Smart Home Breaches: How to Prevent Them and What to Do If They Happen

It’s no secret that smart homes are becoming more and more popular. For many, a smart home helps make life a little easier and even feel more luxurious, whether it’s a Google Home being used as a speaker to stream your favorite songs across the house, a Ring doorbell keeping track of who’s on your doorstep, or an Amazon Alexa automating tasks around your home. Consumers have access to a growing range of IoT appliances, including smart refrigerators, lightbulbs, coffee makers, and even washing machines, proving that there is something for everyone in the smart home device realm.

While this technology offers many benefits, it also comes with a risk: cybersecurity threats. Because the smart device market is expanding quickly, it has become a fast-growing target for hackers. In the first half of 2021 alone, there were more than 1.5 billion attacks on smart devices, with attackers generally looking to steal data or use compromised devices for future breaches and cryptocurrency mining. If proper precautions aren’t taken, your smart home devices can be vulnerable to data breaches too.

In this blog post, we will discuss what smart home breaches are, what to do if your device is compromised, how businesses can be affected, and how to prevent these breaches.


What is a Smart Home?

A smart home is a home that uses internet-connected devices to automate tasks like lighting, security, temperature control, and more. These devices are often controlled by a mobile app or voice assistant such as Amazon Alexa or Google Home. While smart homes offer many conveniences, they also create new opportunities for cybercriminals to creep into your home.


smart home breach

What is a Smart Home Breach?

A smart home breach is when an unauthorized user gains access to your smart home devices or network. This can happen in a number of ways; here are a few of them.


Unsecured Wi-Fi networks and Bluetooth connections

Unsecured Wi-Fi networks and Bluetooth connections leave your home vulnerable to attack. If a hacker gains access to your smart home, they can steal your personal data, spy on you, or even control your devices remotely.

By exploiting vulnerabilities in smart home devices, hackers can gain access to your network and steal your data. This type of attack is especially concerning because it can happen without the homeowner ever knowing that their security has been compromised


Malicious Apps

These breaches can often occur through malicious apps. There are many smart devices that can be controlled by mobile apps. However, there are also many malicious apps that masquerade as legitimate smart home apps. These malicious apps can give attackers access to your smart home devices and data.


Phishing Attacks

Attackers will send you an email or text message that appears to be from a legitimate company, such as your smart home manufacturer or service provider. The message will likely contain a link that takes you to a fake website where you are prompted to enter your personal information, such as your username and password. Once the attacker has this information, they can gain access to your smart home devices and data.


What Should You Do if a Smart Home Breach Occurs?

Change Passwords

Change the passwords for all of your online accounts, especially any that are linked to your smart home devices. This includes your email, social media, and any other accounts that might be connected to your smart home in some way. It’s also a good idea to keep an eye on your credit report and bank statements for any suspicious activity.If you notice anything out of the ordinary, be sure to report it to the proper authorities.


Factory Reset Your Devices

 If you’re really worried about someone gaining access to your smart home devices, you can always factory reset them and start from scratch. While this may be a hassle in the short-term, it’s worth it if it means protecting your data and keeping your family safe.


Report the Incident

Reach out to your smart home’s customer support line and let them know what happened. They may be able to help you troubleshoot the issue and prevent it from happening again in the future. They may also have additional steps for you to take or may be able to help you remotely disable any malicious functionality that has been added to your devices.


How to Prevent Smart Home Breaches?

Reach out to your smart home’s customer support line and let them know what happened. They may be able to help you troubleshoot the issue and prevent it from happening again in the future. They may also have additional steps for you to take or may be able to help you remotely disable any malicious functionality that has been added to your devices.


Create Strong Passwords for Your Smart Devices

Setting a strong password for your smart device and your network can help keep your data safe and secure.


Use a Private Wi-Fi Network to Connect to Your Smart Home

You should also avoid using public Wi-Fi networks to connect to your smart home as these are often unsecure. Public wifi networks are often unencrypted, which means that anyone can listen in on the data being sent back and forth. This includes passwords, credit card information, and more. Ideally, you would use a private Wi-Fi network with a strong password. If you must use public Wi-Fi, make sure to use a VPN (virtual private network) to encrypt your data.


Update Your Device’s Software Regularly

To help combat breaches, it’s important to keep your smart devices’ software up-to-date. Manufacturers often release updates that patch security vulnerabilities, so by keeping your software updated, you’re helping to protect yourself from potential breaches and closing any potential security holes that could be exploited by malicious actors.


