CyberSecurity – Software

February 24, 2016

CyberSecurity – Software
By Joe Simpson, Vice President of Technology

Cybersecurity is a topic that is on everyone’s mind, and for good reason. The potential impact to a client of having his or her identity stolen or being a victim of fraud is devastating. In addition, the advisor faces the loss of trust and brand damage if a breach or attack is publicized. Recent high profile data breaches and attacks have served to heighten concerns from individuals and regulatory agencies that cybersecurity needs to be seriously addressed by all businesses no matter the size. This article will discuss some software that advisors can leverage in their office to provide a defense against cyber-attacks and other potential data breaches.

Software tools are broken down by both purpose and focus. The purpose of the tool could be either preventative, detective or investigative. Preventative tools try to protect assets and information from attack. Detective tools allow us to monitor activity for suspicious activity, and investigative tools allow us to determine the source and depth of an attack after it happens. The focus of a tool is where it resides and what it is trying to protect. Network tools operate on the local network and in the infrastructure to protect data in motion. Endpoint (or device) tools focus on the end computers and devices where data resides. Application tools focus on a specific application or class of applications (web browsing for example).

Preventative endpoint software tools are software tools installed on the computers and devices that attempt to prevent attacks and unauthorized access. The two main types of these tools are Antivirus and local firewalls. These are extremely important in that they form the last line of defense in a computer network / system. If not installed, not updated, or are improperly configured then they can allow attacks and unauthorized users access to the device.

Antivirus software watches files that are downloaded, saved, or accessed and compares them against a list of known viruses. It will also watch scan files for certain markers and behaviors that are characteristic of malicious software. When a potentially infected file is identified, the software will notify the user and quarantine the file to prevent further damage. Most current antivirus software will also protect against malware, spyware, and help prevent browser based attacks such as hijacking. Several antivirus software providers are listed below. Once installed, the software usually does not require any additional maintenance other than ensuring it is properly updating, which it should do automatically.

A local firewall is a software tool that watches network traffic coming to and/or from the device it is installed on, and it detects and blocks unwanted or malicious traffic. The local firewall can protect against attacks that originate on the local network or that have made it past the network level firewall protection. Like antivirus software, once installed it requires little to no maintenance other than ensuring it is up to date. A list of local firewall providers is listed below.

Antivirus software
BitDefender
Symantec (Norton)
Kaspersky
Sophos
Avast

Local firewall software
Microsoft (windows) (firewall)
SonicWall
Symantec (Norton)
Avast
Sophos

Due to their critical function, low cost and ease of use, both antivirus software and local firewall software are recommended as an easy way to provide the last layer of protection against cyber-attacks and data breaches. They should be used as part of a larger comprehensive security policy to ensure the protection of client data and sensitive information in everyone’s business.

Please email Joe Simpson if you have any questions at
joe.simpson@ssnetwork.com.

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