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Posts from January, 2018


Does Fintech Pose a Threat to Cybersecurity at Financial Services Companies?

Monday, January 29th, 2018

Financial services companies should embrace a healthy dose of caution when implementing new fintech in their business. Fintech, or any technological innovation in the financial sector, is not inherently more or less secure than any other new technology, but because it works with substantial sums of money, it is a common target for hackers and would-be criminals. Financial services companies need to keep up with innovations in how people transact business including cryptocurrency, digital cash, blockchain technology, smart contracts and open banking in order to remain competitive. Therefore, it’s vital that companies working with fintech pay close attention to risk mitigation and security.

Fintech Is Growing

Bitcoin is likely the best-known and most publicly discussed story in fintech today. It’s an excellent topic for discussion because it’s well known outside of the financial industry for both its potential and problems. Bitcoin shows its potential with its fluctuating value, starting at just pennies a coin and reaching a peak value of over $15,000 USD as of early 2018. However, Bitcoin also has a high-profile case of the risk associated with new technology: the 2014 MtGox theft, which resulted in more than $800,000 in stolen Bitcoins.

As of early 2018, fintech startups continue to proliferate and innovate. Fintech startup funding reached $17.4 billion in 2016 and was on track to surpass that for 2017.

According to CB Insights, there were 26 venture-capitalist backed fintech firms with a combined value of $83.8 billion in Q2 of 2017.

Fintech is chipping away at the traditional financial institution, so the traditional businesses need to embrace it in order to remain competitive. Consumer demand drives financial services companies to use these new technologies; however, it’s the businesses that shoulder security risks.

Security Vulnerabilities Thrive in Fast-Growth Environments

Fintech’s incredible level of success is the very reason it’s a cybersecurity threat at financial services companies. With such a large number of innovations being adopted in the financial services industry, it’s inevitable that some technology won’t have sufficient security in place. If the vulnerabilities exist, it’s only a matter of time before hackers will find and exploit them. Because there are so many players with so much money on the line, it could lead innovators to push technology to the market as fast as possible at the expense of proper security development. Enterprise Innovation cites a survey respondent who expresses concern that the financial services industry can’t keep pace with how quickly fintech is evolving.

Unfortunately, there’s no easy way to cover all the possible threats that can come from new fintech — because those threats don’t exist until the technology exists. However, financial services companies must ensure they employ proper security practices. Firms need to use fintech platforms securely and ensure devices are always running the latest versions of software for security purposes. Additionally, businesses should be prepared for problems outside of their control with insurance. The 2017 Equifax hack is a warning sign for any business that wants to skimp on security, because it shows exactly how destructive the financial hacks that exploit poor security can be.

MPA Networks offers extensive experience and incredible expertise in providing IT service and support to financial services. If your business is expanding into fintech use, contact us today to learn more about how we can enhance the safety of your information and your customers.

3 Subtle Ways IT Management Makes Day-to-Day Operations More Manageable

Monday, January 22nd, 2018

For many businesses, it is difficult to gauge how helpful IT management can be in the workplace on a day-to-day basis — mainly because when things are going well, there’s little to notice. Some of the most important benefits of an IT managed services provider show themselves subtly in what doesn’t happen rather than what does.

A well-managed IT environment means your staff spends less time worrying about issues such as technology security and network capabilities and more on getting work done.

IT management makes day-to-day operations more manageable in a number of ways. Here are just a few.

1. Fewer Outages and Faster Service Thanks to a Stable Office Network Infrastructure

People don’t say much about network service that works at an acceptable speed, but they’ll be more than happy to give a mouthful when things are running slowly. IT management handles the background work in installing and maintaining workplace networks to provide the rest of the workforce with smooth, secure internet and network access. IT management will examine network traffic to determine necessary infrastructure upgrades concerning both performance and security. This work helps prevent service outages and keeps staff happy with performance speed. If all goes well, employees will only hear about the subject when IT management staff communicate with them to ensure their needs are being met.

