Tag Archives: Network Security Associates

4 Debunked Myths About Cloud Services

The cloud has grown in popularity in recent years and continues to do so. However, there are some common misconceptions about cloud services that still prevent people from trusting this technology. Here are some of the top myths about the cloud you shouldn’t believe.

Myth 1: The Cloud Isn’t Secure

Don’t Believe These Myths About Cloud Services

There are a couple underlying concerns behind this myth. One contributing factor is the reality most companies will have to work with a third-party provider to receive cloud services. You may have concerns this company doesn’t take the necessary steps to secure your data. However, Network Security Associates utilizes multiple safeguards to make sure your information is protected, such as:

  • Data encryption
  • Firewalls
  • Monitoring 
  • An intrusion detection system
  • Antivirus
  • Anti-phishing

Address any concerns you have about data security with your potential cloud provider.

Myth 2: Cloud Services Are Too Expensive

Although cloud services may be costly upfront, it’s important to remember the benefits of the cloud exceed monetary savings. The cloud ensures your business always has backups of its data, software, and programs. If a natural disaster or device theft occurs, these backups mean your business will have minimal downtime. Cloud services also make it more convenient for your employees to work remotely; they can access the cloud from a secure connection and quickly pull up the files or programs they need. Downtime impacts profitability and revenue generation, which can be challenging to determine assign a dollar value to the impact.

Myth 3: Small Businesses Can’t Benefit From the Cloud

Businesses of all sizes, from sole proprietorships to large corporations, can benefit from using the cloud. Small businesses have many of the same needs as larger organizations, such as the need for reliable data and software backups, secure remote access to their information and multiple security initiatives to safeguard their valuable information.

Myth 4: You’ll Lose Ownership of the Data You Store in the Cloud

Most reputable cloud providers permit their clients to retain ownership of the data they store in the cloud. Make sure you read and understand the terms and conditions of your service agreement to ensure you retain all the rights to your information.

Help Secure Your Company’s Data With Cloud Services

Ready to learn more about how cloud services can benefit your business? Contact Network Security Associates at 702-547-9800 today to schedule a network security assessment.

4 Tips for Maintaining Small Businesses’ Network Security

As a small business owner, you know every dollar counts. Unfortunately, a single cyberattack can cost your business thousands of dollars and damage your reputation. This makes it essential for your business to achieve and maintain a high level of network security. Follow these tips to secure your business against cyberthreats.

4 Steps to Maintaining Your Network Security

Network Security Associates Will Help Prevent Cyberattacks on Your Business

1. Establish Written Guidelines for Maintaining Network Security

If your business doesn’t have written policies that address items like device usage, password creation, the proper handling of sensitive information, and best practices for securing data, now is the time to get these guidelines in writing. Putting your cybersecurity policies in writing makes it easy for your employees to understand expectations. It also helps ensure every employee adheres to the same standards for keeping your company’s data secure. With written guidelines, it’s easy to periodically review your policies to see which ones require updates or further clarification.

2. Educate Your Employees About the Threat of Cyberattacks

It’s important to inform your employees about the threat of cyberattacks and their lasting effects. They may not understand the consequences of a single successful attack, or they might mistakenly believe the threat of a cyberattack is overblown. When your employees understand why they’re expected to follow certain rules or guidelines, this makes it more likely they’ll adhere to your policies. Make sure to properly train all new employees and offer refresher courses for existing employees.

3. Secure Your Networks and Files

One of the most effective ways to keep your information secure is to only use secure networks to transmit, download or store information. If you aren’t sure if your networks are secure or what steps you must take to secure them, Network Security Associates can help. You should also make sure any employees who work remotely know they are only to use a secure network when working. We can assist you with implementing cloud-based storage to protect all your company’s sensitive information in a secure location.

4. Ensure Proper Protections are in Place

Every computer should have updated antivirus software and an enabled device firewall.

This will help virus and malware from propagating from one computer to another at your office and from remote computers. Wireless networks should not be “open,” but should be locked down to ensure malicious users are unable to access your network. It’s also important to ensure you have a modern firewall protecting your network from internet hackers. It’s imperative computers, software, and devices are updated regularly. Many companies overlook patches and updates, but they are critical to protecting your environment from malware and hacks.

Not sure what steps you should take for optimal network security? Contact Network Security Associates to schedule an in-person network assessment. Our team of experienced IT professionals will help you create a plan to secure your business’s networks and data.

HIPAA Data Security Breach Checklist

The Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS) recently reported a HIPAA data breach that exposed the personal information of more than 350,000 Oregon residents. The source of this breach was a phishing email with a malicious link that multiple employees opened and clicked.

