MANILA — Recent leaks of personal information, such as the unprecedented breach on the country’s voter database last year, have highlighted the importance of online security, especially for businesses regardless of their size.
The risk of identity theft has increased as people divulge more personal information to access web-based services. The government recognized this by calling on leading minds in science to help draft security protocols.
What can small businesses do if faced with a data breach? According to Akamai’s Michael Smith, APJ Security chief technology officer, time is essential.
“The first step in a data breach is always to stop the attack. Minutes are important,” he told ABS-CBN News in an e-mail.
A small company’s information technology personnel should, at the very least, know when to cut connections and take down online resources.
After plugging the breach, a company should implement its incident response plan, Smith said.
“Most personally identifiable information—such as credit cards, home addresses, back account numbers, passport numbers, etc.—have regulations that you have to follow to protect them, and having an incident response plan and team are part of the requirements,” he said.
Security is a “shared responsibility,” he said.
“Device manufacturers have a responsibility to build reasonably safe devices. Internet service providers (ISPs) have a responsibility to police traffic coming from their network. Consumers have a responsibility to ensure that their devices don’t attack across the network,” he said.
Data thieves are becoming more sophisticated, leaving many institutions vulnerable, said security expert Myla Villanueva.
“The threat profiles of breaches are different now. State-sanctioned breaches are happening. That’s why we encourage companies and institutions to make (data protection) a priority,” said Villanueva, managing director of IT company MDI Group Holdings.
Here are a few steps you can take to ensure your devices, and your data, remain safe, barring physical theft, from Smith and Lito Averia of non-profit security group Philippine Computer Emergency Response Team (PH-CERT):
– Upon purchase of devices (ie. Routers, etc.) change the administrative password from the vendor default for both the web application interface and for the operating system if you can.
– Aside from devices, firewalls should be configured properly by changing administrative passwords.
– Don’t put devices directly on the Internet and if you open up ports to the device through your home firewall, make sure that you only allow access from certain systems.
– Use Port Mapping and use non-standard ports for any holes that you up in your home firewall.
– Disable UPNP in routers, as it can open up ports to devices without a user’s knowledge.
– Make a plan to log in and check for firmware upgrades to devices periodically. End users or system administrators should watch out for security alerts from manufacturers.
– If possible, set up a firewall policy to block SSH and Telnet into and out of networks.
– Use a scanning service like “Shields Up” to scan your home Internet connection to see if you have ports and devices that are open without you knowing.
– Users within a network should access only trusted sites, and opt for web addresses using “https” instead of “http” if possible.
– Opt for devices or software that are highly rated by trusted organizations.
– Use second-generation devices or software, instead of adopting early, to ensure minimal bugs.