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Essential Elements of a Cybersecurity Program

Cybersecurity has become a paramount concern for organizations of all sizes and industries. Amid the increasing number of cyber threats, it is critical for businesses to establish resilient cybersecurity programs to safeguard their sensitive data, intellectual property, and digital infrastructure from malicious entities.

A comprehensive cybersecurity program should include a risk assessment to specify potential threats, vulnerabilities, and risks to the organization's digital assets. By evaluating these risks, you can prioritize them accordingly. This approach enables the development of risk management strategies to effectively mitigate or eliminate identified risks.

Elements of Cybersecurity Program

Security Policies and Procedures:

Developing and implementing cybersecurity policies and procedures is essential for establishing clear guidelines and standards for security practices within your organization. These policies ought to encompass various areas, including acceptable use, access controls, data handling, incident response, and employee training. This ensures that all members of the organization understand their roles and responsibilities in upholding cybersecurity standards.

Access Control:

Access control mechanisms are crucial for regulating and monitoring access to an organization's sensitive data, systems, and resources. Implementing technologies such as multi-factor authentication (MFA), role-based access controls (RBAC), and privileged access management (PAM) can help stop unauthorized access and restrict potential damage caused by insider threats.

Network Security:

Network security solutions, including firewalls, intrusion detection and prevention systems (IDPS), and secure gateways, are vital components for safeguarding an organization's network infrastructure against unauthorized access and cyber-attacks. Segmenting the network and deploying security controls at various points can help isolate critical assets and prevent lateral movement by attackers.

Endpoint Security:

Securing endpoint devices like desktops, laptops, and mobile devices is crucial in thwarting malware infections and data breaches. Endpoint protection solutions, which encompass antivirus software, endpoint detection and response (EDR) tools, and mobile device management (MDM) solutions, play an important role in effectively identifying and addressing threats on endpoint devices.

Data Protection:

Encrypting sensitive data both during transmission and while at rest is vital to thwart unauthorized access and data exfiltration. Implementing data loss prevention (DLP) solutions facilitates monitoring and management of sensitive data movement within the organization, thus mitigating the risks linked with data breaches and ensuring adherence to regulatory requirements.

Incident Response and Management:

Creating an incident response plan that delineates protocols for detecting, addressing, and recuperating from cybersecurity incidents is crucial in mitigating the repercussions of breaches on your organization. Conducting regular incident response drills and simulations can help test the effectiveness of your plan and ensure that your team is prepared to react effectively to cyber threats.

Security Awareness Training:

Providing regular cybersecurity awareness training and education to employees is crucial for promoting a culture of security within your organization. Training sessions should encompass subjects like identifying phishing attempts, adhering to security protocols, and promptly reporting any suspicious activity. This empowers employees to understand their responsibility in safeguarding your organization against cyber threats.

A comprehensive cybersecurity program encompasses a range of essential elements that work together to protect an organization's digital assets from cyber threats. For more information, contact Centex Technologies at Killeen (254) 213 – 4740, Dallas (972) 375 – 9654, Atlanta (404) 994 – 5074, and Austin (512) 956 – 5454.

Expert Tips to Protect Active Directory

What is Active Directory & Why is it Important?

An Active Directory can be defined as a database and identity management system. The directory contains information about the network environment, including details of all users, systems connected to the network, applications, devices such as printers, and shared folders. It further contains details of the level of access for every user.

The Active Directory services also serve the role of user authentication based on the login credentials entered by the user and allow access to the data based on authorization.

The Active Directory stores files at a centralized location, making them accessible to all users and devices across the network as per their access level. Thus, an active directory is essential to ensure that all the users can access network resources required to perform their tasks.

How To Secure Active Directory?

