Cyber security

What is a Security Operations Center?

With cybersecurity a priority for every business that depends on their IT, there are a lot of different strategies being utilized out there to keep threats off of networks and data safe. One of the most advanced strategies being used today is enlisting a service that runs a Security Operations Center (SOC). Today, we’ll investigate what a SOC is and how it works to keep threats at bay.

What is a Security Operations Center?

Security Operations Center

The Security Operations Center is a lot like the Network Operations Center (NOC), but its whole purpose is to monitor computing networks and devices and eliminate threats to their efficient operation. While that description may seem simple, business computing infrastructures are typically complex with a lot of end users, making network and device security a complicated endeavor.

Today’s businesses have computing infrastructures and networks that run around the clock, and the SOC is staffed to facilitate that 24/7/365 demand for security monitoring and services. Working hand-in-hand with your NOC (and perhaps other IT administrators depending on the complexity of your business’ IT), the SOC typically handles the overarching cybersecurity strategy.

Typically, businesses want their IT to align with how they want to run their business and part of that is maintaining uptime and keeping threats off of the endpoints, networks, and the vast amount of infrastructure that makes up the network. After all, all it takes is one vulnerability to be exploited and it can create major problems. The SOC deploys a myriad of tools and strategies all designed to do one thing: stay ahead of threats to the network.

managed security solutions

How the SOC Operates

As we stated previously, the SOC functions much like a NOC in that its main purpose is comprehensive around-the-clock monitoring and notification. If something goes wrong on the network, the SOC will log the issue and do what it can to mitigate the issue. As these things happen it will notify the IT administrator (the NOC) of the issue to keep them in the loop. Let’s take a brief look at some of the services the SOC will provide:

  • Complete assessment

    The discovery process is a major part of how the SOC can be most effective. In being aware of all the hardware, applications, and other tools on the network(s) your business needs, the SOC can ensure that everything is monitored continuously.

  • Continuous monitoring

    Not only will the SOC monitor software and traffic trends, it will also monitor user and system behaviors as a way to identify issues.

  • Thorough logging

    Keeping large computing networks secure is a big job, and a lot of your executive and managerial team don’t have the knowledge or the time to stay on top of threats as they come in. Keeping logs of every action the SOC makes, including communications with vendors/employees and steps taken to keep the network and infrastructure free from threats is a great way to provide a layer of oversight to the security process. It’s also an important factor in staying compliant with any regulatory mandates.

  • Comprehensive Incident response and investigation

    This is where the SOC really becomes a major benefit for the security of your company’s IT. Not only do SOC technicians respond quickly to any incident, they also work fast to investigate what caused the issue in the first place. Going further than your typical IT management, the main benefit of the SOC is the mitigation of efficiency-sapping issues such as malware and other manners of attack.

If you think your business could use a Security Operations Center service to keep your growing network and infrastructure clean from threats and working for your business, give Point North Networks, Inc., a call today at 651-234-0895.

Cybersecurity

How to Get Cybersecurity Through to Your Staff

Getting your staff to care about your organizational network and data security may be more difficult than you might think, but it’s not a lost cause. Today, keeping your business’ organizational security strong relies heavily on your staff’s willingness to follow the right practices, so today we thought we’d give you seven tips to get your people to care about security

Be Up Front

One of the main reasons employees don’t often care about cybersecurity is the overt secrecy surrounding it. Today’s organization needs to come clean when it comes to the constant threats that are out there. If you want your people to have a vested interest in keeping your business’ information systems and data secure, you need to level with them. After all, they can’t help if they don’t understand.

Make it a Personal Investment

Your company holds a lot of your employees personal data. Let them know that along with any sensitive and proprietary data that could be lost in a data breach, that their data could also be vulnerable. In order to sufficiently secure your data and theirs, they need to know what’s at stake if they don’t actively follow cybersecurity procedures.

Top Down Security

Every member of your organization needs to understand that they could be targeted by hackers and fall victim to these threats. The more your employees understand that management is actively complying with security policies, the more willing they will be to alter the way they consider cybersecurity.

