TPM by United Systems – Social Engineering

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We’ve all heard of cyber threats such as phishing and malware. While we all may be familiar with these terms and be educated on how to avoid or protect ourselves and our organizations from these types of attacks, these threats are only a small part of a much larger scheme called social engineering.

Over the last few weeks, the team at TPM by United Systems has been discussing social engineering, how cybercriminals use social engineering, and ways to protect yourself and your organization!

Breaking Down Social Engineering

Most people have heard terms like phishing and malware. But did you know those are only part of a larger scheme called social engineering? This cyberthreat is not a new kind of fraud. It has been used for many years to manipulate a wide range of people into giving up important data about themselves or their workplace. A prime example of social engineering goes back to Greek mythology with the Trojan horse. They infiltrated the city of Troy with a “peace offering” filled with soldiers, thus winning the war. With technology at the forefront of our lives, social engineering has entered a new era. Physical human interaction is not necessarily required anymore. These criminals gain information through emails, pop-ups, and public Wi-Fi networks, to name a few. The main objective is to influence, manipulate or trick users into giving up privileged information or access within an organization. They are doing this right under your nose, and if you’re not paying attention, you might be a victim as well.  

TPM BY United Systems – 8 Biggest Security Threats to Small Businesses

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We still see the same scene in horror movies: the main character runs into the house, slams the door, locks the deadbolt, and sighs in relief — but the killer still sneaks up and attacks them from behind!  

If you own a small business, you might find yourself in a similar situation. Sometimes small business owners spend large amounts of time and resources physically protecting their operations just to let the most dangerous threats sneak in through the figurative back door. 

In a recent blog, TPM by United Systems discusses the 8 biggest security threats that small businesses face. Use the link below to read more!

Reach out to the TPM By United Systems team today and learn how we can help protect you from these threats!

TPM BY United Systems: Data Breach- Are You on a Hackers Watchlist?

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Over the last few weeks, the TPM by United Systems team has been discussing threats to businesses such as hackers and phishing and what businesses can do to protect themselves.

In a recent blog, the team discusses how businesses may be making themselves targets for hackers.

Whether it’s outdated devices, outdated software, human error, or malware, things may be in play that are making your business an easy target for hackers with malicious intent.

In order to protect your business, it is imperative that you are aware of the threats that exist, ways in which you may be exposing your business, and partner with a knowledgeable team to help ensure that your organization stays protected.

Read more about ways in which you could be making your business an easy target for hackers!

TPM by United Systems: Fixing Your Weakest Link

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Over the last few weeks, the TPM by United System team has been educating users on what phishing is, spotting a phishing attack, and ultimately, how to ensure your organization is protected against these kinds of attacks.

Their most recent blog discusses how your organization’s employees could be your weakest link unbeknownst to you and them!

Two things aren’t going away in business: employees and security threats. So make sure that you’ve taken care of everything you can to avoid falling victim to these attacks!

You can have every piece of security hardware available: firewall, backup disaster recovery device, and even anti-virus. However, your employees will be the biggest vulnerability in your organization when it comes to phishing attacks. Is it possible to mitigate the risk?

Ask yourself these questions: Do your employees know how to protect your network and all the data within it? Can they spot a malicious email or link before clicking on it? Do your staff members know how to secure your digital information from social exploits by sophisticated hackers? Are you using an outdated operating system that is no longer supported?

In this blog, the TPM by United Systems team offers you some tips on password creation, training your employees, and how to spot a malicious email. These are key factors to the security of your database. One breach, one crack in your security, and you may fall victim to stolen data, ransomware, and the possibility of closing your doors.

TPM by United Systems: AI – What It Is and Isn’t

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AI has been rapidly evolving in recent years with the IT industry placing demand on this innovative technology solution. It began life with humble origins compared to the immense potential that modern AI software can offer for business networks. In their most recent blog, TPM by United Systems looks at what AI is, how it originated and developed, and how your business can take advantage of this tool. 

A Brief Look at AI for Business Networks – What It Is (And Isn’t) 

It’s important that we know what AI actually is. Indeed, many businesses don’t entirely understand how AI can be beneficial for their tech problems and solutions.  

