With the hustle and bustle of day-to-day life a personal assistant surely would come in handy, right? While this may not be fiscally responsible, maybe a voice assistant would be. In our last article, The Ping: Voice Assistants, we discussed how a voice assistant can manage a lot of your needs. Things such as the weather for the day, the traffic to work and your grocery list. However, sometimes just managing your house is what you need the most help with. Are you aware that they can do that too and what they are really managing?

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2019 is here, and it is a special year for all concerned due to many Microsoft products going End of Life (EOL) in January of 2020. We’ve covered the whys of EOL in previous pings, so in this edition we would like to remind you of the importance of keeping your servers updated and workstations rebooted when prompted. We discussed this necessity in The Ping: Updates and Upgrades, and we encourage you to review it. Staying ahead of the game will help prevent down time from malware and slow systems or hardware crashes. This edition of “The Ping!” should answer any lingering questions about Microsoft’s EOL policy and dates.

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As the year draws to a close, we want to remind you of how important it is to stay diligent with your cybersecurity awareness training and security updates. This year, like years past, cybersecurity breaches have topped headline news and may have affected you personally. Let’s review some of the larger breaches and malware risks this year. These are security breaches that allowed someone or some group to access personal information, and they could even access some examples of how that information was used.

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Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS)

Criminal Justice Information Services, or CJIS, is a division of the FBI that provides criminal justice information needed to perform law enforcement duties. It “serve[s] as the focal point and central repository for criminal justice information services in the FBI.” – FBI. In Texas this information is disseminated via the DPS and includes details such as vehicle registration, criminal history, driver’s license, license plate, firearm, etc. Because this information is highly sensitive and needs to be protected, CJIS provides security compliance requirements and performs audits to ensure these requirements are being met. Below are just a few example requirements of the Security Policy…

  • Security Awareness Training
  • Perimeter Intrusion Detection
  • Advanced Authentication
  • Maintain Log History
  • Change Management
  • Device Encryption

Failing a single audit flags an agency as non-compliant. If compliance is not achieved, the agency can lose access to the information and tools needed to perform their duties.

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Cybersecurity starts first, and foremost, with people. Even with a secure perimeter, the people using the network can introduce risks to the environment. Teaching your employees what to look out for and where their responsibilities lie are the first steps to closing the security gaps and lessen the chances of your business falling victim to a vicious attack.

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Working remotely may seem rather quick and easy. You head on over to your local coffee shop, order your triple-shot, half-caff, no foam, extra hot latte and sit at your favorite table in the corner.  You double check to make sure no one is looking over your shoulder, pop open your laptop and get to work. Right? Well, it’s actually a little more complicated than that. Staying secure in a non-secure work place comes with some much needed extra steps to keep your company data away from prying eyes.

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Most of us look at that update notification from our devices and think, “I’ll do that later.” When we finally get around to it, there are multiple updates that have been sitting there for weeks. We continue with this behavior because nothing has happened to me yet. In order to change those behaviors, let’s begin to think of updates like you would your car insurance. If you waited to cover yourself, that fender-bender might have cost you a LOT more in the long run.

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Almost every day we hear of a new way hackers are stealing personal information from the public. They are creating so many new ways to exploit us that it’s almost impossible for the security vendors to keep up. This underlines the fact that the best way to try and remain malware free is, and probably always will be, to practice safe computing habits.

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How nice is it to come home to a well-lit house and the cool A/C on a hot summer day? Smart devices seem to be the easy fix for the little things in life with all of our busy schedules taking up so much of our time. While some of these devices are being put into place to help keep our homes secure, we might be inviting more danger in without even knowing it.

Recent studies have found that almost any Tom, Dick or Harry can hack a smart device within 30 minutes. All they need is access to the internet and the make and model of the device in question. “Using these devices in our lab, we were able to play loud music through a baby monitor, turn off a thermostat and turn on a camera remotely, much to the concern of our researchers who themselves use these products.” – Dr. Yossi Oren

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