4 Key Elements to Consider When Searching for an Enterprise Data Security Solution

SecuritySecurity rightfully remains a top concern for tech-side executives and IT personnel, especially given recent trends towards cloud computing and big data. While these applications have created new types of external threats, organizations also need to be aware of the risks posed by insiders. Well-designed data security plans anticipate both scenarios and deliver purpose-built solutions.

It’s normal to be wary when dealing with sales agents who are pushing specific security solutions, as they often have their own agendas. Knowing the right features to look for is the key to breaking past the sales jargon and securing a data protection solution that’s right for the unique needs of an organization.

With that in mind, here are some indispensable tips for finding an effective enterprise data security solution that delivers good value:

Beware of Rock-Bottom Up-Front Costs

Some vendors push security solutions with price tags that seem too good to be true, which they justify by claiming that the solution is relatively light on software needs, allegedly accounting for its low cost. Such offers should be received with skepticism.

When it comes to costs, it’s essential to look beyond the up-front expenditures and into cumulative fees. How much will it cost, in total, to run this security package for a year, or for its expected lifetime? Will it require additional human or IT resources? Does it offer savings potential? If so, how much?

Account for the Risks Posed by Privileged Insiders

No business wants to consider the possibility that many serious security risks originate with its own employees, but this is, unfortunately, the case. Privileged insiders can compromise data knowingly or unknowingly, so it’s essential to find a solution that introduces critical checks and balances.

The best way to keep an eye on the activities of privileged insiders is to implement a security system that tracks local access to critical data. Here are some specific features to look for:

  • The ability to identify attempts of unauthorized users to access local networks
  • Controls that facilitate the blocking of users or activities that may compromise data
  • Dynamic masking features that prevent sensitive information from being distributed outside the network
  • Quarantine capabilities that identify and isolate privileged insiders who knowingly compromise company information

Read the Fine Print

When it comes to license agreements, some vendors will insist that a particular package is unlimited when, in reality, the package carries restrictions. One common example is a security solution with an “unlimited” license that allows IT teams to monitor any number of sources but has strict caps on the number of authorized collectors.

To be sure an unlimited solution is truly what it claims to be, read the fine print and follow up by questioning the vendor about anything that doesn’t seem clear.
Remember: It Only Takes One Attack

Businesses with incomplete security solutions in place shouldn’t delay in taking action. It only takes one attack to create serious complications, and the possibility of suffering costly losses is elevated the longer a business goes without a comprehensive data protection plan.

The professionals at ROI Networks specialize in helping enterprises of all sizes safeguard their data. To learn more about ROI’s advanced suite of enterprise security solutions, please contact us today.

Hackers in Healthcare: Strong in 2017

HackersEvery year brings a fresh new set of security threats and tactics by hackers, and 2017 promises to be no different. Experts in the industry predict that healthcare organizations will continue to be a preferred target for breaches, identity theft, and cyberspying attempts.

Evolution

As cybervillains and hackers develop new strategies and shift between infiltration methods, organizations must also evolve in their security planning. Analytical data can be used to show anomalies and trends that will predict an impending incident. Constantly adding new hack profiles and defenses as well as adopting the most current protection methods reduces the likelihood of a hack’s success.

Desirable Assets

The reason that the healthcare industry is so attractive to cybercriminals is the immense amount of private data that is housed by providers and insurance companies. Consider the information that must be filled out for a simple doctor visit due to a cold. From employment information to social security and credit card numbers, addresses, and insurance policy numbers, data can be easily used for identity theft or medical fraud and spell financial disaster to victims. This data is incredibly valuable on the black market and has proven itself to be easily attainable.

Size Doesn’t Matter

Healthcare organizations large or small may be the target of hackers. Smaller, less tech-savvy providers may fall prey more easily to phishing and malware. Larger businesses could be slow to update their protection software and miss an infiltration attempt. Vendors with lackadaisical practices could cause gaps where systems connect.

Different Aim

While insurers were a common target over the past couple of years, it’s likely that hospital network breaches will increasingly be the objective for thieves in 2017. Given the myriad of old systems and rapid pace of a busy hospital, chances are good that a criminal can stumble upon one vulnerable entry point.

Other Predictions to Note

Some successful hack methods will persist, such as the use of ransomware where company assets are held hostage until a fee is paid to release the records. Effective training programs and internet filters may help reduce exposure to these programs, but the level of expertise displayed by hackers makes it extremely difficult to avoid all attempts.

