MS Exchange Critical Security Threat – We’ve Got Your Back!

You may have heard rumblings across the Internet of a giant Microsoft Exchange vulnerability that raised its ugly head this week.  On Tuesday evening, Microsoft announced the existence of four critical zero-day security vulnerabilities affecting all current versions of Microsoft Exchange Server.  That’s the same time we stepped up to make sure that all DataYard and our clients’ servers were patched and secured as soon as possible.

Starting at 2AM on Wednesday morning, our engineers began installing the needed upgrades and patches to all DataYard managed Microsoft Exchange servers .  The Exchange infrastructures in question were quickly updated and rebooted, after which point DataYard engineers took a deeper dive to determine if there were any lingering threats.

In many cases across the globe this security vulnerability had already been exploited in an attempt to open a backdoor to critical and private data – our customers were no exception.  DataYard engineers discovered malicious web shells which had been remotely uploaded by nefarious bots in the final days of February 2021. While a malicious shell was indeed uploaded on these systems to provide access to a bad actor in the future, there is no evidence to suggest that the shell was ever accessed or utilized after the initial automated upload.

As of 2PM on Thursday (3/4/21), DataYard had completed the following for all of our managed VIP clients:

  • Determined if the VIP was vulnerable to the exploit in question
  • Updated OS when applicable
  • Installed critical security patches
  • Reboot and test
  • Removed all malicious files remotely updated by third parties
  • Investigated all system logs to ensure no malicious files were executed:
    • Network traffic logs
    • System events logs
    • Exchange application logs
    • Remote login records

At this point, the team at DataYard is confident to give all of our managed Exchange VIP systems a thumbs-up and a clean bill of health.  We appreciated the trust and confidence that all of our client partners have in DataYard – we are happy to have helped to avoid this nasty security breach and potential data compromise.  Please let us know if you have any questions or requests to help make IT better.

Have a fantastic weekend,
The DataYard Team

Work-Life Balance with BYOD

BYOD (bring your own device) offers a number of benefits. Employees choose the device they use, employers save on device costs, remote working is simplifiedthe list goes on. It’s not without its concerns, however.  

In addition to security risks, one of the primary red flags with BYOD is the blurring of work life and personal life. With the rise of smartphones, powerful portable computers, mobile networks, and cloud-based systems, the work-life balance has become increasingly murky. Left unchecked, BYOD can disrupt this balance even further. 

While work-life balance is sometimes labeled as an employee concern, it should be just as important to employers. It’s not just about whether their work life bleeds into their personal time, but how much of their personal life infiltrates into work time. 

True to its name, it’s a balance of both sides. Maintaining work-life balance results in employees with better attitudes who are more efficient. With the current COVID-19 quarantine measures that are in place, keeping work life and personal life separated is more difficult (and more important) than ever. 

Here is some general guidance for maintaining work-life balance with BYOD, whether your employees are quarantined at home or not. 

Separating Work and Life with BYOD

When it comes to managing devices owned by your employees, much of it is about setting expectations.  

You shouldn’t expect your employees to always have their work email pulled up, their communication app turned on, etc. In fact, unless their role requires emergency responses or it’s a special situation, it might be good to encourage employees to mute work-notifications during off hours. 

On the other hand, you should set hours when they should be online and reachable from their device. Make sure they know when their hours of availability should be. Set a policy for placing meetings/availability on a shared calendar.  

If you’re using Slack, Teams, or a similar communication tool, ask that employees keep their statuses updated. 

Speaking of tools and apps, make sure they have the necessary programs installed on their device so that they can adequately perform their tasks and responsibilities. Additionally, make sure that antivirus and firewall software is in place and activated.  

This will help protect both them and you from whatever they use their device to do. It’s hard to tell them what they can’t do with their own device, but you can mandate what they need to do if they’re going to use it for work. 

Preventing Personal Actions from Invading the Workplace 

If your employees are using personal devices for work, those devices are naturally more exposed to risks. To protect your company’s information and network from things the device might be accessing, proper security measures need to be implemented. 