The importance of Active Directory makes it a desirable target for cybercriminals. Here are some expert tips to help you protect the Active Directory:

  1. Follow Industry Best Practices: Implementing industry best practices, such as security guidelines laid out by NIST (National Institute of Standards & Technology, USA), is the first step towards securing Active Directory. The guidelines issued by NIST are based on data and statistical analysis, making them highly impactful in preventing cyberattacks.
  2. Limit Domain Admins: Privileged groups such as Domain Admins have extensive access authority. The users added to Domain Admins group have deep rooted access across the network, including all systems connected to the network and all data created, stored or shared across the network. In case hackers crack the user credentials of any member of Domain Admins group, they can gain access to all the data and information across the network. Additionally, they can move laterally across the network and gain access to other systems connected to the network. It is important to check the user accounts in Domain Admins group and remove the dead user accounts from the group.
  3. Multiple Accounts: Instead of adding all the users to privileged groups, encourage multiple user accounts and provide different privileges. This is referred to as a tiered approach. User accounts can be provided with different access levels, such as a regular account (with minimum privileges), server administration account, network administration account, and workforce administration account. Encourage users to login with a regular account for daily tasks and use privileged accounts for administrative tasks only. This limits the exposure to cyber-attacks.
  4. Password Security: Cyber criminals usually employ tactics to steal user credentials such as passwords to gain access to the Active Directory. Implement password strengthening strategies to avoid falling victim to identity theft attacks.
  5. Detect Delegation: Delegation allows users to impersonate other accounts on the Active Directory if their unconstrained delegation is enabled. This can lead to security issues if hackers access one account and use delegation to gain further access. The problem is aggravated by privileged accounts with unconstrained delegation. Make sure to regularly check for accounts with delegation enabled and report these accounts. Additionally, make a list of privileged users, delegated admins, and service accounts to help IT professionals keep a check on the potential vulnerabilities and authorization risks.

To know more about IT security for businesses, contact Centex Technologies at Killeen (254) 213 - 4740, Dallas (972) 375 - 9654, Atlanta (404) 994 - 5074, and Austin (512) 956 – 5454.

Hardware Firewall Vs Software Firewall

A firewall is a network security mechanism or layer of protection that sits between the internet and computer networks. An internet firewall can be described as a piece of hardware or software that safeguards the computer from unwanted data and viruses.

What is a Hardware Firewall at any NOC (Network Operations Center)?

A hardware firewall is a physical device that filters traffic to a computer, similar to a server. A network cable is generally hooked straight into a computer or server, however, with a hardware firewall, the cable is first plugged into the firewall. The firewall acts as an antivirus solution and a hard barrier against intrusions by sitting between the external network and the server. When put between a modem and wireless router, it helps stop attacks from reaching the devices and appliances.

What is a Software Firewall at any SOC (Security Operations Center)?

A software firewall is a sort of computer program that operates on a computer or server. Its main goal, depending on the software firewall being used, is to safeguard the computer/server from outside efforts to control or acquire access to the system. Any questionable outbound requests can also be checked with a software firewall.

Differentiating Hardware firewalls and Software firewalls based on their advantages

Hardware firewalls let a user use a single physical device to secure the whole network from the outside world. This gadget is connected to the internet through a computer network. A hardware firewall tracks data packets as they go over the network. According to established criteria, the firewall subsequently either blocks or sends the data. Installing dedicated hardware firewalls necessitates significant IT skills, and businesses require dedicated IT staff or department to monitor and manage hardware firewalls. As a result, hardware firewalls are typically used by large businesses or businesses that place a premium on security. Most routers nowadays feature rudimentary firewall functionality, however, these solutions are aimed at home or small business users.

Software firewalls, on the other hand, provide network internal protection. A software firewall is a piece of software that is placed on a single computer and serves to safeguard it. If a business needs to secure many computers, it will need to install the program on each one. A software firewall regulates how certain programs should behave. The administrator can, for instance, restrict access to specific websites or a network printer.

Why do organizations need to deploy both hardware and software firewalls?

A physical firewall protects a network from the outside world, whereas a software firewall protects a specific device from other devices connected to the network systems. If someone tries to access the systems from the outside, the physical firewall will stop them. However, if a user mistakenly opens a virus-infected email that has already entered the system, the software firewall on the workplace network may prevent the virus from infecting other workstations.

In some cases, due to the sensitive data being generated (for example in the healthcare and financial services industries), both firewalls will be used. The PCI DSS also requires both hardware and software firewalls (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards).

