8 Signs It’s Time to Switch IT Provider

A good IT service provider will understand the unique needs of your business and be able to help support its growth. 

More than simply keeping your systems running, they will maintain security, drive the adoption of new technology, and monitor performance. They will also help you to keep your team engaged, and proactively recommend process and system improvements.

However, as your business grows, your needs will often change, potentially putting strain on a previously great relationship. As a result, you may need to switch IT providers to ensure your support requirements continue to be met. 

You also need to watch out for the signs that your current arrangements are no longer working!

How do you know it’s time to switch IT providers?

As a general rule, if you’re asking whether it’s time to move on, you already know the answer.

Trust is crucial to an effective outsourcing arrangement so if you’re starting to question whether you can rely on your IT provider, it’s probably time to switch. And it’s best to be proactive about this decision, as the situation will usually only get worse the longer you leave it.

8 signs it’s time to switch

Here are the telltale signs that your current IT provider is no longer the right choice for your business.

  1. They don’t deliver

While timelines can change, you should be confident your IT provider will always meet their commitments. If they consistently fail to do this, it’s time to move on.

As you’re relying on them to keep your systems stable and secure, you need to be sure your IT provider is on top of things. 

In particular, you should watch out for ongoing system outages, technical issues, and project delays. These can significantly impact your productivity and damage your business’s reputation and are clear signs your provider isn’t doing their job.

  1. They are hard to get hold of

IT issues are often time-sensitive, so it’s important that you can access the support you need, when you need it. If this is not the case, you should consider switching IT provider.

As you are the client, you shouldn’t have to chase your IT provider for progress updates and other important information. In fact, the best providers build regular check-ins into their service approach and ensure you always have a way to contact them. 

In other words, you should feel like the prize!

Your provider should also commit to standard response times for both emergency and non-urgent requests as part of their Service Level Agreement.

  1. The value they provide is no longer obvious

One of the biggest advantages of managed IT services is that they should help maximise your return on investment. If you feel you aren’t getting your money’s worth from their service, it could be worth looking for a new provider.

Most IT support services will start strong, providing a raft of recommendations and making changes that have an immediate impact. However, once they pick all of the low-hanging fruit, some providers lose steam and shift focus to easier maintenance activities. 

While these are important, if your provider is only managing daily tasks, they are not supporting your business’s ongoing growth.

  1. You keep having IT issues

Responding to unplanned outages, performance issues, data breaches, and other common problems, is the bread-and-butter of IT support services. If the same issues keep happening, your provider is clearly not doing enough to prevent them, and it’s time to switch.

When you experience a serious IT issue, the top priority is getting your business back up and running. Once this is done, your provider should assess the cause of the problem, and implement measures to stop it from recurring. 

They should also monitor system performance and stability to help identify potential issues early, and proactively recommend ways to mitigate key risks.

By being capable of both reacting and preventing – you’ll know you have a good IT provider when IT problems are rare and easily dealt with. 

  1. Their advice no longer suits your business

Your service provider should engage with you regularly, taking the time to understand how your business operates and how your requirements are evolving. If they don’t, their advice won’t reflect your actual needs, and you should start looking for a new IT partner.

IT solutions are not one-size-fits-all, and the right approach for you will depend on a range of factors. Your provider should consider all of these for you and recommend the best options for your specific situation. 

If they keep pushing services that aren’t right for you, they either don’t understand your business or aren’t working in your best interest.

  1. They don’t share knowledge

Your team members play a crucial role in keeping your systems and data safe, and your IT provider should support their ongoing engagement and education. If they don’t, look for a service that will.

Regular training is required to ensure your team members understand and actively protect your business against potential cybersecurity attacks. Acknowledging how crucial this is, good IT providers will support the planning, and often delivery, of training activities. They will also provide updates on important cybersecurity trends and information on emerging threats.

  1. They keep pushing you to spend more

As your business grows, your provider may recommend additional support and new services, but this should be driven by your evolving requirements. If it’s not, and they are constantly trying to upsell you, it might be time to end their engagement.

Ongoing investment is required to keep your systems optimised and secure, and costs may increase over time. However, a good provider will help control your IT costs through targeted investment and strategic adoption of new technologies. They will not continually increase your fees or constantly recommend spending more on new systems and projects.

  1. You have outgrown them

Building on the above, as your business grows and your support needs increase, your provider should be able to easily scale their service to suit. If they can’t, you should switch to an IT provider who can.

The level of IT support your business requires will depend on the size and nature of your operations. For example,  how small businesses approach cybersecurity will be different to the measures larger organisations need to have in place. As such, as your business grows, the support you need changes, and your provider should adjust their service accordingly.

Ready to make the switch IT providers?

Choosing to change providers can be difficult, particularly if you have worked together for a while. Beyond the awkward conversations that need to be had, technical changes may be required to transition to a new service. However, this short-term inconvenience is more than outweighed by the long-term benefits.

If you have decided that it’s time to switch IT provider, give OneCloud a call

We are committed to delivering high-quality, reliable support and can tailor our service to suit your requirements. We also understand the transition process and can make it as smooth as possible, keeping downtime to a minimum.

Cybersecurity checklists: Why your business needs one

Keeping your business safe from cyberattacks requires the implementation of a range of important processes, systems, and controls. 

It also requires a coordinated effort to ensure these measures are maintained and built on over time. 

And you need to keep an eye out for new threats and ensure additional protections are put in place as required.

Sounds like a lot, right!

Given the scale and diversity of these activities, it can be difficult to keep track of them all. This is where a cybersecurity checklist can help, providing a snapshot of the work your business has already done.

With a cybersecurity checklist, the tool helps you assess your cybersecurity health without you needing to keep track of everything in your head!

What is a cybersecurity checklist?

Put simply, a cybersecurity checklist is a list of all the things a business should be doing to protect itself against cyberattacks. It is used to assess the strengths and weaknesses of a business’s existing processes and systems. It also supports strategic planning by highlighting the key areas requiring further focus and investment.

The importance of regular assessment

As the rate of cybercrime increases and cyberattacks become more sophisticated, business cybersecurity standards need to keep pace. This is particularly true for small businesses, which usually have weaker protections and are increasingly being targeted by cybercriminals.

As such, implementing and maintaining appropriate cybersecurity measures requires an ongoing commitment. Regular assessment of existing arrangements is a crucial part of this, allowing progress to be tracked over time. When done well, it also provides a framework for forward planning and can help provide a return on investment.

It is important to note here that any assessment tool, like a cybersecurity checklist, only identifies potential areas for improvement. Addressing these gaps will usually require additional effort and further investment, as well as the support of experienced cybersecurity professionals.

Features of a good cybersecurity checklist

Cybersecurity checklists come in a wide variety of formats and sizes. Some are extremely detailed and highly tailored to the unique considerations of a specific business or industry. Others are much simpler and cover the core activities that will benefit any business.

Whatever form they take, the best checklists share a few key characteristics.

Based on best practice

Regardless of the level of detail provided, a good cybersecurity checklist will enable you to measure your business against current industry standards. 

As part of this, it will highlight the greatest areas of concern, based on recent trends in cyberattacks. That means, by filling it out, you’ll know how well your business is protected.

Importantly, your checklist should be prepared by IT professionals with significant experience in the planning and implementation of cybersecurity measures. This should mean it is focused on practical interventions that are proven to deliver real protection against potential attacks.

Reflects the full range of security requirements

As there are multiple ways for cybercriminals to gain access to your systems and data, a robust security approach involves a range of different measures. 

Some of these will be technical solutions applied to the devices, applications, and systems you use regularly. Others will be administrative controls that are designed to minimise the risk and potential impact of an attack.

Acknowledging this, a good cybersecurity checklist will cover:

While the subject matter may be technical and complex, the assessment tool does not need to be. 

Often the best checklists are 1-2 pages, making them easy to complete while still providing enough of an overview to provide insights. 

In fact, an effective cybersecurity checklist should be simple enough that it can be completed by people who do not have an IT background. This is particularly important for small businesses, which often do not have experienced IT professionals on staff.