Healthcare organizations will begin to feel the aftereffects of previous breaches in the form of old passwords and login credentials being used to attempt access across the industry. Government regulations will evolve to penalize hospitals for noncompliant security practices.

The coming year will be a test of defenses across the healthcare industry. Technical resources must be observant, tactical, and prepared for whatever inventive methods hackers will employ. Multi-factor authentication, thorough vendor vetting, and constant evolution of security standards are imperative in this new world of dark web crime. For more information on protecting your company network, contact ROI Networks today.

BYOD Options: The More, the Messier

BYODOrganizations are finding increasing value in allowing a wider array of devices to be used for company business. From improved worker satisfaction and productivity to reduced communications equipment costs, this simple perk makes a surprising difference. Before implementing a flexible bring your own device (BYOD) program, a number of key factors must be considered to protect company interests.

Security Provisions

One of the most concerning issues for organizations considering a BYOD program is the perceived lack of control over the device, especially as it relates to security. Any equipment capable of accessing company networks or data represents a point of risk of exposure. An important part of a successful device strategy is to dictate certain requirements for all devices involved.

For example, the policy may call for active anti-virus applications on any devices that will be used. Access to sensitive data may be configured so that a VPN tunnel must be used rather than straight access from a suspicious hotspot or public Wi-Fi. A PIN or password on the device could be another requirement. These types of tactics allow any device to be used with less risk of data loss or compromise.

Employee Training

In some cases, data breaches result from a lack of employee training. Without being educated on why public hotspots could be dangerous, a worker may not think twice about connecting to their work email from the coffee shop’s Wi-Fi. Teaching staff about phishing, rogue applications designed to collect payment and authorization information, and ways to physically protect devices from being lost or stolen increases their awareness. Giving them the tools to help protect the company and themselves minimizes the chance of a security incident from a BYOD connection.

Manageability

Another troublesome “control” issue within BYOD programs is how to terminate access if an employee leaves. Removing company data, applications, and connectivity may seem impossible. However, with today’s mobile device management tools this task becomes painless and efficient. Devices that are lost or stolen can be deactivated or wiped, access can be deleted, and sensitive information tightly secured.

Application Selection

Last but not least, choosing the right applications for use across the company is a necessary part of the BYOD conversation. For example, applications that are strictly on-premise or legacy are going to be out of reach for most, if not all, mobile devices. Ensure that cloud applications are secure and compatible with other company systems before choosing to implement them.

BYOD programs take significant burden off of IT personnel who would ordinarily be inundated with acquiring, provisioning, supporting, configuring, and deactivating devices. Workers get more done with hardware they’re most familiar with and enjoy the freedom to use their preferred devices. Flexible BYOD strategies can be quite effective with an appropriate measure of preparedness. For more information on creating effective mobile policies, contact ROI Networkstoday.

Cloud Convergence: Harnessing and Simplifying the Power of the Cloud

CloudWhether technology-focused or not, in today’s environment, all businesses have technical challenges to meet. Data is fundamental to evaluating markets, planning for growth, improving internal process efficiency, and dozens of other tasks across all areas of business. And with the great complexity of business data comes great complexity in data management. One way of meeting these challenges is to leverage converged data infrastructure in the cloud.

What is converged data infrastructure?

Converged infrastructure is a way of providing tested configurations of applications and services. With a converged system, technologies such as data storage, database queries, networking architecture, and other useful features are bundled together to address as many business needs as possible. This allows companies to outsource much of the costly setup and integration work, as well as allowing – in some cases – converged infrastructures to be replicated across providers.

Not all converged infrastructures, however, are provider-agnostic. Solutions from companies such as Amazon and Google may tie businesses in to their specific business model, and make it more difficult to replicate environments elsewhere. Whether or not this is desirable depends a great deal on what ancillary services a business needs to integrate, and how their disaster recovery plans are shaped.

What considerations go into selecting cloud infrastructure and converged data infrastructure?

Three major considerations should guide the cloud converged infrastructure decision: cost, management, and security.