For more hands-on monitoring and control, there are additional tools you can implement, such as a MAM (mobile application management), This allows you to monitor, update, and even remove mobile applications from a remote device, protecting your employees from otherwise dangerous software. 

Other tools can allow you to monitor, access, and update laptops and desktops as well. Whatever you do, it’s always important to be transparent with your employees. Make sure they know what you can see and access on their device. 

It’s a Process 

Successfully integrating BYOD requires guidelines, policies, and expectations. Maintaining the balance between work and life as your employees use their own devices is a process. It’s important that you engage with your employees, get their feedback, and adjust accordingly. 

Of course, creating policies, implementing changes, and assisting employees with any technical difficulties is a lot of work. This is where a dedicated IT team can help. 

At DataYard, we provide a range of IT services to assist modern day businesses. Whether you need cybersecurity, cloud storage, managed IT, or all of the above, we’re here to serve. For BYOD, our IT consultants in Dayton, Ohio can help create and implement policies and that maintain work-life balance and keep your systems protected. 

Contact us today! 

Keep Work and Personal Use Separate

LEARN MORE ABOUT OUR CYBERSECURITY SERVICES

Thank You Dayton Developers

The last few weeks have been full of exciting announcements for Dayton’s downtown revitalization and we just want to thank a few of the people we see investing their time and passion into our home.

Continue reading

Protecting CUI and Maintaining NIST 800-171 Compliance

If you work for a company with government contracts, you’re well aware of how important security and compliance is, especially when it comes to how data is handledWhile you might not be working with officially classified information as a non-federal contractor, you’re still handling potentially sensitive materials. 

The primary standard governing the handling and accessing of non-classified information is NIST 800-171. NIST 800-171 (also referred to as NIST SP 800-171 or simply 800-171) is a set of security standards for non-federal computer systems, mandating how Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) is to be handled. 

NIST 800-171 was created in response to a lack of consistency across federal departments and their contractors that left openings for exploits and resulted in some major breaches of informationWith NIST 800-171all non-federal contractors have a universal set of standards to follow when it comes to how they handle CUI. 

Handling Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI)

CUI is a classification created in 2008 to cover information that is potentially sensitive and relevant to US interests. CUI includes intellectual property, technical drawings, blueprints, legal materials, and more. 

Before CUI, agencies used their own internal systems for marking and filing unclassified information, creating confusion and openings for security breaches. CUI helps keep unclassified information better protected and better organized through a filing system of categories and subcategories such as Agriculture, Patent, Law Enforcement, etc.  

CUI should not be confused with classified information, which falls under NIST 800-53Classified information is placed under significantly higher restrictions, can only be accessed with officials holding specific security clearance, and can result in criminal charges when mishandled. 

Handling CUI might not be as strict, but it can still be a complicated process achieving NIST 800-171 compliance.  

Achieving and Maintaining NIST 800-171 Compliance 

If you’re handling CUI in any way, then you are bound to NIST 800-171 standards. If you are working for a federal or state organization, you fall under NIST 800-171. Even if you are working with a third party who in turn, is working with a government agency, you may need to follow NIST 800-171. 

It’s always best to be safe rather than be in trouble with the federal government. Failure to protect CUI and follow NIST 800-171 will result in the loss of your current contract, as well as future work. It may incur additional penalties as well. 

NIST 800-171 sets standards for user access, authentication procures, activity monitoring, maintenance and updates, physical server access, risk assessment, incident response, and more. Achieving compliance is not as simple as checking a few boxes. It is a process that is on-going. That’s where we can help. 

Being located in Dayton, Ohio, DataYard is well-versed in NIST 800-171 compliance. We provide a roadmap experience for our clients, guiding them along the way to meeting all of the necessary standards and helping them maintain them. 

From IT consultation to secured hosting to Dayton colocation, our suite of services can be tailored to meet all of the necessary NIST 800-171 standards. Contact us today to learn more and begin your journey towards true compliance.  

Need Help Maintaining Compliancy?

TELL US WHAT YOU NEED


0 / 1000

Setting Expectations for Your IT Support

In today’s digital, data driven world, your IT department has never been more important. Digital security should be one of the top priorities of any modern business. After all, a data breach costs a company an average of $8.19 million.

