Phoenix Entrepreneur and Cybersecurity Expert Launches Monthly Webinar Series for Non-Technical Employees
Michael Cocanower, president of itSynergy, says people are the largest source of security breaches, and employee training is often neglected
Cyberattacks among small and medium-sized businesses are on the rise, but with a little education, employees can be trained to spot sneaky hackers and malicious threats before it is too late, according to Michael Cocanower, founder and president of Phoenix-based itSynergy. With the most recent cyberattack on the Democratic National Convention, there has been a lot of attention brought to the every-increasing problem. Cocanower explains, “It appears what happened in this case is that the DNC network systems were hacked by a relatively sophisticated group. It might sound a little like a conspiracy theory, but most sources I’ve read are pointing to the Russian intelligence service.” The general motive could be that the group may want to have an influence over the outcome of the election. Cocanower also thinks that this may be the tip of the iceberg and more hacked emails and more sensitive information may be coming or could be used against our presidential candidates or our country.In the blink of an eye, any business, large or small, can become the victim of a cyberattack, just like the DNC.
Upcoming itSynergy Webinars
“Although we primarily work with small and mid-size businesses,our objective with the webinars is to generally educate anybody who uses technology, especially those who use it for professional purposes to be a little bit more aware and a little bit smarter about security,” says Cocanower.
Cocanower, who has been recognized nationally and locally for his IT expertise, is launching a new, free monthly webinar series! The next webinar will take place August 11 and will cover “Passwords and Password Management.” Interested participants should register at http://www.itsynergy.com/webinar prior to the start of the individual webinar.
The average cost to a business for a cybersecurity attack is $9,000, according to a 2013 small business technology survey commissioned by the National Small Business Association. And, an alarming 59 percent of small and medium-sized businesses do not have a contingency plan that outlines procedures for responding to and reporting data breach losses, according to staysafeonline.org. In addition, according to a study by IBM, 95 percent of all security incidents involve human error.
“There’s a misconception that only the very large companies get hacked, but in fact, smaller companies are like low-hanging fruit to hackers. They’re quicker to get in and easier targets,” Cocanower, a Phoenix native, says.
Each webinar will provide useful tips to ward off phishing scams and more complex social engineering schemes that result in theft and corporate espionage. “Whether you’re part of the C-suite or you’re working in an entry-level position, you’re vulnerable,” Cocanower states. “Not training your staff to be aware of cyber threats is like driving around without your seatbelt on. And, unfortunately, your building’s security cameras won’t pick up these intruders.”
With itSynergy, clients get a full rundown and suite of protective services. Security for a system comprises a variety of angles, each of which is important. Cocanower says, “We don’t work with our customers on an hourly basis like a lot of IT firms do. All of our services are provided for a fixed monthly fee and the size of the fee depends on the size of the organization.”
The “Hacking the Human” webinars are geared towards non-technical end users in business at any level in the company. Produced by itSynergy with host Michael Cocanower, the free 15-minute webinars will take place11:30 a.m. on the second Thursday of every month.
The monthly webinar schedule follows:
August 11:Passwords and Password Management
Learn how to create strong passwords, how often you should change them and tips for creating a secure storage strategy. Businesses in particular should get into the habit of changing passwords frequently. Cocanower explains, “The analogy we use for that is you ought to think about it like changing the oil in your car. People are usually good with changing their oil every three months or 3,000 or 5,000 miles. The thing we tell people is, ‘Every time you change your oil, change your password’.” Another pointer that will be discussed during this webinar is how to avoid using some of the most common passwords that can lead to an easy hack.
September 8:Recognizing and Avoiding Email Scams
Some 30 percent of recipients open phishing messages and 12 percent click on attachments. Learn how to recognize a threat. “There are a few simple things you can do that will foil 95 percent of these attacks!” says Cocanower. He also provides a helpful analogy originally given by Microsoft regarding email scams. “Think of email like a sandwich. If a stranger walked up to you on the street and offered you a sandwich, you would certainly refuse,” says Cocanower. “That is like an email from a stranger you weren’t expecting – you should refuse it. If your college roommate that you spend a vacation week with every summer showed up at your office on a Tuesday morning in March and offered you a sandwich, you would be very suspicious. You’d ask why they were there, why they were offering you a sandwich, etc. The same is true with email – even if it comes from (or looks like it came from) someone you know, but it seems fishy or unexpected, be very suspicious. Finally, if that same friend offered you a sandwich during a picnic on you summer vacation together, you would thankfully accept the sandwich. So if an email comes from someone you know in a context that makes sense and is expected and appropriate – you are probably OK to open the email.”
October 13: Working Remotely
Working from home presents an entirely different risk to an organization than working in the office. Remote workers allow potentially sensitive or confidential information to reside on a PC which is outside of a company’s control. Additionally, your company has to open a ‘hole’ in your perimeter defenses in order to allow users in. Learn how to keep things safe while not taking away this convenience. “The thing that is scary to me as a security-aware person talking about people who work remotely? You are now accessing corporate machines from a computer a company doesn’t have control over,” states Cocanower. “If you’re using a home computer or something like that and connecting in to my system and working remotely, I don’t know if you have anti-virus software on your computer. When was it updated? Do you have good anti-virus software? Was it free or did you pay for it?”
Some cyber thieves have been known to hold sensitive data hostage for just a few hundred dollars. Don’t fall into this trap! “The way this works is that the bad guy somehow gets you to install their program,” says Cocanower. “It could be by sending you an email, and you click a link, or open a file. As soon as their software installs, it encrypts all your files and displays a screen that demands that you pay them the amount of money to unencrypt your files.” In essence someone would no longer have any access to their data. With the Ransomware webinar, Cocanower will caution you on what to look for and how to avoid becoming a victim.
December 8:Security Updates
We all know we should install security updates, but do we? Do we just set our computer or device to ‘automatic’ and hope it works out? While that may work for Apple and Microsoft, what about all the other vendors whose products are installed on our PCs? When a criminal breaks into a network, one of the very first things on their ‘To Do’ list is to scan every machine for unpatched vulnerabilities they can exploit. Learn how to protect yourself.
“When a lot of people think about updates, they think about their Windows updates,” Cocanower explains. “You turn on Windows updates and assume the computer takes care of itself. The thing people don’t think about is there are a lot of other things on your system that need updates as well – your iTunes, Quicktime, Java and Adobe… You need to make sure you’re getting all your updates. The other thing that is important is to make sure your updates are actually installing.” The webinar will provide important information that you need to know, plus best practices.
To sign up for any of the free itSynergy webinars, sign up at http://www.itsynergy.com/webinar
About Michael Cocanower
Michael Cocanower has his black belt in the Kung Sul division of Hwa Rang Do, a Korean martial art, so it’s fitting that his passion is helping small and medium-sized businesses defend themselves against malicious cyber intruders. A Phoenix native, Cocanower founded itSynergy in 1997, and under his leadership, the company has experienced exponential revenue growth. A long-standing Microsoft Partner and Gold Midmarket Solution Provider, itSynergy provides strategic technology management services for small and mid-sized organizations on a fixed monthly fee. Cocanower has received numerous awards and widespread industry recognition throughout his career, including being named one of 20/20 Visionaries in Channel Pro Network magazine’s May 2016 issue. The magazine regularly turns to him for input on current IT trends, and called him a “shrewd and articulate observer of the SMB market.”