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Cybersecurity

How To Protect Sensitive Data When You Outsourcing

Companies of any scale have been leveraging this practice, trying to cut development costs and access the rich talent pool. However, despite offering significant benefits, IT outsourcing often causes serious data security concerns.

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Why Should You Outsource the IT Department in Your Company

According to Statista, by the end of 2021, the total value of IT outsourcing services will exceed $413.72 billion compared to $395.57 billion in 2019.

Companies of any scale have been leveraging this practice, trying to cut development costs and access the rich talent pool. However, despite offering significant benefits, IT outsourcing often causes serious data security concerns. According to the statistics, about 65% of companies that have used this solution have faced an information breach.

But how to keep data secure while taking full advantage of outsourcing services? This article has gathered guidelines that will let you protect company data and enjoy collaboration with an outsourcing software development company.

1. Ensure In-House Security

When it comes to outsourcing custom software services, first, make sure that you have a robust in-house data security policy. Here are some important tips to follow:

  • Distinguish between sensitive and common data using data classification.
  • Use different ways to protect digital content, such as encryption, digital rights management (DRM), tokenization, etc.
  • Establish strict access control using passwords, PINs, etc.
  • Educate your employees not only to use strong credentials but also to change them regularly.
  • Guide your employees on how to handle and protect the company’s sensitive data.
  • Build a strict Internet usage policy. Internet access in the company should be restricted to business needs only since personal web usage significantly increases the risks of malicious access to valuable information.

2. Choose the Right Outsourcing Vendor

Following the establishment of an internal security policy, the next step is selecting the outsourcing company to meet your security requirements. When choosing among various vendors, opt for the one that:

  • Provides strict security policy.
  • Has a good reputation in keeping customers’ sensitive data protected.
  • Educates its employees about the importance of sensitive data protection and signs non-disclosure agreements (NDA) with them.
  • Considers customer data protection as a core company value.

To understand if vendors meet the following criteria, investigate their data protection measures. It’s reasonable to ask outsourcing companies to define their strategies to store and process valuable information, data and database protection approaches, and practices implemented for vulnerabilities management. What is more, ensure that your potential vendor employs optimal cybersecurity technologies to provide an added level of data protection.

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A trustworthy outsourcing company guarantees data security on three basic levels:

  • The physical level ensures that a third-party vendor can protect your data from physical actions and events such as natural disasters, fires, thefts, etc.
  • The technological level includes various hardware and software tools used to protect data from cyber threats. These solutions encompass email filters, antiviral software, DLP software, etc.
  • The administrative level provides a smooth and efficient security policy. It handles PoLP, Internet use, data protection, NDA agreements, and other issues to prevent sensitive data breaches.

3. Use Principle of the Least Privilege (PoLP)

The principle of the least privilege implies that a user, an application, a program, or a process should have only the minimum of the rights necessary to fulfil their functions. Not only does it reduce the risks of a cyberattack, but it also prevents the spread of malware since it’s impossible to elevate privileges to increase access to a company’s critical systems and sensitive data.

PoLP has to be an integral component of the IT outsourcing policy. When granting privileges to your outsourcing vendor, make sure they have only the necessary amount of access to the company’s valuable assets and continuously review the given rights.

4. Conduct Regular Security Audits

Make sure your company conducts regular application, database, and network security monitoring. This way, you will reduce potential security issues, identify and address vulnerabilities as soon as possible. Moreover, it’s a valuable practice to determine whether your outsourcing vendor still maintains data security controls and follows the established outsourcing rules and regulations.

5. Keep Reviewing Your Data Security Measures With Vendors

When cooperating with a third-party vendor, you should never lose control. Even if you have long-term and productive relationships, it’s important to check if your outsourcing partner continues to meet security standards. Here are some aspects to pay attention to:

  • Make sure that the vendor deactivates unused user accounts. Otherwise, such accounts can be compromised and used with malicious intentions.
  • Find out if your outsourcing partner monitors outbound internet traffic and emails for potential data breaches.
  • Ensure the vendor’s user accounts meet necessary security requirements (strong credentials, adequate privileges, etc.)

6. Ensure a Legal Backup

Although the contract doesn’t ensure complete data protection, it can serve as a legal backup. Sign an agreement with the outsourcing vendor, defining essential security requirements. For example, in this document, you can specify that it’s prohibited to transfer your company’s sensitive data to complex media, or that the data transmitted online should be encrypted, etc.

Final Thoughts

Outsourcing has gained widespread popularity, providing companies with a vast number of operational and financial benefits. Although there are some potential risks related to data security, they should not become an obstacle to experience outsourcing.