2. Staff Can Focus on the Human Element of Digital Security Rather Than the Technical

IT management makes technical security a priority. Your staff may still spend time deciding whether an email requesting confidential information is legitimate, but they can spend less time worrying about infecting their computers with malware when browsing the web. Managed services puts in the effort to ensure all computers are running updated software, including making sure operating system patches get installed and antivirus programs are up-to-date. They also ensure network infrastructure elements such as routers and modems are using security best practices and updated firmware. IT management takes care of security holes that most employees wouldn’t ever consider as potential threats until there’s a breach. And if that breach never happens, staff will remain unaware the threats even existed.

3. Managed Services Providers Free Money for Other Uses

Managed services providers (MSPs) save your business financially in three ways: They help boost productivity with faster infrastructure, avoid lost business from outages with a more stable work environment and cost less to operate than traditional on-site IT staff. MSPs help lower the cost of IT overhead, which means your business can budget that extra money elsewhere as needed. Managers and employees alike may find it difficult to see the value in paying for IT management that ensures smooth operations, but they will certainly notice problems that show up from inadequate IT.

IT managed services sells itself on the concept of helping clients avoid the high cost of downtime, but it also makes daily work easier in subtle ways. MPA Networks can provide your business with a customized IT management plan that addresses the unique needs of your business. Contact us today to get started.

Four Security Threats Your Company Could Face in 2018

Tuesday, January 16th, 2018

Hot off the tail of the massive 2017 Equifax breach that exposed personal information of 143 million customers, businesses are on high alert concerning IT security in 2018. While the IT security industry has been successful in mitigating and cracking down on many common threats, hackers are finding new ways to exploit devices that haven’t received as much attention and protection as PCs and servers have. Trends indicate that your company could be looking at security threats from previously ignored devices and sources in 2018. Be on the lookout for the following threats this year.

1. Missing Windows Updates Over Incompatible Antivirus Software and the Meltdown-Spectre Fix

This is one security threat your company could already be facing: There’s an inherent flaw in the way modern CPUs by Intel, AMD and ARM handle data that can be exploited to leak information. This is a substantial problem because it stems from the hardware as opposed to the software, and fixing it can negatively impact device performance. To make matters worse, some types of antivirus software conflict with Microsoft’s fix. If your business is using one of those incompatible programs, you need to switch to a compatible option to continue receiving Windows Updates as of January 2018. Those Windows Update patches are vital to keeping your company’s computers safe.

2. Internet of Things Devices Become a Bigger Threat

As of 2017, there were 17.68 billion IoT-connected devices, and that number is expected to grow to 23.14 billion in 2018.

Your office may interact with devices like an Amazon Echo, a smart thermostat and dozens of smartwatches. These are all IoT devices that could be the targets of security attacks.

These devices can be used to piggyback onto your office network. Additionally, DDoS attacks from hijacked IoT device botnets could be an even bigger threat in 2018.

3. New Devices Are Targeted

Ransomware is for more than just computers now. In 2018, IoT devices could be the next major target for hackers using ransomware to get your business to fork over payment to regain control. A workplace that’s lost control of the thermostat because of ransomware might be highly motivated to pay. Hackers may also be looking to exploit security holes in your office router and modem, as these devices are often neglected when IT staff applies regular security updates. Hackers often exploit the fact that many users don’t change the default password on these devices.

4. Watch out for Mobile Malware

The growing mobile device user base is making the Android and iOS platforms much more attractive targets for hackers over the traditional PC targets. According to Kaspersky, Android devices are more vulnerable to malware, but attacks are easier to identify and fix. While iOS devices are more secure, it’s much harder to tell if a device has been compromised.

Keeping up with IT security in your workplace is your best bet to avoid disastrous breaches and downtime. Our IT consulting experts can help your company identify and protect its security weak points. Contact us today.