How Can Smart Home Breaches Affect My Business?

If you’re a business owner, it’s important to be aware that smart home breaches can affect you as well. For example, if an employee’s smart home is breached, the attacker could gain access to sensitive company data. To prevent this from happening, businesses should have strict cybersecurity policies in place, and employees should be trained on how to keep their smart devices secure.

If your business uses smart devices around the office, it’s important to take the right precautions to avoid a smart device breach. Make sure that all smart devices are password-protected and that only authorized employees have access to them. You should also have a cybersecurity plan in place in case of a breach. This plan should include steps for how to identify and fix the issue, as well as how to prevent future breaches from happening. You should also prioritize educating your employees on smart device security and best practices, as well as how to respond if a breach does occur.


How a Managed IT Service Provider Can Help

If you’re not sure where to start, a managed IT service provider can help you create and implement a cybersecurity plan. They can also provide guidance on smart device security and help you troubleshoot any issues that arise.

Contact us today to learn more about how we can help keep your business and home safe from breaches.

The Savvy Business Owner’s Guide to Cybersecurity Consulting

Everything you need to know about Cybersecurity Consulting Services

In today’s world, cybersecurity has become incredibly important. News of major ransomware attacks and other kinds of hacking has revealed how vulnerable many businesses and even government networks really are. All it takes is one piece of code getting where it shouldn’t, and all of your business’s digital data and records are at risk. That’s where cybersecurity consulting comes in.

Cybersecurity consultants help businesses beat the threat of hacking long before a hacker tries to breach your security. We’ll cover everything you need to know about cybersecurity consulting, from what consultants do to when your business needs one. We’ll also cover the benefits of qualified outside cybersecurity consulting, so you know what to expect. 

Let’s dive in. 


What Is Cybersecurity Consulting?

Cybersecurity refers to the integrity of digital systems and networks from outside attacks. A secure system is difficult to access and is protected against the most recent innovations in hacking and digital spying. 

Cybersecurity consultants help both businesses and private individuals keep their information and data systems as safe as possible. They expose and fix weaknesses, maintain system integrity, and may even help detect malware and other security breaches before they can cause severe damage.

Here’s how they do it: 


How Cybersecurity Consulting Benefits You

Since cybersecurity consultants often work behind the scenes, it’s common for businesses and individuals not to know what their consultant is doing. Here are some of the most common tasks a cybersecurity consultant is performing and how they help.

Now, some consultants only recommend action without taking it. It all depends on what kind of consultant you’re working with. Always check to see if your consultant will be able to implement changes and perform maintenance to keep your system safe, or if they are strictly offering advice. 


Staying Up To Date On Current Cyber Threats

Since there are always new viruses and new vulnerabilities in any digital system, it’s important to keep your cybersecurity measures as up-to-date as possible.

That’s part of where consultants come in. Cybersecurity consultants stay up to date on current risks and are aware of the vulnerabilities in common operating systems and data structures. That way, they can address potential threats and help push necessary updates to close any vulnerabilities. 


Install and Maintain Firewall Protections

In addition to maintaining awareness of the current threats, cybersecurity consultants can install firewalls and other protections to keep your data safe. Firewalls work in conjunction with the defenses in your operating system to help prevent any incoming attack from reaching your data. 


Password Authentication and Maintenance

A good cybersecurity consultant can also help ensure that all passwords used to access your data are secure and up to date. They can help with purging old passwords, as well as suggesting password protection upgrades to help keep your business’s information secure. 


Helping Meet Compliance Standards

While the United States doesn’t have any enforced cybersecurity standards, it’s still a good idea to ensure your cybersecurity measures are compliant with current industry standards. Since the EU does have cybersecurity standards for business, those are the most common benchmark for good cybersecurity practices.

A cybersecurity consultant can make sure all standards are being met and that your business consistently scores well on compliance checks.

This isn’t just a great way to make sure your information is secure; it’s also good reassurance for investors and stockholders. Meeting high cybersecurity standards is the best way to convince stockholders and customers that their information is safe with your business. 


Testing Vulnerabilities

Most cybersecurity experts have some idea of how to exploit cybersecurity weaknesses and how to hack into data systems. That’s important because it means that they know what hackers are looking for and what the most common vulnerabilities will be.