Of course, an IT team handles much more than security. From setting up employees with company devices to upgrading software and hardware systems to simply keeping your systems running, your IT department is the heart of all things digital.

Because of this, you should carry very high expectations for your IT team, whether they’re in house or outsourced (or a combination). Third party IT companies can be a valuable asset, as they can typically provide more in-depth services at a much more affordable price.

But the wrong IT company can become a serious liability.

Here is What You Should Expect from a Third-Party IT Company

First and foremost, they need to actually offer the services you require. IT can cover a lot of area, and every company has different needs. Certain IT companies can be more niche than others. Check and see if they have familiarity with your systems as well, from server types to software that’s being used. 

There is expected to be a certain amount of discovery when it comes to onboarding a new IT company, but they should have an idea of what they’re getting into. 

The same goes for knowledge of your industries compliance needs and security standards. This is especially important for businesses that deal with NIST 800-171 and HIPAA compliance 

A lot of IT is also about thinking and planning ahead. That’s why it’s not enough for an IT provider to meet you where you’re at currently. Scalability is important to consider. As your business matures and grows, your IT needs grow with it. 

Your IT provider needs to be able to step up their service as required. 

Lastly, when IT emergencies arise, fast response time is critical. You need to make sure a company is easily reachable, effective at communicating what’s going on, and quick to act. While it can be difficult to know how quickly an IT company is going to respond until you’re actually working with them, you can watch for signs during your initial engagement with them. 

If details are being skipped over or replies are coming a day or two later, you may want to look elsewhere. 

At DataYard, We Aim to Exceed Expectations 

We believe that quality IT Support cannot exist without high-level customer service. We want you to know that you have our attention. We’re here to assist you, answer questions, explain uncertainties, and do everything we can to put you at ease. 

From the moment a client signs up, it’s our goal to not just maintain the status quo, but to improve your system so that you’re protected against the future.  After all, IT isn’t just about protecting against current threats and potential problems. It’s about staying ahead of them. 

We can cater our services to your needs. Whether you need a full external IT staff or another team to support your inhouse staff, we’ll integrate seamlessly with your company. And for those located near our data center in the Dayton, Ohio area, we make onsite visits as needed. 

With DataYard at your side, you can expect a level of IT support that exceeds your needs. 

We're Here for You

LEARN MORE ABOUT OUR IT SERVICES


0 / 1000

Your Business Needs a Next Generation Firewall

As we mentioned in a recent post, a firewall is your first line of protection against malicious presences on the internet. A firewall is the gatekeeper to what’s entering your network or device, keeping the bad things out while letting the safe information in. 

At least, that’s what it should be doing. But as malware, viruses, and hacking techniques evolve, the tools that protect against them need to evolve as well. A traditional firewall might not be enough to protect you. 

For example, once upon a time, malware and hackers exploited holes in networks and security systems. Now, however, most exploit weaknesses in applications, which make them harder to flag and block. 

That’s where Next Generation Firewalls come in.  

What Makes a Firewall “Next Gen”?

A next generation firewall (or NGFW) isn’t simply the newest version or model of firewalls on the market. It’s a complete evolution, redefining how a firewall operates and what it protects you from. 

Yes, a NGFW performs all of the traditional functions of firewalls, filtering traffic based off port, protocol, preset admin filters, etc., but that’s only the beginning. 

The exact capabilities of a NGFW can vary, but they all must meet certain criteria. Gartner, one of the most senior authorities in IT, defines them as deep-packet inspection firewalls that move beyond port/protocol inspection and blocking to add application-level inspection, intrusion prevention, and bringing intelligence from outside the firewall. 

In many ways, NGFW combines the features of traditional firewalls with features found in additional security tools, combining them into one efficient, streamlined package. This reduces complexity while enhancing control and improving performance. 

For businesses where data security and system integrity are top priorities, having a NGFW is a must. 

Do Small Businesses Need Next Generation Firewalls? 

There’s no question that every business should have firewalls in place, no matter the size.  But do small businesses benefit from the power of next generation firewalls? Absolutely. The level of control and security featured in a NGFW is something traditional firewalls simply can’t compete with. 