If your organization is the victim of a HIPAA data security breach, there are specific steps you must take to handle the incident in accordance with HIPAA regulations. The below is a checklist to follow.

1. Identify and Stop the Breach

Once a breach occurs, it’s vital to act quickly and identify the source. HIPAA guidelines state you must act to mitigate the effects of the breach. The sooner you know how it occurred, the higher your chances of lessening its impact. 

How you stop the breach will vary based on its source. You may need to revoke access privileges for certain employees, download critical security updates to your company’s programs or change how you retrieve and send private patient information. 

2. Notify the Department of Health and Human Services About the Breach

HIPAA rules require you to promptly report data security breaches to the Department of Health and Human Services. All notifications related to the data breach must be done within 60 days of discovering it. When you make the report, have the following information on-hand:

  • The nature of the breach and what information it exposed
  • The individual responsible for the breach (if known)
  • Whether any sensitive information was acquired or viewed by unauthorized individuals
  • The steps you’ve taken to mitigate damage related to the breach

3. Notify Patients of the Breach

You need to issue notifications to the patients whose information was exposed by the breach. The notification should let the patient know what steps they can take to protect themselves from the potential exposure of their information. It’s also required you tell the patient what you are doing to investigate the breach and prevent future breaches from occurring.

4. Issue a Notice to the Media Regarding the Breach

If the breach exposes the information of more than 500 patients, you must issue a notice to the media about it. This increases the likelihood affected patients will learn about the breach and understand what steps they should take. 

Take Proactive Steps to Protect and Increase Your HIPAA Data Security

Though it’s important for your organization to know how to properly handle a HIPAA data breach, you should take steps to prevent a breach from occurring in the first place. Working with a company well-versed in HIPAA data security, like Network Security Associates, can help you identify steps to take to secure your networks and boost adherence to HIPAA guidelines. Contact us at 702-547-9800 to set up a network inspection. This will identify any problematic areas and offer suggestions for better securing your patients’ data. 

The Importance of Proper Server Maintenance and Managed IT Solutions

Your servers are the foundation of your computer network. To keep these systems performing optimally, it’s important to have sufficient managed IT solutions in place to prevent security breaches and data loss. 

Server Maintenance

Protect Your Servers With Network Security Associates’s Managed IT Solutions

Proper server maintenance keeps your organization operating efficiently and can help prevent unexpected downtime. Your server maintenance should include the following tasks:

  • Reviewing logs
  • Verifying automated systems and utilities
  • Identifying potential security risks
  • Maintaining a robust backup system

It’s important to complete these tasks before something goes wrong; what could have been a small preventable issue can bring your office down.

Server maintenance and IT alone require full-time attention, and while many businesses try to adhere to a strict maintenance schedule, it’s easy to let these tasks fall by the wayside when business is booming or you’re short-staffed. 

Instead of trying to handle your server maintenance internally, consider outsourcing the job to a company specializing in managed IT solutions, like Network Security Associates. We’ll take care of all the tasks required to maintain your servers so your company can devote its resources to other projects.

IT Maintenance Best Practices

To maintain reliable servers, Network Security Associates can help your organization implement best practices to help ensure your data is always secure.

One of the most critical maintenance steps is verifying your backups on a regular basis. Data loss from server failure can be catastrophic for your organization. Our team will monitor your daily backups to make sure they are occurring as scheduled.

Monitoring disk storage should also be done on an ongoing basis. Clearing out and archiving files in storage will keep your empty disk space at a healthy percentage. It’s also important to review your CPU, RAM and network utilization.

Updating your operating systems and applications should be an automated process, as security patches and other updates are frequently released. Our cloud-based computing services automate the update process so your devices are always running the latest software versions. We will schedule routine checks to make sure all updates are occurring as planned.

Some of the other maintenance tasks Network Security Associates provides include:

  • Implementation of Our Remote Monitoring Tool

Our remote monitoring tool makes it simple to monitor your hard drive usage. If your hard drive runs out of space, this constitutes an emergency that will bring your server to a standstill. Constant monitoring prevents this from happening. We can also remotely manage your devices to make sure your free space remains at a safe level.

  • Systematically Reviewing User Accounts

It’s vital to review user accounts to check that individuals no longer with the company have their access revoked. Those with high-level access accounts should have their accounts regularly reviewed and all inactive ones removed. Network Security Associates offers custom software that checks all your company accounts and discontinues those that are inactive after two weeks.

Comprehensive IT Solutions

Network Security Associates is your go-to provider of managed IT solutions in Las Vegas. Our expert technicians will handle your server maintenance and are available to assist 24/7 in the event of an emergency. Contact us today at 702-547-9800.