Testing a system’s vulnerabilities is one of the best ways to see how well protected your data is, and many cybersecurity consultants offer testing services for precisely that reason. Periodic testing is an excellent way to stay on top of any new vulnerabilities and improve the strength of your firewall and other safety measures. 


Maintain Email Security

One of the most essential forms of communication for many businesses is email. Unfortunately, unsecured email can also be one of the most vulnerable parts of your business’s data network (and an easy point of entry for hackers).

Cybersecurity consultants can recommend the appropriate level of encryption, as well as password and verification standards, to help keep your network safe. That way, you can email as often as you need to, without worrying about a breach. 


Mobile Security Planning

As more and more businesses rely on mobile devices and on-the-go communication, those devices are introducing another layer of necessary security. Most mobile devices are still relatively secure, with only a few known weaknesses and breaches to worry about. However, the relative security of mobile devices is changing and changing fast.

Getting ahead of possible security problems with a mobile device security plan is essential, and most cybersecurity consultants can help. 


Other Security Tasks

It’s not practical to list all the benefits of having a cybersecurity consultant, or what they can do to help ensure your business’s long-term security. Don’t be surprised if your cybersecurity consultant recommends other changes (or if you see additional benefits to the ones we’ve listed here). 


When Is It Time To Get A Cybersecurity Consultant?

The truth is, most people and businesses don’t know when it’s time to get a cybersecurity consultant on their side. Many businesses assume that hackers are only going to be going after the biggest companies and the most important competitors in any niche, but that isn’t true.

(Source: Mars Technology, 2019)


Hackers target small companies 43% of the time, according to Mars Technology. That may be because small companies tend to have less robust security systems, making them easier to target.

If you want to avoid becoming a target for hackers, you have to understand when your data might be valuable to them, and how to protect your data before hackers realize you’re a good target.

Here are some ways to tell when it’s time to hire a cybersecurity consultant. 


What Kind of Business Do You Run?

Businesses often assume they have to reach a certain size before hiring a cybersecurity consultant, but the truth is that the industry they work in can be just as important.

For instance, healthcare companies should always have a cybersecurity consultant because of the kinds of information they collect from patients and clients. Similarly, law enforcement agents should always have a cybersecurity consultant or expert on staff since they also handle sensitive personal information and identification.

The more sensitive the information your business collects, the more important it is to have a cybersecurity expert available to help protect that data. One common benchmark for hiring a cybersecurity expert is if your business collects clients’ or customers’ addresses, social security numbers, or other risky personal information. 


How Many People Access Your Data Network?

Another good way to tell if you need a cybersecurity consultant is how many people work with your data each day. The more people logging into your network, communicating on your email servers, or otherwise accessing your network, the more important it is to have a good consultant.


How Damaging Would A Data Breach Be?

Small businesses specifically often struggle after a data breach, whether or not their data was stolen or used maliciously. Investors and customers lose confidence in businesses after data breaches, and small businesses often struggle to raise the resources they need to recover.

The more potentially damaging a data breach would be, the more likely it is you need a cybersecurity consultant in the worst-case scenario. 


Do You Know What Technologies Are Safe?

Another good sign that you might need a cybersecurity consultant is not knowing what programs and technologies are safe to use and how to secure the tools you already use.

Cybersecurity consultants can be brought in for ongoing or one-time consultations to help you choose the kind of security measures that work best with your business and help you use the most secure options.

For instance, a cybersecurity consultant might recommend what email service to use for official correspondence, or help you set up a business email server to help keep your communication safe. If you collect and store client information, they can help you choose what program and security system you need for that information.

Even if you don’t work with your cybersecurity consultant long-term, these services can help keep your business safe. 


What To Look For In A Good Cybersecurity Consultant

Choosing a cybersecurity consultant can be difficult. You need someone who not only understands the finer points of cybersecurity, but also communicates them well and can gauge the needs of your business.

Other than just professional qualifications, here are a few things to look for in a good cybersecurity consultant. 


They’ve Worked In Your Industry

One good sign for any cybersecurity professional is if they’ve already had experience working in your industry. Some kinds of businesses need stricter protections, while others can use mild protection effectively.

If your cybersecurity consultant has worked in your industry before, the odds are good that they’ll know what protections you need and which are good value for the industry.

It’s also a good bet if your cybersecurity professional has worked in similar industries. For instance, healthcare needs strict protections, but a consultant that has experience working with primary care doctors can likely work well with chiropractors, hospitals, and other healthcare businesses.