By building a robust in-house data security policy, selecting the vendor that follows high-security standards as well, and conducting regular privacy and security audits, you will be able to achieve a win-win situation, enjoying the advantages of outsourcing and keeping your sensitive data safe.

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Cybersecurity

Gafgyt and beyond: Inside IoT DDoS Malware

In a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack, a cyber attacker overwhelms their target by bombarding them with enormous quantities of fake data, knocking them offline

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Best DDoS Protection Techniques

In a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack, a cyber attacker overwhelms their target by bombarding them with enormous quantities of fake data, knocking them offline or significantly impeding their ability to offer service regular to legitimate customers.

Because it’s challenging to overwhelm a target on your own, DDoS attacks almost always use a botnet, a zombie army of remote-controlled connected devices, which can launch coordinated attacks to consume a victim’s upstream bandwidth.

Picture it like recruiting a group of friends, acquaintances, and anyone else you can persuade with access to a phone to call a local business at a particular time repeatedly. While you could annoy by doing this yourself, using a single phone line, by getting a large group of people to do so, you can tie up as many phone lines as the target company might have open at once. You also make it much harder for the beleaguered business to trace the party responsible since all the calls come from different numbers.

A botnet works a lot like this. It refers to a collection of internet-connected devices that have been infected using malware to be controlled by hackers. The name “botnet” is a combination of “robot” and “network.” The biggest botnets have involved hundreds of thousands or even millions of connected devices. Those targets without the proper DDoS mitigation tools can be in serious trouble.

1. Attacking IoT devices

Virtually any internet-connected device can be used as a botnet. All that’s required is that it can send messages on command. That means that while malware-infected desktop and laptop computers have been used in botnet-driven DDoS attacks, they too have smartwatches, intelligent security cameras, intelligent kitchen appliances, and home routers.

Some of the devices are ones their owners may not even think of as computers, although that’s precisely what they are. They may also have no awareness that their device is part of a botnet, perhaps only experiencing the occasional slowdown in service — since many devices in a botnet lie dormant until they’re used for a DDoS attack or, sometimes, for sending spam messages.

cybersecurity is essential to the global supply chain

There are many significant advantages to cyber attackers targeting Internet of Things (IoT) devices such as IP cameras and intelligent refrigerators for DDoS attacks. One is the massive number of devices that can potentially target. According to consumer data company Statista, the average number of connected devices per household in the United States last year was 10. Globally, the firm claims that there are around 21.5 billion interconnected devices.

Just as important is the fact that, in many cases, IoT security can be surprisingly poor. That makes these devices comparably easy to compromise for IoT botnets. Poor security may stem from weak and guessable passwords, often unchanged from their default passwords, insecure ecosystem interfaces, flawed security update methodologies, and more.

2. Botnets in action

Whatever the reasons, hackers have wasted no time targeting these vulnerabilities to build bigger, worse botnets. The devastating Mirai botnet, which emerged in 2016, infected IoT devices by scanning the internet for open ports and then trying to access them by using a list of more than 60 default passwords. It was used as part of multiple DDoS attacks.

Mirai’s tricks continue to be used in similar botnets. More recently, variations of a botnet malware family called Gafgyt have used code from the Mirai botnet to target and potentially infect susceptible IoT devices, including routers made by Huawei and Realtek. It downloads malware payloads that can be used to stage DDoS attacks by exploiting vulnerabilities in these devices.

DDoS attacks have been around for decades, but the approaches used by attackers continue to evolve. As seen with the Gafgyt malware and the continued threat of Mirai and Mirai-inspired botnets, attackers constantly tweak their systems to build larger, more dangerous botnets which can be used to inflict harm on targets.

3. Defending against DDoS

Anyone in possession of an IoT device should take steps to ensure that it is adequately secured. This involves changing the name and default password of machines, using strong passwords, providing firmware updates that are downloaded and installed, and avoiding using public Wi-Fi to access IoT networks.

To defend against DDoS attacks, you should also make sure that you deploy the correct anti-DDoS tools. This includes solutions for DDoS detection (able to recognize attacks as rapidly as possible), diversion (to defend against application-layer and network-layer attacks), filtering (blocking malicious traffic while continuing to let legitimate users through), and analysis (to gather information about attacks and attempted attacks.)

Distributed Denial of Service attacks (DDoS attacks) is not going away any time soon. The most that companies can hope for is preparing for them and figuring out how best to mitigate them. Given the potential damage they can cause — from unwanted downtime to long-term reputational damage — this is one of the smartest investments you can make.

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