Do you know what the dark web is and how it could out your small business at risk? If the answer is no to either or both questions, please read on. You may be familiar with the ‘dark web’ as a place online somewhere where illegal or dangerous activities take place. This is correct but there is much more to the dark- or ‘deep web’ than you may think.
Especially if you are a small business owner. Part of the “Deep Web”, the Dark Web is, where illegal activity takes place (Drug deals, hacking, counterfeit money, etc.) The dark web term emerged with the advent of the internet search engine over 20 years ago.
The information contained on this ‘hidden’ part of the internet would shock most people. However, small business owners should be very aware of the pitfalls of not having correct security measures in their IT setup in place.
Characteristics of the Dark Web:
- Information that is INTENTIONALLY hidden from search engines is qualified to be in the Dark Web
- Most websites are on the .Onion domain and only accessible through a Tor browser
- The information found on the Dark Web is technically public information…just not found by the general public (visiting the Dark Web is NOT Recommended!)
- It is mostly community based…web sites go up/down/up again overnight and this is where financial details are sold- credit card info, identity information, child pornography and illegal drugs
How can hackers target small businesses and why they at risk:
They can do this by gaining access to sensitive data of a target’s IT network in a manner of ways. George Torsten has summarised it well in Secuity Week in 2018, see here for full article. ”The easiest way for a cyber-attacker to gain access to sensitive data is by compromising an end user’s identity and credentials.
Things get even worse if a stolen identity belongs to a privileged user, who has even broader access, and therefore provides the intruder with “the keys to the kingdom”. …it’s not surprising that most of today’s cyber-attacks are front-ended by credential harvesting campaigns. Common methods for harvesting credentials include the use of password sniffers, phishing campaigns, or malware attacks.”
Why should small business owners be concerned about hacking and dark web criminals:
We know that small businesses are at great risk from hackers. These criminals sell their information on the dark web. According to the Federal Trade Commission in the US. In 2017, the Federation found that, data stolen from businesses ends up on the dark web. Then these criminals buy and sell it to commit fraud, get fake identity documents, or fund their criminal organizations.”
We can say that this is not good news for small business. This is why we need to make sure we are careful in our security measures. We can help in this regard as IT Security experts.
Information available for sale on the dark web is up to 20 times more likely to come from an entity whose breach wasn’t reported in the media. Many of these are smaller retailers, restaurant chains, medical practices, school districts, etc. In fact, most of the breaches the U.S. Secret Service investigates involve small businesses.
This is also becoming more common in Ireland where we have seen high profile data breaches. Even in organisations such as the HSE, a Government Department and many small businesses. A very worrying trend overall for every small business and organization who have less resources than larger, richer ones.
What we can do at Cinnte to help you:
We have posted recently about the importance of cyber security for small businesses. We want to help educate businesses like ourselves, about how they can keep employees and clients’ information secure online. You can subscribe to our blog for updates on all areas of IT and keeping your business secure, productive and free of disaster.
You can start by signing up for our free dark web scan by emailing us at email@example.com before June 15th. We will perform this for free for small businesses and give you a detailed report afterwards. We can advise on measures to help protect and prevent your credentials being hacked or stolen by cyber criminals.
How well do you know your IT provider and what they are doing in the background to protect and ensure your IT runs smoothly:
Do you know if your IT support provider is keeping your information and your business safe? We at Cinnte Technologies have come up with a 5-point checklist to help you figure this out.
You know that in 2019, any small business needs secure, fast and reliable IT support and IT services to function and to be successful. Because over and over again we are shocked when one of our Engineers does an audit.
Common Problems we see in IT networks that we audit:
In 98% of the computer networks we review, we are finding a number of problems. These include faulty or non-existent backups, poor security, shoddy reporting and flawed systems that are very costly to maintain. These IT systems are usually not aligning with the business operations. We have written before about why we do it better than most other companies, read this piece here
The 5 top questions you must ask your IT support provider:
We believe that there a few basic important questions you need to ask your IT provider and yourself.