Business consultants of all kinds rely on testimonials about their services, so it should be relatively easy to find reviews for any cybersecurity consultants you’re considering.


Read several of the reviews to get an idea of where this consultant excels. Reviews might tell you things like what industries they’ve worked with, what areas of specialty they have, and how well this consultant communicates with clients.

Bad reviews can also tell you a lot about a consultant. For instance, did they recommend solutions that were outside the business’s budget? Did they recommend solutions that weren’t compliant with cybersecurity standards or exceeded standards for no reason? 


Do They Implement Suggestions?

Some cybersecurity consultants look over your systems, recommend improvements, and leave it to the business to implement these changes. These consultants are great if you have an established cybersecurity or IT team, since you won’t be paying the consultant for tasks your regular employees can perform.

However, suppose you don’t have your own cybersecurity team. In that case, it’s usually better to look for a full-service consultant or someone who can take your existing security measures, suggest improvements, and implement the changes after getting your approval.

You can usually tell the difference between these types of consultants by looking at the services offered on their website. 


What Certifications Do They Hold?

Cybersecurity consultants typically carry several certifications to prove that they are qualified to do what they are doing. Looking for these certifications is a good litmus test to ensure your consultant can handle making security improvements.

Here are a couple of the more important and most common certifications for cybersecurity professionals. 


CEH – Certified Ethical Hacker

This certification proves that your consultant knows how to hack and knows what weaknesses to look for. Holders of this certification often offer security testing services where they attempt to hack your system to look for vulnerabilities and make recommendations. 


CISM – Certified Information Systems Manager

This certification is one of the most common requirements for cybersecurity professionals. Not all cybersecurity professionals hold it, but many businesses look for this credential when they’re hiring. This certification covers information systems security, security maintenance, incident management, and other critical cybersecurity skills. 


CISSP – Certified Information Systems Security Professional

Issued by the ICP, this is another critical security certification that can prove your consultant has the skills to evaluate and implement a high-quality security system.

This certification is all about the design, implementation, and maintenance of top-notch cybersecurity systems. It’s an excellent qualification to look for you if you’re looking for a custom-created cybersecurity system, but not necessary for implementing basic firewalls and encryption. 

Are you ready to take the next steps in ensuring your business’s cybersecurity? Edge Networks is here to help. Get started with an IT Risk Assessment, or contact us today for a free 30 minute consultation.

Everything You Need To Know About PCI Compliance For Your Business

PCI Compliance Doesn’t Need to Be an Impossible Task

For the longest time, businesses on the internet were susceptible to credit card fraud. Credit card handlers and companies alike were unsure of how to protect data stored on the internet. That’s where PCI compliance comes in. Founded in 2006, the PCI Security Standards Council sets restrictions for how business online is done. PCI compliance keeps companies, cardholders, and banks safe. Here, we’ll discuss all things PCI Compliance for you and your business. From the required standards to questionnaires, you should have a solid grasp of all that makes up this safety standard by the time you finish reading. Understanding PCI compliance does not need to be an impossible task.


What is PCI Compliance?

It was determined a long time ago that credit cards on the internet needed some form of protection. Without protection, these methods of payment are susceptible to fraud and theft. PCI compliance exists to ensure that a platform is safe for customers to plug in their private information. It assures your clients and customers that their data is safe with your business.

To be considered PCI compliant, your business site must pass a set of standards. These standards include:

  • Shopping cart page regulations where credit cards are used
  • Checks on any card readers that are attached to your computer
  • Username/password systems that protect a client’s information


Do You Need PCI Compliance?

The short answer is yes. For any site that accepts payment, PCI compliance is a must. Without it, fees and risks rise exponentially. If your site or business takes credit cards on the internet, you need to go through the process for the sake of your future. It is of the utmost importance, and it is also a legal requirement for your safety.

There are a few different levels of PCI compliance. A business must first determine what level they fall under before proceeding. From there, they can go about securing their network. We will discuss this a little later in the article.


Common Acronyms Used in PCI Compliance

When you look into the process of becoming PCI compliant, you’ll see that there are a bunch of different steps that you need to complete. Three items are labeled with acronyms that might be confusing at first glance. You will need to know all of them so that you know what to expect when you see them.

