10B — October 27 - November 9, 2017 — Ask The Experts— Owners, Developers & Managers — M id A tlantic

Real Estate Journal


A sk T he E xperts Fight back against cybercrime, data breaches and hacker attacks Eight critical IT security protections every business should have in place


s a commercial real estate professional who reads the news,

can access with work devices and Internet connectivity, and should be enhanced with content-filtering software and firewalls. 3. Do not allow employees to access company data with unmonitored personal devices. Thanks to the convenience of cloud computing, employees can gain access to company data remotely and from their own personal devices. But if an employee accesses a critical cloud application via a per- sonal device that is infected, the hacker can gain access, too. Companies that allow employees to use personal devices and home PCs need to make sure those devices are properly secured, monitored and maintained by a security professional. 4. Require strong passwords and passcodes to lock mobile devices. Passwords should be at least eight characters, and contain lowercase and uppercase let- ters, symbols, and at least one number. On a cell phone, requiring a passcode to be entered will go a long way toward preventing a stolen de- vice from being compromised. Network administrators also should require a password reset every 30-60 days. 5. Keep your network and all devices patched and up- to-date. New vulnerabilities are fre- quently found in common software programs like Adobe, Flash, Microsoft and Quick- Time. When system and ap- plication patches and updates become available they should be installed. Under a man- aged IT plan, this can all be automated, which eliminates missed updates. 6. Have a business-class backup both on-premise and in the cloud. In a ransomware attack, a hacker locks up a company’s files and demands a fee to restore them. But if the files are backed up, this becomes a non-issue. Automated backups also protect against employees accidentally (or intentionally) deleting or overwriting files, and against natural disasters, fire, water damage, hardware failures and a host of other data-erasing disasters. 7. Incorporate a business- class firewall and proper up- dates. Firewalls act as the front- continued on page 18B

That may sound alarmist, but the reality is harsh. If a business falls victim to a cybercrime attack in which client data is compromised, its leadership will be investigated and questioned about what they did to prevent it from happening. If the answer is inadequate, they can be found liable. The company will be required by law to inform cli- ents that their private records, financials and data have been exposed. Client relationships will be put in jeopardy, and the competition will look to leverage the opportunity. And,

unless the victim company has a very specific type of crime insurance, no help will come from the bank. On the other hand, just a few preventative measures can help minimize (or outright eliminate) these reputational damages, losses, litigation and costs. 1. Educate your people. Almost all security breaches in business are due to an em- ployee downloading or opening an infected file or link from a website or email. Phishing e- mails – designed to look like a legitimate messages from

websites or trusted vendors – are common, and spam fil- tering and antivirus cannot protect a network if an em- ployee mis-clicks. Education is paramount. This includes both on-boarding of new staff members, and ongoing com- munication and testing of the entire team. 2. Adopt an acceptable use policy (AUP). An AUP outlines how em- ployees are permitted to use company-owned PCs, devic- es, software, Internet access and e-mail. Policies should limit the websites employees

you know cy- bercrime is a very real threat, yet it is possible you are un- derestimat- ing the po- tential dam- age. A single

Michael Mullin

cyber-attack – one slip-up from even a smart, tenured em- ployee clicking on the wrong email – can open the door to a company’s undoing.

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