Threats are out there, but so are the solutions

September 21st 2016

‘Every day in the news, we are hearing about a new form of ransomware or cryptolocker hitting organisations big and small across Ireland.”

This is the grim prognosis of John Bergin, managing director of IT Force, and unfortunately his words are backed up by the facts. On the upside, a renewed threat means businesses are beginning to reinvest in security – even those in sectors that have played down the risks they face.

“This [the threat]is making these companies outside of highly regulated sectors more vigilant of their ICT. This type of attack is seen as rampant in Ireland at present,” he said.

Not only do companies already face these threats, their exposure grows as they invest in technologies like mobile, social, and cloud, said Bergin.

In practice, what this means is they need to take a 360-degree view of security instead of relying on the same old solutions.

“Traditional antivirus (AV) products are struggling to meet the challenges for a number of reasons. Hackers and cybercriminals are using botnets and other techniques to circulate zero-day threats aimed at organisations. This has posed a question over the effectiveness of many antivirus products to block the newest and most dangerous forms of malware. AV still has a purpose; we wouldn’t recommend that clients stop using it, but they need to be aware of these new threats that traditional AV mightn’t be able to prevent.

“At IT Force, we had to rethink security challenges with ways to tackle these new threats. Significantly, Aurora from IT Force was brought out earlier this year with this in mind,” he said.

IT Force’s clients range from organisations of ten users, right up to 250 users, and it provides a wide array of security services.

Some clients are attuned to the need for security, but others have room to grow, said Bergin.

Clients with a clear focus on security, especially in regulated sectors, often want to purchase security as a service both to increase security and to ensure compliance, whereas other clients are seeking to bolster security.

“What we are noticing now is that the financial services sector in Ireland has many challenges due to ever-evolving changing compliance issues around it. Also, we are noticing that the tighter regulations are meaning senior management is putting more of an onus on IT security within their companies,” he said.

Smaller companies need to recognise that they too can be a target, often for reasons they may not fully appreciate.

“The risk of hackers entering a company’s computer networks through a supplier – or even, the supplier of a supplier – has become a greater concern since the cyber attack on the US retailer Target late last year,” said Bergin.

The Target hack is now notorious in IT circles: details of more than 70 million customers of the large chain were compromised.

“This included the accounts of more 40 million credit card holders, snatched by a criminal who entered the system using access granted to a refrigeration and air conditioning supplier. Smaller companies often have less to spend on sophisticated cyber security, which will often make them the weakest link – the most efficient, easiest way into a larger organisations system,” said Bergin.

As the amount of data collected – and systems used – in business grows on a daily basis, organisations are more exposed than ever, and in the end are likely to have their systems compromised. Bergin is confident, however, that if businesses invest in the right security – and take the threats seriously – then they can continue to do business.

“Cybercrime is only likely to increase, despite the best efforts of government agencies and cyber security experts. Its growth is being driven by the expanding number of services available online and the increasing sophistication of cyber criminals who are engaged in a cat-and-mouse game with security experts.

“However, organisations can put in measures to help protect themselves against these sorts of attacks. Education is often key within companies so companies themselves understand the risks they are facing,” he said.

At IT Force, we can help businesses plan for, design, implement, operate, and manage the right technologies to improve the way they in which they do business. From security to cloud to business continuity, we take the complexity and confusion out of selecting and managing the right IT solutions for your budget, allowing you the time that you need to focus on running your business.

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