As we wind down the 13th anniversary of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month in the USA and around the globe, do you feel safer?

Do you feel your employees and 3rd party vendors are more careful about not letting cybercriminals in? I am cautiously optimistic that we are much better off than we were 13 years ago but there is a lot of work left to do.

On my radar are various forms of new cybercrime techniques, including but not limited to, the ever evolving ransomware, to wire transfer fraud, theft of intellectual property, data theft of customer data and more. I do not know if you caught the Wall Street Journal article a few weekends ago on ransomware but it confirmed for me a hunch I have had for a long time: (1) Ransomware is the largest unreported cybercrime hitting companies and individuals alike around the globe; (2) the Ransomware Cybercrime market is becoming advanced and aggressive but their tactic to break in is old school and the least sophisticated route – emails.

According to current statistics from the FBI and other security reports, ransomware is infiltrating its way into businesses at a rapid rate. Ransomware is a type of malicious software designed to block access to a computer system until a sum of money is paid. Recently, the Wall Street Journal[1] published some troublesome statistics related to ransomware. According to Trend Micro, 99% of ransomware attacks begin with an email.

Stop and think: your employee opens an email in their inbox, and instantly your entire is network is held hostage.

And mobile malware is on the rise tricking your company’s employees that ignore the social engineering emails. How long does it take for mobile ransomware to load? ONLY 0.5 seconds!

Germany's University of Erlangen-Nuremberg (FAU) conducted a study and found that over 50% percent of email users admitted they will click on a link sent to them by an unknown sender even over 75% of the study participants said they were aware of security risks posed by clicking on links.

Source: [1] McMillan, Robert. "In the Bitcoin Era, Ransomware Attacks Surge." Wall Street Journal 19 Aug. 2016

Stop and think: one of your employees might unknowingly download ransomware to their work smart phones and your entire network is compromised. How will that one innocent click affect your business?

How do you defeat a hacker trying to break into your company’s digital assets? By hiring an ethical hacker that’s on your side to outsmart the bad guys and to watch your back – Fortalice Solutions.

We are here to help. This is a great time as businesses plan to finish strong in the 3rd and 4th quarters of 2016. We can help you leverage the fact that October is International and National Cyber Security Awareness Month! Are your employees (& 3rd party vendors) ready to protect your business's most sensitive and critical assets?

If you need help evaluating your 3rd party vendors or employee risks or designing a new employee and vendor cyber security awareness program, contact Mike Holland at Fortalice Solutions. We have creative approaches that deliver value added risk assessments and high impact awareness programs to match your unique needs within your timing constraints and security budget.

Post provided by: THERESA PAYTON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CIO

The first female to serve as White House Chief Information Officer, Theresa Payton oversaw IT operations for the President and his staff from 2006 to 2008. Previously, she held executive roles at Bank of America and Wells Fargo, facilitating her broad knowledge of cybersecurity risks and measures in the financial services industry. Currently, she is the founder of leading security and fraud consulting company, Fortalice Solutions, LLC.