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New security challenges…and how to fight them

Cyber criminals are constantly getting more sophisticated and adept at what they do.

This week, Microsoft blamed a Chinese state-backed group for attacks on Microsoft Mail platforms that allowed the attacker to access email inboxes, a crucial step in any well-run hack. And a short while ago, Solarwinds had to admit their software had been hacked prior to being distributed.

So, how do you make yourself safe? We use house security as an analogy: your house is safe once you’ve closed and locked the doors and windows. But you have to do it yourself; no-one will do it for you. The same can be said of online security: your company’s security is your responsibility.

Cyber criminals are scanning and testing your company all the time. They no longer use the doors or windows. They have ways of looking like your staff or suppliers; they’re already inside your office before you’ve shut and locked the doors!

And like a terrorist, the cyber-criminal only has to get lucky once. You have to be lucky all the time. And without your constant vigilance, the cyber-criminal will find a weakness.

As the owner of the business, you can’t be responsible for all the technical details. But you can, and must, ask the right questions and hold those who are responsible to account. We recommend you ask your IT team or suppliers four simple questions:

  1. Who on the Board is accountable for our security and risk strategy? When was the last time we reviewed and tested it?
  2. Are our security systems up to date and comprehensive? How do we know they’re up to date? Do we have assessments or accreditations?
  3. Does my staff (including the Board and the CEO!) get regularly trained in cyber security and social engineering? Have we ever tested that knowledge?
  4. If we do end up in trouble, who’s in charge and what’s the plan?

Most successful attacks use tried, tested and simple methods. The reason they’re successful is because companies have forgotten to get the basics right.

If you’d like a reminder of the basics, we recommend you follow our 13-point list of simple key steps a non-technical board member can take right now.

Also see our Cyber Security Knowledge Centre which includes more content related to this topic.

You don’t need to be the technical expert. But you do need to take the lead. No-one but you will keep your house or your business safe. Our briefing will provide you with free, straightforward advice.

If you have any other questions about cyber security or IT, feel free to get in touch. We’re always happy to talk.

Freeman Clarke is the UK’s largest and most experienced team of part-time (we call it ‘fractional’) IT leaders. We work exclusively with ambitious organisations and we frequently help our clients use IT to beat their competition. Contact Us and we’ll be in touch for an informal conversation.

The 3 key ways to transform your business with technology

The lockdown created an urgent need for many businesses to switch to home offices. It wasn’t easy, but it was doable: getting people connected and working from home didn’t hurt so much.

But for many mid-market business leaders, the dash to homeworking exposed troubling strategic challenges:

For nearly every mid-market business, security issues became even more acute. The lockdown quite quickly exposed weak and out-dated security and authorisation processes. The result? Companies are falling prey to cyberattacks. Or when the next audit comes round, they will struggle to demonstrate regulatory compliance.

These issues call for transformational changes. And although they won’t be easy, they’re not as hard as you might think.

Transformation 1: Using IT infrastructure to add value

Companies need to ensure that their IT infrastructure matches their business strategy.

For example, we often recommend outsourcing basic IT support of cloud services. This frees up in-house people to focus on value-adding activities. Depending on your own company strategy, it may be better to in-source strategic software development, business process improvement, back-office systems configuration or data analysis.

Transformation 2: Integrated systems, processes and controls

It can feel daunting to move away from legacy ways of working. But simple, well-structured processes and systems cost less, improve customer service, and allow for compliance and business continuity planning.

If your systems and data are rationalised, you can integrate with external services, so as we mentioned above, outsourcing can become part of your strategy.

And, for many business service providers, your ability to integrate with your clients’ systems provides a point of difference and creates a barrier to exit.

Finally, this transformation creates a platform for adoption of AI/ML and for creating new online channels.

Transformation 3: Innovation and digital initiatives

Both consumers and business clients expect almost all products and services to be online. Most innovations now have digital at their heart, and digital experiences are now practically inseparable from your customers’ experience of your brand.

This tech is much more than a necessary evil. To create a high-value and agile business, CEOs must embrace tech as part of their strategy.

These are uncertain times. But many CEOs see opportunities to restructure their business, to enter new markets, and to scale up. The above three transformations offer an approach to plan for your own breakthrough.

Need help? Many CEOs engage Freeman Clarke because we take on uncomfortable changes and challenges with reassurance and guidance. Transformational change requires experienced and expert IT leadership.

We are the largest and most experienced team of IT leaders. If you want to know more about how we can help, then get in touch.

Visit our Technology Roadmap for Growth Knowledge Centre which includes all content related to this topic. You may also want to look at our Digital Transformation Knowledge Centre.

Freeman Clarke is the UK’s largest and most experienced team of part-time (we call it “fractional”) IT leaders. We work exclusively with ambitious organisations and we frequently help our clients use IT to beat their competition. Contact Us and we’ll be in touch for an informal conversation.

Cyber security is a leadership challenge

These days nearly half of all firms face some kind of Cyber Security attack. The usual response is to insist that it’s the IT team’s problem. In our experience, however, it’s the Board’s responsibility. This short video explains how you can quickly educate yourself about Cyber Security and how Freeman Clarke can help.