  • Cost. Cloud services perform well against services managed in-house because they tend to cut down on up-front expenses, and they can also reduce the need for a company to have a dedicated team of IT professionals and managers. However, care needs to be taken with savings in the cloud: some cost-saving measures, such as shared hosting environments, come with tradeoffs in the form of security. And the cost advantage of outsourcing data expertise and management is only a wise investment if the service provider chosen has the expertise and availability to meet all of a company’s needs.
  • Management. Regardless of how experienced a service provider is, they can’t take on all facets of data management for a company. Companies need to research and make informed decisions about a number of aspects, such as what services are to be considered core, what converged stacks are under consideration, how important server location is, what namespace access (as well as replication and failover) is going to be, and how performance is going to be evaluated to determine whether the move to the cloud is a success. This may be a different skillset than a traditional IT manager may have, and businesses may need to invest in training to bring business sense and awareness to technical employees.
  • Security. Some converged data infrastructure providers have excellent physical security and data encryption, and those companies with strong security practices should be sought out and preferred. But businesses also need to consider what security policies they’ll put in place, such as requiring access to cloud data to use VPN connections, or requiring strong passwords and up-to-date anti-virus software on personal devices in a BYOD workplace. Data security also needs to be taken in to account in the form of disaster recovery: for example, can a converged infrastructure solution be replicated across providers, in the case of a provider-wide outage?

The Final Word

There is no one-size-fits-all solution to data management. Converged data solutions, however, do offer a degree of standardization and ease of access which can be extremely powerful for businesses.

ROI Networks simplifies the complex world of business collaboration and communication technologies. Contact us today to learn more.

What Are Your Technology Resolutions?

The telecom, IT, and cloud industries evolve quickly, and it can be difficult to keep up with the rapid pace of change. Evaluate your business’s technology needs now to start 2017 off on the right foot.
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The CMIO: A Profile of Security Leadership in the Healthcare Industry

december-blog-1For organizations working in the healthcare industry, security is — or should be — at or near the top of the priority list. Cyber criminals frequently target healthcare organizations because they have access to a great deal of highly valuable personal information. Public and private sector organizations that fail to implement safeguards are at risk of security breaches, and that, in turn, can lead to potentially irreversible losses in client confidence.

Thus, the role of the Chief Medical Information Officer (CMIO) has taken on added urgency in recent years, as the healthcare industry has made rapid moves towards connected technologies. The role of the CMIO is not well-understood by many lay people. For telecom agents, it’s worth taking the time to understand this role and the responsibility that comes with it in order to build packaged solutions that speak directly to the needs of healthcare organization leaders.

Healthcare Information Security: What a CMIO Does
In most organizations, the CMIO is a licensed physician with specialized training or practical experience in information management and/or technology. His or her core duties typically include:

  • Designing and choosing software technologies used by the organization
  • Ensuring organizational IT systems meet established standards
  • Analyzing and managing health data collected from patients or clients
  • Maintaining quality control standards
  • Improving operations through the judicious management and deployment of data
  • Conducting research using available data and analytics tools
  • Reporting to executives and taking a leadership role in strategic development
  • Training senior staff members in the proper use of IT resources, especially with regard to electronic health and medical records (EHRs/EMRs)

It is important to note that security is not typically part of the CMIO’s list of responsibilities. In some organizations, this can create gaps, as cyber security initiatives are left until the end of the business development cycle rather than being addressed at the outset.

Healthcare Information Security: How the CMIO Role Is Evolving
For a long time, it was standard practice for CMIOs to report to either the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) or directly to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO). However, a growing number of healthcare organizations are electing to have their CMIOs liaise with their Chief Information Officer (CIO). This reflects the changing nature of the CMIO’s responsibilities, as digital technology is playing an increasing role in healthcare data collection and applications.

As mentioned, security normally does not fall under the CMIO’s portfolio of responsibilities. However, the CMIO is increasingly being expected to partner with the healthcare Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) to build the most effective and robust safeguards possible.

The telecom professionals at ROI Networks offer advanced security solutions for the healthcare industry. To learn more about how ROI Networks can help both public and private sector organizations in the healthcare field improve their cyber security, contact a client services representative today.

The Ongoing Security Crisis in Healthcare

SecurityThe list of healthcare companies that have experienced a breach is growing at an alarming rate, with more continuing to be discovered. Despite the spotlight finally beginning to shine on healthcare security, news stories every week seem to report yet another incident. Here’s a look into why these breaches continue to occur, and what might be done to stop them.

Common Problems

A frequent cause of a breach or data theft is simple error. A patient file is accidentally left out in a public area, a worker steps away from an unsecured computer with patient data left on the screen, or a company laptop in plain sight is stolen from a worker’s vehicle. Applications may not be password protected, or the passwords used by doctors or admin assistants may fail complexity rules and be easily guessed for unbridled access to sensitive data.

Other points of vulnerability are vendor connections to the systems that house healthcare data. In both big box retail and healthcare, breaches have occurred when vendors are linked in but fail to properly protect their own systems or that connectivity.

