Anticipating The Future Of Cybersecurity For US Enterprises

Nexus CEO Earl Foote recently returned as a guest on the Vistas podcast to talk about the rapidly evolving world of modern cybersecurity:

Defending Against Modern Cybercrime Tactics Has Never Been More Difficult

The hard truth is that cybercrime has never been more prevalent or dangerous—in the past two years, the rate of attacks has gone up 600%.

Many businesses have been breached and don’t even know it yet. Often, it can take organizations an average of 207 days to identify data breaches without the right tools.

Worst of all, the modern wave of cybercrime targets small businesses more than any other sector of the market—43% of attacks victimize smaller organizations.

The point is that cybercriminals have an extensive arsenal of weapons to attack with, and in recent months, the rate of attacks has skyrocketed…

The Russian Invasion Has Launched A Cyberwar

The recent attack against Ukraine is a textbook example of cyberwarfare. Ukraine confirmed that the systems compromised in the attack are all critical ministry and banking targets:

  • Ministry of Defense website
  • Water distribution systems
  • Petroleum pipelines
  • Citizen banking systems

The attacks used Distributed Denial-of-Service attacks which flood the target website host with multiple data requests, resulting in lags and crashes. They also employed a form of malware similar to ransomware, but instead of encrypting the data, it simply deletes it.

While there’s no need to panic, you do need to recognize the likelihood of Russian-based cyber attacks against the western world. It’s never been more important for everyone to remain vigilant, both as private citizens and as employees and owners in the US.

Remember the Colonial Pipeline incident from last year? This ransomware attack resulted in a widespread shortage of gas across the country. The encryption of the petroleum supplier’s systems forced them to shut down operations for a number of days, highlighting the vulnerability of critical US infrastructure to cybercrime attacks.

This is exactly the type of attack that Russian-backed hacking groups could launch against US infrastructure and government targets. However, they’re just as likely to target private businesses.

The idea is that by causing chaos at the citizen level (disrupting their access to utilities, finances and work), a target country will be that much less organized, and would consider appeasement (whether that’s Ukraine seeding land, or the US ending sanctions).

The Nexus IT team understands that a single layer of protection won’t cut it for modern US businesses. We’ve been in the business long enough to know that a simple cybersecurity defense will soon lead to a data breach.

Nexus’ Long Term Commitment To Delivering Cybersecurity Expertise

“Over the past 12-15 years we’ve carved out quite a niche as a full end-to-end MSSP, focusing on security and compliance practices,” says Earl.

Years ago, Earl and the Nexus team saw the writing on the wall: cybersecurity was going to become more and more important. As the business world became more digital, more criminals would adapt their methods to use cyber-based attack vectors.

We have striven to deliver an undeniably high pedigree of cybersecurity support for our ever-growing network of clients in Utah and beyond. We have developed lasting partnerships both with clients that operate in highly regulated industries and others that recognize how important cybersecurity is.

“It’s a more challenging space to be in, but we enjoy it, we know it’s where we can add real value for our partners,” says Earl. “Our offering has been built with that in mind.”

How Remote Work Changed Cybersecurity

“We are a very different company today than we were before COVID,” says Earl.

When the COVID-19 crisis hit, it hit fast.

Despite what, in retrospect, may have seemed like a gradual build-up, it was virtually over the course of a single weekend in March that businesses across the US had to pivot to a remote work model.

Obviously, the first priority was maintaining business continuity. You needed to make sure your newly remote workers had the technology and the remote access necessary to do their work.

But the process doesn’t end there—security is a complicated undertaking for remote work models, and needs ongoing attention.

Continuing with a remote work model, whether entirely or in part, will require:

  • Enhancing security measures
  • Providing the right hardware for users working permanently from home
  • Implementing more permanent file-sharing and collaboration tools

Even before the pandemic, it was becoming increasingly common for businesses to hire remote workers—that is, staff members that work from home, outside of the business’ city of operation, and even much further away.

It’s important to recognize that when businesses start prioritizing remote access to data over the security of that data, they make an easy target for hackers.

Think of it this way—at the office, everything is protected by the same set of cybersecurity solutions. You have firewalls, antivirus software, etc. These are defenses that you’ve invested in and can trust.

Is the same true of your employees’ home networks and personal devices? Probably not.

With so many employees operating remotely, working from a laptop or smartphone, how can you be sure that your data is completely secure? Are you taking the necessary steps to maintain security while your staff works from home?

Many owners and managers assume that a VPN is enough to protect their business while managing a remote work environment. That’s not necessarily true—one wrong step, and a remote worker can put your network at risk.

Cybersecurity Is Becoming More And More Complex

“15 years ago, robust cybersecurity meant having an antivirus solution,” says Earl. “Now it’s this massive multi-layered approach”

The Nexus IT team believes that the only way to develop cybersecurity effectively is through a fully managed approach that builds a culture of best practices in combination with a range of carefully chosen technologies.

We can provide managed security solutions that address your company’s specific needs, and we can cost-effectively do this. There are a range of primary solutions that we use to defend our clients…

Privileged Access Management (PAM)

The ThreatLocker solution we use implements a “zero trust” cybersecurity standard, preventing any application or executable from running unless it has been previously explicitly allowed.

In other words, only pre-approved programs can run on our client networks. Anything that has not been approved cannot be run, no matter how seemingly safe it may be. This ensures that an unaware employee or hidden intruder cannot execute ransomware and other malware threats.

Enterprise-Grade Endpoint Protection (EDR)

EDR is an emerging technology based on antivirus solutions that address the need for continuous monitoring and response to advanced threats. We use a line of Sophos EDR products to keep our clients secure.

This vital protective layer protects endpoints like laptops, desktops, smartphones, tablets, servers, and virtual environments. Endpoint protection may also include antivirus and antimalware, web filtering, and more.

Security Operations Center (SOC)

A Security Operations Center (SOC) is a team of people, employing a range of proven processes and using carefully implemented technologies which are often centralized, and that gather and analyze user reports and a range of data sources —such as logs—from information systems and cybersecurity controls.

The main point of a SOC in the business setting is to identify, address and eliminate cybersecurity events that could negatively impact an organization’s information systems or data.

Enterprise-Grade Firewalls

We ensure that our client’s networks are protected by firewalls that deliver a range of enterprise-class features, including:

  • The ability to identify undesirable encrypted applications
  • Prevention against network intrusions
  • Intelligence in improving blocking decisions
  • Intrusion prevention
  • A baseline for deviations from normal application behaviors

What Does The Future Hold For Nexus IT Consultants?

“Cybersecurity and compliance have been significant over the past 10 years, but it’s still evolving,” says Earl. “We have worked very hard to position ourselves to ride that wave going forward.”

Over the past year, Nexus has doubled its staff size, and its annual revenue. We are constantly expanding our scope and capabilities through new business, new hires, and strategic acquisitions. We’re excited to be working towards the national service market, wherein we can work with enterprises across the US.

At every step of this growth, however, we’ve been careful not to affect the service qualities our clients have come to depend on. Rapid expansion can often dilute the offerings a business can deliver, but we’re committed to a consistent experience for our partners.

“The client experience has been our focus,” says Earl. “If we make sure our employees have the right experience, then our clients do too.”