As part of this, the checklist should be structured logically, guiding the person completing it through the different steps of the assessment process. Response requirements should be kept as simple as possible, like ticking off the measures that are in place. The need for further detail should be kept to a minimum, as this can be gathered during any follow-up activities required.

Checklists designed to support small businesses will often also indicate what can be easily managed in-house, and what will require professional support.

Free to access

Most IT support services will have their own suite of tools designed to help clients assess and improve their systems and processes. This will usually include a cybersecurity checklist, though some consultants will charge you to access this document. Others will include access as part of broader cybersecurity service packages, but will still require you to pay to complete the assessment.

As there are a variety of high-quality resources available online, for free, there is no reason to pay for a checklist.

Using a free tool allows you to complete your assessment, and form your own opinion about the support you require. You can then have more informed discussions with potential consultants, working with them to tailor a package to your specific requirements.

Use our free cybersecurity checklist

15 Ways to Protect Your Business from a Cyberattack! is our free 1-page cybersecurity assessment checklist.

This free, easy-to-use self-diagnostic tool covers the 15 things every business should be doing to keep their valuable systems and data safe. Created by our cybersecurity experts, it allows you to quickly assess your performance against industry standards and identify any gaps you need to address.

We hope you find it useful. If you find your cybersecurity lacking, please don’t hesitate to get in touch so we can help you implement a robust cybersecurity plan.

Securing Your Cyber Infrastructure: The Importance of IT Server Protection

Over the last few years, the frequency and sophistication of cyberattacks have increased significantly. A much wider range of organisations have also been victims, with operations of varying sizes and focuses now being targeted.

This has made it even more crucial for every business to have robust IT server protection measures in place.

Acknowledging this, we want to take a closer look at what IT server protection is and the benefits it can provide for your business.

As part of this, we will explore how these measures differ from other IT security efforts, and how they support the overall health of your network. We will also share our advice on the best ways to secure your servers and minimise the risk of serious attacks.

Why does my server need protection?

An unprotected server is like the Holy Grail to cybercriminals, who will actively look for this weakness and exploit it to:

  • Access sensitive data, like client contact details and financial information
  • Infect your server with malware, which can be used to cause serious damage to your systems or steal sensitive information
  • Hijack your website and other key administrative systems, and potentially demand a ransom be paid before they restore access

Having proper server protection in place helps minimise this risk, keeping your business, and your client’s data, safe.

As recent events have shown, failing to do this can cause serious damage to your business’s reputation. It can also create legal problems, as Australian businesses are now required to keep client information safe through strict data management and protection measures.

The role of IT server protection

For most businesses, a secure server is an essential component of a healthy IT landscape. It means you are protected against malware, data breaches, unauthorised access, and other serious threats. It can also help you to optimise the availability, integrity, and confidentiality of your key systems.

It is worth noting here that there is a subtle, but important, difference between server security and cybersecurity.

While these terms are often used interchangeably, cybersecurity is a broader term that covers any measures designed to help prevent cyberattacks. IT server protections are a subset of these activities, specifically focused on keeping your server infrastructure secure.

It is also important to acknowledge that IT server protections must be supported by a range of other critical security measures. These include:

  • Sufficient email protections, to help strengthen and defend the primary entry point for most hackers and cybercriminals.
  • Comprehensive cybersecurity training, to help make sure your team members are aware of the biggest threats to your business and how to avoid them.
  • Robust business continuity plans, to help identify and mitigate key risks and provide a structured, strategic approach to responding to emergencies.

This list is far from exhaustive, and the exact protections you require will depend on the nature and scope of your business. The Australian Signals Directorate’s Essential Eight Maturity Model provides a more comprehensive approach to improving your business’s overall cybersecurity.

8 measures to keep your servers secure

If you are worried about the security of your servers or would like to implement additional protections, there are a few simple measures you should consider.

1. Keeping your networks private

Open networks have limited restrictions on who can access them, leaving them susceptible to all kinds of attacks.

By contrast, a private network creates an isolated environment that can only be accessed by those directly connected to it. Similarly, a virtual private network (VPN) creates a secure connection that allows you to safely access remote servers.

2. Disabling your admin user

Every server is set up with a root user role that has unrestricted access and can execute any command. These are a key target for cybercriminals as, if they can hack this role, they will have complete control over the server. To negate this, it is widely recommended that you disable this role when setting up your server.

3. Tightening your password requirements

Depending on their quality, passwords can be either your greatest protection against unauthorised access or one of your business’s biggest vulnerabilities. Where passwords are required, make sure they have to:

  • Be a minimum length (e.g. 8+ characters)
  • Include a range of different character types (numbers, upper and lower case letters, etc.)
  • Be updated regularly (e.g. they expire after 1 month)
  • Use a password manager

4. Implementing two-factor authentication

To further minimise the risk of unauthorised access, make sure your user verification process has at least two steps. This reinforces password controls by also requiring the entry of a security key or completion of a biometric scan (e.g. fingerprint) as part of the login process.

5. Setting up a firewall

A firewall adds another layer of protection against unauthorised access by limiting the systems and services a user can connect to or access. There are several different types of firewalls, which vary in structure and filtering method.

The right one for your business will depend on your budget and operating requirements.

6. Regularly updating your software

To keep your systems running as efficiently as possible, make sure you implement new updates as they become available.

These usually include patches and fixes for known issues or weaknesses, as well as operational improvements and new functionality. While updates can usually be automated, depending on the specific software, testing may be required before implementation to ensure usability will not be impacted.

Exploiting known vulnerabilities in software is one of the most common ways hackers infiltrate systems, so this is an incredibly simple measure to take that has a huge impact on your security.

7. Ensuring you have a back-up

While the above measures should help you prevent an attack, you still need to be prepared for the worst. Having a comprehensive backup of your systems and data will help minimise the impact of a successful attack and speed up recovery if something does go wrong.

This should be updated regularly and stored securely, either off-site or in the cloud.

8. Regular compliance checks

Regular compliance checks are like the health checkups for your server security. Imagine having a fancy security system, but never testing if it actually works!

In the ever-evolving digital world, your security needs to remain adept enough to combat the ever-growing capabilities of cybercriminals.

Don’t wait until it’s too late to protect your IT server

For information or assistance on improving your IT server protection, as well as meeting all your other cybersecurity needs, contact OneCloud IT Solutions today.

How Cyber Security Training for Employees Protects Your Business

When considering how to improve your business’s cyber security, your mind most likely goes straight to technological interventions.

From application controls and configurations to multi-factor authentication and restricting administration privileges, there are a range of measures that can help harden your defences. However, the most effective and cost-efficient step you can take is usually something a little softer – cyber security training for employees.

It doesn’t matter how robust your systems are if your team members aren’t aware of, and actively protecting you against, potential cyber threats.

This is particularly true if your employees regularly work remotely or use cloud-based solutions, as this increases your vulnerability to attacks.

But by delivering structured cyber security training for employees, you can turn one of your system’s biggest weaknesses into one of its greatest strengths.

How cyber-savvy are your team members?

In their 2023 Data Breach Investigations Report, global telecoms powerhouse, Verizon, found that 74% of cyber security breaches are caused by human error. This is despite the widespread focus on, and investment in, security protocols and protections against common sources of attacks.

This highlights just how critical cyber security training for employees can be. Within every business, there will naturally be varying levels of technological competency and literacy. Even if a team member’s work is mostly computer-based, that’s no guarantee that they are aware of the potential risks they regularly face.

Also, whether due to a lack of understanding, a lack of focus, or simply an accident, human error happens. There are a range of ways these simple mistakes can compromise your business’s cyber security.

Falling for phishing scams

Phishing scams are designed to trick employees into sharing sensitive information or making fraudulent payments. Traditionally, these have been easier to spot.

Using unsecured networks

Public Wi-Fi is a great tool for staying connected, but it also presents significant security risks. And, with working remotely now commonplace, the temptation to tap into a convenient, but unsecure, public network is much greater.