- Do they answer their phones “live” and respond to support issues in a guaranteed time frame?
- Are they remotely monitoring your network 24-7-365 to keep
critical security settings, virus definitions, and security patches up
- Do they INSIST on monitoring an offsite as well as an onsite
backup, or are they letting you rely on outdated tape backups?
- Do they consistently offer new ways to improve
your network’s performance, or do they wait until you have a
- Do they provide detailed invoices that clearly explain what you are
These are just five critical questions you need to ask your IT provider. We have came up with a full, detailed list of 16 that you should put to them and you can download this here-
Why regular IT Audits and IT Network checks with an IT provider are important:
We know that you’re busy running your business, so forget to think about the security of your IT network until disaster strikes. What else in your business is more valuable than the data on your network? Just imagine how devastating it would be to lose it! That’s why a regular network check or IT Audit is so important. You can sign up to this for free with us here
We’ll conduct a comprehensive review of your network’s security settings to make sure your data is safe and secure!
Your Business and Cyber Awareness
Have you questioned how your business is applying cyber awareness on a practical level? Microsoft will introduce cyber changes to Windows 7 this year. This is important as most SMEs are using a Microsoft system.
The tech giant will end support in July this year if users don’t install new security upgrades by April 2019. In this regard, cyber awareness has never been more important for small business owners in Cavan and Meath.
Having the correct IT support services in place is critical to being ready for any cyber changes that emerge in future.
What do I need to know about Windows 7 and Windows 10 cyber changes:
Support for Windows 7 operating systems will be ending from January 2020 according to Microsoft’s official website.We aim to educate small business owners about what they need to be aware when it comes to cyber activity. You should check with your IT provider what they’re doing to ensure any Windows 7 changes for you run smoothly.
We are among the IT support providers in Cavan and Meath that are preparing businesses to move to Windows 10. We also want to help small businesses to install Windows 7 updates to help their business run efficiently.
What exactly are these cyber updates
The changes coming in March signal a cyber security upgrade for Windows 7.
Currently, OS updates are double-signed using both SHA-1 and SHA-2 algorithms as the first algorithm has some weaknesses. In layman’s terms, Microsoft are making a better, more responsive and faster system for users, business and non-business.
Microsoft plans to discontinue it over time and move to the second algorithm, SHA-2 after 2020. Microsoft clients still using a 2008 server need to upgrade their systems and improve their IT and as a result, their overall business performance.
Target date for Windows cyber security updates:
We advise small businesses who have IT providers to make sure you don’t miss the different individual security updates taking place in April. Microsoft has said that it expects March 12th to be the date for the release of SHA-2 Code on Windows 7.
Everything should happen automatically, if you ensure these updates are enabled to take place in April and July.
What happens if you wish to continue using Windows 7 after January 2020 when support is officially being stopped by Microsoft:
It is going to cost you. A lot more than you would pay to use Windows 10. Updates from Microsoft to ensure that Windows 7 operated devices run effectively will be available for a time, but it will be more expensive that upgrading to Windows 10. The cost will also rise over years. So, for support for Windows Enterprise users using Windows 7 from January 2019-January 2021 will cost around €25 per device.
Should you consider an IT switch from Windows 7 to Windows 10:
It is worth considering a switch to Windows 10 for this reasons of cyber cost saving and effectiveness. The best laptops this year only operate a Windows 10 system as well. So if you want to use the best hardware on the market, we recommend that you consider using Windows 10 .
We will be posting in the near future on Windows 10 and how to upgrade to it. We will explain the benefits of upgrading and being more cyber aware and how it can help grow your business. Follow our updates for more updates on Windows 7 and other cyber changes your business should know about.
We will try to educate small business owners on any cyber changes such as Windows and help them move to more efficient systems like Windows 10 in future. If you are thinking of upgrading you systems to Windows 10, we can help you.
We offer network audits and can assess your IT hardware and software in 2 hours.
Our Engineers can assess in person and tell you the strengths and weaknesses of your current systems. Sign up and claim your limited free network audit for your small business in Cavan, Meath and surrounding counties.