Gamify Your Process

People tend to be more engaged when there is incentive baked into a policy. Gamification is the strategy of scoring a person based on their efforts. This strategy works wonders for productivity so it stands to reason that it would work for cybersecurity awareness and following any organizational policy that’s in place to keep your systems and data secure.

Standardize Procedure

One of the most important variables to get your people to follow the rules, is to have them in place to begin with. In cybersecurity, confusion can be a huge albatross, so ensuring that everyone is playing with the same rulebook is a must. This includes building procedures to handle attacks such as phishing as well as password hygiene and many other security-based policies. The more consistent your procedures are, the more likely your staff is to understand and follow them.

Start from Day One

With all the threats that are out there at the moment, you will want to stress the importance of cybersecurity with current and new employees, alike. If you start hammering home the importance of compliance with security procedures from the day an employee starts at your business, the more likely they will continue to comply with them as they undertake their job; which for most of your staff, isn’t strictly cybersecurity.

Keep Training

Employee’s Security training is becoming commonplace at almost every organization, largely because the threats that it faces could have devastating consequences. You will want to invest in comprehensive training and re-training to ensure that your employees understand the importance of your cybersecurity initiatives, and that they are up-to-date on any and all changes to policy or strategy.

 

Cybersecurity is a team effort today and if your organization isn’t stressing the importance of it, it’s only a matter of time until it rears its head. If you would like to learn more about training your employees on the best practices of cybersecurity,  creating a cybersecurity policy that works to keep your information systems secure, or if you would just like to talk to one of our IT professionals about cybersecurity best practices and procedures, give us a call today at 651-234-0895.

remotely monitoring

Looking In at the Benefits of Remotely Monitoring Your Business’ Technology

For small businesses with limited budgets and workforces, getting the type of maintenance needed to keep complicated pieces of machinery and technology in tip-top shape seems like a tall order. Sometimes it might be a budgetary issue, where it costs too much to hire in-house staff to handle this burden. Other times it might seem like you just can’t find any talent in your location. Thanks to modern technology—remote monitoring and management technology, in particular—you are no longer stuck by these limitations

We would be poor technology consultants if we told you that not having the resources to properly care for your technology is a good excuse. Thanks to remote technology, this type of maintenance is easier and more accessible than it has ever been before. Here’s what you can expect when you work with Point North Networks for remote monitoring and maintenance services.

Improved Accessibility

If nothing else, RMM tools promote accessibility for small businesses by breaking down the barriers of entry that have traditionally stopped them from leveraging this type of technology. By this, we mean things like price and talent pool. For price, RMM services fall into the operational costs category, meaning that they are the equivalent of a monthly payment compared to adding additional salaries to your expenses. As for the talent pool, since the majority of services can be administered remotely, physical location is not as much of an issue unless you need on-site maintenance.

Proactive Maintenance and Monitoring

It’s not easy to run a business while also keeping an eye on all of the little things that could go wrong at any moment, be it hardware hiccups or security discrepancies. When you implement RMM services, you have your outsourced provider keeping a close watch on your network for all of those small things that might fly under the radar normally. When your network is monitored in this way, we can catch small issues before they spiral out of control.

Prompt Resolutions

Sometimes issues need to be resolved quickly, and in these situations, you cannot wait for a technician to travel to your office. Remote desktop solutions allow technicians to remote right into the system itself, see the issue first-hand, and resolve the issue quickly and efficiently without the need for an on-site visit.

Implement a RMM Tool Today!

Ultimately, RMM services are incredibly beneficial for all businesses, big or small. They save time, money, and resources that you can then spend elsewhere for your business, such as growing your customer base or innovating with new ideas or services. Point North Networks, Inc., can provide your organization with remote monitoring and maintenance services; all you have to do is reach out to us at 651-234-0895.

4 types of insider threats

4 Types of Insider Threats to Watch For

It’s easy to focus on threats that are external to your business, like viruses and malware that are just waiting to infiltrate your network, but what about threats that exist from within?

While insider threats are not particularly common in the dramatic, over-the-top way that they are made out to be in movies and media, they are still a very real issue that should be addressed by your organization’s network security protocols.