That said, it can depend on what type of data you’re storing online and within your internal system. For certain smaller businesses, it could be overkill. Then again, when it comes to digital security, it’s always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to properly caring for your customers data. 

Ultimately, it doesn’t hurt to talk to a professional team about what level of firewall you should have in place for your business. As it happens, we are a professional IT team that would be happy to answer those questions for you. Our Discovery process is a perfect health check for your security level while getting a great picture of your IT environment 

At DataYard, we provide IT consultation in addition to private cloud hosting, cybersecurity, colocation in Dayton, Ohio, and more. Big or small, we can scale our services to meet your needs on a reasonable budget.  

Contact us today! 

Is Your Data Protected?

LEARN MORE ABOUT OUR CYBER SECURITY SERVICES

Cybersecurity 102: How Firewalls Protect Against Threats

The internet is two-way connection. You don’t just go onto the internet. The internet goes onto the device you’re using. If you’re not careful, a lot of bad things can get into your system through the internet.  

Recently, we discussed some of the major threats that companies face on the internet. Now it’s time to look at the first step to protect yourself from those threats.  

It’s Starts with a Firewall 

A firewall is the gatekeeper to your network and/or device. Its purpose is to let safe information in while keeping the bad stuff out. Dangerous items could include spyware, viruses, hackers, and much more. Additionally, certain firewalls can be customized and configured to keep out content that’s technically “safe”, but unwanted on a particular network. For example, companies may use firewalls to block time-consuming websites such as Facebook or YouTube. 

Firewalls can also act as a filter between different company networks. This is helpful in protecting your information from vendors and contractors you may work with. 

Are All Firewalls the Same?

No. First of all, a firewall can either be a software program or a physical device. Both perform the function of flagging questionable content and preventing it from coming through, though they do so in slightly different ways. 

A software firewall operates on your computer (or other device), protecting the information found there. Should a virus or hacker breach your network, a software firewall can still protect your individual device.  

A software firewall continues to protect your device even when you’re on other networks, which is very beneficial.  

Hardware firewalls are physical devices that act as the first point of connection to the internet, protecting your entire system and every device connected to it. Sometimes hardware firewalls double as routers. Other times, they connect to a router. Different hardware firewalls can offer different features. 

Not only do hardware firewalls protect against hackers and viruses, but they also keep out spam traffic that can slow down your network. 

The best form of protection is a mixture of both physical and device-based firewalls throughout the environment. DataYard provides a comprehensive solution that may include physical, hosted, and next-generation firewall solutions.  

Firewall Systems Need to Stay Updated  

Digital attacks are constantly changing as hackers find new flaws and loopholes in network systems and computer software. In order for your firewall to do its job, it needs to be maintained and updated. It’s important that you keep your network and online data somewhere that’s secure and protected against the latest threats. 

As an IT partner DataYard values an ‘eat your own dog food’ model that incorporates all the products that we would recommend to a client including physical devices, hosted firewall solutions, and software-based products. The more points of security the better. All of these options are available to new and current clients utilizing DataYard’s access, cloud hosting services and colocation. Second to great firewall solutions we maintain backups as an extra safety measure.  

For those who have extra security compliance standards to meet, we have you covered. Our team has a track record for providing thorough solutions that check all the boxes for all compliance requirements.  

And for those who want to make sure they have the right firewalls in place and configured correctly, our IT support in Dayton, Ohio can help you out. 

Not sure what you need? We’re happy to consult so you get the protection you need. Contact us today! 

Our Data Center is Here for You

LEARN MORE ABOUT HOW WE CAN KEEP YOUR DATA PROTECTED

Cybersecurity 101 – What are the Threats?

With so much of our lives and businesses online, cybersecurity is more important than it’s ever been. And it’s not just something that big businesses have to worry about. Nearly half of cyber-attacks are targeting small businesses 

For small businesses, one bad hack could be enough to put them out of business for good. 

That means cybersecurity should be a top priority for all businesses. If any part of your business is storing information online (and it probably is), you need to protect yourself against threats. How do you do that? 