Let’s define what AI is and what it isn’t. When someone mentions the term “Artificial Intelligence,” you probably think of  automatic computers or machines, like robots. This belief was widely popularized by Alan Turing’s statement claiming that “one will be able to speak of machines thinking without expecting to be contradicted.” However, artificial intelligence IT solutions are actually a bit more complicated than this; the modern realm of AI certainly isn’t capable of self-awareness just yet, but it is still capable of offering a huge amount of potential for businesses. 

So, AI isn’t just an android; rather, it’s a program that is capable of completing tasks to a similar standard as a human or better.  AI systems can be categorized as: Narrow, General, or Super-Intelligent.  Narrow and general AI systems are already available for business networks to implement as an IT solution. These systems serve to do a small number of specialized tasks. Super intelligent AI is still in development though, and will likely not exist for a long period of time. 

TPM by United Systems: Cloud Workforce Security

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When it comes to working remotely, making use of the most up-to-date and high-quality cloud infrastructure and cloud computing services is very important. Cloud computing offers a number of options for business profitability, and a huge improvement for the ability to work remotely. However, you must have the right cybersecurity protocols and software in place to keep your network secure from hackers.

In their most recent blog, the TPM by United Systems team discusses cloud security measures you should know!

TPM BY United Systems: Computing In The Cloud

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Keeping your business network safe and secure is essential. Virtual offices and cloud services can be smart ways to keep your data safe. However, many people do not understand the benefits that investing in virtual offices can have. Today we will be looking at what confidential computing is and how investing in the right computing strategies – with help from your managed service provider – can help your business network achieve safe cybersecurity thanks to cloud solutions.

WHY CONFIDENTIAL COMPUTING IS SO IMPORTANT

When it comes to protecting your business network from hackers, you must have the right cybersecurity software in place. Information technology is an integral part of our lives these days. Still, a few businesses operate without some influence from IT service providers. That can put them at risk of getting hacked.

Confidential computing helps to prevent this from happening. In turn, this can help your business protect your, and your customer’s valuable data. Currently, more and more people are turning to managed IT services and cloud infrastructure and their solutions. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of migrating to the cloud

Check out the full blog from the TPM by United Systems team to learn the benefits of cloud infrastructure!

Florida Water Treatment Plant Hacked

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Over the last several years, we’ve seen utilities increasingly become a target for cybercrime. On Friday, February 5th, an unidentified assailant remotely accessed a computer that is a part of the SCADA system at the City of Oldsmar’s water treatment plant. In an attempt to poison the city’s water supply, the assailant briefly increased the amount of sodium hydroxide by a factor of more than 100. Thankfully, a supervisor noticed this increase and immediately reversed it, causing no harm to the water supply.

While beneficial to utilities, SCADA systems open the operation up to many cyber threats when the proper protocols and security are not in place. In 2019, we wrote the following article for the Tennessee Association of Utility District’s publication, Tennessee Utility News, outlining benefits, threats, and best practices for protecting SCADA systems.

Have questions?   Need help securing your system?

That’s what we’re here for! Reach out, and we’ll be happy to help!

Making Data Work for You:

SCADA for Utilities

Throughout the utility sector, SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) systems are becoming more and more prevalent. SCADA systems are a type of industrial control system that enables utilities to easily collect useful data, monitor operations, and automate many processes. For the utility industry, SCADA systems can have many different applications. SCADA systems can give operators and administrators instant access to information that was previously unavailable or difficult to obtain. SCADA systems can be used to monitor and control pump stations, monitor water in tanks and reservoirs, perform remote shut-offs and turn-ons, collect data for regulatory and financial reporting, among many other useful applications. These networks are not a one size fits all solution, however. They may be small or complex, only address one small portion of operations or encompass them all.  SCADA systems are becoming essential to water and wastewater system operations, monitoring, maintenance, and planning.

The heart of SCADA is the data it generates.