The three items you will need to know the differences between include:

  1. PCI DSS Self-Assessment Questionnaire (SAQ)
  2. Attestation of Compliance (AoC)
  3. Report on Compliance (RoC)

We’ll go over each of these so that you know what they are and when they come into play. Each has a part in ensuring that your method of accepting payment is secure for your clients. They are all critical to your business.


1. PCI DSS Self-Assessment Questionnaire (SAQ)

This item is a form that will help you determine which compliance regulations apply to your organization. There are nine different versions of the document, and they all depend on how your business processes, handles, and stores the information that cardholders provide.

The nine types include:

  • SAQ A
  • SAQ A-EP
  • SAQ B
  • SAQ B-IP
  • SAQ C-VT
  • SAQ C
  • SAQ D for Merchants
  • SAQ D for Service Providers

You will need to determine which is best for you to use based on how you handle business. Having this form is a crucial part of becoming PCI compliant. It will keep you from taking unnecessary measures for your business as you go about this process.


2. Attestation of Compliance (AoC)

The Attestation of Compliance is an action completed by a QSA, otherwise known as a Qualified Security Assessor. They will create documented evidence that informs the council that your business upholds solid security practices. They will ensure that you have completed your SAQ and meet all the required standards.

There are a few different versions of the AoC, just as with the SAQ. You’ll need to pick the one that corresponds with the SAQ you filled out based on your business. That way, you can get a proper attestation completed.


3. Report on Compliance (RoC)

The RoC, or Report on Compliance, is a report on everything a business does to ensure the best protection for cardholders. Another Qualified Security Assessor will examine and perform an audit of your controls. They will also summarize and document their findings, which turn into this final report. 

The RoC reports on items such as:

  • The security posture
  • The overall environment
  • The systems in use
  • The methods utilized to protect data

This report is necessary because it will allow your clients to understand what your security is. They will know if their card information is safe on your site. They will also know if there are any risks they will be taking in providing you with personal information. This report is one of the final steps when you are determining if you are compliant or not.


How Do You Become PCI Compliant?

There are six steps that you must take on to become PCI compliant. By following each of them carefully, you can ensure that your site is safe and protected. This process varies depending on the size of your business and how many transactions occur on your site. Different standards apply to varying organizations.

The six key steps include:

  1. Determining your PCI level
  2. Acknowledging potential consequences for failing to be PCI Compliant
  3. Completing a Self-Compliance Questionnaire
  4. Creating a secure network
  5. Filling out an Attestation of Compliance
  6. File paperwork

We will go over each of these carefully so that you can understand the process. It probably seems complicated, but it’s not. With careful reading, you will be able to make your site PCI compliant in no time at all.


1. Determining Your PCI Level

The first step when making your business PCI compliant is to determine what PCI level you are. There are four of them, all based on a few different factors.

The PCI Levels include:

  • LevelOne: This applies to you if your business processes over six million transactions annually, no matter what channel is being used.
  • LevelTwo: This applies to you if your business processes between one million and six million transactions annually, Level Three: This applies to you if your business processes 20,000 to one million eCommerce transactions annually.
  • LevelFour: This applies to you if your business processes less than 20,000 eCommerce transactions annually, or less than one million no matter what channel is used.

Based on the transactions that your business makes, you can decide what your PCI level is. This label will assist you in determining what standards you will need to use to make your business PCI compliant.


2. Note Consequences

Any store or business that stores credit card information is required to be PCI compliant. Failing to do so can result in fees, fines, and even larger consequences down the road. You’re putting your business and customers at risk by avoiding the process.

Some of the events that could occur as a result of failing to become PCI compliant include:

  • Loss of business reputation
  • Credit card breaches
  • Lawsuits
  • Fees and fines

You should note the potential consequences for your particular PCI level. You should be prepared to face them if you fail to make your business PCI compliant.


3. Complete a PCI RSS Self-Assessment Questionnaire

Next, you will need to fill out a Self-Assessment Questionnaire. These are the forms we discussed above. You will fill out the one that corresponds to your business and the online transactions that occur within your fiscal year.

The form is as simple as they come. It goes over each of the PCI Data Security Standard Requirements, to which you will answer yes or no in response. A yes means that your company security follows that standard. A no means that you may have some gaps that you need to address.

The PCI RSS Self-Assessment Questionnaire will help you figure out what you need to tackle before auditing your PCI compliance. You should be able to answer yes to every question if you are fully functional in protecting your clients’ cards.


