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Is Your Business A Target For China And Other Foreign States?

Staying aware of how cybercrime is changing around the world is more important than ever — without a true understanding of how cybercriminals operate, how can you expect to protect yourself from them?

Do you understand the threat that foreign states pose not just to US security, but to your business’ security as well?

According to the FBI, China is by far the most clear and present threat to US cybersecurity, known as the source for countless cyber-attacks over the past decade. Incidents occur on a regular basis, such as when the Chinese state-sponsored hacking group APT10 conducted a massive spear-phishing campaign against US utility companies.

Are you prepared to defend your business against foreign threats like these?

FBI Reports: Made In China 2025

To understand the threat posed by Chinese state and unaffiliated cybercriminals, it’s important to understand why there’s a threat in the first place.

As reported by the FBI, China is executing an ongoing initiative termed “Made In China 2025”. The goal is to shift the production of key goods within their borders, reducing their reliance on other countries.

These goods include:

  • Information technology
  • Computer numerical control machine tools and robotics
  • Electric power equipment
  • Marine engineering equipment and high-tech ships
  • Agricultural equipment
  • Aerospace equipment
  • Advanced rail transportation equipment New materials
  • Biomedicine and high-performance
  • Energy-efficient and new-energy automobiles medical instruments

In addition to growing their GDP at the cost of other countries’ (including the US), this initiative will bear additional consequences. If China gains market dominance in these key sectors, a majority of the produced goods will be subject to the effects of China’s state-run economy and restrictive market.

How Is China Gaining A Technological Edge?

China is gaining a technological edge in these areas by following a four-step process:

  1. Introduce: Utilize various methods (both legitimate and illegitimate) to illicitly introduce foreign technology and knowledge to China.
  2. Understand: The Chinese government tasks civilian and military institutions with the goal of studying, reverse engineering and understanding these materials.
  3. Assimilate: The technology is assimilated by these institutions for the benefit of Chinese infrastructure and state goals.
  4. Re-Innovate: Chinese institutions re-innovate these technologies (military aircraft, high-speed trains, and nuclear reactors), providing the state with generational advances, with a lower expenditure of time and money than US-based companies that are doing the work legitimately.

How Can You Protect Your Business From Foreign Threats?

Protecting your business means having the right range of cybersecurity protections in place:

Implement Two-Factor Authentication

Two-factor authentication is a process designed to add an additional layer of security to your online accounts. Essentially, your password is supplemented with an additional piece of evidence or proof of identification, such as a PIN or code sent to your mobile device, authorization through a third party application, or in some cases, a biometric form of access such as a fingerprint.

Users will input their usual password, and if correct, they will be asked for a second form of identity verification. This will likely include a random security code generated by an application, a biometric form of access, or a physical key. The second factor will be something the user has physical access to via their mobile device or personal biometric, which makes it more difficult for hackers to spoof compared to a lone password.

Learn To Spot A Phishing Email

  • Check The Right Fields: If you’re unsure about an email, check the details on the email itself – specifically the “mailed-by” and “signed-by”, both of which should match the domain of the sender’s address.
  • Suspicious Links: Always be sure to hover your mouse over a link in an email before clicking it. That allows you to see where it actually leads. While it may look harmless, the actual URL may show otherwise, so always look, and rarely click.
  • Spelling and Grammar: Modern cybersecurity awareness comes down to paying attention to the details. When reading a suspicious email, keep an eye out for any typos or glaring errors. Whereas legitimate messages from your bank or vendors would be properly edited, phishing emails are notorious for basic spelling and grammatical mistakes.
  • Specificity: Another point to consider is how vague the email is. Whereas legitimate senders will likely have your information already (such as your first name) and will use it in the salutation, scammers will often employ vaguer terminology, such as “Valued Customer” — this allows them to use the same email for multiple targets in a mass attack.
  • Attachments: Phishers will often try to get you to open an attachment, so, if you see an attachment in combination with any of the above indicators, it’s only more proof that the email is likely part of a phishing attempt.

Develop A Business Continuity Plan

Your plan should put forth policies and procedures regarding employee safety, business continuity, and contingencies that can be activated if your business’ facilities are damaged.