In a lot of ways, insider threats are even harder to identify because of the fact that it is difficult to discern what activity is acceptable and what activity is not. According to Gartner, there are four types of insider threats. Believe it or not, most insider threats don’t necessarily have malicious intent; rather, they just have a gross negligence for network security and rules put into place that protects your organization’s intellectual property.

Let’s meet some of these insider threats, shall we?

Those Who Are Tricked

Also known as the “pawn,” this category includes those who are more or less tricked into becoming complicit with hackers’ agendas through the use of social engineering scams or phishing campaigns. In these cases, hackers are simply taking advantage of others who may not know enough to not go along with it.

Those Who Cooperate

Those who cooperate with third parties to disclose sensitive information or trade secrets, also known as the “collaborator,” are dangerous in their own right. Not only do they leak important information, but they do so with the deliberate intent to harm or create problems for your organization.

Those Who Make Mistakes

Sometimes people just make mistakes because they don’t take security standards seriously or deliberately fly in the face of policies. These folks fall into the category of the “goof,” and their arrogance and negligence is what leads them to make such mistakes. Goofs often make choices that benefit themselves, even if they make things significantly less secure in the process.

Those Who Act on Their Own

Sometimes insider threats emerge on their own without being a part of a bigger effort from a hacker or third party. These threats, dubbed the “lone wolf” insiders, are particularly dangerous if they have high-level access to sensitive information. The reasons for lone wolf insider threats acting the way they do might vary, but even if they are made for ethical reasons, like leaking suspicious practices or dangerous activity, this does not change their status as insiders, as they are still acting with a deliberate intent to damage the organization they work for.

Point North Networks, Inc., can help to secure your business from threats of all types, including insiders. To learn more about the methods we use to determine legitimate or illegitimate network activity, reach out to us at 651-234-0895.

take the lead

A Company’s Boss Needs to Take the Lead on Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity is critically important to businesses of all sizes, which means that all businesses need to put forth a concerted effort to ensure their security is locked down. This, in turn, will require someone to take point on developing a cybersecurity-focused internal culture.

Who better to do this than the boss?

Here’s the deal: it doesn’t matter how advanced your cybersecurity solutions are, or how recently your team updated their passwords. No amount of cybersecurity safeguards will protect you if your team members aren’t behaving in a security-conscious way.

The Importance of a Cybersecurity-Centric Company Culture

Have you ever heard of social proof? While it is more often a term associated with marketing, describing how people can be convinced by testimonials from their peers and contemporaries, it can play a significant role in shaping your workplace environment… although this can be a double-edged sword.

Basically, the culture around your cybersecurity will reinforce itself over time.

Let’s say that John Doe gets a job with a company, and is busy getting set up with network access and permissions to everything he will need to do his job. With a poor cybersecurity culture in place, his coworkers may suggest he just repeat his username as his password, or take some similar shortcut. If the whole department insists that this practice is okay and accepted, it’s likely that John will do just that. What’s more, old Johnny boy will likely amplify this message to Jane, the next person hired, and so on and so forth.

However, if we take this same scenario and change just one detail—the message that the team shares with their new coworker—the outcome could be much, much different. If company policies outline the expectation that passwords will meet a set of best practices and the employees emphasize this in their day-to-day, it is far more likely that they will be upheld.

The Boss is the One Who Sets the Tone in the Business

So, apart from turning your employee handbook into a glorified cybersecurity dream journal, what can you do to infuse security awareness into your day-to-day? There are a few things, actually:

  • In addition to implementing password policies, you can enforce them by only permitting passwords that meet these policies to be accepted.
  • In addition to establishing access controls, you need to audit your protections at regular intervals to identify any overlooked weak points, civilly calling attention to these shortfalls as you encounter them.
  • In addition to adding security training into your onboarding processes, you should periodically have your employees go through a refresher training course on occasion.

As the business’ leader, it is on the boss to take the lead in all things. Security is not where you want to make an exception. Point North Networks, Inc., is here to facilitate your improvements to your cybersecurity. Reach out to us today by calling 651-234-0895 and find out the many ways that we can assist you in improving your business—whether it’s regarding your security, your processes, or any other IT considerations.