Using personal devices

Most people won’t have the same level of security on their personal phone or computer as you have on your business’s devices. So, whether you have a “Bring Your Own Device” policy or employees check work emails on their own phones, your data could be at risk.

The value of cyber security training for employees

Every member of your team is responsible for keeping your business’s data and systems safe. Regardless of where they sit in the organisation, their actions can either expose you to risks or strengthen your defences.

That said, as with any other part of their job, you cannot reasonably expect your employees to take on this role without some direction. You need to let them know what they should be looking out for and what is expected of them.

You also need to ensure they have the skills and experience to identify potential issues and respond correctly!

This is where cyber security training for employees can help. When done well, it ensures every member of your team is aware of the biggest risks that your business faces. It also supports a culture of security and the implementation of best practices that your team actually want to follow.

Return on investment

While it may not seem obvious, cyber security training also offers a significant return on investment!

When compared to more technology-driven solutions, employee training is actually better because it helps address the root cause of the majority of breaches – the human element.

Once a culture of well-trained and security-conscious employees has been established, new employees will simply fit into that culture, meaning you pay for training once, but reap the benefits of it well into the future.

What good cyber security training for employees looks like

For it to be truly effective, several important factors must be considered when designing a cyber security training program.

Comprehensive

Training should cover all elements of cyber security and the role your employees play in keeping your business safe. It also needs to strike the balance between not assuming any prior knowledge, and still respecting your employees’ intelligence.

Tailored

Depending on your industry and operations, certain risks and requirements may be particularly relevant to your business. Training should be designed to focus on these, while still providing a broad understanding of good cyber security practices.

Practical

Cyber security training for employees is as much about developing competency as it is about increasing awareness. Acknowledging this, training programs should include opportunities to practise key skills (e.g. through simulations, online learning, etc.).

Multi-format

Everyone processes new information differently, so training should support a range of learning styles. This can be achieved by including a variety of channels (e.g. online courses, in-person briefings, written materials, etc.) in your plans.

Ongoing

Cyber security requirements are constantly changing and evolving, as attacks become more frequent and sophisticated. As such, regular updates and engagement of employees are required to keep them across the latest threats and reinforce good cyber hygiene.

Supported

While it can make a significant difference, training alone will not keep your business safe. As such, training should be delivered in partnership with other essential cyber security measures.

Evaluated

As with any other development activity your business invests in, the effectiveness of your employee cyber security training should be measured.

Cyber security training for employees at OneCloud IT Solutions

Here at OneCloud, we understand the importance of cyber security training for employees and the significant benefits it can provide. That’s why awareness building and skill development are always key elements of our cyber security recommendations and consulting services.

If you would like more information on cyber security training for employees, or are interested in using our program, contact us today.

The Future is Calling: Transition to a Cloud PBX Phone System Now

Communication technology is constantly changing, with people expecting it to be more convenient, more flexible and faster than ever before. One of the most impactful developments in recent years has been the cloud.

If your business still relies on a clunky old Private Branch eXchange (PBX) phone system, you don’t risk being left behind.

You already have been…

It’s time to make the transition to a Cloud PBX solution.

You might be thinking, “It’s just a phone; it does the job.” However, in this blog, we’ll explain all the limitations of traditional PBX systems, showcase all the benefits of moving to a Cloud PBX system, and explain why this is one of the best immediate ways you can modernise your business.

What is a PBX Phone System?

A PBX, or Private Branch eXchange, is a telephone system used by organisations to manage internal and external calls. These systems typically rely on on-site hardware, unlike the modern cloud-based systems being adopted today.

What is a Cloud PBX Solution

A cloud-based phone system, known by various names like cloud PBX, hosted PBX, or virtual PBX, represents a VoIP communication solution accessible via a cloud-based IP network.

This technology is wholly internet-driven and managed off-site, unlike traditional PBX systems which are limited to on-site hardware.

The Limitations of Traditional PBX Phone Systems

Traditional PBX systems are a legacy of previous telecom systems that have served businesses well for decades. But compared to new advances in technology, they truly have become obsolete.

If you’ve got a traditional PBX system, you’ve probably experienced at least one of these drawbacks.

Inflexible Infrastructure

Traditional PBX systems require extensive on-premises hardware and wiring, making it challenging to adapt to changing business needs. Scaling up or down can be a cumbersome and costly process. Plus, if you move to an entirely new premise, you’ll need to set up your entire system in the new location.

Location Dependence

Legacy PBX systems tie employees to specific physical locations. With the rise of remote and flexible work arrangements, this limitation can hinder productivity and collaboration.

Since COVID, work-from-home arrangements are a way of life. As technology continues to improve, the likelihood that these arrangements become more rather than less prominent increases. So the sooner you move to a more accommodating system, the easier it will be for your team to work together no matter where they are.

Limited Features

Traditional PBX phone systems often lack modern communication features, such as:

  • Mobile integration
  • Virtual receptionists
  • Voicemail
  • Wireless connections
  • Advanced reporting and analytics

High Maintenance Costs

Like a classic car, finding the right parts and someone who knows how to install them can be tough when you have an old system. This makes maintaining and repairing them expensive.

As technology advances, finding spare parts and technicians will only become more difficult, so transitioning now before your system breaks down will save you stress in the long run.

Embracing the Cloud PBX Advantage

Now that we’ve highlighted the shortcomings of traditional PBX systems, let’s explore the numerous benefits of transitioning to a Cloud PBX solution.

Seamless Connectivity

Cloud PBX phone systems offer a seamless connection between in-office and remote team members. With the increasing trend of remote work, this feature is essential for maintaining effective communication and team cohesion.

Device Agnostic

Cloud PBX systems are device-agnostic, meaning you can access your phone network from a wide range of devices, including smartphones, tablets, laptops and desktops. This flexibility ensures that your team can stay connected wherever they are.

Advanced Features

Cloud PBX phone systems come packed with advanced features, including:

  • Mobile integration
  • Virtual receptionists
  • Voicemail
  • Wireless connections
  • Advanced reporting and analytics

Cost Savings

One of the most compelling reasons to switch to a Cloud PBX system is the potential for cost savings. You’ll reduce setup and maintenance costs, as well as eliminate the need for expensive on-site hardware.

Plus, it’s much cheaper to pay for a managed IT services provider to fix it than the callout fee for a technician and the cost to source, ship and install a bunch of antique parts!

The Urgency of Transitioning

If the above benefits aren’t motivating enough, consider this: the decision to transition to a Cloud PBX system may soon be out of your hands.

Many PBX brands, including well-known names like Panasonic, have stopped supporting traditional systems.

So what does that mean for your business?

No More Software Updates

Without manufacturer support, you’ll miss out on critical software updates and security patches, leaving your system vulnerable to threats.

No More Servicing

Once your PBX phone system becomes obsolete, it’s not a question of if it will fail, but when.

Long Disruption Times

If your system goes down and needs to be replaced, it could be days or even weeks before you have another system installed. This could be crippling for your business.

Partnering with OneCloud IT Solutions for Your PBX Phone System Transition

Transitioning to a Cloud PBX system can seem like a complex process, but with OneCloud IT Solutions, you’ll be amazed at how seamless it can be.

We’ll be there to assist you every step of the way. Our experienced team can guide you through the transition process, using their expertise to knowledge to make sure your business doesn’t experience any downtime.

To learn more about how OneCloud IT Solutions can help you make the transition to a Cloud PBX system, visit our service page.

To enquire about how we can help you transition to Cloud PBX, get in touch.

Don’t let outdated technology hold your business back! Take the first step towards a more connected, efficient, and cost-effective future for your business with Cloud PBX.

The Importance of Email Protection in Safeguarding Your Business

In the digital age, email has become the foundation of communication for businesses of all sizes.

It’s quick and efficient, however, with this convenience comes great vulnerability. Email is one of the primary entry points for cyberattacks, making email protection a necessary aspect of safeguarding your business.

In this blog, we’ll explore why email protection is essential, the risks small businesses face without it, and five measures to help protect your email.

Why is Email Protection Essential?