SCADA systems are typically made up of field equipment, data collection equipment, communication networks, and software.  Field equipment such as sensors or relays allow the utility to monitor and automate their system through the creation or consumption of data. This data is communicated via fixed or wireless communication networks through the use of Remote Telemetry Units (RTUs) or Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs) that are connected to the sensors or relays in the field. In most cases, these RTUs or PLCs perform real-time, continuous data collection, giving the utility easy access to data that enables operators to create and maintain a high level of control.

We’ve established that SCADA systems communicate data, but where is this data going? How is it being turned into action? The final piece of any SCADA system is a host platform. The host platform is comprised of hardware such as servers or a cloud solution as well as software. It is here where the actual benefit of a SCADA system comes to fruition. It is here where data is received, integrated, analyzed, and turned into actionable items. The large amounts of data that are generated by SCADA systems can be onerous and overwhelming. Having software and solutions that ensure that this data is processed properly, organized, and stored is essential to the performance of the SCADA system.

Protecting SCADA data and connected systems.

Just as SCADA continues to increase in popularity, so does the threat posed by outside sources. Over the years, we’ve heard mention of the threat posed by terrorists, hackers, and less than satisfied customers and employees. How do you protect your system from these outside threats and ensure that you avoid any loss of service?

The threat of cyber-attacks and cyber warfare is growing each day, and we see every day that utilities are not taking the necessary steps to protect their network. This topic is one that is constantly being discussed, but many times, no changes are being implemented. The two most common reasons are that many utilities do not grasp the reality that it could happen to them or the cost seems prohibitive to protect and monitor their system.

Threats to SCADA systems include but are not limited to:

Employee Error: Employees are a common cause of network security issues. While it is possible to suffer the wrath of a disgruntled employee, most commonly, network security issues caused by employees are unintentional and can many times be attributed to poor training, carelessness, or a combination of both. With proper training for employees and an active culture of vigilance, you can help your organization reduce issues caused by employee error.

Malware: Malware includes viruses, spyware, and an array of other malicious programs. These programs may not necessarily target SCADA, but because the SCADA network is not separated or protected, they are able to traverse over the entire network, thusly affecting the SCADA system.

Hackers: Intentional, malicious individuals or groups that are intent on gaining access to the network. These hackers could also use this data against you. By manipulating data or gaining complete control of your SCADA systems, serious harm can be caused to services, customers, and the entire operation.

"Using a combination of security policies and controls to adequately secure today’s systems is critical to your organization’s operation"

So what can you do:

The first step utilities need to take is documentation of your network connections to the internet. Any and all internal networks must be properly documented. All hardware, software, firmware, and applications need to be part of that documentation. All users, including outside vendors that have access to these systems, should also be documented. It is vital that utilities create and maintain accurate and thorough documentation of all connections to, pieces of, and access to their network.

In most cases, SCADA systems lack adequate monitoring and detection systems, making them vulnerable to attacks from external and internal sources. Setting up monitoring and detection controls is the next step in protecting your SCADA system. There are many different types of monitoring and detection software on the market. Selecting the software that is best for your particular operation can be a difficult task. We suggest that you work closely with network professionals to evaluate your specific network needs.

Once you have documented and set up adequate monitoring and detection systems, you can then begin to segment the network. Segmenting the network should be used to separate other business systems that are running on the same network as the SCADA system. Due to the fact that attacks are increasingly exploiting both physical and cyber vulnerabilities, it is important to align physical security and cybersecurity processes. Application whitelisting, firewalls, and gateways are all ways to build a defensive perimeter around your SCADA systems.

Security is also something that is in continual motion. Rules, security checks, report monitoring, and standardized processes must be instituted and utilized by everyone who has access to the SCADA system and all other connected networks. Regular evaluations must also be performed for vulnerability, risk, and all assets in general.  These assessments should be conducted on a regular basis to verify that security measures are adapting to the changing threats on the IT landscape.

Using a combination of security policies and controls to adequately secure today’s systems is critical to your organization’s operation. Understanding common weaknesses, creating and implementing an action plan to bring security to an acceptable level, and employing standardized processes will minimize the risk posed by an increasingly hostile Internet environment.