4.  Create a Secure Network

Once you know what areas your security is lacking, you can address them. You should adhere to the twelve guidelines that fit your business. If the changes are simple, you can do them yourself. If you’re not sure how to address them, you can seek outside help to make the alterations.

Some fixes made at this point could include:

  • Adding a firewall to protect data
  • Restricting access to cardholder data
  • Authenticating access to the system
  • Creating a policy for personnel to follow for security

Once you have addressed each of your security problems, you will be ready to move on to the final steps of becoming PCI compliant. Make sure you have covered all of your bases before proceeding.


5. Fill Out an Attestation of Compliance

Once you feel that you’re ready, you can fill out an Attestation of Compliance. This decision means that you are positive that your business fits with all of the required guidelines. A Qualified Security Assessor will come and scope out the situation, filing a report in the process.

When they are done, they will have completed a Report on Compliance. This report will inform the council whether or not you have adhered to the guidelines. If you succeed with filing your attestation, you are ready to move on to the final step.


6. File Paperwork

The final step in becoming PCI compliant is to fill out paperwork. You will need to do this with banks, credit card companies, and every other company you may be working with. Some papers that you might need to submit:

  • The SAQ
  • The AoC
  • An external vulnerability scan

Once the paperwork goes through, you should be good to go. Your business can proudly declare that it is safe for cardholders to access their information. If you need help during the process, there are companies out there that can assist you. Ask for help if you are stuck. It’s better to get help than to fall short of becoming PCI compliant.


How to Become Compliant on Various Platforms

Many platforms can be used to collect credit card information. On most of them, you will need to become PCI compliant for the safety of your business and clients.

We will discuss two popular platforms that you may need to become PCI compliant on. If you run any form of credit card transactions through these, you will need to go through the PCI compliance process.

PCI Compliance on Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams is a platform that is often used in the workspace. If you capture or record credit card information at any time in this space, you will need to make your platform PCI compliant. If you are using calls to contact your customers, you should use an add-on agency to ensure that the calls are private.

To become PCI compliant, you can follow the same process as stated above. Your situation will only apply to phone calls. The security efforts you make will be based on making sure that every call you make is as private as possible.


PCI Compliance on WordPress

WordPress is a website maker that many use for their businesses. This means that goods and services are often purchased through this online format. While the internet is a great place for an up-and-coming business, it can be dangerous. Anyone taking credit card payments on WordPress should take action to make their site PCI compliant.

To make your WordPress site fit this standard, you will need to:

  • Find your merchant level
  • Fill out the SAQ
  • Figure out necessary security patches
  • Use proper plugins and tools to take in the information
  • Fill out the appropriate paperwork

Once you are PCI compliant on WordPress, your customers can feel safe giving you their information. This completion can help a small business get on its feet much faster.

Eventually, you will understand the security measures like the back of your hand. PCI compliance might seem annoying, but it is a great item that protects you, your customers, and even the banks from falling prey to fraud online.


The Path to PCI Compliance

This is just one of the most important regulations you may come across in your organization. It’s a good idea to examine your compliance procedures at least once a year, and more frequently if the regulations change.

We recommend consulting with legal counsel if your organization lacks in-house staff with the detailed understanding required to assure compliance.

You should contact a skilled compliance and technology partner, such asEdge Networks, to help you with the technical and operational parts of your compliance journey. Your investment will begin to pay for itself immediately, and remember, you can’t put a price on your peace of mind. Contact us today for a free 30 minute consultation.

10 Ways To Prevent A Security Breach In The Workplace

Among all the challenges businesses are facing today, cybersecurity is perhaps the most daunting. Many organizations across all industries don’t have the skills, technology, or staff to stand up against advanced attacks and have little knowledge about their attack space or what to do in case of a security breach. 

Much like Oregon Clinic’s 2018 data security incident , many companies don’t realize there is a problem until it is far too late. Instead, organizations should learn to take preventative measures and find ways to increase visibility to stop a security breach far before it starts. Read more about the 2018 incident below.


What is a Data Breach / Security Breach?

A data breach is considered the accessing of data without proper permissions. Though the definition sounds simple, data is valuable to cybercriminals, containing personally identifiable information (PII), company information, and even login credentials to administrative accounts.
As more companies make their way online, data breaches occur in large numbers. Plus, with advances in technologies and programs, attackers are now launching very sophisticated attacks that many companies are not prepared for.