Visit our Cyber Security knowledge centre which includes more content related to this topic.

Freeman Clarke is the UK’s largest and most experienced team of part-time (we call it ‘fractional’) IT leaders. We work exclusively with ambitious organisations and we frequently help our clients use IT to beat their competition. Contact Us and we’ll be in touch for an informal conversation.

How to get Cyber Security on the Board agenda

Cybercrime is a clear and present danger to mid-market companies. Here’s how to get your executive team to make it a priority

You can listen to the other audios in this series here.

Visit our Cyber Security knowledge centre which includes more content related to this topic.

Freeman Clarke is the UK’s largest and most experienced team of part-time (we call it “fractional”) IT leaders. We work exclusively with ambitious organisations and we frequently help our clients use IT to beat their competition. Contact Us and we’ll be in touch for an informal conversation.

17 critical cyber security questions to ask your IT team

Suddenly the office is closed, and everyone’s working from home.

The IT team is coping, but you’ve got a nagging doubt about whether these hasty arrangements are secure. You ask the IT team a few questions about cybersecurity, but the answers seem to be in a different language!

Well, you should be concerned. Criminals are ramping up their activities, because systems are more vulnerable when people work from home.

But there’s no need for panic. Most cyberattacks are successful simply because basic steps haven’t been taken.

Here is a simple checklist to ask the person responsible for IT. The answers should all be YES!

Protect your data

  1. Do we know for sure that our backups are actually working?
  2. Does data stored on a home user’s hard drive get backed up?
  3. Does our central data storage have versioning?
  4. Have we got a Data Loss Prevention system running?

Protect your remote devices

  1. Do we have multi-factor authentication set up for our systems?
  2. Will our anti-virus, anti-malware and patching tools automatically update for home users?
  3. Has everyone who’s working from home signed a communications and internet usage policy?
  4. Have we given cyber security training to the team within the last six months?
  5. Are our GDPR policies appropriate for people working remotely and at home?

Protect your network

  1. Do we use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to connect remote users to the company network?
  2. Is our email system encrypted, and has DKIM, DMARC and SPF been set up on the Domain?
  3. Do we have mobile device management systems controlling all mobile equipment on the network?
  4. Do we have an appropriate system usage and data management policy?
  5. Are business applications configured to provide least-access privileges?

Stop the bad guys

  1. Is our video conferencing protected against rogue attendees and are calls secure?
  2. Have we got proper checks in place to stop us losing money through fraud?
  3. Are our remote support tools secured against rogue access?

If you value your business, make sure the answer to all these questions is YES. Visit our Cyber Security and Covid-19 knowledge centres, which include more content related to these topics.

Freeman Clarke is the UK’s largest and most experienced team of part-time (we call it ‘fractional’) IT leaders. We work exclusively with ambitious organisations and we frequently help our clients use IT to beat their competition. Contact Us and we’ll be in touch for an informal conversation.

How can a CEO get the sales team to focus on Cyber Security?

So many security risks come in through the sales team. Listen to our quick guide to getting the salespeople to take these risks seriously.

You can listen to the other audios in this series here.

Visit our Cyber Security knowledge centre which includes more content related to this topic.

Freeman Clarke is the UK’s largest and most experienced team of part-time (we call it “fractional”) IT leaders. We work exclusively with ambitious organisations and we frequently help our clients use IT to beat their competition. Contact Us and we’ll be in touch for an informal conversation.

How do you start a Cyber Security plan?

So many CEOs, however capable, are unsure about how to start a Cyber Security plan. Gerry explains where and how to start.

You can listen to the other audios in this series here.

Visit our Cyber Security knowledge centre which includes more content related to this topic.

Freeman Clarke is the UK’s largest and most experienced team of part-time (we call it “fractional”) IT leaders. We work exclusively with ambitious organisations and we frequently help our clients use IT to beat their competition. Contact Us and we’ll be in touch for an informal conversation.

My company is under cyberattack! What do I do?

The first steps to take if and when your company suffers a cyberattack.

You can listen to the other audios in this series here.

Visit our Cyber Security knowledge centre which includes more content related to this topic.

Freeman Clarke is the UK’s largest and most experienced team of part-time (we call it “fractional”) IT leaders. We work exclusively with ambitious organisations and we frequently help our clients use IT to beat their competition. Contact Us and we’ll be in touch for an informal conversation.

How to judge your real level of Cyber Security risk

A quick guide to assessing your company’s actual risk of cybercrime, and how to get started on prevention.

You can listen to the other audios in this series here.

Visit our Cyber Security knowledge centre which includes more content related to this topic.

Freeman Clarke is the UK’s largest and most experienced team of part-time (we call it “fractional”) IT leaders. We work exclusively with ambitious organisations and we frequently help our clients use IT to beat their competition. Contact Us and we’ll be in touch for an informal conversation.

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Graeme Freeman
Co-Founder and Director

Subscribe to our Business Insights

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Thank you.

You’ll now receive regular expert business insights.

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