How the April 2019 Windows 10 Update Will Bolster Computer & Network Security

In April of 2019, Microsoft will issue an update for Windows 10. There isn’t a specific release date for the update, and it’s expected Microsoft will issue it gradually. If April comes and goes and you haven’t received a message encouraging you to update Windows 10, be patient; hiccups during the roll-out process can delay the expected timeline. Though this update doesn’t significantly change how Windows 10 operates, it offers some cool features for users and improves the computer and network security of your device.

What You Can Expect From the April 2019 Windows 10 Update

Increase Your Computer & Network Security With Help from Network Security Associates

Improved Aesthetics

You will notice a change in the appearance of your desktop screen after installing the update. This Windows 10 update will enhance the aesthetics of the light theme, allowing for better contrast between the Start Menu, Action Center and Taskbar. A few icons will also receive makeovers, so they better coordinate with the light theme’s new colors. 

Your Start Menu will also have a different appearance when you open it. Once you click on it, it will have fewer pre-installed applications. You’ll also have the option to remove more pre-installed programs you don’t find useful. The end result is a sleek column of programs that minimizes virtual clutter and shows applications that satisfy your computing needs.

A Safe Spot to Try Questionable Programs

One of the most exciting changes with the Windows 10 upgrade is the addition of the Windows sandbox. The Windows sandbox makes it possible to isolate a program in order to test it without putting your entire computer at risk, boosting your computer and network security. If the program winds up being unsafe, its effects are limited to the Windows sandbox. Just close the sandbox to remove the program permanently from your desktop. 

Changes to the Overall Windows Update Process

After this Windows 10 update, you’ll have the option to snooze your updates for up to 7 days. This gives you more time to ensure the update won’t cause data loss or interfere with your computer’s existing programs. Additionally, approximately 7 GB of space will automatically be set aside on your device for future Windows updates. This will guarantee your device always has ample diskspace to install critical updates.

Better Ease-of-Use for Cortana

Microsoft’s update will make it easier for users to utilize Cortana, the company’s virtual assistant. The update separates the Cortana icon from the Search taskbar. This will make it more convenient for users to search using a specific option. Enhancements from the update will also make it possible to search for a specific type of file, like a Word document or a picture. 

Increase Your Computer & Network Security

You don’t have to wait for the Windows 10 update to enhance your computer and network security. Network Security Associates offers a swath of managed IT services to ensure your data is always protected. Contact us today at 702-547-9800 for more information.

Mitigating Insider Threats With Proper Healthcare IT Security

Though you may associate healthcare data breaches with hackers or digital thieves halfway across the globe, an astonishing amount of breaches are by individuals within the organizations. These threats are known as insider threats; research states approximately 58 percent of healthcare breaches are by insiders. Any individual who has access to your company’s databases and programs, like employees, contractors, researchers, and volunteers, are potential insider threats. Here’s what you can do to bolster your healthcare IT security:

4 Ways to Improve Your Healthcare IT Security

Stay HIPAA-compliant With Network Security Associates’s Healthcare IT Security

1. Educate Your Employees

Insider threats to your company’s data aren’t always intended to steal data or harm your company. Sometimes, employees may look up patient information simply because it is there. They may look up data for friends and family members, for a famous individual or for other employees. Even though there is no malicious intent, this still constitutes as a security breach.

It’s essential for your employees to receive in-depth training that makes it clear this practice is unacceptable. It still qualifies as a HIPAA violation, and penalties for a HIPAA violation can include job loss, fines and criminal prosecution. It should be thoroughly communicated that employees should access information for valid, job-related reasons only.

2. Monitor and Review Employee Activity

HIPAA regulations require your healthcare organization to monitor access to patient records. However, one of the most effective ways to check that your employees are adhering to policy regarding the access of patient information, is to frequently review these access logs. Though it’s possible to do this manually, you can invest in software that makes the task much less time-consuming. 

If you detect problematic activity, it’s essential to act promptly. You should encourage employees to report any insider activity that seems suspicious. 

3. Limit the Level of Access for Your Employees

Your employees should only have access to the information that is necessary for them to do their jobs. One way to deter insider threats is to make it impossible for employees to search for records they would have no reason to search for during the course of their workday. You should also make sure your employees know they should never share their login credentials or passwords with other individuals, even if these individuals are inside the company and appear to have a valid need for the information. 

4. Complete In-Depth Background Checks

Make sure you know exactly who your company is hiring, subcontracting work to or partnering with. Comprehensive background checks are essential for a high level of healthcare IT security. These background checks should include checking references and searching for the employee on social media and Google. 