The Frequency of a Security Breach

The Covid-19 pandemic forced many people inside and away from their typical 9 to 5 jobs. With many people unemployed and a boost in online activity, cyberattacks skyrocketed, reaching up to 192,000 coronavirus-related cyberattacks per week in May 2020 alone. The frequency of application attacks has increased over the years and is only expected to rise as attackers have more incentive to attack. 

No industry is safe from a cyberattack. The most commonly targeted industries  in 2020 were finance and insurance, manufacturing, and energy. Every single one of these deals with highly sensitive data that cybercriminals can sell to interested parties or use to steal the identities of employees and customers. 

As you can see in Figure 1 below, there are pretty significant differences in where industries ranked between 2019 and 2020, showing that any industry can be a higher target in years to come.


How Does a Security Breach Occur?

Data breaches come in many shapes and forms. Whether it’s a cybercriminal working outside the system or an insider with access, data could be at risk, and it’s crucial for all organizations to understand how they occur. Some of the most common attacks targeted toward organizations are listed below.


Large enterprises are a huge target for ransomware attacks, creating a need to secure their systems aggressively. If ransomware makes its way onto a system or device, hackers could encrypt or corrupt data, demanding a fee for its release. 

Staying educated on current ransomware trends can help you predict and prevent data breaches. Check out our blog post below for our 2021 ransomware trend predictions.



If you or your employees get frequent requests on the web to upgrade your network security, you could be at risk for malware insertion. A click of a malicious link will download malware that affects and slows the entire system. The result is a crashed system and/or compromised data.


Phishing is becoming a more significant issue than ever before, with many cybercriminals upping their game when it comes to phishing emails. Phishing involves the mimicry of a legitimate website in an attempt to gain user trust and steal sensitive information. If employees don’t know how to watch out for phishing, they could put your entire system in danger.

Denial of Service (DoS)

Hackers sometimes create robots that are meant to overflood a system. If an organization’s configurations are not strong enough, hackers could program robots to flood entire systems with traffic, knocking them off of the internet and out of use for their customers.

Workplace Mistakes that Increase Risk of Security Breach

More organizations than ever are turning to the web for their day-to-day dealings. Though the web is efficient, it leaves them prone to cyber threats that could expose sensitive data. The workplace is crawling with unsecured practices ranging from employees up to security analysts.
Some common mistakes include:
  • Accidental sharing
  • Weak password selection and renewal policy
  • Employee misuse of network
  • Weak security configurations
For a more aggressive approach to decreasing risk, companies should incorporate preventative measures and educate their employees on the importance of iron-clad security. Below, we’ll discuss ten preventive measures you and your employees should start practicing today.

10 Ways to Prevent a Security Breach in the Workplace

Cybercriminals are always on the lookout for an opportunity to strike. Keep them from ever getting close by adding these ten practices into your workplace.


1. Make a Solid Password Policy

Too many times, employers leave employees to set their passwords. As a way to easily remember, they may wind up selecting things that are far too easy to remember. Maybe their birthdate, their child’s name, the name of their pet. These things are far from secretive, especially with the whole world sharing on popular social sites.
As a means of prevention, organizations should amp up their password policy and have a randomly allocated password with a mix of letters, numbers, and symbols. Though you might have to reset passwords a time or two, that is far better than dealing with a security breach that puts company and client data at risk.
When incorporating a new employee and setting them up with credentials, always explain the importance of password protection and encourage them not to share information. Plus, as an extra layer of protection, configure your system to update user credentials often to keep passwords random.

2. Don’t Forget to Update

Do you know those notifications that pop up from time to time with updates? We know all too well how annoying they can be, but they should never be skipped for security purposes. Updates are there to keep your system and all software current and sometimes are meant to improve security measures.
Plus, you get an extra perk when you keep your system updated, enjoying seamless surfing and faster executions. One issue that comes with updates is that they can take a long time. Still, with the proper scheduling, you could have your team get them done after hours and come into work the next day with an updated system.

3. Check Your Router

Advanced hackers no longer need to insert USBs into your hard drive or get employees to click malicious links. These days, they can gain access to your system from thousands of miles away, especially if configurations are not up to par. Just like other parts of your system, your router is an important piece that needs proper security.
When setting up and configuring your router, choose to enable encryption that turns text unreadable to both human and robotic attackers.