Email protection is essential as it serves as the first line of defence against a variety of cyber threats.

These threats include phishing attacks, malware distribution, ransomware, and business email compromise (BEC).

Hackers often target email systems to gain unauthorised access to sensitive data or to trick employees into revealing critical business or personal information.

The Consequences of Inadequate Email Protection

A lack of robust email protection measures can expose your organisation to severe consequences.

While most people know that having their information compromised is a risk, they often don’t appreciate the true impact.

When you have information stolen or withheld from you, this can:

  • Put your employees, customers and affiliated businesses at risk
  • Disrupt your business operations
  • Damage your company’s reputation
  • Cause massive financial losses
  • Incur regulatory penalties and legal liabilities

So while you may not care if your personal data gets stolen, everyone else involved in your business certainly will!

The Increased Risk for Small Businesses

Small businesses face unique challenges when it comes to their email protection. Often, they lack the financial resources and dedicated IT personnel that larger companies enjoy.

As a result, many small businesses become attractive targets for cybercriminals seeking vulnerabilities to exploit. In fact, often small businesses are seen as opportunities to practise or train for budding cybercriminals.

As well as being at a heightened risk, small businesses usually also face more serious consequences.

The same resources larger businesses have to draw on for protection are also available for their recovery. For small businesses, they often don’t have cybersecurity experts on retainer. This means it can take far longer to notice an attack has occurred.

The Most Common Types of Email Attacks

Cyber attacks are most likely to come in the form of:

1. Phishing Attacks

All businesses, but especially small businesses are prime targets for phishing attacks. These refer to deceptive emails that appear legitimate but are designed to steal sensitive information or introduce malware into the system.

2. Spear Fishing

These are like phishing attacks, but rather than being randomly sent to a large number of targets they are personalised for a specific recipient. This makes them more effective because they can more capably pretend to be from someone the target knows.

3. Ransomware

Ransomware attacks can cripple small businesses. Without email protection, malicious attachments or links can easily find their way into employees’ inboxes, encrypting critical data and demanding hefty ransoms.

4. Business Email Compromise (BEC)

BEC scams can trick employees into transferring funds to fraudulent accounts. Email protection helps detect and prevent such attacks, safeguarding your business and employees’ finances.

5 Measures to Protect Your Email

1. DMARC, DKIM & SPF Authentication

Authentication systems ensure that messages being sent from a domain name are coming from a permitted source. Implementing authentication systems helps to prevent email spoofing and phishing attempts.

2. Spam Filtering

Investing in robust spam filtering solutions that can automatically detect and filter out spam, phishing emails, and malicious attachments will significantly reduce the risk of employees interacting with harmful content.

3. Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)

MFA adds an extra layer of security by requiring a second form of verification in addition to a password. This makes it much harder for unauthorised users such as hackers to access accounts.

4. Encryption

End-to-end email encryption ensures that even if emails are intercepted, their contents will remain unreadable to unauthorised parties. This is crucial for safeguarding sensitive data, particularly for small businesses.

5. Employee Training

It’s vital to invest in cybersecurity training for your employees. Well-educated staff members are one of the best cyber prevention methods as they are better equipped to identify phishing attempts and suspicious emails, reducing the likelihood of falling victim to cyberattacks.

The Benefits of Implementing These Measures

Implementing these email protection measures offers a wide range of benefits for your business.

1. Peace of Mind

With robust email protection in place, you can rest easy knowing that your email communication is secure, reducing anxiety about potential cyber threats.

2. Confidence in Your Employees

Employee training ensures that your team is aware of cybersecurity best practices. This knowledge not only safeguards your business but also boosts employee confidence in handling email security.

3. Reduced Distractions

Robust spam filtering means fewer distracting and potentially harmful emails cluttering your employees’ inboxes. This enhances productivity and allows your team to focus on more important tasks.

Get in Touch with OneCloud IT Solutions for an Email Protection Solution.

When it comes to email protection, it always pays to be prepared.

This means having robust systems in place to prevent and defend against cyber-attacks and preserve the safety and integrity of your email information.

Why not do this with a professional team by your side?

OneCloud IT Solutions offers a tried and tested approach to email protection. We also equip staff with the knowledge to detect phishing attempts, avoid social engineering tactics, and handle data responsibly, ensuring a united front against cyber threats.

Contact OneCloud IT Solutions to bolster your email protection today and start future-proofing your business.

5 Key Elements of a Robust Business Continuity Plan

In today’s rapidly evolving business landscape, what’s an often overlooked key to business success?

It’s the ability to adapt to disasters caused by unforeseen events. While it certainly isn’t pleasant to think of disasters, they are a fact of life, and not preparing for them can cripple your business in the future.

That’s where a robust Business Continuity Plan comes into play. In this article, we delve into the importance of Business Continuity Plans and explore the five essential steps involved in setting up an effective plan for your business.

What is a Business Continuity Plan?

A Business Continuity Plan (BCP) is a comprehensive strategy that identifies potential risks to a business, assesses their potential impact on operations, and outlines measures to mitigate these disruptions. Similar to a disaster recovery plan, a Business Continuity Plan serves as a roadmap to help organisations continue critical operations during turmoil and safeguard their reputation.

Why are Business Continuity Plans Important?

It’s important to remember that business continuity plans aren’t just important for responding to the initial disaster. Their value is also measured in how well they protect you from potential consequences long after the initial disaster has passed.

1. Mitigating Risks

By identifying potential risks and vulnerabilities, a Business Continuity Plan allows businesses to proactively implement strategies to minimise their impact. This helps to safeguard employees, assets, and business processes.

2. Ensuring Operational Continuity

When it comes to business, momentum is key. Disruptive events can halt operations, leading to financial losses and reputational damage. A Business Continuity Plan ensures that businesses can continue delivering their services and products in challenging environments, maintaining customer trust.

3. Regulatory Compliance

Many sectors and industries have legal and regulatory requirements for Business Continuity Planning. Adhering to these regulations not only avoids penalties for non-compliance but also demonstrates a commitment to operational resilience.

4. Enhanced Customer Confidence

Having a well-structured Business Continuity Plan signals to customers that an organisation is prepared to handle unforeseen events, instilling confidence in their ability to meet obligations and deliver consistent services.

5 Steps to Setting Up a Business Continuity Plan

Here are the 5 key steps to setting up a robust Business Continuity Plan. With these, you can give yourself peace of mind and safeguard your business.

1. Assessment

The first step in developing an effective Business Continuity Plan is conducting a comprehensive risk assessment. Identify potential threats, such as:

  • Natural disasters
  • Cyber-attacks
  • Economic shocks
  • Supply chain disruptions

Then, evaluate the impact of these events on critical business functions, systems, and data. This assessment provides a foundation for tailoring the plan to the organisation’s specific needs.

2. Planning

Based on your risk assessment, create a detailed plan that outlines the necessary steps and procedures that your organisation needs to take to mitigate risks and maintain critical operations. Define roles and responsibilities for employees involved in the plan’s execution through:

  • Clear communication protocols
  • Alternate work locations
  • Procedures for activating the plan during a crisis

3. Installation

Now it’s time to implement.

This includes setting up any relevant hardware and software, and secure data storage facilities. It’s important to regularly update and test these systems to ensure their effectiveness.

4. Training/Testing

As well as ensuring system effectiveness, it’s important to provide comprehensive training to your employees on their roles and responsibilities during a crisis.

Conduct regular drills and simulations to assess the effectiveness of your Business Continuity Plan and identify any gaps or areas for improvement.

5. Implementation

When a disruptive event occurs, activate the Business Continuity Plan swiftly and efficiently – this is where previous training and installation will prove helpful. Communicate the plan to all relevant stakeholders, ensuring clear instructions and guidelines are followed.

It’s also important to continuously evaluate the plan’s performance during the crisis, making adjustments as needed.

Get in Touch Today to Set Up a Business Continuity Plan to Protect Your Business in an Emergency

In business, it always pays to be prepared.

In the case of a Business Continuity Plan, this means understanding exactly what you need to mitigate business risks, the questions you need to ask, and the red flags that you need to look out for.