Network Security Associates has the technology and expertise to manage your data and improve your healthcare IT security, ensuring your organization remains HIPAA-compliant at all times. Contact us at 702-547-9800 today for more information.

The True Costs of Not Implementing Cloud Security

If the upfront expenses of moving your company’s data to a cloud-based server have caused you to pause your plans, it’s time to explore the costs of not using the cloud to store your valuable information. Neglecting to move your data to the cloud can cost your company more in the long run.

The Cost of a Data Breach Without Cloud Security

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The cost of a data breach continues to increase; in 2018, the average cost of a single breach for a corporation came to an astonishing $3.86 million. For small businesses, the cost can be as high as $117,000, which can, often times, be equal to the total value of the business. By neglecting to invest in cloud security, you’re potentially putting your company at risk of suffering an expensive data breach, sometimes making recovery impossible.

Cloud security offers numerous safety features not available with other forms of data storage. You have the ability to frequently back up your data and programs, so you don’t permanently lose valuable information to disaster or a technical failure. The cloud enacts multiple safeguards to prevent theft by hackers or other virtual thieves. Your end result is a safe network with secure data.

Up-Front Costs of the Cloud

You may be concerned a move to the cloud will be expensive; in reality, however, implementing cloud security requires only a small up-front investment. By utilizing a company that provides cloud services, you let the company take care of the costs associated with setting up and maintaining the necessary infrastructure to store your data. Opting for the cloud can save your organization money on operational costs related to storing and backing up your data.

Free Up Your Company’s Resources

If you handle your own data hosting and storage, you’ll have to devote resources to maintaining, setting up and troubleshooting your equipment, programs and servers. You might even have to hire more IT employees to ensure these elements don’t fall by the wayside.

Outsourcing your cloud hosting is a simple way to free up your IT resources and reduce your related expenditures. Since you don’t have to service your data hosting infrastructure, you’re able to use these resources elsewhere or reduce your overall operational expenses.

Better Adapt to Changing Customer Needs

To maximize your profits, it’s important for your company to be versatile. Implementing the cloud is one way to boost the adaptability of your business. If you need a new program or software update to better serve your clients, cloud hosting enables you to make these changes quickly and efficiently. 

Cloud servers also make it easier for your employees to work remotely from their secure devices. This makes it more convenient for your team to work from home, meet with potential clients and remain connected to the home office during business trips.

If you’re ready to get set up with cloud security, contact Network Security Associates at 702-547-9800 today!

5 Network Security Tips for Preventing Data Breaches

A data breach is costly for any organization. Not only does it cost your company money, but it lowers consumer trust in your brand. Here are some simple tips to improve your network security and prevent data breaches: 

Necessary Protocol to Enhance Your Network Security

Network Security Associates Will Strengthen Your Company’s Network Security

1. Enable Multi-factor Authentication

Multi-factor authentication acts as a second layer of protection, shielding your data when there’s a password breach. To access data, thieves still have to verify some type of information using a secondary device or account – one that only the intended user should have access to. For example, after your employees input their passwords to log in to the company network, they receive a verification code to their cell phones or email addresses. They must input this code to continue the sign-in process.

2. Encourage Employees to Use Password Managers

A password manager is an application that stores all the passwords an individual has in one spot. Password managers are an effective way to ensure your employees are using secure passwords. Your employees only need to remember and create one strong password for the password manager. This discourages them from writing down multiple secure passwords in a potentially vulnerable location.

The password manager is encrypted to ensure optimal network security. It also allows your employees to utilize password generation to come up with long strings of random characters hackers are less likely to guess.

3. Convey Your Expectations for Network Security to Your Employees

Your employees play a significant role in maintaining network security. Make sure your expectations for their adherence to protocol are clear and in writing. Conduct regular employee training sessions to assist with any technical questions your employees have and to reiterate the importance of following secure procedures.

Some areas you should address include:

  • Using personal devices for business-related tasks
  • Best practices for passwords
  • The importance of securing devices when employees step away from their work stations

4. Keep Your Software Up-to-Date

Checking that your software and applications are always up-to-date is a vital step for preventing data breaches. Hackers look for weak spots in a program they can exploit. Software updates address these vulnerabilities, so your data remains secure. 

If you have numerous devices and software that require attention, consider utilizing a cloud-based server to implement essential updates in a timely manner. You can opt to have this server deliver the updates automatically to the device, decreasing the likelihood that your employees neglect to do them.