Other causes are more complex or political. For example, healthcare workers are charged with filling out extensive amounts of paperwork for each patient interaction and test. While the intention is to provide better patient care through communication of all possible details, the result is overburdened nurses who are outnumbered by patients and forms.

Lastly, archaic software systems or components are not up to today’s security standards. Many hospitals do not use modern software due to the expense and effort of implementing changes to systems. This can leave doors open to cybercriminals seeking payment and identity data easily found in patient records.

Solutions

Unfortunately, many workers in the healthcare industry place the entire burden of security on their IT departments. While IT is responsible for ensuring that best practices for application and data protection are implemented, overall security is not a task that can be performed without support from all levels of the company. There must be a partnership between IT and the rest of the organization.

Here are a few easy ways to improve security in healthcare:

  • Security training – Basic principles for physical and technological protection should be covered in annual and new-hire training sessions. Topics should include password strength, ways to easily secure a system or device, and avoiding common hacking or phishing methods.
  • Streamlining processes – So much paperwork is required in patient care. Providing easy, intuitive methods of completing these responsibilities can cut down the time required. Analytics can then be produced from the data collected to further identify how processes for both administration and care may be improved.
  • Control risk – Fully assess vendors who will be connecting to systems, prohibit or limit non-company devices from storing or accessing patient data, and educate the workers who access the systems.

Medical data is incredibly valuable. From the records held by providers, a thief can potentially gain access to credit card information and extensive personal records that facilitate identity theft. Healthcare organizations must do more to protect patients from this growing area of crime. To continue the discussion on healthcare security, contact ROI Networks.

How the Ransomware Crisis Is Impacting Healthcare Data Security

August Blog # 4 (1)A recent string of high-profile cyberattacks is renewing fears of the increasingly coordinated and sophisticated attacks that can be used against healthcare organizations. According to a recent report from IBM’s worldwide security services operations, the healthcare industry broke back into the top five of the most frequently targeted industries in 2015.

A growing number of these attacks have come in the form of ransomware, where malware programs are unknowingly introduced through e-mails and e-mail attachments are used to hold critical data systems hostage.

Businesses Under Siege

Clinical information systems at hospitals, clinics, and treatment centers handle a wealth of personal and confidential data found in electronic health records (EHR), including Social Security numbers, credit card data, and medical history — making them prime targets for a variety of cyberattacks, including ransomware attacks.

One hospital had its clinical information systems shut down for over a week due to a ransomware attack. The cybercriminals behind it held these systems hostage for $3.6 million before settling on $17,000 paid in Bitcoins and restoring access to the hospital’s data. Another health system had its clinical information system shut down due to a virus-based hacking attack, complete with a digital ransom note. It took weeks for officials to restore access to its data.

New Threats, But Little Preparation

The drastic surge in cyber security threats has left healthcare IT leaders throughout the U.S. struggling to keep pace. Unfortunately, the healthcare industry has seemed ill-prepared to combat ransomware and other cyber security threats. Current challenges facing patient care organizations and the healthcare industry in general include:

  • Little to no awareness of the magnitude and intensity of the ransomware problem in U.S. healthcare
  • Minimal investment in data security when compared to other industries
  • Little to no data security strategic planning and an inability to execute strategic plans
  • Insufficient training, expertise, and preparedness among those tasked with data security
  • Insufficient staffing within information security departments
  • Reluctance among C-level executives and boards of directors to directly address ransomware and other cyber security threats

What Can Be Done

In an effort to protect themselves against cyberattacks, a growing number of patient care organizations in the U.S. are hiring chief information security officers (CISOs) to lead anti-cyberattack efforts. However, the effectiveness of the CISO relies on sufficient funding, support personnel, and support at the C-suite and board levels. A lack of buy-in and support from C-level executives and board members can stymie efforts to develop an effective force against ransomware and other cyberattacks.

In addition to guaranteeing funding, staffing, and top-level support, healthcare IT leaders should focus on developing a comprehensive strategic cyber security plan. Such plans should include common-sense security measures, including:

  • Daily backup of core information systems
  • Use of security operations centers (SOCs) and other external services
  • Implementation of role-based access systems
  • Enterprise-wide training of all IS end-users on a regular basis

These efforts to implement a successful data security/cyber security apparatus can help the healthcare sector overcome its vulnerability to ransomware and other malicious attacks.

If your company is dealing with its own cybersecurity issues, ROI Networks can help it move in the right direction. Contact us today for a no-obligation security session.

Healthcare Security Needs a Remedy

August Blog # 2 (1)Nearly every industry has seen a breach occur in the last decade, and healthcare is no exception. Sadly, the frequency of healthcare-related identity theft and fraud has increased exponentially in just the past few years. Security is a critical issue at this point — and one that does not yet have a clear solution.