Why not do this with a professional team by your side?

Contact OneCloud IT Solutions to start work on your Business Continuity Plan today and start future-proofing your business from inevitable disasters.

Boost Your Business with Microsoft Azure: 5 Key Benefits to Explore

In today’s digital landscape, cloud computing has become essential for businesses of all sizes. Microsoft Azure, a leading cloud platform, offers a wide range of benefits for organisations seeking to optimise their operations.

If you’re a small to medium-sized business owner, you might be wondering how Microsoft Azure can help you.

If so, read on to learn the top 5 benefits of utilising Microsoft Azure and how you can leverage its power to transform your business!

What is Cloud Computing

Put simply, cloud computing is the delivery of computing services over the internet. Instead of storing data or running applications on a local computer or server, cloud computing allows you to access these resources remotely through a network connection.

This means you can have on-demand access to a vast network of servers, storage, databases, and other computing resources, all of which can be scaled up or down based on your needs.

What is Microsoft Azure?

Microsoft Azure is a cloud computing software that offers a vast array of services and tools designed to assist businesses in developing, deploying, and managing various applications and services.

Azure allows users to harness the power of the cloud by providing access to scalable computing resources, storage, databases, networking capabilities, and advanced technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning.

The 5 Key Benefits of Microsoft Azure for Your Business

While Microsoft Azure has many benefits, the following 5 are the main reasons why it’s gained worldwide popularity and renown as an excellent cloud platform.

1. Cloud Data Security

Microsoft Azure is all about keeping your valuable information safe!

It provides strong security measures for protecting your important data in the cloud. By using advanced encryption techniques, Azure securely stores and transfers data to prevent unauthorised access. Additionally, because your data is located in the cloud, and not on a hardware device, it helps reduce the risk of data loss from stolen or misplaced devices.

It also offers features such as controlling access based on roles and detecting potential threats, allowing you to have control over data access and quickly identify any security breaches.

Given human error is one of the leading causes of data breaches, having the ability to protect your business from internal mistakes as well as outside attacks is a major benefit of Microsoft Azure.

Transferring your systems over to the cloud is also easy and seamless when done by professionals.

2. Disaster Recovery

You’d be surprised to know many small to medium businesses don’t have a disaster recovery plan – even though they definitely need one!

Disasters of all kinds can cripple or close your business if they catch you unprepared. You may not be able to predict upcoming disasters, but with Microsoft Azure, you can safeguard yourself from them.

Azure’s disaster recovery capabilities will help your business quickly recover from system failures, natural disasters, or other disruptive events.

Azure Site Recovery, a feature of the software, lets you replicate your applications and data to a secondary location as a backup. That means in the event of a disaster, you can quickly access and restore everything, minimising downtime.

Fast recovery makes or breaks a business facing a disaster, so the continuity and reduced impact offered by Microsoft Azure is essential!

3. Scalability and Flexibility

While you may be a small to medium business now, who knows what the future may hold! If you’re looking to increase your scale Microsoft Azure is the solution!

The true merit of any software is how well it can be adapted to suit your business’s needs, and with Azure you’ll always feel confident that it can match your requirements. If you’re in a period of growth or expansion, simply increase your Azure suite to keep your momentum.

Azure’s adaptable infrastructure and impressive range of features and add-ons let you quickly allocate extra resources when demand is high and reduce when demand is low. That means if your period of growth turns out to be short-lived, you can reduce your Azure suite as easily as you increased it.

4. Cost Efficiency

Microsoft Azure provides affordable solutions for businesses of any size!

With Azure’s flexible payment model, you are charged based on the resources you actually use. This means you’re not locked into upfront investments or costly features you end up not needing.

Azure’s automatic scaling features help you allocate your resources efficiently, avoiding unnecessary expenses. Additionally, Azure offers tools and analytics for managing costs, which help you monitor and optimise your cloud spending to maximise your return on investment.

5. Artificial Intelligence (AI)

AI is taking the world by storm, and if you haven’t integrated it into your business yet, Microsoft Azure is a fantastic place to start!

Azure’s integration with AI services enables businesses like yours to harness the potential of artificial intelligence and machine learning.

In particular, Azure Cognitive Services is a brilliant feature that lets you effortlessly incorporate AI features into your applications. These features can automatically identify images, understand natural language, and analyse sentiment, just to name a few.

Another great feature is Azure Machine Learning, which offers a powerful platform for creating and deploying machine learning models on a large scale. These models can help you obtain valuable insights into your data, and even automate tasks and automations.

How Do You Get Microsoft Azure?

Getting Microsoft Azure is as easy as purchasing it directly from Microsoft.

But, wait!

While we don’t blame you for being excited to transform your business with Azure, there is something you should consider.

To truly take advantage of its incredible pricing and feature structures, you need to know precisely what capabilities your business needs. This will avoid you missing out on great features that could make your life a whole lot easier, or from paying for features you won’t need.

What’s the best way to learn what your business needs? Ask a professional!

OneCloud IT Solutions

At OneCloud IT Solutions we offer cloud services to keep your business efficient and protected.

In particular, we specialise in helping integrate Microsoft Azure into businesses like yours.

We’ll review your business needs and determine what features you need and the best pricing for your Azure plan.

Interested? Get in touch today!

The Top 8 Ways Human Error is Putting Your Cybersecurity at Risk

When you think about cybersecurity, you probably picture antivirus software, password protectors and multifactor authentication.

All of these things are important, but they’re not as important as correct employee training.

Each of your employees has the power to accidentally make your business vulnerable through one mistake. So you need to ask yourself, how cyber-aware is your team and how long before an accidental breach impacts your business?

Read on to learn the top 8 ways human error is putting your cybersecurity at risk.

What is Human Error in Cybersecurity?

Human error in cybersecurity refers to the mistakes people make that can lead to data breaches or their security being compromised.

For example, an employee may fail to update software, be tricked by a phishing attack, or click a suspicious link. Human error can lead to catastrophic consequences like financial losses and reputational damage, especially for small businesses.

How Common are Human Error Breaches?

Deloitte recently released their Future of Cyber 2023 report which revealed some startling cybersecurity statistics.

They found that 95% of all cybersecurity events involved some degree of human error. This can range from sharing sensitive information on public networks to clicking on a suspicious link.

While 95% is a scary number, it also means by professionally training your team to avoid human error breaches, you could make your business 95% safer!

The Top 8 Ways Human Error is Putting Your Cybersecurity at Risk

1. Phishing Scams

Phishing scams are when a hacker tries to manipulate you or one of your employees using social engineering. In this case, they use fake emails, SMS messages, phone calls etc to trick you into giving them access, information or money.

While you might think you’d never give a stranger your details, phishing scammers are smart and will disguise themselves as people you trust, like friends, your workplace or institutions like your bank.

With the emergence of sophisticated AI software that can help them write convincingly, can alter voices and create images, phishing attacks will become more deceptive in the future, so you need to be wary.

2. Vulnerable Passwords

If you use the same password for everything, that’s bad. If your employees also use the same password, or worse, share a common password, that’s even worse.

Having the same password for everything means a cybercriminal only needs to breach one of your accounts to have access to all of them.

Using simple or common passwords also leaves you vulnerable. People often use passwords that are easy to remember, like their name or birth date, “1234” or “password.” The problem is, these kinds of passwords are also really easy for hackers to guess.

Using strong, unique passwords and changing them regularly is important if you want to prevent data breaches. Just remember, when you’re part of a business it isn’t just your password that needs to be strong, it’s the passwords of all your team members as well.

A table showing how long it takes for a hacker to reveal different lengths of passwords

3. Sharing Sensitive Information

No matter how well you protect your business information with systems, poorly trained employees can still unwittingly share sensitive information.

Details like passwords or financial information can be shared through unsecure channels. For example, an employee with a compromised mobile device might message a password to their colleague, and this password will be intercepted by a hacker.

These seemingly small acts of defying cybersecurity best practice can have devastating consequences for your business, so it’s vital you make sure your team is well-trained.