5. Choose a Cloud Server Provider With Robust Security

If your company uses cloud-based storage to back up your data and software, make sure that you use a provider with strict security practices. When searching for potential providers, ask what safeguards that company has in place to keep your information protected. 

Network Security Associates is the leading provider of services and products to protect your data. With over 15 years of experience, our experts know the proper measures to take to protect your network. Contact us today at 702-547-9800 to discuss your network security needs.

3 Rules to Avoid Phishing Scams With Secure Network Services This Tax Season

Tax season is associated with a host of phishing scams; some reappear each year, while others are relatively new. These scams are designed to steal money or sensitive information. Keep your info and funds safe with secure network services and by following these recommendations:

Be Leary of Emails Imitating the IRS or Tax Prep Providers

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Scammers frequently send emails imitating the IRS or popular tax prep providers. Most individuals want to avoid trouble with the IRS, so they’re willing to send information to resolve these alleged problems with their tax returns. The IRS or your tax prep provider will not contact you via email regarding money you owe, problems with your tax return or your tax filing information. The IRS will always initiate contact regarding problems with your return via a written letter. 

These phishing emails may contain links to false websites that appear to be legitimate. The criminal hopes you’ll click through to the page and provide your personal information. Other emails contain attachments the sender wants you to open. When you open the file, you expose your device to malware that puts your information at risk. Maintain secure network services by never downloading attachments from email addresses you aren’t familiar with. 

Second Guess Suspicious Requests

There are multiple types of email phishing scams that appear during tax season. One scam involves sending an email to your company’s employees that appears to be from another employee. The email asks the real employee to send employee records (like payroll records, W2 forms or other sensitive data). Thinking the supposed “employee” has a valid need for the data, the recipient sends the requested information, providing the phisher with a plethora of personal employee information.

It’s important for your company to enact policies that maintain secure network services by setting rules that address requesting and sending personal information via email. For example, if you receive an email asking for employee records or other sensitive data, the protocol might require you call the sender of the email to verify the request.

Avoid Giving Information Out Over the Phone

Phishers don’t limit their scams to emails; they also call their targets, attempting to bully them into providing their personal information or paying supposed tax debts that don’t exist. It’s common for the phishers to identify themselves as someone from the IRS. If you believe you owe the IRS money or have a legitimate problem with your return, you might be tempted to engage with the caller. Instead, call your local IRS office or the toll-free Tax Assistance Hotline at 1-800-829-1040. They can assist you with determining if you have an actual issue with your return. 

Set Up Secure Network Services

If you want to set up secure network services to safeguard your network from phishing scams, contact Network Security Associates today at 702-547-9800.

5 Password Best Practices for Maximum Network Security

It seems like password requirements are constantly changing, requiring more unique characters and distinct combinations. Your password is an important part of your network security. When creating a password, follow these best practices to keep your data secure.

1. Steer Clear of Personal Details

You might think you are safe using personal details in your password, like your maiden name, birthday, social security number, or pet’s name. However, most personal details are accessible. A quick examination of your social media pages will likely reveal your hobbies, pets and favorite things in life. More private details, like your social security number, are accessible via your work file. 

2. Avoid Numeric or Keyboard Sequences

So many people use numeric or keyboard sequences that these are often among the first things hackers try when cracking passwords. This applies even if you reverse the sequence (654321 instead 123456) or repeat the sequence (123123 or 11111). Here are the top 3 worst passwords:

Ensure Your Network Is Always Secure With the Help of Network Security Associates

  • 123456789
  • password
  • 12345

Keyboard sequences, like “qwerty” and “!@#$%^&,” should also be avoided.

3. Use as Many Unique Characters as Possible

When crafting a password, you may have some limitations, depending on the company or service provider. However, when you can, implement as many unique characters as possible. Here are a few ideas:

  • Use capital and lowercase letters
  • Incorporate special characters (!, $,*)
  • Utilize numbers in place of letters (1 instead of L)

The longer your password, the lower the chances someone will successfully guess it.

4. Use a Password Manager

In order to maintain a unique password that is difficult to memorize, a trusted and secure password manager is required. LastPass, Roboform, OnePassword, and SplashID Safe are good options for this. Using one of these systems will eliminate the need for written passwords and further safeguard your devices and information.

5. Never Use Common Words or Phrases

Common words and popular phrases are too easy for hackers to guess, even if you swap some of the letters for numbers (1l0vey0u instead of iloveyou). Instead, consider using the first letter of each word in a song, movie title or phrase, in addition to special characters.

Contact the Professionals at Network Security Associates

The experts at Network Security Associates will monitor your network and data continually. Contact us at 702-547-9800 to discuss how we can ensure maximum network security for your company.