

This is an age-old manufacturing IT dilemma. Downtime, particularly unscheduled downtime, is detrimental to profits. The average hourly cost of server downtime worldwide was between $301,000 and $400,000 in 2020. There’s no doubt that unexpected downtime is expensive. It remains an ongoing and severe problem regardless of the precise cost per industry. IT system reliability is critical to avoiding downtime.

Try to implement a few other strategies to handle these manufacturing IT challenges:

  • Perform routine maintenance: Maintain your systems regularly to keep them operating at their best. This involves scheduling scans and deploying security fixes in your IT infrastructure to address software vulnerabilities before hacks occur.
  • Plan ahead: Prepare a plan and a timetable for system upgrades to keep hardware and software up to date.
  • Test backups: Develop backup and restoration procedures with the appropriate resources and test them regularly to ensure flawless business continuity. Testing your backups can provide you peace of mind that you can restore your data in an emergency.

Challenge #5: Staying Competitive in a Rapidly Changing Market

Being in the manufacturing industry today requires companies to be agile to stay competitive in a rapidly changing market due to the growing rate of technological development. Manufacturers must be able to react to shifting market needs and technological advancements swiftly. This is challenging since conventional manufacturing lines were frequently highly tailored for specific applications.

Integrating older systems with cutting-edge applications and platforms to increase production quality and efficiency can be challenging. It can also be difficult to develop production processes that can adjust fast as data changes.

Some strategies to overcome these challenges include the following:

  • Stay up-to-date: Staying updated with the most recent market trends and adopting new technology can provide a competitive advantage over the competition. A business owner who can successfully understand and apply the most recent technological advancements can stay ahead of the competition.
  • Invest in research and development: To stay up-to-date with the latest news, trends and developments, manufacturers must invest in proper research and development of new technological advancements.
  • Remain adaptable: From research and planning comes action. Manufacturers must remain agile and adaptable to changes in the industry — specifically if they can benefit from it. Change is unavoidable.

Outsource Your IT Support With Morefield

Position your manufacturing firm ahead of its competition and implement strategies that overcome these top five IT challenges. Businesses may only function with proper IT assistance, making the selection of IT service providers critical. Outsourcing your IT support may be more cost-effective than building an in-house IT team from scratch.

Morefield is a leading provider of corporate technology solutions. We assist enterprises in integrating and improving their technologies, streamlining their corporate technology with unmatched customer care. Our professionals will build and maintain every aspect of your network for integrated solutions that maximize productivity in your business.

Contact us online, and we’ll respond to your request promptly.

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