When Ontech Systems meets with Milwaukee area businesses, topics of conversation typically revolve around subjects like managed services, cyber security, or cloud services.

But lurking “under the hood” of your business IT network are a number of overlooked aspects that, if ignored, could cause major problems later on. Take a moment to review these 7 areas of your network that might otherwise get lost in the shuffle.

1) Internet of Things (IoT) Devices

The IoT device market is predicted to surpass $1.3 trillion by 2026. To say this market is growing by leaps and bounds is an understatement. IoT devices consist of anything from an Alexa device, to your HVAC system, or even a printer.

Just imagine – if your printer was compromised, a hacker could gain access to everything that is printed or scanned in your office!

Compromised devices can be used to access confidential data. Add to that the lack of compliance on behalf of manufacturers and you have a quick, easy – and frequently overlooked way for your network to be compromised.

How can you combat this risk? Whenever possible, install the latest patches, enable multi-factor authentication on your device, and use strong passwords. Many IoT devices come with a default password that most businesses don’t change – which means the attacker may already know the password to your device!

Industrial espionage and eavesdropping is also a factor, particularly in healthcare. A hacker could gain access to something as simple as a smart TV to capture and exploit patient data.

2) Denial of Service (DoS) Attacks

Attackers can execute DoS attacks through IoT devices by repeatedly directing these “zombie computers” (i.e. devices they hack into and gain control of) to crash your website or network.

This type of attack is meant to shut down a server, machine, or network – rendering it inaccessible to users. The way attackers typically accomplish this is by creating a botnet and flooding a target with traffic until it crashes. A botnet gives hackers access to control thousands of devices at once.

And if they don’t want to put in the work to create their own botnet, cyber criminals can even rent a botnet for as little as $10 per hour on the dark web.

A layered security approach is one of the best defenses against DoS attacks, particularly when integrated with a managed service solution that can detect unusual activity and take appropriate actions to mitigate the security risk.

Could your network use a fresh pair of eyes? As your trusted Menomonee Falls IT support partner, we encourage you to Request a Network Discovery. This complementary on-site evaluation is a great way to understand the strengths and weaknesses of your IT infrastructure.

3) Severe Weather

Unexpected power outages can render cloud based systems unreliable. Installing a generator can be useful, but managed services could prove to be next-level helpful. In the event of a power outage, managed IT services could be configured to email employees, directing them to avoid the commute and work from home until the power comes back on.

Battery backups can be extremely useful as well. A type of backup known as APC Back-UPS (uninterrupted power supply) allows you to gracefully shut down your equipment, closing applications gradually when the system knows it is losing power. While it doesn’t last forever, this type of backup is an electrical apparatus that provides emergency power and can protect against power surges if sized properly.

4) Email security

Introduced in 2012, an overlooked aspect of email security is DMARC and DKIM. Essentially what this does, is block spoof emails that are trying to look like you by authenticating and making sure the SPF and DKIM records match. While it doesn’t block all spam, this is a free solution that can help you guard against phishing and fraud.

While Office 365 does have a built in spam filter, Ontech Systems recommends investing an extra nominal amount for the upgraded spam filter and Office 365 Risk Watch. While there is no spam filter that is going to stop 100% of spam, Security Awareness Training can fill in the gaps by testing users and educating them on how to avoid phishing emails.

Email archiving is additionally an aspect of email security that is overlooked until it is needed. By default, Microsoft maintains your email storage for 30 days, but if you delete an email after that time, it’s lost forever. Regardless of whether your business uses GSuite or Office 365, take a moment to consider the retention policies of your email provider and determine if you need greater storage retention.

5) Physical Security and Obstructions

Simple solutions are often the most underutilized, particularly in the IT field. Something as simple as locking your server room door can prevent internal sabotage or an unintentional error from taking place.

Consider the proximity of IT equipment in your workplace. In a manufacturing facility, it’s common for cables and switches to be placed in a warehouse which could easily be bumped or unplugged by an unknowing employee passing by. Equipment should ideally be placed in an enclosure to keep equipment filtered from dust particles. If neglected, equipment that would otherwise have a 4-5 year shelf life might be rendered useless after just 1 year without proper enclosure.

Wireless interference should also be a consideration in industries like manufacturing and healthcare. X-rays and laser cutters for example, put out a frequency that can kill a wireless signal. There are many other types of equipment such as steel racks, concrete walls, or welding machines that can interfere with the frequency of your wireless network. If you’re having connectivity issues, start by evaluating your physical environment.

6) New and Outgoing Employee Checklists

While it requires a bit of planning, taking the time to create a new and outgoing employee checklist is worth every bit of effort. At Ontech Systems, we provide our customers with a handy checklist that covers various aspects of employee transitions such as:

  • Should former employees’ emails be forwarded – and where?
  • What type of access should a new employee receive?
  • What type of access needs to be restricted after an employee exits the company?

A best practice and cost effective approach is to define access levels for different types of job roles. From engineering, to a c-level executive, employees should be restricted to only the data they need to perform their job.

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7) Annual Data Backup and Disaster Recovery Testing

Ontech Systems recommends testing your backup and disaster recovery plan once a year to ensure everything is working as intended. A thorough test would consist of putting employees at different locations, (office, coffee shop, home), to test the performance of a server and confirm how many people can access it at once without any delay or access issues.

Whether you are in need of a general network security assessment or you’re thinking about transitioning away from your existing IT provider, contact Ontech’s support team at 262-522-8560 or reach us online.

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