 

Threats

The tricks used by cybercriminals to hack into retail and financial businesses are the same used to target healthcare companies. Theft of computer equipment, social engineering and phishing attempts to obtain login credentials, and virus and malware exposure are just a few of the ways that hackers gain access to healthcare data. Ransomware is the newest tool, where a piece of software shuts down access to the system or PC and demands a fee to unlock it again.

The methods may vary but the goal is the same: Obtain sensitive information that can be used for financial gain. Social security numbers and private health information are easily used in identity theft attempts to acquire loans, credit cards, or other assets in the name of the patient. The victims suffer severely from this crime, and it can take months or years to recover from the financial devastation.

Lack of Focus

Security has not been enough of a topic of discussion in healthcare to date. Well known organizations that recognize healthcare providers and facilities for excellence do not extend that to healthcare security companies at this time. Great importance is placed on stability and uptime rather than on locking down data and reducing risk exposure.

The Industry Problem

Managed service providers that specialize in security encounter major complexity when trying to extend their offerings to the healthcare realm. Many of the systems involved in healthcare are antiquated legacy systems that should have expired long ago, yet are still up and running due to the cost of updating the technology.

In addition, so many layers exist that securing every end point is a serious effort:

  • Payers – Insurance companies, Medicare, etc.
  • Providers – Doctors, hospitals, surgeons
  • Billing service providers – All healthcare services are billed to an individual or an insurance company/government entity for payment
  • Software – EHR systems, supply chain software, patient registration systems, and more
  • Personnel – Not all computer users are experienced or properly trained on how to handle security issues

While diagnosis and treatment tools have leapt light years in the past decade, the applications used for patient management have not followed this trend. Many practices are resistant to change, and as a result will use unsecured applications or fail to prevent less technical breach attempts.

Immediate Solutions

IT departments must work hard to educate ALL personnel about privacy laws and the methods that criminals use to gain intel. Employees should be granted only the minimum level of system access needed for their job responsibilities. Network access points must be secure. Typical best practices for remote access, encryption, and storage should be followed.

Healthcare security is a problem that is growing quickly, and treatment is desperately needed. For more discussion on securing patient data in smart, effective ways, contact ROI Networks today.

VoIP Security: The Layered Approach

ROI June blog 4Security is a top concern for Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) users, and given the rapid rate of change in the technology industry, it’s essential to constantly revisit and update best practices. One strategy that has proven to be effective is the “layered” approach to VoIP security, in which systems are safeguarded at multiple levels.

In this approach, VoIP security is structured much like an onion. Each security layer functions like a “ring,” and a combination of approaches are used to significantly reduce security hazards.

Elements of Layered VoIP Security 

Most layered approaches to VoIP security incorporate multiple types of protection, including firewalls, data encryption, and user authentication. These are supplemented with physical and virtual tools, including:

  • The separation of virtual local area networks (VLANs)
  • Traffic analysis and real-time monitoring tools
  • Physical security built into the system’s infrastructure

These safeguards are implemented across three primary security layers, spanning networks, transport, and applications.

Network Layer Security

The outermost layer in the “onion” model is the network layer, where inbound and outbound traffic travels. Attacks that target the network layer can result in significant quality of service losses, or even outright denials of service.

At the network level, VLANs and firewalls are effective at preventing cyber attacks. Keeping firewall protections enabled at all times and regularly installing system updates are the keys to protecting the network layer.

Transport Layer Security 

Most VoIP models use a technique known as Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) trunking to relay incoming voice data to specific end users via the transport layer. If the transport layer is attacked, the number of available user connections may be significantly decreased, or denial of service can result.

Data encryption and traffic monitoring both protect the transport layer. Encryption shields the incoming and outgoing voice packets that are carried across the transport layer, and traffic analysis can quickly detect unauthorized or malignant activity and alert the IT team to the problem.

Application Layer Security 

All VoIP services are supported by software that requires its own unique set of protections. This innermost layer of security can prevent problems like:

  • Unauthorized calls
  • Call interruption and interception
  • Eavesdropping
  • Quality of service losses

User authentication is essential when it comes to protecting the application layer, and like the transport layer, it can also be safeguarded through traffic analysis monitoring. Require users to create strong alphanumeric passwords and to regularly change their passwords to help keep intruders at bay.

To learn more about VoIP security or to arrange a no-obligation consultation, contact the telecommunications professionals at ROI Networks.