4. Learn the Art of Backups

Data is a cybercriminal goldmine. With customer and company data, attackers have the opportunity to do a number of things, including: 

  • Identity theft
  • Selling of data lists to advertisers 
  • Gain access into unauthorized areas
  • Crash an entire system 

With the amount of data coming into systems of all sizes, management and storage are a bit of an issue. That’s why frequent backups can take care of storage issues and prevent security breaches. Backups keep data safe and prevent common security threats like ransomware from affecting databases.


One issue with frequent backups is storage. Organizations need a lot of space that’s accessible at all times and is protected from dangers. Options like the cloud are a common choice as it is secure and readily available. Whatever organizations choose, it should be secure and be able to hold backups as they come along. 

Of course, even backups fail. Check out our blog post below on how to protect your data when disaster strikes.


5. Firewalls, Anyone?

You’ve probably heard of a firewall but might not know why it’s crucial. You can think of it as your system’s first line of defense against cyberattacks. When configured properly, they keep malicious executions from happening and keep outsiders from breaking into the system. Though firewalls can be a hassle for some users, they are much less of a headache than a data breach.
When configuring your firewall, make sure to be strict regarding unknown IP addresses, unknown users, and zoning. All of these will help to keep a secure barrier around your system and keep unwanted traffic out.

6. Have a Plan in case of Security Breach

Breaches happen more often than you might think. The last thing you want to happen is to experience a breach and not knowing how to deal with it. Instead, create a plan that will help you tackle the issue just in case a breach happens. If you suspect that your system has been compromised, you should kick the plan into gear and don’t forget to:
  • Identify the Threat (Ask all the “W” questions to get to the bottom of it)
  • Contain it
  • Get rid of it
  • Recover your system
  • Document and reflect
Most companies do not know how to respond to an attack and could do so too slowly, putting their information and customer credentials at risk. Because every company that intercepts data and has some kind of online connection is a risk, they should have some sort of plan that will help them identify a data breach. Plus, after each attempt, they should keep everything on record just in case there is a reoccurring issue.

7. Encryption of Data in Transit

No matter what form data is in, it’s susceptible to theft. However, data in transit has a higher risk simply because it is passing from one place to another. That’s why encrypting data that’s constantly in motion is essential. If an attacker happens to get ahold of the data, they will not be able to make any sense out of it.
When data is encrypted, the only time it will convert back t readable text is if the location checks out as a safe location or the receiving party has access to passwords to unencrypt.

8. Get Employees on Board

The ordinary person doesn’t often think about cybersecurity. Most believe that, with a password, you should be protected. Also, they don’t really know how advanced cybercriminals have become in their tactics, unable to imagine the scale at which they can cause damage with a successful application attack.
As a preventative measure, you should teach employees the importance of securing your system and the common types of attacks that could take place. Letting them in on the “why” of security will make them more aware of their time online and help them notice when they spot something that seems odd or out of place.

9. Advanced Virus Detection

For some systems, legacy antivirus software won’t do the trick. Attackers are getting more sophisticated in their methods and know antivirus software inside and out. Modern-day virus detection is on the rise and something that organizations should look into as a part of their protection methods.
Many cutting-edge programs increase the visibility of systems and automate tasks instead of leaving them to worn-out security teams. Incorporating interactive and automated real-time detection into a system and across cloud infrastructures can help.

10. Audit, and Audit Again

Any time that malicious activity is spotted, companies should do their part to document efficiently. In that way, they can have a list of attempted breaches or actual breaches to refer back to. It will also serve when testing for vulnerabilities in the system, helping them get to the root cause faster.
Regularly checking your system is an excellent way to become familiar with your system and get better at detecting malicious activity. The faster that activity is spotted and identified, the less harm that an attacker could potentially do. Always keep track of finding during an audit and schedule frequent audits so that nothing takes you by surprise.

Prevent a Security Breach Before it Happens

It’s no longer enough for companies to add one form of virus protection to their system and forget about it. These days, the attack surface has increased, bringing more opportunities for cybercriminals to act. That’s why companies of every industry should implement preventative practices and share them with their employees. 

Combining prevention along with up-to-date methods of detection, organizations have a solid defense against all kinds of common attacks, able to detect them and stop them before they get ahold of sensitive data. Because business is shifting out of store and online, organizations must adapt and protect themselves and their users from the possibility of a security breach. 

Are you concerned about the cybersecurity of your business? Edge Networks can help! Take our free, self-guided IT Security Risk Assessment, or contact us today for a free, 30-minute consultation.