In terms of software, one way to think about it is on a spectrum from ease to security. Hardware firewalls prioritize security over convenience in terms of buying, setup, and application. When used correctly, the two can work together to counteract others’ flaws while promoting their positive qualities.

What about tiny businesses that aren't as concerned about security? It's tempting to go with the simplest firewall to set up but it is important to know that firewalls, both hardware, and software, defend against a variety of dangers. Software firewalls evaluate network traffic that gets past the hardware firewall, whereas hardware firewalls prevent malware from accessing your network. Most IT experts believe that all businesses should use a combination of hardware and software firewalls to improve network security.

Centex Technologies provides cybersecurity solutions to businesses. The team also assists businesses in planning a complete computer network and setting up adequate firewalls. To know more, contact Centex Technologies at Killeen (254) 213 - 4740, Dallas (972) 375 - 9654, Atlanta (404) 994 - 5074, and Austin (512) 956 – 5454.

Tips For Successful Penetration Testing

Penetration testing is an important step while evaluating the security of a corporate network. It involves simulating a hacking attack on the network with an aim to breach its security and gain access to the confidential data. This helps IT professionals to determine the potential vulnerabilities that can be exploited by the hackers and how they can be fixed. However, carrying out an efficient penetration testing requires a lot of research and in-depth technical knowledge.

Given below are some steps that need to be followed for successful penetration testing:

Perform A Thorough Analysis

Firstly, you should have a clear idea about all the physical and intellectual assets of your company that you want to protect. Assess your network inside-out to determine the elements that are more susceptible to an attack and can severely hamper the functioning of your organization. Also, review your security policies to ensure that the penetration testing team is not able to get into the network.

Conduct A Pilot Study

Before initiating the penetration testing process, consider performing a pilot study on a small portion of the organization’s resources. This will help to identify the type of problems being faced and if any additional training or knowledge is required to deal with them. A pilot study will also allow the team to plan and structure the large scale penetration testing.

Choose A Penetration Testing Method

The next step is to select the most suitable method for conducting the penetration testing. Typically, you can choose from black box or white box tests. The former one involves initiating the attack without any prior knowledge of the company’s security systems and unpatched vulnerabilities. In a white box test, on the other hand, the tester has access to the sensitive information, such as network diagrams, IP addresses, source code etc.

Determine Who Will Perform The Test

This involves creating a strategy for the test. Determine who will perform the penetration test, an in-house team or an outsourced one. If the test involves the use of social engineering techniques, decide on the type of email that will be formulated and which employees will be the targeted. Create an information security incident response team who will stay updated with the penetration testing and ensure objectivity of the results.

For more tips on conducting successful penetration testing, you can contact Centex Technologies at (972) 375 – 9654.

Ways To Secure Your Network Infrastructure

Maintaining a secure network infrastructure is one of the major challenges faced by IT security professionals. All the hardware and software components are critical for seamless connectivity, communication, operations and management of the network. However, the rise of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) culture and cloud computing resources has made it even more important to protect your company’s information as well as assets.

Given below are some of the tips that can help to secure your network infrastructure:

Understand your network design

First and foremost, you need to understand how the network infrastructure at your organization functions. Gain knowledge about the devices that are connected to the network and the points through which data is transmitted between them. 

Review all the applications

The applications and programs installed on your organization’s computer systems can provide a backdoor for the hackers to gain unauthorized access. Undetected malware, viruses and Trojans can make the entire corporate network vulnerable to various hacking attacks. Hence, it is essential to constantly review all your applications and software programs to ensure that they are completely secured.

Build a security culture

Provide proper IT security training to your employees and set clear guidelines regarding safe usage of the infrastructure. Make them familiar with the common online threats and what should be done to stay protected. This will create a strong security culture and help employees understand their responsibilities towards protecting the company’s resources.

Use secure socket layer

A secure socket layer (SSL) can add a layer of protection to your network infrastructure. It encrypts all the information while it is being transmitted between a user and the web browser. This ensures that the information being shared within your corporate network is not read, manipulated or used by any unauthorized individual.