4. Out-of-Date Software

All your work devices should be set to automatically update, but if your employees sometimes use personal devices for work, they may have out-of-date software.

Outdated software can leave systems vulnerable to cyberattacks. Hackers exploit known vulnerabilities in software that hasn’t been updated. This is such a common form of attack that cybercriminals have forums to discuss and share the latest exploits.

So make sure every device used in your business, whether supplied by you or your employees, is automatically updating itself.

5. Downloading Malicious Software

Downloading malicious software, known as malware, is like giving cybercriminals direct access to your system.

Malware is usually delivered by tricking a user into accessing it, often by masquerading as an innocent source. Unfortunately, without proper training, your employees may download or click suspicious files and links.

It only takes one person to invite a cybercriminal into your systems, which could cause significant damage to your business’ financial situation and reputation. To help prevent this, limit the permissions for your employees to download and install unapproved applications.

6. Using Public Wifi

After COVID-19, work from home arrangements are commonplace. While this gives your employees flexibility, but it also takes them away from your secure workplace wifi.

Public networks are more vulnerable to being breached, where hackers can intercept the data being transferred.

While it may be tempting for your team to spend part of their work from home day in a cafe, at the very least they need to avoid using public wifi when accessing work financial accounts.

7. Physical Security

Many people forget about physical cybersecurity. While the two terms may sound like they contradict each other, with phones and tablets increasingly being used for work, the danger of a device being lost or stolen has never been higher.

Your employees need to make sure they never leave any device used for work in public places. They should also be in the habit of logging out of secure applications and locking the device when it isn’t attended.

If a device does ever go missing, it is essential that they inform you immediately so passwords can be reset and account activity can be monitored.

8. Lack of Training

By now you’re probably noticing a trend – a lack of education about cybersecurity can lead to a lot of incidents!

The reality is, data breaches occurring because of human error is one of the largest risk factors for businesses today. Employees who aren’t properly trained in cybersecurity best practices can make mistakes that lead to breaches, and as the business owner, it’s your responsibility to ensure they are trained correctly.

Providing professional cybersecurity training is the only way you can help employees identify security threats!

OneCloud IT Solutions

Even if you have a strong cybersecurity awareness, your employees might not. That’s why training your team on proper cybersecurity protocols is essential if you want to protect your business.

At OneCloud IT Solutions, providing cybersecurity for small businesses like yours is our speciality. Not only will we implement the Essential 8, we’ll also train your team to eliminate the risk of human error.

For more information about our service, or to book a consultation, get in touch today.

Tiny Fish in a Big Pond: A Guide to Small Business Cybersecurity

Imagine you’re a tiny fish happily swimming along, and then suddenly a shadow looms over you…

Unfortunately, cybersecurity is even more sinister. You won’t see hackers coming until it’s too late and you’re far more at risk than you realise. 

The truth is, cyber attackers will hack you, it’s only a matter of time…unless you read on and learn small business cybersecurity.

Mythbusting

There are three common myths small business owners tell themselves about cybersecurity – and if you’re one of them your business is at risk. 

Myth 1: You Aren’t a Target

“I’m a small business, the hackers won’t notice me.”

If you’re telling yourself that, you couldn’t be further from the truth!

Cyber attackers aren’t stupid. They hone their skills and tradecraft over the course of years – always evolving to better compromise business owners like you.

Just like any other trade, they start with small jobs and work on their skills. 

Where an electrician might learn to rewire a power point before they learn to rewire a house, a hacker will learn to breach a small business before taking on a larger one. 

You are the power point.

Myth 2: You Haven’t got Anything to Lose

“I’m a small business, I’ve got nothing for them to take.”

There is always something for them to take, and it may not be what you’d expect. 

Cybercriminals are increasingly valuing data and access as highly as money. So even if you don’t have much in the bank for them to steal, they have other ways to steal from you.

If you keep customer or team member records on file, this information is valuable to a hacker. They can use your email accounts in phishing scams to trick your employees or customers, or as part of a larger spam network comprised of other unfortunate small businesses like yours. 

They can also disrupt your service and force you to pay them that way. They’ll lock you out of your own system or files and charge you a ransom to get back in. 

Myth 3: There’s Safety in Numbers

“There are so many businesses out there that the chance of mine being targeted is tiny.”

There’s a lot to be afraid of when you’re a tiny fish in a big pond. That’s why you might think there’s safety in numbers. 

Unfortunately, once again, we’re going to have to disappoint you.

Not every attack is targeted. In fact, many hackers don’t single out individual small businesses, but instead, take advantage of their usually inadequate security to breach huge swathes of them in untargeted attacks. 

Known as bulk campaigning, many cybercriminals will simply send out generic phishing campaigns to as many businesses as possible and rely on the sheer volume to guarantee hits.

Long story short, they aren’t coming after one tiny fish, they’re coming after the whole school!

Why Cyber Attacks are More Devastating for Small Businesses

Now that those myths have been busted, you should be starting to sweat a little – and for good reason!

If you do get targeted, you actually have far fewer options and a lot more to lose than larger businesses. 

You Have Fewer Recovery Options

One of the biggest challenges for small business cybersecurity is your limited resources. 

Unlike large corporations, you likely don’t have a dedicated IT department or the budget to hire outside cybersecurity experts. This can make it more difficult to recover from a cyber attack and get back to business as usual.

To really put this in perspective, 20% of small businesses take more than 30 days to realise they’ve been breached! 

In fact, one Central Coast business lost $40,000 from a single client breach after the hacker had lurked in their system for 120 days!

That’s right, as you’re reading this you may have already suffered a cyberattack! What’s worse, if you have been compromised, the longer you leave it without realising it, the more damage can be done. 

You Have Fewer Financial Reserves

Small businesses tend to have fewer financial reserves than larger ones. This means if a cyber attack does occur, you’ll struggle to cover the costs of repairing the damage. 

If your business operation is completely disrupted, you’ll lose revenue. Plus, the cost of hiring an IT agency will also set you back. If you’re a business that lives week-to-week, or if you’ve already incurred some debt, a cyberattack may cripple your business. 

You’re More Dependant on Your Reputation

Finally, small businesses are often more dependent on their reputation than larger ones. 

Massive companies can have their reputations affected by cyber attacks, but they can usually bounce back because they are benefiting from years of building brand awareness. 

Look at Optus’; even after their catastrophic data breach, millions of Australians are still using their service.

If your small business is hacked, your customers may lose trust in your ability to keep their data safe. Unlike at the top end of the business size scale, at your smaller end, a high-profile catastrophe could cause irreparable damage to your reputation. 

How You Can Protect Yourself

The Essential 8 is a mitigation framework designed by the Australian Cybersecurity Council (ACSC) to protect businesses from cyber attackers. 

The reason it’s ‘essential’ is because it outlines the 8 most essential cyber protections your small business needs to be cyber secure. 

You can read a full overview of the Essential 8 here, which an IT company can install for you. In the meantime, there are two DIY measures you should take today to start protecting your small business.

Multi-Factor Authentication

In modern cybersecurity, relying solely on strong passwords is no longer enough. Multi-factor authentication has become an essential security measure that uses multiple devices to authenticate you, providing an extra layer of protection.

For example, logging into an account on your desktop might require you to enter a code sent to your phone via SMS. To gain access, you need to enter the code into your desktop device, making it more challenging for an attacker to hack into your account. 

Using more layers and different devices increases security. Setting up multi-factor authentication is easy with Microsoft 365, and third-party app providers may support it too.

Email Spam Filter

Receiving spam emails every day is dangerous. These emails often contain malware or phishing scams designed to trick you into compromising yourself. 

They’re also costing you time. One Central Coast business was receiving a large volume of spam emails, meaning they had to devote huge chunks of their day to clearing their inbox!

Simply installing an email spam filter can instantly remove the majority of these emails from your inbox. Shop around online to find a reliable one and it’ll make an overnight difference to your cybersecurity.

OneCloud IT Solutions

Still feeling vulnerable is the big pond you’ve found yourself in? 