The best place to start is by understanding what types of attacks are happening out there. Here are some of the most common types of attacks taking place in 2019. 

Today's most common threats to your data...

Ransomware  

Ransomware has been around since ‘89, and it’s a tactic that’s still going strong. As you might deduce from the name, ransomware is malware that gets into your system, locking you out of it, and cutting you off from your data. In order to get access back, hackers will demand payment or “ransom”. 

Sophisticated encryption in modern day ransomware ensures that your data is virtually impossible to recover without gaining permission from the random holder. What’s even scarier is the fact that should you pay the ransom, the hacker might delete your information anyway. 

This is why regular backup systems and segmentation is so important in modern server systems. 

Cryptojacking 

This is a relatively new attack that’s quickly gaining steam. You’ve probably heard of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum. Without going into too much detail (because cryptocurrencies can get very confusing, very fast), these currencies involve a process called mining, which requires a lot of computer power to perform efficiently.  

This is where cryptojacking comes into play. 

Cryptojacking involves planting hidden malware that secretly uses your company’s hardware and resources to mine cryptocurrencies. These attacks can be very hard to notice as they don’t cause obvious problems. They do, however, slow down your system and anyone who is connected to it. 

The good news is it’s relatively simple to prevent cryptojacking from happening. Even if your system has been infected, a skilled IT professional can get it removed quickly. 

Device Exploitation 

Smart technology is only growing more popular. These devices connect with the internet and with each other, forming something called the “Internet of Things”. While these devices can offer a lot of convenience, they can also serve as areas of exploitation. 

Individual devices have their own systems which require their own updates. Failing to update your devices is one of the easiest ways to expose yourself to attackers. Software and network updates exist largely to patch potential security risks in products. 

Systems need to be in place to ensure that the various devices connected to your network are secure and up-to-date. 

Third Parties 

Everyone likes to think of their vendors and contractors as trusted allies, but the truth is, they can be massive security risks as wellEspecially smaller companies who often lack proper security systems and dedicated IT teams.  

If your vendors have any access to your system, they pose a potential threat. You need to account for this. An IT audit, or Discovery, as we like to call them, can help expose where these weaknesses exist and provide steps to remediation.  

Phishing 

Despite a pretty wide awareness of phishing, it’s still a popular (and often successful) means of attack. Today’s phishing schemes are smarter than ever, often utilizing personal info and professional sounding email addresses to seem legitimate. 

These schemes can easily steal important passwords or spread malware through one wrong click. 

Cyber Attacks are Constantly Changing and Evolving 

Technology is advancing faster than ever. With it, cyber-attacks are constantly evolving. The only way to protect yourself, your customers, and your partners is with on-going security. Software or a simple firewall isn’t enough. 

You need a professional team by your side. 

At DataYard, we provide cyber security in Dayton, Ohio and beyond. Our web hosting and cloud services ensure regular backups of your data are made and that your systems stay up-to-date. Our IT support services (AYS) can further assist you in forming proper security protocols and ensuring that you stay protected from the latest digital threats. 

Contact us today to learn how we can keep you and your business safe.  

Is your company safe?

LEARN MORE ABOUT OUR CYBER SECURITY SERVICES

Google Chrome Updates – Is Your Site Secure?

The world’s most popular Internet browser, Google Chrome, is releasing an important update in the coming weeks.  Starting with the public and stable release of Chrome update 68, the browser will show a yellow “warning” icon next to the URL of web sites which are not protected by a SSL cert, and when this icon is hovered over a “Not Secure” warning will be displayed.  With over 53% of total browser market share, this update is sure to affect a wide swatch of users and websites.

Read the Google blog post here.

Not sure if your website will be affected by this change?  Visit your site in a browser, and then look at the URL in the address bar.  If your address begins with “HTTP” and not “HTTPS”, your visitors may start to see a warning when this update is released.

To get ahead of the curve on this, give us a call or send us an email – for $175 a year, we can purchase, coordinate, and install a fix for this issue for any DataYard hosting customers.  Just another way we are here to help you make IT better.