Avoid adding complexity to your network infrastructure

Unless it is absolutely necessary for the optimal functioning of your organization, do not complicate your network infrastructure. Adding superfluous devices, servers, wireless endpoints etc. increases the chances of your network getting compromised. In case you need to add a network service, ensure that it is properly secured. This, way, even in the event of a breach, the functioning of your entire network will not be jeopardized. 

For more tips on securing your network infrastructure, feel free to contact Centex Technologies at (972) 375 – 9654.

Fundamental Tips To Keep Your Network Safe

IT security is a pre-requisite for successful business operations. The present day online attacks are very sophisticated, hard to detect and can cause serious damage to the computers on your corporate network. Besides malware and virus infection, there are many other security threats, such as Denial of Service (DoS), spyware, ransomware, man-in-the-middle attack etc. Therefore, regardless of the size and type of your organization, it is important to take the necessary network security steps to protect your data from cybercriminals.

Discussed below are a few fundamental tips to keep your network safe:

Delete Unused Accounts

Email or social networking accounts that are not active should be deleted. Since these accounts do not have updated security settings, they are quite easy to be hacked. Make sure you timely review all your official accounts and identify as well as delete the ones that are no longer required. You can either perform this task manually or use a software to remove unused accounts.

Keep VPN Secured

If you use a virtual private network (VPN), you should keep it completely secure to prevent unauthorized access to your company’s internal network. Use the most advanced authentication and encryption protocols to monitor as well as regulate the network’s usage. You can even consider accessing the internet remotely so that your browsing details are not saved.

Be Proactive With System Updates

Cybercriminals are always on the lookout for security flaws in obsolete web browsers, plug-ins, software applications and operating systems that can be exploited for malicious purposes. It is therefore, important to update all the computer systems on your network on a regular basis. Software vendors frequently release patches and updates to fix the bugs as well as improve functionality of the applications. The IT staff should either enable automatic updates or download and install the latest versions from trusted sources.

Secure Your Router

Make sure that you change the default name and password of your router. The default credentials are quite common and can easily be decoded by the hackers. Create a strong and lengthy password as well as a unique username. Also, change the security level from WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy) to WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access) or WPA2 so that only the authorized users have access to the corporate network.

We, at Centex Technologies, offer complete network security solutions to business firms in Dallas, TX. For more information, feel free to call us at (972) 375 – 9654.

Types Of Network Attacks

Network attack can be defined as an attempt to breach the security of a computer network in order to gain unauthorized access to the targeted device or exploit the vulnerabilities in the software applications. Without proper security measures, your network is vulnerable to different types of security threats, eventually causing it to crash. A network attack can either be passive (wherein the hacker may simply monitor and steal data stored on the computer) or passive (in which the information may be altered or destroyed).

Given below are some of the common types of network attacks:

IP Spoofing

A corporate or home network uses the IP address of a device to identify its entity and allow access. In a spoofing attack, the hacker may use a forged IP address to breach into a network in the guise of a legitimate user. He may alter, delete or destroy the data being shared in the network. He may also modify the source of the data packets so that they appear to be originating from another computer on the same network.

Sniffing

Network sniffing is the process of monitoring, capturing and intercepting the data packets traveling through an internet network. If the data is not properly encrypted and sent as cleartext, it can be easily read by the hacker. On the other hand, an encrypted data packet cannot be accessed unless the hacker has the key to open it.

Buffer Overflow

A buffer overflow attack occurs when the target computer receives more data/traffic than it is capable to hold, thus creating a lot of temporary files that overwrite the already existing valid data. The excess files usually contain a malicious code designed to carry out specific actions, such as deleting files, altering data or transmitting confidential information to the hacker.

Man In The Middle Attack

This is a form of session hijacking attack in which the hacker actively monitors, captures and controls the flow of information between the source as well as the destination computer on a network. The attack may be simply aimed at getting access to the information being shared or modifying it before being transmitted to the other end. In some forms of man in the middle attacks, the hacker may even disconnect the other user and completely take over the session to acquire sensitive information.

Centex Technologies is a leading IT company providing network security solutions to the business firms in Dallas, TX. For more information, feel free to call us at (972) 375 – 9654.