There’s one more thing you can do to protect yourself, and that’s getting a bigger one to come and protect you!

At OneCloud IT Solutions, providing cybersecurity for small businesses like yours is our speciality.

Whether it’s implementing the Essential 8 or helping you recover after a breach, we’re here to help!

Get in touch today.

Medical Practice Cybersecurity: Implementing the Essential 8

If you own or work in a medical practice, you might not realise that you are a high-value target for cyber criminals. 

More than anything, cyber attackers look to steal information. This information can be used to blackmail you, infiltrate your systems or catch you in a phishing scam. It can even be sold to other attackers for a profit.

Medical practices store a lot of information about their patients, and can look like a goldmine for greedy criminals. So it’s important you know how to protect that information, and your business. 

Read on to learn how implementing the Essential 8 can protect your medical practice. 

Why Do Medical Practice’s Need Cybersecurity?

Medical practices collect a lot of sensitive and confidential data about people. From patient contact details and identity documents, to detailed records of their medical history, all this information can fetch a high price for hackers. Due to their lucrative nature, data breach attempts on medical practices are a serious threat. 

This problem is made worse by the fact that more and more Australians are using internet based doctor services, appointment booking apps, and record transfers. The more users a medical practice has connecting to its network, the more entry points for a cyber criminal. 

Just recently, Medibank, an Australian health insurance giant with 3.9M customers, suffered a high-profile data breach. Customers had their personal details and parts of their medical history, such as claim codes, potentially leaked. This has caused a huge loss of reputation for Medibank, and has left customers feeling exposed.

What is the Essential 8?

The Essential 8 is a framework of cybersecurity measures for implementation in businesses. Created by the Australian Cybersecurity Council (ACSC), it outlines 8 steps businesses can take to protect themselves from cyber criminals.

It’s recommended that medical practices, and all businesses for that matter, consult an IT service to implement the Essential 8 for them as soon as possible. Data breaches have recently increased by 6% in Australia, and if your practice isn’t secure it’s only a matter of time before you fall victim to a breach. 

Implementing the Essential 8 in Medical Practices

The following Essential 8 measures will help you protect your medical practice from cyber breaches. 

*Note: the Essential 8 are designed for Microsoft Windows internet connected networks. If your business is based on a cloud service many of these strategies still apply, but you should supplement them with these resources. 

Application Control

Application control stops unapproved or suspicious applications from being installed in your computer systems. 

When you visit a compromised website, it’s possible to download dangerous applications without you knowing. Application control also protects you from employees installing suspicious applications and introducing vulnerabilities to your system. 

Remember, your employees likely aren’t deliberately trying to sabotage your cybersecurity, but people make mistakes, and configuring application control helps prevent these mistakes. 

Application Patches

Patches don’t just improve performance or add new features, they also fix known exploits that cyber criminals will use to gain access to your medical practice’s systems. It’s in your best interests to check that your software and devices are set to automatically update. 

Don’t fall into the trap of assuming that your software are updating themselves. You need to be positive that they are, or you are leaving yourself vulnerable. 

Even after taking this step, if you hear of any exploits in software that you use, manually checking for an update will give you some peace of mind. 

Microsoft Office Macro Settings

Macros are automated actions that can complete a number of simple tasks for you. In many areas where you would need to click or type, Microsoft Office macros can do that for you.

The problem is, the code that allows this feature to work can also be the perfect vehicle for malicious code to enter and wreak havoc on your system. 

By configuring Microsoft Office properly, you can substantially reduce the threat of an attack through your macro code. 

Web Browser Hardening

Your web browser is your doorway out into the internet, where much of modern medical practice business takes place. The problem with doorways is that while they let you out, they can also let cyber criminals in. 

Browser hardening adjusts the settings of your web browser to make it as protected as possible. This process commonly includes making sure employees can’t change their browser settings. It also stops your browser from processing common harmful traffic sources, like online ads and programs running Javascript. 

Operating System Patches

Just like your software, your devices need regular patches as well. Like renovating a house that has a weak foundation, no matter how often you update your software, if your device operating systems stay at the factory level you’re still exposed. 

Setting up automatic updates on your devices should be your first step. If you have a larger medical practice, it’s a good idea to contact an IT service, they can remote update all the devices on your network for you. 

Admin Privileges

Your administrator privileges shouldn’t be accessible among your entire team. They have the power to change very important settings and configurations across your entire device network. They also grant access to confidential information. 

Remember, if your employees are compromised, anything they can access is something your hacker can access too. You need to seriously consider who in your team needs admin access, and then restrict it just to that group.

A good rule of thumb for deciding what level of access to give is to only grant the amount required for your team to complete their tasks. Any more is unnecessary and increases the potential damage of any future attacks.

Multi-Factor Authentication

Implementing multi-factor authentication is one of the most powerful measures you can take to protect your medical practice. When you sign into an account with multi-factor enabled, you will need to use a second device to confirm your access. A common example is being sent an SMS message with a code when you try to log in through your desktop. 

This quite literally doubles the work a hacker needs to do to access your account, because they need to compromise two of your devices, not just one. 

It’s also a great early warning system when someone is trying to breach your security. If you receive a code, but you know you haven’t tried to access your account, then you know someone is trying to hack you. 

Regular Backups

The patient records kept at medical centres are incredibly important. They contain important information about people’s medical histories, such as notes about allergies, tolerances and health conditions that could affect future treatments. 

While people often think of data breaches as data being stolen, they fail to think about data being withheld or deleted. Ransomware, malware that locks you out of your data and demands a ransom to unlock it, is particularly threatening for medical practices. People need their medical records, and you need them to operate your practice, so hackers may believe you are more likely to pay the ransom

Backing up your data to the cloud is one way that you can be sure to retrieve it in the event of a cyber attack. Many cloud-based backup solutions store your data on multiple servers across multiple countries. This makes it incredibly difficult to access for hackers. 

Contact an IT Service

Receiving accreditation as a general medical practice depends on having high-quality cybersecurity. To be confident that you can keep your patient data safe, you need to contact an IT service. 

At OneCloud IT Solutions, we specialise in implementing the Essential 8, as well as additional measures that we know are necessary.

We’ll conduct a full audit of your current cybersecurity setup and identify any vulnerabilities in your system. This allows us to implement any measures required to keep your medical practice and your data safe. 

Contact us today to book a cybersecurity audit, or visit our website for more details about our solutions. 

Phishing Cyber Attacks: How to Avoid Being Caught Hook, Line and Sinker

If you’ve ever been fishing, you know how it feels to bait a  hook or use a lure to imitate the movements of a real fish.

Well now imagine that you are the fish, and cyber attackers are phishing in your inboxes. Their messages will imitate brands or people you know and trust, all to entice you to take the bait.

While you might think you can spot the hook, just remember, so did every fish you’ve ever caught. 

Read our guide to phishing cyber attacks, including how to spot them, and how to protect yourself from them.  

What are Phishing Cyber Attacks?

Phishing cyber attacks are a type of social engineering attack that steals a victim’s personal information through deception. Victims unintentionally share their information with attackers when they interact with communications that appear to be from someone else. 

Phishing criminals imitate close friends, financial institutions and even government agencies. Their fake messages often contain psychological triggers that undermine the victim’s rationality. 

How Dangerous are Phishing Cyber Attacks?

According to the Notifiable Data Breaches Report 2021, data breaches have risen by 6%. 55% of those breaches were a result of criminal attacks, 32% of which were phishing scams. That’s a lot of attacks!

Phishing scams were responsible for the largest number of malicious data breaches. Unfortunately, with new methods of digital communication being invented all the time, they are likely to continue being one of the most serious cybersecurity threats. 

Another thing that makes phishing dangerous is the delay between noticing your details have been compromised and taking action. Unlike ransomware attacks that withhold or destroy data, phishing scams often don’t affect the victim at first. 

In one notable case, a hacker gained access to an email account and lurked for 120 days before intercepting a $40,000 payment. Phishing attacks often unfold in two stages, the hacker gaining entry into a network or account, and then waiting until the perfect time to strike. 