The main priorities of an effective Business Continuity Plan are:

  • Protecting Data: Whether it’s your on-site server, in the cloud, or hard copy duplicates stored in the filing cabinets, you need to make sure your business’ data is protected and securely backed up.
  • Protecting Property: Natural disasters are a legitimate threat to businesses in Florida. Your plan needs to consider how best to protect your property during a disaster event.
  • Maintaining Continuity: Whether your phone lines go down, or a pandemic keeps your team from coming into the office, you can’t let disaster-related obstacles keep your business from working.
  • Mitigating Employee Risks: Cybersecurity gimmicks — such as “set it and forget it” firewalls and antivirus software — fail to account for how important the user is:
    • Accidental Deletion: According to the 2019 Shred It Protection Report, 31% of small business owners report that human error or accidental loss by a staff member led to a data breach.
    • Malicious Insider Threats: Employees acting in bad faith can cause extensive damage as well. According to the 2018 Insider Threat Report, of 874 reported incidents, 191 were caused by malicious employees.

Deploy A Next-Gen Firewall

A firewall is the cornerstone of your organization’s cybersecurity defenses. Firewalls maintain the security of your network by blocking unauthorized users from gaining access to your data. Firewalls are deployed via hardware, software, or a combination of the two.

A firewall inspects and filters incoming and outgoing data in the following ways:

  • With Packet Filtering that filters incoming and outgoing data and accepts or rejects it depending on your predefined rules.
  • Via an Application Gateway that applies security to applications like Telnet (a software program that can access remote computers and terminals over the Internet, or a TCP/IP computer network) and File Transfer Protocol Servers.
  • With Proxy Servers, which mask your true network address and capture every message that enters or leaves your network.
  • Using Stateful Inspection or Dynamic Packet Filtering to compare a packet’s critical data parts. These are compared to a trusted information database to decide if the information is authorized.

Everything above is what you can expect from a consumer-grade firewall, more or less. But what about next-generation firewalls?

The most popular business-class firewalls in use today are next-generation firewalls. These are hardware or software solutions used to detect and block complicated attacks. They enforce strict security measures at the port, protocol, and application levels.

Next-generation firewalls perform a more in-depth inspection than standard firewalls — the right one will offer you the following four key technologies (ask the associated questions to make sure you’re getting the right firewall):

  • Application Control: This capability allows you to both prioritize mission-critical application traffic as well as block or limit unwanted apps.
  • Web Control: Just as you don’t want unsafe or unknown apps operating on your network, you don’t want your users visiting unsafe or unnecessary websites.
  • Risk Visibility: Understanding the risks posed by your users and apps gives you more informed oversight of your network. The best firewalls provide a risk assessment report for users that correlates their network activity to identify your riskiest users.
  • URL Filtering: Using both a known list of unsafe URLs, as well as a list developed by your organization, this feature will prevent end-users from visiting any dangerous websites.
  • HTTPS Scanning: A majority of internet traffic is encrypted, which can make compliance enforcement challenging unless you have adequate HTTPS scanning. Your firewall should offer selective scanning and easy solutions for managing exceptions without negatively impacting performance.

Train Your Staff To Contribute To Firm-Wide Cybersecurity

A majority of cybersecurity technologies offered today include the best in vital software, from firewalls to anti-malware to data encryption and more. However, as important as this technology is, on its own, it simply isn’t enough.

The key to truly comprehensive cybersecurity is simple, yet often overlooked: the user.

A comprehensive cybersecurity training program will teach your manufacturing firm’s staff how to handle a range of potential situations:

  • How to identify and address suspicious emails, phishing attempts, social engineering tactics, and more.
  • How to use business technology without exposing data and other assets to external threats by accident.
  • How to respond when you suspect that an attack is occurring or has occurred.

Your staff can have a significant effect on your cybersecurity – either they know enough to keep your assets secure, or they don’t, and therefore present a serious threat to your security.

Need More Information On Cybersecurity?

If you’re looking for expert guidance in protecting against these types of threats, Palindrome Consulting is here to help. Get in touch with our team for more information about necessary cybersecurity defenses to keep your organization secure.

Schedule your No-Obligation IT Assessment with Palindrome Consulting

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