Often, the consequences of unnoticed cyberattacks get worse over time. So when phishing scams finally cause damage, it is often a lot of damage!

What Types of Messages can be Affected by Phishing Scams?

Phishing attacks are possible in most forms of digital communication. If you’ve ever received an SMS asking you to click a suspicious link, or you’ve received a friend request on Facebook from someone you are already friends with, you’ve likely experienced a phishing message.

Phishing messages can imitate:

  • Emails
  • SMS messages
  • Social media messages
  • Website addresses
  • Wifi Networks

Depending on the hacker’s level of skill, these trap messages range from being indistinguishable from what they are imitating, to being really sloppy and obvious. The trick to avoiding them is to understand the different tactics and schemes that phishing scammers use. 

Common Phishing Tactics

When you make a decision, there are two modes you can be in. The first is a more primal, reactionary one. It’s useful for spotting and running from a predator, or swerving away from a car that pulls into your lane. But it isn’t great for evaluating whether an email is genuine or not. 

The second mode is more long-term and logical. It’s the mode you might be in if you are comparing phone plans or deciding whether to take a job or not. Scammers use emotional triggers to keep you in the first mode. Remember, they want you to react impulsively. 

While every phishing cyber attack is different, there are four main tactics that phishing scammers use to lower your defences. These tactics don’t have to be used separately, they are actually more powerful when used together. 

A Common Example

You’ve probably received emails or SMS messages claiming to be from a computer software company. They’ll usually tell you your computer is ‘compromised’ or ‘infected’ and you’ll need to give them access or pay to download their antivirus before it’s too late. 

We’ll use one of these phishing scams as an example to demonstrate the different tactics at play.

Creating a Sense of Urgency

The first emotion these messages are designed to evoke is fear and panic. Suddenly finding out that your device has been hacked will make you desperate for a quick solution which the hacker conveniently provides. Ironically, it’s the fear of being hacked that lowers your defences to the real hacker. 

Without the sense of urgency, you might take a few days to find the best antivirus, or you might decide to deal with it later, and then call the real company and expose the hacker. Messages will include assertive language like ‘act now’, ‘don’t delay’, and ‘before it’s too late’ to avoid that and force an impulsive decision.

This makes you feel like you don’t have a choice but to follow their directions. Then, once you pay for an ‘antivirus’, or give them remote access to your computer, they can steal your payment details and personal information. 

Exploiting Familiarity or Trust

Another crucial part of these messages is who they pretend to be. Microsoft, Apple, or notable antivirus companies are all brands that most victims know and trust. These scams are usually sent in bulk, so just through the laws of probability, if they claim to be from Microsoft, a large percentage of people will have a Microsoft device. 

At this stage, you have a brand that you are familiar with and trust, telling you to take urgent action. That’s pretty compelling!

Exploiting a Lack of Knowledge

One thing that might save you is knowledge. If you are more tech-savvy, you might know how to check your computer yourself, or know that companies will never reach out to alert you to a compromised device. 

The problem is, for people who don’t know for themselves, especially elderly people, this lack of knowledge makes phishing scams even more effective. 

Think about when you go to the mechanic. If you don’t know anything about cars you have to trust what the mechanic says. In times where we don’t have knowledge, it’s natural to defer to the authority of someone who says they do. 

Targeting People in Compromised Positions

Even if someone knows how to look out for all of the above, they can still find themselves in a situation where they lower their guard. For the victims of the recent Optus cyber attack that stole information from thousands of Australians, fear of being hacked could make them more susceptible to phishing scams.

For example, SMS and email phishing scams targeting the victims have been on the rise. These claim to be from Optus or the Australian government, and range from alerting the victim that they have been hacked, to offering to replace their compromised identification documents for a ‘fee’. 

Given the uncertainty that many people have felt since the massive breach, these messages combine all four of these phishing tactics and pose a serious risk.

Well-Known Phishing Schemes

Now that you know how to spot the tactics used by phishing cyber attackers, it’s time to learn the common schemes as well. 

Ambulance Chasing

Ambulance chasing is most commonly used in the wake of a disaster or crisis. For example, many Australian victims of the mass flooding in May 2022 fell victim to ambulance chasing schemes. Messages offering fake insurance claims or requests for charitable donations were rife, and targeted victims in states of extreme desperation and stress.

Bulk Campaigning 

Bulk phishing campaigns don’t target based on the victim’s details, they simply send out generic emails or texts and see what they can get. This scheme is the closest to the fishing comparison, because scammers are basically throwing a line out and seeing who they reel in. 

These messages will copy a well known brand, like a popular streaming service, and the message will usually be something fairly simple, like requesting that payment details be updated. These campaigns are low effort and low cost to the hackers, so they don’t need to trick many people to get a return on their investment. 

Spear Phishing

If you’ve ever been spear fishing, you’ll know that you want to let the smaller fish swim by while you search for a bigger target, and when you find it you need to be incredibly accurate. 

Spear ‘phishing’ is the same concept. Spear phishers only care about their target, not any other people that they haven’t done their research on.

Spear phishing is most commonly used when a hacker is trying to infiltrate the communications of an organisation. They’ll single out a vulnerable employee and send a personally tailored message posing as another member of that organisation, or a partner organisation. 

Since the messages appear to come from an internal source, and include specifics about the recipient, they are one of the most persuasive and effective forms of phishing schemes. 

One of the most successful examples of spear phishing was the case of a man creating a fake computer manufacturing company and invoicing Facebook and Google employees for $100M over three years. The money was then deposited into his own accounts. 

Whale Phishing

Whale phishing is similar in concept to spear phishing, but rather than targeting an employee, it will target the boss. Whether that’s the CEO or another equivalent position, it has a higher potential to earn money for the hackers because the boss will have higher executive power. 

Perhaps the most costly whaling attack in history was the loss of over 70M euros at the Crelan bank in Belgium. The CEO’s work email was infiltrated through a whale phishing scam, and was then used to order an employee to transfer the money to the hacker’s account. 

How to Protect Yourself From Phishing Cyber Attacks

There are a range of ways you can protect yourself from phishing attacks, from properly educating yourself and your team, to software solutions. 

Be Vigilant

The first step is to use the information in this article to slow down and evaluate any communications you receive, no matter how ‘urgent’ they seem.

Check links, logos, addresses and look for anything suspicious. Does the URL have the business name in it, does your browser authenticate it? Is the person emailing you someone you’ve never seen or heard of at work before? These are all questions you should be asking.

Even with this vigilance, technology advancements make phishing scams more convincing every year. So your golden rule should be to never transfer money or provide your card details unless you can cross-reference the payment. If you are ever in doubt, give the person or organisation a call to confirm. 

Security Awareness Training

While you may be aware of phishing scams, your team might not be. Make sure you educate your team on the risks and warning signs of phishing cyber attacks. If you don’t feel capable of doing this, an IT company can help educate your team for you. They’ll run phishing simulation campaigns and specific online training to educate employees. 

Spam Filters

Most fraudulent emails will be filtered out by installing spam filters. You can install one yourself, either through free or paid versions, or an IT company can install it for you. 

One Central Coast business was operating without a spam filter  and was receiving large numbers of phishing emails. The team weren’t educated enough on the risks of phishing cyber attacks, and it was just a matter of time before someone clicked a suspicious link. With spam filters in place, and some thorough educating, the risk of a data breach was greatly reduced. 

Read a comprehensive list of 7 more practical steps you can take to avoid phishing scams.

Contact an IT Company

To find true peace of mind, the best way to protect yourself and your business is with an IT company. They’ll identify any opportunity areas in your team behaviour and your software set up.

OneCloud IT Solution provides sophisticated cybersecurity based on the Essential 8 model recommended by the Australian government. We’ll conduct a complete audit to find any vulnerabilities in your existing solutions, and we’ll fix and enhance them.

Feel assured that you are protected from phishing cyber attacks, as well the other forms of malicious data breaches. If you’d like to enquire about our service, get in touch with us today.